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The content of this blog was first delivered by James Hume as a live podcast broadcast on Paid Digital, it was EP 2: Picking a paid ad platform.

How do I choose a paid ad platform?

What things do you need to consider when trying to pick a platform for your paid ads? There’s a number of talking points and a number of platforms to pick from, be it Facebook, Google, LinkedIn. But where do you focus your efforts and how do you make that choice?


One of the top deciding factors when deciding where to spend your money and effort is your budget and resources. If you have a limited budget and resources, trying to appear everywhere for everyone is just going to spread your efforts thinly and potentially have little impact. Nobody has unlimited resources or budget, so you need to make decisions about where you should focus.

A good place to start is on one paid channel at a time. Be that Google Ads – go all in on Google search ads. Or LinkedIn – focus your efforts on your LinkedIn campaign and really get it homed in. But your budget will be a deciding factor deciding where you can show up and play as there are some locations that require larger budgets than others.

For example, on Facebook you can get started buying ads or display networks or with partners, but there are minimum commitments. On LinkedIn, the cost per click is likely to be high. So to get enough data to understand what’s happening, you’re going to need to spend a good chunk of budget working things out.

Marketing Funnel Stage  

The next area that’s important to figure out is what stage of the marketing funnel you’ll be spending your ad budget. So depending on where in that funnel you need to drive awareness of your marketing campaign will determine where you’re going to spend your money.

In case you’re not familiar with the term ‘marketing funnel’, it’s a simplistic way (or some people make it a complex way) of channeling the people who are the least aware of your product or service, through to being aware, then even advocating and spreading to others.

So at the top of that funnel, we have awareness; then we move audiences to having an interest or consideration – that intent to take our offer; then evaluation and ultimately purchase. Advocacy is at the bottom, where people are sharing the great stuff you’re doing.

For example, Google search ads are very much an intent, evaluation and purchase – bottom of funnel marketing channel. It’s people who are searching for solutions to their problems or searching around their problems. So you could show up when they’re in that space but it’s probably harder if you need to make people aware of your product. Whereas maybe a campaign on Facebook, or a display network campaign to the right audience, could be a way of making people aware of what you have to offer even if it’s not in their worldview of things to consider.


So with your stage of the funnel and your channel decided, the main underlying thing is intent. Is there intent? Do you want to be doing intent driven marketing? Or do you want to be doing demographic driven marketing and showing up in places where you think your ideal customers spend time. Maybe create some personas about them, an idea of what you think they look like – and interrupt their day with an ad. It takes some skill to make sure you’re presenting them with something that’s gonna go do that.

It’s worth knowing that different platforms will have different granularity of the demographics you can target. The obvious one in my mind is Google search for intent. But some other platforms with their machine learning and other technologies are able to bucket people with certain types of intent together and understand what they might need. So maybe that should be considered as an ad platform to spend your money?

What about if you need to make people consider, or they’re ready to have that intent but they’re just not expressing it on a Google search. Fortunately platforms are clever enough to know if someone expressed something last night on Facebook or Twitter this morning.


Another consideration is how specific your audience is. How specific and niche is the ideal customer you’re trying to sell to? If you sell a product, for example, a software product that’s just for enterprises and it’s only useful for marketing VPs in companies over 500 people; because you know that’s the complexity and the ideal scenario to use your product, that’s going to determine which platforms you use. In this case most likely LinkedIn can help (Like this LinkedIn Ad targeting software developers).

Or it could be that you want to reach really creative people who are renovating their homes and looking to create mood boards and ideas – then Pinterest ads would be the ideal place.

So how granular and specific your audiences are also determine where you spend your ad money could get started with that.

Return on Investment

Your final consideration is the return on investment. When do you anticipate, or what do you anticipate the return on investment to be from the different ad channel options you have? Depending on what you’re advertising, some channels will be far more efficient than others. It’s worth taking a step back and doing some rough calculations – do the numbers stack up for you to use this channel?

If you’re using Google search and it’s $2 a click, and you think you can convert into an inquiry at 5%, do those numbers stack up with your business goals of how much a lead is worth to you? If you sell something with an expensive lifetime value, then maybe it does. If you sell a widget, but it’s only $10, you’re going to be losing money. It’s worth doing some calculations, even if it’s just back of a note card. Predict using the information you have and you can get a lot of information from these platforms in terms of predictive cost per clicks (CPC) and audience sizes. Just work the numbers out, put a little spreadsheet together. 

That’s what I do.

So these are the top things you should consider when trying to choose a paid ad platform to run advertisements on. I hope that’s been useful. If you have any digital marketing questions your welcome to book a quick free call with me below or reach out on social media.

Tell me about your customers and I’ll happily tell you some ideas of how to reach them with ads.