Ads are all around us – whether we’re on our mobile phone, scrolling through websites on our computers, watching TV, listening to music, using public transportation, or driving around town ourselves. There are so many types of digital ads – from web banners and social media ads to digital billboards – that we see every day.

Types of Digital Ads

There’s no doubt that our world today is a digital one. So many smart devices that give us instant access to a huge library of information. The types of digital ads that are available for business owners are endless, depending on where your audience is and what they’re doing. There are a few benefits to digital ads:

  • You’re able to target a specific audience
  • They’re easy to measure
  • You get immediate results (that allow you to tweak your ad at any time)

Let’s go over these types of digital ads…

paid search ads

Paid Search Ads

Also known as search engine marketing, this is a type of digital ad that shows up when you’re searching for a certain keyword. The top results for a keyword will have “Ad” next to that keyword, as paid search ads involve ‘bidding’ on keywords that show up first on the search engine results page (SERP).

social media ads

Social Media Ads

Social media ads are promotions on social media platforms. When scrolling through a social media feed on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and more, social media ads will appear with the word “Sponsored” usually next to them. When using social media ads, it’s important that you target the correct audience appropriately.

For example, if you’re targeting other businesses, it’d be most wise to use social media ads on LinkedIn. If you’re a fashion boutique, perhaps your audience is more likely to be on Instagram. Think about your audience and which social media platforms they use if you’re considering social media ads.

types of digital ads

Display Ads

Display ads are usually found along the top or sides of websites. Display ads come in various shapes and sizes – there are long, vertical display ads, long, horizontal display ads, square ads, and everything in between. Display ads are not as effective as they once used to be, but are still a good idea for a lot of different products and services that have a simple call-to-action.

Retargeting/Remarketing Ads

Retargeting ads are a type of display ad, where once you visit a site, cookie-based technology allows an ad from that site to follow you around to different sites, showing you what you saw on that site for typically 30 days, remarketing a certain product that you may have interacted with.

digital billboard ads

Digital Billboard Ads

Digital billboards are a common sight along the freeways of the world. These brilliant displays can be seen for a mile away on lonely American roads at night, warning travelers of food, retail locations, and local sights along the way.  Furthermore, they are popular in metropolitan cities like Los Angeles and most famously, New York. Brightly colored digital billboards display posters, marquees, videos, and advertising campaigns over Times Square.

Evolution of the Billboard

Digital billboards have revolutionized the billboard industry. Unlike traditional billboards, digital billboards are able to display several ads in a matter of seconds. Furthermore, they create eye-catching visual effects that aren’t possible on traditional billboards.

The technology behind digital billboards wasn’t widespread until the turn of the 21st century. That’s because the expense of the electronics made it too expensive for most billboard advertisers to adopt. However, advancing technology and lower electricity costs eventually won the day.

Fun fact: Lamar Outdoor Advertising was the first to install a digital billboard in 2001. 

The entire billboard wasn’t entirely digital but was still groundbreaking for its time. Four years later, the market for digital billboards officially boomed.

Even though digital billboard technology is fairly new, the technology is relentlessly pushing on and even the first Lamar billboard looks archaic compared to today’s different types.

Digital billboards are a popular option for most businesses, with LED capabilities not only offering multiple vivid design options but also effects that are visually engaging. Digital capabilities also offer the opportunity for high-resolution images, video, and effects.

Smart Billboards

Smart billboards can be implemented anywhere, and are truly the future of digital advertising. From billboard advertisements that are activated when a car is a certain distance from the board via sensors, to a unique “coughing man” advertisement recently used in Sweden. Through the means of smoke detectors in the billboard, a man will appear and begin coughing as if from the secondhand smoke. Then an antismoking campaign begins to play, as well as ads for nicotine patches and other smoking cessation assistance.

Other examples include facial recognition technology and interactive features that enable games to be played. Smart Billboards are a dynamic form of digital billboards that allow passersby to interact both with an advertisement and its parent brand. In addition, smart billboards can be erected anywhere, from bus stops to shopping centers and anywhere in between.

Digital Signs

Digital signs are a good option for outdoor advertising for spaces that don’t require a standalone billboard. Digital signs can take the place of traditional store signs, mounted on the side of the building, at the entrance to a parking lot, park bench, or underneath an existing sign.

Digital signs allow buildings to be seen from the roadway, increasing the flow of foot traffic. Digital signs are attractive for their versatility and relatively low cost. For shopping plazas and marketplaces, this makes economic sense as several digital signs can be mounted, each showing a different advertisement at regular intervals.

Mobile Trailers

Digital ads mounted on mobile trailers are an excellent option for tailgates, conventions, markets, and more. This type of digital ad is attractive because it can be moved to multiple locations with relative ease.

Current technologies allow these mobile options to be seen from 100 feet away, making a perfect eye-catcher for marketing at crowded outdoor locations. It’s important to note that these cannot be operated while in motion.

Car Windows?

A company on Shark Tank is working on introducing technology to play digital advertisements on parked car windows. A passerby walking the streets will see targeted advertisements projected onto stationary car windows  Though this type of digital advertising is not available yet, test market runs in several prominent American cities indicate this could be the latest wave of the future.

This is an example of utilizing passive platforms to create targeted messages. Furthermore, it is part of the ingenious wave of high-tech advertising that pushes the digital billboard industry forward at breakneck speed.

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