How to Choose an Advertising Platform

October 2021
 minute read
making a decision between facebook or tiktok

When it comes to crime, detectives follow the money. And when it comes to money, advertisers follow the audience. That’s why when businesses look for a place to invest their advertising dollars, the smart ones gravitate toward the online space. But with so many platforms out there, it can be hard to choose the best ones.

There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to choosing which platform deserves your investment, and it can feel paralyzing. Coming from one of the top marketing agencies out there, we get how overwhelming the world of online marketing can be. And we want to help cut through some of that clutter. That’s why we created this handy guide on all the major online advertising platforms. Read on!

Factors To Consider When Choosing a Platform 

Top Marketing Agencies Know It’s Not One Size Fits All 

hand writing a checklist in a notebook
Make sure the platform you choose is ticking all the right boxes.

There are tons of choices out there for a reason–what works for one business won’t necessarily work for the next. Before we get into the specifics of each platform, let’s talk about the types of things top marketing agencies advise different businesses to consider when making a decision: 

  • Benchmark Costs: When you’re thinking about where to invest your advertising budget, the first thing to think about is how big that budget actually is. If you’re a business without the deepest pockets in the world, some platforms and ad types are friendlier than others. Most platforms will charge based on a Cost Per Click (CPC) and Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM) basis, which you can choose based on your overall goal for the ad. Though these can vary, it’s always a good idea to check out the average CPC and CPM for the platform as a whole, as well as for your industry specifically. 
  • Demographics: If you’re a professional services firm looking to fill a job opening, it doesn’t make much sense to post your ad on a platform filled with teenagers who just want to be entertained. When choosing a platform, consider what types of people primarily use it, and compare them to the audience you’re trying to reach. 
  • Objectives: Every good ad has a clear purpose–before you create an ad, you need to choose an advertising objective. That makes choosing a platform easier because different platforms are better optimized for different objectives. One platform might be fantastic at driving traffic to your website, while another might shine when it comes to getting people talking about your brand. 
  • Creative options: Depending on the story you’re trying to tell, some ad types might be more appropriate than others. For example, businesses trying to sell art pieces are going to have much more luck with visual rather than text-only formats. Consider which creative options each platform offers: do they let you run product ads? What are their options for influencer partnerships? Keep in mind though, even if a platform offers a specific ad format, that might not be the type of content users are logging on to see. Always think about which types of content perform best on the platform when choosing how you want to tell your story.  
  • Industry: If you want to know which platform will help you sell the best, it matters what you’re selling. Some platforms are perfect for e-commerce retailers–equipped with an audience ready to shop. Others boast the kind of engaged user base who will establish your B2B business as a thought leader in your niche. Think about which platform makes the most sense for your industry. Where are your competitors advertising? Why are people coming to the platform? Even if a platform fits your budgetary, demographic, and creative needs, if it doesn’t make sense for your industry, it’s not going to make sense for your bottom line. 

Now that you know some of the things to look for when considering platforms, you’re ready to...consider some platforms. In the next section, we’ll talk you through the basics of some of the powerhouse platforms of the online advertising world. 

Advertising on the Big-Name Platforms 

Learn the Ins-and Outs of Popular Online Advertising Options

four logos for Facebook, instagram, LinkedIn, and Google with dollar icons above them
Advertisers traditionally like to invest in these established platforms 

Typically, advertisers have some tried and true options when they venture into the online realm. Over time, these options have each proven themselves to be powerful and efficient choices when it comes to targeting, budgeting, and driving objectives. But some of them are still going to be more appropriate for your needs than others. Let’s take a closer look at the big names: 


Meet the largest social media platform on the market. While much of the social media world seems populated by a younger audience without money to spend, Facebook Ads is the go-to place to find a more mature demographic, with the majority of its audience between the ages of 25 and 35, and getting older still. 

Its benchmark costs won’t break the bank either, with its average CPC coming in at $0.97 and CPM at $7.19. And it offers objectives for every spot on the marketing funnel: helping you drive brand awareness and reach at the top; app downloads, traffic, lead generation, messages, engagement and video views in the middle; and conversions, store visits, and catalog sales down at the bottom. But, like anywhere else, some industries have an easier time than others when it comes to getting a good ROI on the platform. Industries like retail, apparel, fitness, and beauty traditionally have higher engagement rates and lower average costs than industries like finance, customer services, and home improvement. Intuitively, this makes sense: people generally log onto Facebook when they want to let loose, do some retail therapy, and connect with their friends–not think about how to balance their checkbook or fix the leaky pipe in their basement. 

By no means new to the advertising world, Facebook offers a bevy of ad formats that can flexibly work into most marketing plans. Advertisers can use the platform to post their photos, videos, stories, carousels, slideshows, and collections. Facebook also offers Messenger ads, for businesses that want to contact their audiences directly, and Playable ads to offer users an interactive preview of an app. 


Coming in as the second largest platform out there, Instagram is the place to be for visually-driven brands. And since Instagram advertising is also done through Facebook Business Manager, it can be an easy addition to your Facebook advertising strategy. It’s a bit pricier than Facebook, with an average CPC of $3.56 and CPM of $7.91, but the higher value  could be because its content is particularly good at motivating people to shop. Like Facebook, Instagram offers objectives for all levels of the funnel: helping drive brand awareness and reach, traffic, engagement, app installs, video views, lead generation, messages, conversions, catalog sales, and store traffic. 

When advertising on Instagram, advertisers tend to target 25-34 year olds, but are also interested in the 18-24 age group. They have several creative options to choose from as well. They can post photo, video, or carousel ads to appear on a user’s regular feed, video ads to appear on Stories or IGTV feeds, or shoppable product ads on Instagram Shop. Instagram is also a powerhouse when it comes to influencer marketing, making their branded content ads a particularly attractive option.  

The top interests on Instagram are travel, music, and food and drink, showing that Instagram is still primarily a social platform, and B2C  industries that have strong visuals and easily shoppable products tend to perform best here. 


If your B2B business has felt left out so far, you can find your home here. It boasts a highly educated, high-earning B2B demographic that are logging into the platform to find jobs and talk industry trends. It’s the leading platform for B2B lead generation, but it also offers objectives in brand awareness, website visits, engagement, video views, website conversions, and job applications. While its average CPC and CPM may seem high, coming in at $5.26 and $6.59, LinkedIn calculates these metrics a bit differently, so that only the most valuable clicks and impressions count. 

The largest age group on this platform is within the 46-55 year old range, and they’re generally all business on the platform. The straightforward creative options LinkedIn offers reflect that fact. Advertisers can run single image, video, carousel, and event ads, as well as sponsored messages, and simple text ads. 


EVERYONE uses Google. Appearing high on this search engine virtually guarantees eyes on you. Running a Google Search Ad is simple–figure out what keywords your audience is searching, and pay to have your site be one of the first results when they search that keyword. You’ll pay on a CPC basis, with the average coming in at $1-2. However, since Google caters to pretty much every industry under the sun, there is going to be some huge variation in the costs of different keywords. Depending on your budget, you’re going to have to think strategically about which keywords are worth ranking for

Because of the nature of the platform, creative options are a bit more limited here. Your Search Ad can appear as a classic Google search result with three sentences of copy.

Advertising with the Up-and-Comers

What Opportunities are Offered by Less Popular Advertising Platforms?

twitter, pinterest, and tik tok logos set up vertically on a ladder
Less traditionally popular platforms are moving up the ranks

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google are definitely the popular advertising platforms–and for good reason. But advertisers shouldn’t be too quick to overlook the opportunities that come with some of these other platforms: 


It’s not as well-known as the big named platforms, but Pinterest’s over 416 million active user base is still nothing to sneeze at. And these users are primed and ready to shop. The platform is the most product-focused of any other social media platform, and users often log on with the intention of spending some of their (often sizable) budgets. Pinterest users skew heavily female, with American mothers with college degrees and high earning potentials making up the majority of its base. 

According to Pinterest, 50% of their users have made a purchase after viewing sponsored content, which can include images, videos, shoppable products, carousels, collections, and product catalogs. And advertising on Pinterest is relatively cheap. Advertisers need to spend a minimum of $2 for their CPM, with the average between $2-5. The average CPC is between $0.10 and $1.50. Their objectives are a bit more limited than some of the big name platforms: with the platform offering brand awareness, engagement, and web traffic options. Since Pinterest is so product-focused, there are huge opportunities for ecommerce B2C brands with shoppable and visually pleasing products. 


Why is Twitter on our less popular list? The established platform is a by no means unknown destination for conversation, quick news, and customer service. However, advertisers can find the platform a bit difficult, given the nature of a Twitter user’s intent. Nevertheless, there are some real benefits to advertising on Twitter. 

In the first place, it’s cheap! Twitter’s average CPC is a measly $0.38 and its average CPM is $6.46. And if you are looking to reach an older audience, Twitter is a good place to start, with its largest age group between 30-49 years old. It’s also a great place to form influencer partnerships, since 80% of tweets come from its most active 10% of accounts. That means partnering with a power-user gets you a large share of the Twitter voice. Twitter allows you to capitalize on this fact by offering Twitter Amplify ad options, which allow you to pair your content with Twitter publishers. 

Twitter’s dizzying array of over 20 other possible formats and placements is another way the platform is sweetening the pot for advertisers.They offer objectives for all levels of the funnel: with reach at the top; video views, pre-roll views, app installs, website clicks, engagement, and followers in the middle; and app re-engagements at the bottom.


TikTok is still a relatively new platform, but its exponential growth is drawing the attention of advertisers. With that in mind, the platform has been making advertising easier over time, most recently offering new self-service options and product-focused features. TikTok’s audience is highly engaged and dedicated, but also pretty young, with the largest age group between 18 and 24. 

But TikTok isn’t going anywhere, and advertisers need to keep an eye on this space as it continues to grow. However, at the moment, TikTok advertising isn’t as friendly to small businesses. Ads start at a minimum of $10 per CPM and a minimum of $500 per campaign. Some of its pricier ad formats can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, making paid options on this platform the purview of larger brands with more money to spend. 

TikTok offers objectives at all levels of the funnel: with reach at the top; traffic, app installs, and video views in the middle; and conversions at the bottom. 

As a primarily video sharing platform, most ad formats are going to be video-centric, but TikTok does offer the option to run static image ads, Other self-service options include videos, carousels, promoted organic posts, and playable ads. TikTok’s non-self service options: Brand Takeover, Top View ads, Branded Hashtag Challenge, and Branded effects, are the ones that can be a bit on the pricey side. And according to Business Insider, TikTok is planning to roll out more product-focused ads formats as well, adding  “Collection Ads” and “Dynamic Product Ads” to the mix. 

Choosing which advertising platform to use doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Though the sheer number of choices can seem daunting, top marketing agencies know how to narrow down your list. Considering which platform best fits your objectives, audience, industry, and budget are all steps in the right direction. And if you need some more help choosing the platform of your dreams, reach out to us! We’d love to matchmake for you.

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