What does online advertising cost?

What Does Online Advertising Cost?

Why This Question Isn’t As Straight Forward As You’re Hoping

As a digital marketer, when I approach a new advertising campaign for a client I’m not thinking so much about the cost to reach an audience as much as the cost to convert that audience into a lead or a sale – what I’m really interested in is the return on the client’s investment ( ROI ) . That’s precisely what makes the conversation so challenging when someone is asking about how online advertising rates compare to traditional media like newspapers and radio. With digital we can actually track conversions and ROI where as traditional media campaigns can only track estimated reach – the only way to really compare the two is to analyze the cost for impressions.  The infographic below from raxfactor.com gives you a general feel for this comparison, and while it only tells part of the story with subjective accuracy – it’s at least a starting point to break down relative costs.

What does online advertising cost?

Why Choose Digital Advertising?



The ability to get your message out to more people per dollar is just the beginning when we start looking at the advantages of digital advertising channels. The reality is that what you’re paying for impressions doesn’t necessarily matter as long as you’re getting a strong return on your investment. Unfortunately for traditional media they just can’t prove that their higher costs are worth it because we usually can’t track actual conversions, it’s just speculation although there is some compelling arguments about the value of creating brand awareness even if the results are less tangible. On the other hand, if you have goals or ecommerce tracking set up properly in your website analytics you can easily find out how productive each of your online marketing channels were and make informed decisions about how to spend your advertising dollars in the future to get the best return.


The above infographic shows you the costs to reach 2000 people but if you don’t know better you might just think those 2000 people are all equal and they’re not. When you approach a radio station or a newspaper for advertising they probably have some data about their demographics but it’s a far cry from the level of audience targeting you can accomplish with digital advertising. If for example you sell giant inflatable Gorilla’s, would you rather reach 2000 people who might be but probably aren’t interest in your product or 2000 people who have just done a search like “where to buy giant inflatable gorillas”? I’d say the second group of people are showing more purchase intent and are much more likely to buy your product, wouldn’t you agree? Perhaps you sell honeymoon packages and you want to target people who were just married, or maybe your sell golf gear and you want to go after people who are interested in golf. These are just a few of many ways you can use digital advertising t0 create highly targeted audiences that are more likely to convert.

Which Online Advertising Channels Should I Choose?

So you’ve decided that marketing your products and services online makes a lot of sense but you’re not sure which channels to use, here’s a few of the most popular options and why. Keep in mind that your success and budget are going to be variable from campaign to campaign based on some of the following factors

  • Quality of your ad copy
  • Quality and relevance of your landing page
  • How targeted the campaign is
  • Level of competition for the audience/keywords


Google Adwords

The ability to show your products or services to a potential customer at the exact moment they’re searching for it online is obviously attractive. Typically you’ll be looking at a cost-per-click ( CPC ) of around 1-3 dollars.  I ran a campaign for an ecommerce client recently where every $1 spend on adwords translated into $3 of revenue and I’ve consistently seen a positive ROI with this platform.

Facebook Ads

This platform is more proactive than Adwords because you’re not waiting for customers to search for your target keywords and it can be just as cost-effective. The in-depth audience targeting features allow you to reach a very specific audience for just pennies per click. You can learn more about Facebook ads in our previous blog post – 5 reasons your business needs Facebook ads.


You’re likely going to pay a little more for clicks and impressions here but for b2b marketers it’s a perfect fit. With the ability to target individuals in specific industries and professions with your message, the money spent here can easily pay off.

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