Growth Planning: Reach Of Ad Networks

Every new business will inevitably ask itself an important question: should I advertise online? Online advertising holds myriad advantages over other forms of advertising and marketing. In this series on Growth Planning, we’ll go over these various advantages in detail, and explore the specific growth and development opportunities for advertisers of all industries and verticals.


Google AdWords Networks

AdWords is Google’s pay-per-click advertising platform. I recently wrote a detailed post on the three pillars of this platform (check it out here). Each contains significant opportunity in terms of reach, relevance, and response.


Google Search (and search partners) Users enter search queries into Google. Advertisers bid on keywords contained in these search queries, which results in their ad appearing in the search results, which links to the advertiser’s website. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

Google Search Ad


Google Display Users view content sites on the Google Display Network. This is a network of over a billion partner sites that have opted into a revenue sharing agreement called Google AdSense which to Google to show ads on sites. Advertisers pick the sites, or “placements”, on which they want their ads to appear, based on a number of flexible targeting options. Ads link to the advertiser’s site.

Google Display Network Ads


AdWords for Video This is Google’s video advertising platform for YouTube and the Google Display Network. Video ads play before featured content, or appear in search results on YouTube and in other locations across the Display Network. Advertisers choose from a range of targeting options.

Instream ad

Targeting Flexibility One of the main advantages of advertising on Google is the ability to target your ads effectively. Advertisers have a huge amount of control over who does, and doesn’t, see their ads. Here’s a quick rundown of the targeting options available:

  • Interest targeting – targets users who’ve demonstrated an interest in a specific product or service
  • Contextual targeting – matches keyword lists with site content to find relevant placements
  • Topics targeting – targets placements about specific topics
  • Audience / Remarketing – targets users who’ve already visited your site
  • Age – targets users in specific age ranges (only for users who are signed into their Google profile)
  • Gender – allows for targeting of only one gender (only for users who are signed into their Google profile)


Bing Ads Bing Ads (Formally called “AdCenter”) is Microsoft’s version of Google AdWords. Fundamentally, it’s an ad auction just like Google’s. Search networks served by Bing Ads include Bing and Yahoo, which represent a combined 30% of total search market share. Ad few facts about Bing Ads:

  • Users conduct over 6 billion searches per month between Yahoo, Bing, and search partners
  • Cost-per-clicks are sometimes lower than Google because of lower competition
  • Bing Ads allows you to import your AdWords campaigns directly, so you don’t have to build out an entirely new account if you don’t want to
  • Bing Ads sometimes achieve a better presence than on Google, showing at the top of page more often


Bing ads


Facebook Facebook targeting is similar to Google Display targeting in terms of the user’s frame of mind. The main difference is that it’s a social network, which means that social qualification is often baked into the ad serving. Ads show user engagement taken by users in the extended network of the user viewing the ad. In other words, Amy might see an ad that doesn’t have much relevance to her, but she’ll also be able to see that her friend Cindy likes that brand, which might make Amy more interested in checking it out. Beyond this feature, Facebook also offers an extensive suite of targeting options. The extent of these options is the result of the endless amount of insight Facebook is able to gleam from the information provided by users. Primary Facebook targeting options:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language
  • WCA (website custom audiances)
  • Lookalike
  • Interests
  • Advanced demographics
  • Behaviors
  • Connections
  • Facebook categories
  • Partner categories

(More on Facebook Targeting Options)   Facebook ads


Other Social Channels

Twitter and Linkedin both have their own ad networks that allow you to target based on a range of criteria similar to Facebook, though the options are a bit less extensive. Linkedin has particular application for B2B companies due to the business-based nature of the platform.


Accountability of Online Advertising

Beyond their massive reach and flexible targeting options, these networks also provide comprehensive data reporting at every level of your campaigns. In fact, the availability of data is so robust in the online world that it’s become a problem for many advertisers to wade through it all! The rapidly growing field of web analytics is progressing at it’s current pace precisely because it takes experts to sift through and data-mine this information in order to translate it into actionable insights. There will be many blog posts to come on metrics and data, but sufficed to say, the industry is definitely not suffering from a data shortage. Primary uses for online user data:

  • Click-side metrics for online ad campaigns (monitor how users are interacting with your advertising)
  • Site-side metrics for user behavior / engagement (monitor how users are engaging with your website)
  • Actions-based metrics (monitor whether users are completing meaningful conversion actions)
  • Competitive metrics ( monitor how your performance compares to other advertisers)
  • Attribution / Cross-channel metrics (understand how users are engaging across your various marketing channels)


Budget Control

Both AdWords and Facebook give you a great deal of control in terms of bids and budget. You can reallocate your budgets at anytime based on performance and other business considerations, quickly turn ad serving on and off, and reset bids for ads and keywords as often as you like.



  • The various networks discussed above provide significant reach, targeting flexibility, and bidding / budget control, especially when compared to offline channels
  • With 70% of Search market share Google AdWords is the big kid on the blog for search advertising
  • Microsoft AdCenter gets your ads on Yahoo and Bing Search (and search partners) and holds some competitive advantages to AdWords in some cases, but does not provide nearly the same amount of reach
  • Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin are also powerful ad serving networks, and provide extensive targeting options
  • Linkedin advertising has particular application for B2B companies


Reach by Network

  • Google Search -100 billion global web searches per month. 71% of search market share
  • Google Display – Over 1 billion monthly users, 6 billion ad impressions per month
  • AdWords for Video – Over 1 billion unique users per month on YouTube alone
  • AdCenter – 29% search market share
  • Facebook – 1.28 billion active users
  • Twitter – 645 registered users
  • Linkedin – 300 million users


Google AdWords

Bing Ads

Facebook Ads

Twitter Ads

Linkedin Ads