What Is Digital Advertising? Definition, Types, and Examples

digital advertising

Gone are the days when businesses relied solely on traditional methods like print ads, billboards, and TV commercials. With the rise of the internet and mobile devices, a new frontier has emerged – digital advertising.

This modern approach allows companies to reach their target audiences in a more targeted, cost-effective, and measurable way. Whether it’s through search engines, social media platforms, websites, or mobile apps, digital advertising offers plenty of opportunities to connect with potential customers and promote products or services.

In this post, we will discuss everything you need to know about this effective marketing tool, why it is essential and provide you with some valuable tips to navigate the constantly changing online advertising environment.

So let us get started

What is Digital Advertising?

Digital Advertising

Digital advertising, also referred to as online advertising, plays a crucial role in building brand awareness and promoting products in the modern world of the internet.

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For instance, as you scroll through your Instagram feed, catching up on the day’s events and the latest news, a sponsored post from Digital Marketing Skill Institute appears in your feed. This sponsored post is a prime example of digital advertising in action.

Social media platforms like Instagram offer businesses the opportunity to reach their target audience through sponsored content, allowing them to showcase their products, and services on the platform.

Some of the benefits of digital advertising include:

  • Creativity and Flexibility: Digital advertising provides a wide range of creative formats to engage your target audience. It allows you to customize content to resonate with specific audiences based on the platform.
  • Build Relationships: When you use online platforms like social media, and display ads to run your ads, you can connect with your audience and build a strong connection.
  • Reaching targeted audiences: Ads can also help you reach a precisely targeted audience to know about their specific demographics, interests, and behaviours.
  • Measurable results: Digital ad provides real-time tracking and reporting of key metrics like clicks, impressions, and conversions.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Digital advertising supports a wide range of budgets and can be more cost-effective than traditional advertising.

How does Digital Advertising Work?

In Nigeria, there is a rapidly growing of digital population and businesses of all types should adopt this effective marketing strategy well to fit in.

But how does it work? Digital advertising works by using various digital channels to promote products or services to target audiences. By understanding how digital ads work, you can reach your target audience and achieve their marketing goal

Audience Targeting

Audience targeting is a crucial aspect of digital advertising. To do this properly, advertisers should carry out proper audience research of who they want to target to reach specific groups of people who are most likely to be interested in your products or services.

There are several ways to target audiences in digital advertising and they include demographic, interest-based, behavioral and retargeting. When you use any of these approaches, this not only increases the chances of engagement and conversion but also helps to build brand awareness and loyalty over time.

Ad Creation

After you have identified your target audience, you need to develop and refine your advertising content. This includes creating visually appealing ads, crafting engaging copy, and ensuring that the ads are optimized for the specific platform and device. For example, you may create a series of Instagram Stories ads to showcase your products or services with each ad tailored to the vertical format and designed to appeal to your customers.

Placement and Delivery of Ad

When you create an ad, you need to strategically place it on various digital platforms to reach your target audience. Social media platforms like Instagram offer a range of advertising options, including boosted posts and sponsored stories, allowing you to tailor your marketing strategy.

You can also use Facebook’s Ads Manager to create and deliver personalized ads to specific audiences on the platform. This ensures your ad reaches the right people, increasing the chances of engagement and conversion.

Tracking and Optimization

One great benefit of digital advertising is the ability to monitor and assess campaign performance in real time.  This data allows you to make informed decisions and optimize your campaigns for better results. There are various tools you can use to measure metrics such as Google Analytics, Hubspot, SEMrush and many more.

These tools help you check metrics like conversion rates and click-through rates for your digital advertising campaigns. When you continuously track and optimise your campaigns, it can help advertisers maximize the impact of their digital advertising efforts.


Retargeting and remarketing are digital advertising strategies utilized to reconnect with users who have previously engaged with a business website or advertisements. You can use these tactics to remind potential customers about your offerings and inspire them to take action.

For instance, as a marketer for an e-commerce platform, you may utilize retargeting ads on Facebook to showcase products to users who have previously browsed the e-commerce website but did not complete a purchase. This can help you to get new sales or return customers.

If you need help to do the above steps seamlessly and effectively, you should consider taking this Digital Marketing training course. You will be taught how to create and deliver ads on many digital marketing platforms to achieve your marketing objectives.

Differences between Digital Advertising and Traditional Advertising

Digital Advertising

Traditional advertising methods still have a role in the Nigerian marketing mix, although digital advertising has become the primary force in marketing. It is important to understand the key differences between these two approaches to maximize your brand’s reach and impact.

Traditional advertising is a one-way communication method where consumers receive the message without much opportunity for interaction. On the other hand, digital advertising encourages a two-way dialogue between the brand and the consumer.

Traditional advertising, such as billboards or newspaper ads, disseminates your message to a wide audience. However, reaching your ideal customer can prove to be difficult. On the other hand, digital advertising is highly effective at targeting specific audiences.

Quantifying the effectiveness of traditional advertising can be challenging. It is often unclear if a television or radio ad directly led to increased sales. But with digital advertising, there is extensive measurability. You can monitor clicks, website traffic, and conversions in real time, enabling you to optimize campaigns and assess ROI with clarity.

Additionally, digital advertising can be a cost-effective option for your small business compared to the high costs typically associated with traditional advertising methods.

The truth is both digital and traditional advertising have their advantages, but the targeted reach, measurability, and cost-effectiveness of digital advertising make it a powerful tool for businesses in the dynamic Nigerian market.

Different Types of Digital Advertising?

Now, let’s look at the different types of digital advertising you can employ for your small business or brand to reach your target audience.

Social Media Advertising

This is a popular form of digital advertising that targets users on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. As an advertiser, you can create targeted ads based on who you want to target and many more. Various social media ad formats can be displayed such as sponsored posts, sponsored stories, and video ads. When your ad is done properly, it can help drive website traffic, generate leads, and increase conversions.

Display Advertisement

It involves the creation of visual ads, such as banners or videos, that are displayed on websites, blogs, or mobile apps. You can find a common example of display ads on news websites or blogs in Nigeria, which showcase products or services across different industries.  Their main goal is to promote a product, service, or brand, and drive traffic to a website or landing page.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) involves the creation and placement of online advertisements that are displayed on search engines like Google when users search for specific keywords related to a business or its products. For example, you may launch an SEM campaign targeting keywords about your products to attract potential clients who are searching for these products.

Mobile Advertising

The number of smartphone users in Nigeria was forecast to continuously increase between 2024 and 2029 by in total 101.7 million users according to Statista. Mobile advertising has become a powerful tool you can use effectively to display your products and services on popular mobile apps. It is effective because people spend a significant amount of time on their mobile devices, and ads can be tailored to their specific needs and preferences. It can be used to reach a large audience, anywhere, anytime.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a type of digital marketing strategy that includes sending customized and targeted messages to customers or potential customers through email. You can use email marketing to cultivate leads, advertise new products or services, and provide exclusive offers to subscribers. You can do this by sending regular newsletters to your subscribers.

How to Create a Digital Advertising Strategy

Types of Digital Advertising

If you recognize the effectiveness of digital advertising for your business or brand and are prepared to incorporate it into your marketing plan, developing a successful strategy is essential.

Define your Objectives

Before launching a digital advertising campaign, it’s crucial to define your objectives. What do you want to achieve? Do you aim to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic, generate leads, or boost sales?

For example, if your objective is to increase website traffic, you might focus on search engine marketing and social media advertising. If your goal is to generate leads, you could create targeted display ads and optimize your landing pages. When you set clear and measurable goals, it will help you create a targeted strategy and track the success of your campaigns.

Know your Target Audience

For your campaign to be successful, you must possess a thorough understanding of who your target audience is. What do they do? The challenges do they face? What drives them to engage with your content and many more? You have to research to analyze your customer base and construct buyer personas.

These things are essential steps to acquiring valuable insights into your audience’s behaviors, preferences, and requirements. By understanding your target audience, you can create ads that speak directly to them and drive meaningful engagement.

Choose the Right Platforms

For your ads to effectively achieve your goals and target audience, it is crucial to carefully choose the digital platforms that align with your objectives and reach your target audience. Popular social media platforms include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

For example, if your goal is to increase brand awareness among young adults, platforms like Instagram and TikTok would be ideal choices. By selecting the right digital platforms, you can ensure your ads are seen by the people most likely to engage with your brand and take the desired action, whether that’s visiting your website, making a purchase, or signing up for a newsletter.

Set a Budget and Track Performance

Setting a budget and tracking performance are crucial steps in creating a successful digital advertising strategy. You need to determine how much you are willing to spend on your campaign and allocate your budget accordingly. After you start running the ads, you need to track your ad performance regularly to ensure you are meeting your objectives.

There are various metrics to monitor such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and return on investment, These metrics will help you to make data-driven decisions and optimize your campaign for better results.

Optimize and refine

Finally, with digital advertising, you don’t launch a campaign and go to sleep. It requires continuous monitoring and adjustment of your campaign performance based on the data. You have to test different ad creatives, targeting options, and platforms to see what works best. Depending on the data, you can refine your messaging and offers to better resonate with your target audience.

Digital Advertising Examples

With the evolution of digital marketing in Nigeria, businesses and brands are increasingly using creative online campaigns to reach their target audiences.  Let’s look at two case studies from the Nigerian digital marketing industry that demonstrate innovative tactics and successful outcomes.

1.  Social Media Ad

Digital Marketing Skill Institute ran a social media ad for their digital marketing training course on both Facebook and Instagram. The ad creative included a compelling graphic showcasing their services, the various courses available, and the benefits of taking the training. The ad generated a lot of leads, which convinced many new students to enrol in the training to acquire various marketing skills.

Digital Advertising Tips and Best Practices

Staying ahead of the curve is vital for achieving success in digital advertising. Here are some essential tips and recommended practices to keep in mind.

Leverage Video Advertising

The use of video advertising is on the rise, driven by the popularity of platforms like Instagram, and TikTok, and the increasing prevalence of video content on social media. To succeed, make sure you create compelling video ads optimized for mobile devices to capture your audience’s attention and achieve desired outcomes. Experiment with various video formats like Stories and Reels to maximize impact.

Personalization and Relevance

Make sure that your digital advertisements are personalized and relevant to your specific audience. You can use data-driven insights to customize your messaging, and creativity based on each user’s interests, behaviors, and position in the buyer’s journey.

Embrace Conversational Marketing

Consumers are increasingly seeking personalized interactions. Use chatbots and messaging apps to engage in real-time conversations with potential customers, address their inquiries, and foster relationships. This will help you strengthen your relationship with them.

Embrace A/B Testing

When running ads, avoid relying on assumptions. Instead, conduct A/B testing on different ad variations, including headlines, visuals, and calls to action. This testing will help you determine which elements resonate most with your target audience. By continuously optimizing your ads based on the results of A/B testing, you can ensure that you are delivering the most effective ad creatives to your audience.


Digital advertising is a powerful tool for businesses to reach their target audience, build brand awareness, and drive sales. With its precision targeting capabilities, measurable results, and cost-effectiveness, digital advertising has become an essential part of any marketing strategy. Remember, digital advertising is not a one-time effort; it requires ongoing commitment, creativity, and adaptability. By embracing the opportunities presented by digital advertising to reach your target audience, it can help you achieve your marketing goals.


What are the different types of digital advertising?

There are various types of digital advertising available, including:

  • Search Ads: These ads appear on search engines such as Google when users input relevant keywords.
  • Social Media Ads: These targeted ads are displayed on platforms like Facebook and Instagram based on user profiles and interests.
  • Display Ads: These are banner ads that you see on websites and apps.
  • Native Ads: These ads are designed to blend seamlessly into the content of a webpage or app.
  • Video Ads: Short video clips are used to capture attention and promote products or services.
  • Email Marketing: This involves sending professional emails to promote products or services.

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