Just started a new business? Maybe you’re ready to scale up your existing operation. Need a fresh marketing strategy? This guide will show you some of the best digital advertising channels in 2021.


PPC Digital Advertising

2020 has certainly brought about many unexpected & undesirable changes. With bad comes good though. Last year saw unprecedented online traffic & sales. According to businessinsider.com there was a 16.5% worldwide growth in online sales in 2020.

Advertising has come a long way from the dominance of tv ads, billboards and mailbox flyers. While those methods are still in use today, they have taken a backseat to digital marketing.

According to Statista, digital ad spending worldwide is projected to almost double in the next four years to a staggering 526 billion US dollars.

This chart shows the sheer dominance of internet advertising – image source
So why is digital advertising growing so fast?
  • More people are consuming media online than ever before
  • Readily available comprehensive performance metrics

With many other forms of advertising it is hard to gauge what ads are effective. Here is a famous advertising quote that illustrates this point.

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half” – John Wanamaker


With PPC advertising you have instant access to comprehensive metrics, you’ll know what is working and what isn’t

Develop A Strategy

Advertising is not a magic pill for overnight success. It is merely an effective tool (when properly used) in your overall strategy for business growth.

Another integral part of success that ties closely with advertising is SEO. Are you unfamiliar with the term SEO? “Search Engine Optimization” is a multi step process where specific techniques are used to get your website to rank higher up on the search results page for search queries.

This process in its entirety is a bit more complex than running an advertising campaign.  It can be a long and sometimes expensive journey to get your site to rank high enough to make difference to your bottom line.

That is where pay-per-click advertising flexes its muscles. PPC ads aren’t meant to replace SEO, rather compliment, as part of an overall growth strategy. With an effective ppc ad campaign, you are essentially gaining a “short cut” to get premium exposure and drive traffic to you quickly.

Take Action

Worried it’s too expensive?

It only takes a few dollars a day for some ppc campaigns to get started.

Don’t know where to begin?  

Here’s our guide on some of the most popular platforms for online advertising in 2021.



Let’s start with the elephant in the room. There are over 3.5 Billion searches a day worldwide on Google. Mind Blown 🤯  In addition, StatCounter reports Google owns a staggering 91% share of the search engine market. With those kind of numbers it’s hard to argue that Google isn’t one of the best platforms to advertise on.

Let’s take a look at some of the top Google campaign types.


Search / Text Ads 


A plumbing company utilizes search ads w/ ad extensions to highlight their business features. -image source

Search ads are sort of the “traditional” style of Google ads. They are completely text based and displayed above and below organic search results on the SERP. Placement of these ads will depend upon the browser and search term. Search ads can be important for all businesses. They are arguably essential for service based businesses.

One of the main advantages to search ads are ad extensions. These allow you to show highlight more information about your business that isn’t present in the headlines and descriptions.

They also provide additional ways to connect with you such as:

  • phone extensions
  • sms messages
  • lead forms
  • map based locations (for businesses with a physical location). 

Display Ads 

This clothing company tries to entice us with “the last pair of sweats you’ll ever buy” -image source

I’m sure you are familiar with display ads. Unless you’ve been living under a rock (strange saying btw, seems uncomfortable), you’ve seen these visual ads. These are the ones that show up in seemingly random places on various websites that you’re browsing through. These images based ads are part of the Google Display network comprising over over 2 million websites worldwide. As annoying as these ads can seem at times, they can be extremely effective at creating brand awareness and driving sales.

How Do They Know What I Want? Dynamic Display Remarketing

So you’re catching up on the daily news and see an ad for the same pair of shoes you were look at a day earlier. You think to yourself that’s super creepy, now I’m being followed. Well, in a sense you are, but not in any way that can personally identify you. Think of it as anonymous digital stalking. This “stalking” is possible because of browser cookies (little bits of random id’s assigned to browser sessions).

Dynamic Display Remarketing takes advantage of cookies by placing strategic ads reminding shoppers, “hey, don’t forget about me”. As creepy as this may be to some people, it is an incredibly effective way to get people back to your site to follow through with their purchase intent. This article isn’t necessarily about dynamic remarketing though, so I’ll leave that topic for another post.

Old School Meets New School

Whether you are using standard display campaigns or remarketing, both can be very effective in grabbing the attention of potential customers and pushing them to take action. In order to run display ads you will obviously need to have proper image ad copy. This will need to be formatted to specific sizes according to Google. Not too long ago these ads were designed by someone (usually a professional) using some kind of graphics program.

Recently Google has introduced a new kind of display ad called responsive display ads. These ads take raw images, and text that you supply into Google. The program then creates dynamic responsive ads that will fit into the size formats required. This new type of ad lessens the cost of entry for businesses wanting to run display ads as you can potentially eliminate the need for graphics design.

Shopping Ads 

Shopping ads (red) show above the search ads (green) on the SERP page in safari (left). Chrome shows shopping ads to the right of search ads. image source

Shopping ads are listed at the very top or right hand page of the Google SERP. (Placement depends upon the search query and browser). In order to list your products on the Google Shopping network you will need to create a Google Merchant Center account and create a feed.

One of the great things about the setting up a merchant center account is that you will be eligible to have your products shown for free. Having free listings doesn’t replace the need for paid listings. There are no guarantees as to how often your free listings will get shown. Therefore it isn’t a viable option as a standalone marketing strategy, but a nice perk nonetheless.

These are just a few examples of the many campaign types and placements that can be utilized with the Google Ads platform.



Facebook ads tend to be highly targeted (I’ve obviously been looking at marketing websites lately). They have a native call to action button integration. With so much content on Facebook, it is important to provide a value to your target audience, give them a reason to click.

There is no denying that Facebook’s reach worldwide is massive. They have a monthly average of 2.6 Billion users, of which 1.7 Billion are daily users. Despite the recent rise in popular platforms such as Instagram & TikTok, Facebook still remains the king of social media for now. Facebook’s massive user base offers countless advertising opportunities, with numerous ways to market your business.

Business Page

facebook business page

All relevant business contact info can be found on your business page (yellow circle)  The Tabs along the top provide areas for promotion (green circle) -image source

The simplest and cheapest way to gain awareness is to build a dedicated business page. With your page set up you can display important business information and encourage users to engage with your business website. Another important task for a business page is to create promotional posts. With posts you can choose to “boost” them to expand your audience reach even farther. Boosting a post is a paid service that is done by adding a budget and setting certain boost parameters.

Facebook Shop

Another way to take your business page to the next level is to add a Facebook Shop. With Facebook Shop, customers can purchase directly on your FB page. This can be incredibly time/cost saving for new business owners that don’t have the capital or time to setup a dedicated Ecommerce website. A point to note if you decide to go this route is that Facebook charges a selling fee for all purchases made directly from your shop, so if you expect to handle a large amount of revenue this may not be a cost effective method for your business.

Facebook Shop Example  -image source


For all other campaign types Facebook ads manager is the starting point. Ads manager has a large list of ad formats that I can’t begin to cover in depth with this high level overview. If you would like to preview the ad types available, you can find them on this page.




Do you know what the second largest search engine in the world is behind Google? If you said YouTube, I would have thought that you Googled that 😉, but you would be correct. With that that amount of reach it would be a mistake to discount the power of YouTube advertising.

Video ads are quickly rising in popularity given the massive appeal of the platform. Videos tend to have a higher interaction rate and are more likely to be shared than articles, making them a great place to get noticed.

The Power 💪 of Video

There is a scientific norm stating that, the more senses you engage while learning, the better you retain knowledge. The same principles can apply to video ads. With videos you not only get to incorporate appealing visuals but you can add awesome sound / music. Personally, I can remember certain companies based solely off what jingle or music was present in a video. That is powerful stuff.

Standout Example

I came across this ad at the beginning of a video I was about to watch. My mouse was hovered over the skip button, with every intention of skipping as soon as that button activated. That didn’t happen. They did such a good job with the ad (more importantly the first few seconds) that I ended up watch in the whole thing


I’m aware of Purple mattresses because of this ad. Who knows if I’ll buy a purple protector but I most definitely remember their brand now.

Creative Resources

Video ads tend to require a bit more in terms of resources than traditional image ads. That being said, they can be done at any budget. There are free and low cost video creators apps out there for anyone who doesn’t possess a degree from the American Film Institute.

  • Biteable has a free tier and low cost option to help dip your toes in the creative world of youtube film making.
  • Websites like Fiverr.com have an abundance of creative freelancers looking for jobs, and you can usually find skilled videographers for a fraction of the cost of hiring a high profile agency.


If extra videographer money isn’t in the budget. Today’s smartphones have amazing cameras capable of shooting quality ads on them. Chances are you know someone who has a creative bone in their body and can put together a decent video clip.

You’ll need to do a bit of editing to get that perfect clip put together and promote to the world. Free software such as Lightworks can help you with that task. When you’re finished product is ready to be advertised, you’ll need to first upload it to YouTube. Once hosted on YouTube, you’ll head into Google Ads (account needed) and setup your video campaign.

A note of advice. It is a good idea to first look at Google/YouTube’s video ad formats and policies before creating your videos. This way you won’t need to go back and do more edits to fit the proper specifications.



Amazon ads have multiple placements dependent upon the format chosen. Sponsored content appearing on search results page (left). Ads are also listed on product view pages (right)  – image source


Its no secret that this e-commerce monster is the go-to for a lot of people when they shop online. eMarketer reports they had a whopping 37.3% share of the e-commerce market in 2019, and it is projected to grow. With such a large platform it can be an effective channel of revenue for your business.

Features such as Fulfilled by Amazon are a way to get your product into the hands of customers without the need to build external brand recognition. Your FBA products are blessed with all the perks that come along with Amazon’s prime membership. (assuming the customer is a prime member).

Perks such as; free 2-day shipping, easy returns, and amazon customer service are a high value selling point. Just as “nothing in life is free”, selling on Amazon comes with a cost. Here is a page that breaks down their sellers fee structure. It has a great calculator to see how much profit you’ll make by selling your products on there.

Amazon Marketing Services

Back to the topic at hand, advertising. As awesome as Amazon is for it’s massive global reach, there can be some down sides. Sellers typically need to amass a large number of positive reviews to rank high enough to be seen organically. That usually takes time.

Thats where AMS comes in. It is a PPC ad option designed to highlight your products within the Amazon search results & product pages. AMS provides a visibility boost for your products that may be getting lost in the sea of Amazon items.

One of the main benefits to advertising on Amazon is the ability to track your conversions within the platform. If you are running ads from Google Ads or Facebook which direct users to your products on Amazon, there is no way to attribute a purchase to an ad click from an Google, FB or whatever source they came from.


Other Popular Platforms


Microsoft ads run on the, you guessed it, Microsoft ecosystem through their browsers Bing, Yahoo & AOL. They use the MSN of websites for their display ads. They have a similar account structure as their major competitor Google. You can even import Google ads campaigns into Microsoft for ease of setup. While they don’t have nearly the reach that Google has, there are some perks to running ads on there. They typically have a lower cost per click than Google ads, sometimes significantly less. Microsoft’s ad groups typically allow for greater flexibility in regards to settings and targeting. Overall, I would recommend Microsoft ads to be a great complementary platform to add to your overall marketing portfolio.


As part of the massive Facebook family, Instagram has over 800 million users and is increasingly becoming popular among advertisers for its variety of ad formats and growing user base. Ads for Instagram are mainly created in the Facebook ads manager once you have an Instagram business page setup. You can also setup an Instagram Shop, similar to the Facebook Shop mentioned earlier in this article. With an Instagram Shop, users can purchase in app. This is a huge benefit to capture instant sales for people that are always on the go.

LinkedIn ads leverages its a vast network of over 690 million professionals. Advertising on LinkedIn can be a great way to promote your B2B business to other individuals within or interested in your field.

The online marketplace to go to find one of a kind products made with that extra special loving care from independent sellers. Etsy offers advertising via traditional ppc ads, in addition, they offer an interesting service called offline ads. They essentially pay the bill to advertise on other sites. Etsy store owners don’t pay anything for that advertising unless a sale is made from it. While this sounds like a fantastic opportunity, it has been met with anger from some sellers for a lack of flexibility and outrageous commission fees.

Another great option to drive traffic to your site is Pinterest. While you can certainly take advantage of free listings, you may encounter similar problems of getting lost in the sea of pins. To solve that problem you can choose to promote your pins for more favorable placement. As with the other platforms there are many different ways to promote. A nice feature they have for anyone with a mobile app is the ability to promote app downloads directly from Pinterest.


Wrapping Up

This article is by no means a comprehensive guide to all the possibilities out there to market your business in the digital landscape. My objective was to give a high level overview of some of the options to consider when planning out your marketing strategy.

If you have any comments or questions please feel free to leave them below.


If you need help with advertising planning of management, please Contact Me for a free quote.


  1. Joe January 16, 2021 at 3:28 PM - Reply

    Nice read. With all these options, where do you recommend the first channel to start for an ecommerce store 2021?

    • Jeffrey Wolinsky January 16, 2021 at 4:32 PM - Reply

      Hi Joe, that is a great question. There are a few factors to consider before choosing a platform to start on. I would start with where you believe the majority of your users will find you. If you already have this information, you are off to a good start. If not, implementing tools such as Google Analytics can help show which channels your users are coming from. In addition, check out your competition and see where they advertise. Another factor to consider is your overall marketing budget. Some channels can be more efficient in your cost per click metrics, which could help you decide where to start while on a limited budget. Finally, I would say that if budget allows, diversifying your advertising is the best approach to truly identifying growth opportunities.

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Published On: January 8th, 2021 / Categories: Marketing Strategy /
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