What is Digital Advertising?

BluHorn Digital Advertising Media Buying

Digital advertising is probably the largest and most complex category in the advertising industry.  It encompasses websites, display ads (banner ads), retargeting, geo-targeting, programmatic buying, social media, SEO, SEM, PPC, OTT, and VOD, to name a few. There are many benefits to digital advertising, but the most important (and favorite of media planners and media buyers) is it allows advertisers to target to defined demographics and feed the top of the marketing funnel with little to no waste in spending.


Not having a website today is not an option. It is a must for businesses to be visible on the world wide web. Websites are an entryway for consumers to find out more information on a company and are often also responsible for first impressions. If a website is not designed according to best practices, it is likely that the potential customer will not stay on the site long and move on to a competitor’s site. There is a long list of best practices for websites, but critical factors include, the website must be informative, engaging, and support the overall marketing strategy.  Also, websites should be fast-loading, mobile ready, optimized for SEO, and be able to track a user’s movements throughout the site.

Display Advertising

Display advertising includes banner ads, retargeting, geo-targeting, and programmatic buying. An advertiser’s display will ads appear on websites that are relevant to the target demographic and overall marketing strategy. This is done by using banner ads in several different ways. Banner ads are the ads that are often along the top, sides, and bottom of a website.  These ads can be clicked on and will often take the user to a website or landing page.

There are many tricks to the trade when it comes to making banner ads effective, and one is retargeting.  When a customer visits a website via their laptop, tablet, or Smartphone, the device is tagged before they leave the site. When the tagged device is used to browse the internet, the consumer is served the advertisers banner ads on various websites for up to 30 days. This technique encourages a return to the businesses website to complete a purchase or to drive traffic back for more information.

Geo-Targeting gives advertisers the ability to get specific about exactly what areas or locations the ads should appear. This location-based targeting enables users to focus on areas as small as the size of a football field, concentrate on multiple locations, as well as target an entire city (or metro area) or a specific radius.  A restaurant may use geo-targeting to advertise to businesses and homes within a 3-5-mile radius. A car dealership may use geo-targeting to reach an area within a city where their database indicates the majority of their customers live.

One of the newest features in display advertising is programmatic buying.  While this has been around for quite a while, it has now been tested and proven effective. In short, software programs have been designed to automate the digital advertising buying process. The software has streamlined process by placing banner ads on relevant websites within their inventory at the lowest bid possible.


Exactly what is Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Pay Per Click (PPC)?

SEO is an organic method of ensuring that a website shows up on the top of a Google search (or any search engine). It is said that SEO is unpaid or organic while SEM is paid. SEO focuses on how a search engine’s algorithms work to determine what websites will show up when someone is searching on Google. Optimizing a website for SEO includes quality of relevant content, keywords in the coding of the website, and making sure that search engines index the website correctly. Promoting a site to increase the number of back links or inbound links is also an SEO method because search engines are known to consider this as an essential factor when determining the popularity of a website.

SEM (or Paid Search) as mentioned above, include paid search ads and other paid search engine services that will increase traffic to a website.

According to Webopedia, the most common SEM best practices include:

  • Using Keywords and Keyword analysis
  • Building ads and content for local listings and geo-targeted ads
  • Pay Per Click

PPC is SEM; however, it is a crucial component in digital advertising and deserves to be singled out. SEM means that advertisers pay to utilize search engines to generate traffic to their website rather than (or in addition to) organically via the SEO route.  SEO is a slower process and can take up to 90 days for a website to appear in search engine rankings, while SEM is the more immediate way to drive traffic. Google AdWords is the most popular PPC platform. As defined on Wikipedia, Google AdWords is an online advertising service developed by Google where advertisers pay to display brief advertising copy, product listings, and video content within the Google ad network to web users.

social media advertising BluHorn

Social Media

Everyone these days seems to be on one type of social media or another.  What used to be a young person’s hangout, has become open spaces spanning all generations of a family or group and allows them to see photos and every day thoughts and activities of their friends and loved ones.  The scope of social media is growing, and this is almost a separate sub-category worthy of its own page.  With multiple platforms that continue to expand, the choices for social media advertising seem to be limitless.  Facebook is the most well known and popular and spends can be done to an extremely targeted audience with an extremely low budget.  Demographics can be sorted into age, gender, interest, geography, etc.

Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and others follow closely behind.  Each social media site has their own niche ways of targeting their ad spaces.  Social media experts seem to be in the payroll at most companies these days as well, as keeping an active presence in the social media world is an extremely important business practice.


Over the top content (OTT) and video on demand (VOD) has changed how the internet is used and TV is viewed in recent years.  In fact, the line drawn between the two is more blurred than ever.  For viewers, this is huge. This means that viewers have access to their favorite shows and programming through their cable systems video on demand or other subscription services such as HULU, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. While some subscription services such as Netflix do not allow advertising, HULU, cable systems VOD, and others have inventory available for TV advertisers to extend their reach and frequency in a format where in most cases the ads must be viewed and cannot be skipped.


Digital advertising is a key component of any marketing strategy and campaign. A marketing plan without a sound website and effective digital advertising leave a gaping hole for competitors to fill. Leveraging the power of the digital landscape ensures that a business will not only be noticed but considered when needed; continuing to fill the top of the funnel and drive increases in revenue.

Digital Buying with BluHorn

BluHorn’s digital worksheets can be customized to any media planner and media buyer’s needs.  Our customized system offers the flexibility that mirrors the wide range of opportunities in the media space.  Users have the option of using auto calculation of CPM Impressions, CPC (Cost Per Click) or simply entering flat rates.  Our customized fields and unlimited comment space make this a simple way to create easy-to-use vendor orders.

Our software empowers a user to organize, analyze and communicate media buys for broadcast TV, cable, radio, outdoor, print and digital.

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