Australia has 13.7 million internet subscribers who spend on average 10 hrs per week online and one of the top four activities they do is research and/or purchase goods or services online.

CC-BY Image from
CC-BY Image from

This means that paid online marketing is a sensible choice, but with so many paid online marketing options, what should you consider when investigating these for your business? And, are they all the same?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)  

SEM is made possible through the data collected by search engines such as Google about people’s online search activities.  This data is then analysed by special software to ‘predict’ the type of information people are seeking when they use different search terms.  

Online marketing companies, such as Google Adwords, then rank these search terms or keywords according to their frequency of use.  Businesses then ‘bid’ for these keywords so they can linked them to their online adverts so their online ads rank higher when someone uses these keywords in an organic search.

SEM through Google Ads

Google Ads uses sophisticated SEM algorithms to place a paide online business ad in a way which is not too dissimilar to placing a traditional newspaper ad, in that the content of the ad needs to be right to capture an audience’s attention.

What makes Google Ads more powerful than traditional newspaper ads is the use of ‘keywords’ to narrow down where and when the online business advertisement is placed.  These keywords are then matched to the search terms (or keywords) which a person puts into an organic Google search.  

For example, when someone type ‘Sydney accommodation’ into Google, the search results not only bring up the most popular Sydney accommodation websites. The search results also show ‘paid’ online ads from businesses which have bid for the keywords ‘Sydney accommodation’.  

While this process sounds simple, the skill of writing an effective Google Ad and knowing how much to bid on the keywords which will place this ad in the right spot is quite technical.  These types of paid online ads are also very limiting in how information is presented as you can only use a certain amount of text and no images.  

SEM is also something which takes time before the ranking of the online ad can be verified to ensure it is linked to the keywords appropriately eg when someone types in ‘red shoes’ into Google, then only online ads selling ‘red shoes’ comes up.

You should either outsource this paid online marketing to an experienced and successful SEM company, or be willing to do the leg work of learning the art of SEM, and then spend the time testing your approach.  If you select the DIY method, then you also need to stay on top of any changes of how search engines rank keywords for online ads.

Marketing through third party websites via Google Adsense

Some websites, such as blogs and eNewspapers etc, allow third parties to advertise on their website to help generate an income. Placement of online advertisements on third party websites is usually done through an online ad network who offers financial incentives to third party website owners.

The most popular ad network is Google Adsense.  The initial setup process for Google Adsense is usually quite simple however Google Adsense offers limited one-on-one support for small business advertisers.   With these types of paid online ads you can create visual ads containing images and different font types/styles or have text-only online ads.

The majority of Google Adsense ads are CPC (Cost/Pay per click) ads so a business is only charged when a website visitor clicks on an online ad. Creating a Google Adsense advertisement is very similar to creating a Google Ad, as it can be done through your Google Adword account.  However, like Google Adwords, this type of advertising is best outsourced to the professionals unless you are willing to do the legwork to get the success you are aiming for.

Marketing through social media sites like Facebook

All of the big social media sites such as Facebook now offer targeted online ad campaigns.  Although these sites are not search engines per se, they do collect information or “data analytics” about their users like a search engine would. This data then allows these sites to place targeted paid online ads on their users’ Facebook page or in their stream according to their users’ demographics and/or previous activity.  

Social media marketing provides a much simpler option for businesses to market online then SEM via Google Adwords or Adsense due to the increased number of people who spend their time connecting and keeping up to date with what their social network is doing.  This activity allows sites like Facebook to have a captured online audience to market to.  

Instead of having to bid for keywords, Facebook Ads work on ‘impressions’. That is, the number of people Facebook can show a business advert to in their Facebook stream based on demographics such as gender, region or interest. This is much easier to determine than how people are ‘searching’ for things. Social media marketing has a lot more opportunity to be creative and visual compared to a search engine online ad.

Marketing through targeted emails

Done well, traditional online marketing such as email campaigns are still a very effective digital marketing strategy. This is because effective targeted email campaigns are sent to people who have subscribed to and want to receive this type of information through their email, as opposed to relying on a software algorithm trying to predict and match ‘keywords’ or through ‘filters’ which match people’s interests.

Targeted email marketing campaigns can be managed through your existing email account, however, online email campaign services, such as Mailchimp and Constant Contact, offer additional benefits like providing more professional formatting and layout through customisable templates.  

You can also then send more than 500 email address per day (this is usually the limit placed by email services such as Gmail and Hotmail to send in one day to help reduce spam).  Email marketing services also allow you to track how many people open the email, and which links they click on.  They can also act as a quasi-customer relationship management (CRM) tool as they can keep all of your subscribers’ contact details in them.

Targeted email campaigns do require a database of subscribers which you can create from your existing customer details.  It is important not to add people’s email addresses that you haven’t dealt with before or who haven’t subscribed to your list to avoid being reported as ‘spam’.  For more information read about the key elements of the Spam Act here –

Marketing through specialised directories

Before the world wide web enabled us to search for a business online, people used telephone and magazine directories to advertise their business. Luckily the function of a hard copy business directory like the Yellow Pages has now been replicated online through sites like True Local, MenuLog, Wotif etc.

Online directories are great for businesses which don’t have a web presence and/or are on a tight budget, as they offer a great way of getting leads due to their large online presence and marketing budget of the specialised directory site.  Specialised directories will often come up higher on an organic web search due to this.  Specialised directories are inexpensive and an easy way to set up paid online marketing compared to the above options if your business is in an industry which has a specialised directory available.


As you can see, there are a number of options for marketing your business online, however, each option has many advantages and will cost you time or money to set up.  Whether you decide to outsource the work, employ someone with the skills to do it, or do the work yourself, consider this as an investment in your business and not an expense.  Without effectively marketing your business to the right people at the right time, you will not be able to generate the revenue you need for your business to be successful.


Contact us now (email or [+61] 0400 732 270) to discuss how we can help you market your business online.

Stay up to date with the latest in being successful online by subscribing to our Digital Capability eUpdate or connecting with us online through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Paid online marketing options – Are they all the same?
Tagged on:             

Leave a Reply