There are a lot of different types of advertising that businesses can use. Advertising is an important component of any successful marketing strategy. With so many options to choose from, it can be challenging to determine which advertising methods are best suited for your business.
This comprehensive guide examines 11 different advertising types you can leverage across traditional, digital, social media, and unconventional channels. We’ll explore the unique benefits, best practices, and effective techniques for each ad format.
Traditional Advertising Methods
Traditional advertising encompasses conventional ad formats that businesses have used for decades, including print, television, radio, direct mail, and outdoor. These traditional tactics remain effective for building broad brand awareness.
1. Print Advertising
Print ads are any type of advertisement published in a newspaper, magazine, directory, or other print publication. Examples include:
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- Newspaper Ads – Local papers provide geographic targeting, while national papers offer broad reach. Good for coupons, promotions, and event announcements.
- Magazine Ads – Allow focused targeting by interest based on the publication’s specialty. Full page ads offer high visual impact.
- Catalogs – Product catalogs help retailers display their product selection via print. Includes pricing, descriptions, and photos.
- Yellow Pages – Directory advertising targets consumers actively searching for local businesses and services.
- Flyers/Inserts – Promotional flyers can be included as inserts in newspapers and magazines to reach broad local audiences.
Print advertising continues to be popular with the rise of niche publications catering to specific demographics. Creative print ads can effectively capture reader attention while delivering brand messaging.
2. Television Advertising
Television advertising involves playing brief video commercials on broadcast, cable, and streaming TV channels. TV remains one of the most impactful traditional advertising mediums, providing mass reach combined with visuals, sound, and motion. Types of TV ads include:
- Local Spots – Affordable local TV ads target regional viewers based on designated market area (DMA).
- National Spots – Run ads across the entire national network for broad exposure.
- Infomercials – 30-minute direct response ads focused on product demonstrations.
- Product Placements – Embed products subtly into TV shows in exchange for a sponsorship fee.
From brief 15-second commercials to longer form infomercials, TV ads help brands connect with audiences at scale while showcasing their products or services.
3. Radio Advertising
Radio advertising is another mass medium that businesses utilize to communicate with broad local and national audiences. Ads run during commercial breaks in between programming. Benefits include:
- Wide Reach – Over 90% of Americans listen to radio weekly, including in cars.
- Frequency – Listeners tune in repeatedly, ensuring ad repetition.
- Engaging – Combines sound, voiceover, and music to capture attention.
- Flexible – Ad length can range from 15 to 60 seconds.
- Affordable – Radio ads are relatively inexpensive compared to TV.
Radio advertising provides significant exposure across key demographics within local metro areas or nationally. Brands use radio ads to create top-of-mind awareness and drive website traffic.
4. Direct Mail Advertising
Direct mail encompasses any advertising sent physically through the postal mail. This includes postcards, catalogs, brochures, newsletters, and sales letters. Key benefits:
- Targeted – Mail specific pieces to narrow recipient pools based on demographics.
- Personal – Add first names and personalization to make it relevant.
- Trackable – Unique promo codes enable measuring response rates.
- Flexible – Can contain long copy, visuals, product samples, and more.
- Premium – Mail elevates brand perception since recipients pay attention to physical pieces.
Through careful list selection and personalization, direct mail enables sending relevant offers and messaging to targeted prospect groups. Classic yet still effective.
5. Out-of-Home Advertising (OOH)
Out-of-home advertising encompasses ads viewed outside the home, including billboards, transit displays, street furniture, and more. OOH delivers extensive reach and high impact through creative executions:
- Billboards – Large format roadside displays command attention along commuter routes.
- Transit – Bus, subway, and rail ads target commuters and public transport riders.
- Street Furniture – Interactive kiosks, bus stops, newsstands, and other urban fixtures.
- Place-Based – Digital screens and signage placed in specific high-traffic venues.
- Aerial – Skywriting, blimps, and banner planes reach broad audiences at events.
OOH advertising provides significant brand exposure through creative placements in unexpected spaces with extensive foot traffic and visibility. The ads leap off the pages and screens to catch consumer attention as they go about their day.
Digital Advertising Methods
Digital advertising leverages the internet and connected devices to promote brands. With precision targeting and detailed performance tracking, digital ads deliver efficient results.
6. Search Advertising
Search ads target consumers actively searching for related products or services. Text ads appear prominently on SERP’s based on keyword relevancy:
- Google Ads – Text ads on the Google search network. Appear above or below organic results.
- Microsoft Ads – Paid search ads on Bing search engine results pages.
- Amazon Ads – Sponsored product ads target shoppers on Amazon.
- Shopping Campaigns – Show product images, prices, and offers across search engines.
Search advertising pairs promotional messaging with high commercial intent keywords enabling brands to connect with prospects during the purchase funnel.
7. Social Media Advertising
Social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat all offer built-in advertising capabilities to reach their broad user bases.
- Facebook Ads – Highly visual news feed ads with advanced targeting options.
- Instagram Ads – Photo and video ads in-feed or in Stories.
- Twitter Ads – Promoted tweets, trends, and account targeting.
- LinkedIn Ads – Text, image, and video ads with unique B2B targeting.
- Snapchat Ads – Vertical video ads between stories or AR lenses.
- Promoted Posts – Boost key organic content to reach bigger audiences.
- Social Follower Ads – Gain more followers by promoting your account profile itself.
- Lead Generation Ads – Convert visitors into leads with contact forms.
- Event Response Ads – Increase event attendance and registrations.
Social advertising helps brands engage relevant audiences within each platform’s unique environment and content feed.
8. Display Advertising
Display ads are highly visual, attention-grabbing boxes that appear on websites and apps. They include:
- Banner Ads – Classic rectangular boxes in standard ad sizes (728×90, 300×250, etc).
- Rich Media – Animated and interactive ad units.
- Video Ads – In-stream videos before, during, or after other video content.
- Native Ads – Promoted posts and content that match the surrounding page’s look and feel.
Display ads provide a big visual presence to capture attention as users browse sites. Video ads in particular can powerfully communicate branding and messaging.
9. Podcast Advertising
Since millions of people are listening to podcasts, it’s only natural that companies are advertising on podcasts. There are different methods that can be used to advertise on a podcast. For example, the podcast Pardon My Take will have sponsored segments, host-read ads, pre-roll ads, and even sponsored episodes, such as the example below with CashApp.
They include the following:
- Host-Read Ads: Host-read ads are delivered by the podcast hosts themselves.
- Pre-Roll Ads: Pre-roll ads are played at the beginning of the podcast episode. They are a variation of host-read ads if the host reads the ad itself.
- Mid-Roll Ads: Mid-roll ads are inserted in the middle of the podcast episode. They are a variation of host-read ads if the host reads the ad itself.
- Post-Roll Ads: Post-roll ads are played at the end of the podcast episode. They are a variation of host-read ads if the host reads the ad itself.
- Sponsored Podcasts: Some companies will pay to sponsor individual episodes, a certain number of episodes over a period of time, or the entire podcast.
- Sponsored Segments: In sponsored segments, a specific segment of the podcast, such as a Q&A session or a featured interview, is sponsored by a company.
While there may be other examples, for the most part, podcast advertising is very similar to radio advertising. Companies pay the podcast or a podcast network for ad reads. Then, the hosts read the advertisements on their show.
Unconventional and Experiential Advertising
Beyond the major traditional and digital advertising channels, brands are embracing unconventional advertising options to capture consumer attention in new ways:
10. Product Placement Advertising
Product placement incorporates brand-name products into the entertainment that we are consuming. For example, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a show about friends who own a bar and they had a sponsorship deal with Coors Light. Then, the actors in the show would drink Coors Light in the bar. When the sponsorship ended, they drank beer out of bottles with no labels. Here’s an example from Wayne’s World.
Some areas where you may see product placement advertising includes:
- Movies – The most common placement medium. Brands pay a sponsorship fee for inclusion.
- Television – Products featured during scripted shows or reality TV.
- Music Videos – Artists feature or consume branded products in videos.
- Video Games – Brand names appear on objects, billboards, or game environments.
Subtly integrating brands into content helps establish awareness and familiarity with the brand. It can also lead to impulse purchases.
11. Experiential Advertising
Experiential marketing & advertising involves creating unique, branded events, activations, pop-ups, and interactions for consumers to actively engage with.
- Street Marketing – Brand ambassadors engage consumers in public spaces.
- Pop-Up Shops – Temporary physical storefronts in high-traffic areas.
- Product Sampling – Provide free product trials for hands-on experience.
- Sponsorships – Host branded areas or supply giveaways at events.
- Trade Shows – Exhibit and interact with industry professionals at conferences.
Experiential advertising leaves a powerful impression by giving consumers the opportunity to experience and interact with brands in person. It can be a great way to educate potential customers. Lastly, brands can raise awareness about their products or services.
Advertising Best Practices
Regardless of the specific advertising method used, some best practices to follow include:
- Strong Call-to-Action – Every ad should focus the audience’s attention toward a specific desired action.
- Concise Messaging – Communicate key brand differentiators and value quickly and clearly.
- Compelling Visuals – Use images, photos, and videos that will grab your customer’s attention.
- Personalization – Use names if you can and segment your ads to make them relatable.
- Consistency Across Campaigns – Maintain steady branding and tone across channels and formats. Your offers should be the same or very similar across channels.
- Retargeting – Remind visitors of products they previously viewed to complete the sale.
- Testing and Optimization – A/B test ad variations to see where they perform best.
Leveraging these proven techniques will improve ad effectiveness regardless of where they are placed.
Why Advertising Matters
Before diving into the specifics of various ad formats, it’s important to understand why advertising is such a critical investment for companies and brands. Here are some of the key reasons effective advertising pays off:
- Increases Brand Awareness – Advertising gets your brand and messaging in front of target audiences repeatedly to build familiarity.
- Communicates Value Proposition – Ads allow you to clearly demonstrate the value your product or service delivers.
- Drives Leads and Sales – Creative ads motivate potential customers to engage with your business.
- Improves Market Share – Compelling ads help you capture a bigger share of your target market vs. competitors.
- Reinforces Messaging – Consistent ads across channels strengthen brand recall and retention.
- Provides Competitive Edge – A strong advertising strategy is a differentiator that sets successful brands apart.
As a small business, dedicating resources towards purposeful advertising gives you an opportunity to compete with larger players in the market. For established brands, advertising is necessary to maintain visibility and continue growing.
The Right Advertising Mix for Business Growth
Where is the best place to advertise to potential customers? With all of the options that advertisers have today, it can be difficult to determine where we should spend our budget. Some companies may simply focus on Digital Advertising that drives traffic to their website. Other companies may focus on using Television Advertising and running commercials to reach their local market. The key is determining the appropriate mix of traditional, digital, and unconventional advertising to match your brand, products, customers, and campaign objectives.
With this comprehensive guide, you should have a good understanding of the different types of advertising you can use for your business. You should test multiple types of advertising with a seamless message to see what works best for you. In addition, research where you can reach your active customers. If your budget is limited, then focus on the highest-impact advertising that will lead to revenue for your business. Use high-quality creative, create irresistible offers, and focus on driving conversions.