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4 Step Process Of Digital Advertising: Digital Advertising 101

Now that we know what digital advertising is, how it works, and the different options available, let’s dive into the 4 Step Process Of Digital Advertising: Digital Advertising 101 from start to finish. If you don’t know how digital advertising works, go ahead and read our Ultimate Online Advertising Guide. [CLICK HERE]. Let’s dive into the digital advertising process from start to finish.

1. Strategy

For your online ads to succeed, you must begin with a campaign concept backed by research. Start by articulating the problem you are trying to solve, and then connect this to the audience you are trying to reach. It’s an important process of digital advertising.

For example, is a landing page not receiving enough traffic? Tools like Google Analytics uncover demographic information about who is visiting these pages, which gives you a target for growth. Have your past adverts gone unnoticed? Keyword research and search tools like Google Trends show you which topics people are interested in and the questions they have—questions your campaign can answer. Are you having a hard time standing out from the pack? Analyzing your competitor’s current advertising strategy gives you an idea of what works for them, and customer reviews of their products tell you what aspects of their service are lacking.

4 Step Process Of Digital Advertising: Digital Advertising 101

As far as the actual concept of the ad, take your research and add imagination. Your digital ad should tell a story: most viewers distrust ads and consciously avoid them when possible, so ads that feel more like entertainment or tell genuine stories perform better. Usually, this involves identifying your customers’ pain points and demonstrating how your business solves them.

With your campaign strategy ready, the next step is to set up a formal brief to document your plan and everything you need to implement it. You want to account for the following:

  • Campaign title and description
  • Goals and success metrics
  • Target audience
  • Distribution channels
  • Content materials
  • Budget

Whether or not a brief is required by higher-ups before approving a campaign, it is always good practice to draft one so that all parties involved are on the same page.


2. Budgeting

Next, you take all of your grand ideas from the strategy phase and make decisions about how to make them real. Budgeting and allocating funds is no exact science. It depends on your own revenue goals and the marketplaces you are vying for. Pay particular attention to these three main concerns:

  • 4 Step Process Of Digital Advertising: Digital Advertising 101 - BudgetPeople. The medium determines who needs to be involved in the campaign. If it is a video ad, you may need to budget for a video production team. If it is a design-based ad, you will need to budget for a copywriter, graphic designer, and developer. In addition to any contractors or freelancers, make a list of in-house talent needed.
  • Distribution. Where your ads are distributed. Keep in mind that each platform has different pricing models. Social media advertising operates on an auction-like bidding system for advertising space. Some ad channels, typically paid search, use a pay-per-click (PPC) model that charges you based on the number of click-throughs. The length of time that each ad is displayed also increases your ad spend. Review the pricing for each of your distribution options to account for this ahead of time.
  • Schedule. Scheduling describes the scope of your campaign, both in planning and execution. Account for timetables and salaries of people involved in the creation of the ad, as well as the timeline for how long the ad stays live on your selected platforms.

Keep all your budgeting notes handy until the campaign finishes: they can play a role in reviewing your campaign’s performance afterward. Success depends on how your ad spend compares to your return on investment (ROI), which is to say, whether you received more for your ad than you put in.

The budget has to be number 2 in the process of digital advertising.

3. Production

An illustration with abstract characters doing a high-five over an internet browser
Communication and teamwork are key to a successful ad campaign. Illustration by spoon lancer.
With your strategy, budget, and schedule in place, you should have a sturdy framework to guide you through production. Earlier you made an overall campaign document, but now you need additional, more specific briefs for each aspect of your ad campaign, delivered to the responsible parties.Production.

For example, a copywriter needs a brief that outlines word count, targeted keywords, messaging goals, etc. Meanwhile, a designer needs a creative brief specifying the size of the canvas, advertising color stipulations, target audience, design references, and so on.

There are a lot of options for hiring contractors, but when it comes to finding graphic designers a creative platform like 99designs is great for finding talent quickly and easily. The platform gives you access to a global pool of professional designers and creatives, so you can find the right fit for your needs and budget more easily. Not to mention the advantages of having a secure project space for flexible invoicing, communication, and secure payments.

Once you’ve connected with the talent and delegated the appropriate assignments, work with creatives to keep projects on schedule. Offer regular feedback to ensure that the campaign is coming together with the way you imagined. We recommend testing the advertisement on a sample of viewers so that you have time to incorporate their feedback before it’s too late. If necessary, be sure to consult and adjust your schedule regularly as issues arise.

4. Distribution

Now that you’ve done everything you can possibly do to prepare for and produce your ad, it’s finally time to unleash it into the digital sphere. Each channel has a different process for distributing the ad, but it should be as simple as following the platform’s instructions and uploading your content.


As we mentioned, it is good to test your ad before you distribute it, but even this does not guarantee that viewers respond the way you expect. When your ad goes live and presented to the whole of the internet, new problems may arise. The great thing about digital advertising, though, is that you can check results quickly and implement changes mid-campaign.

Most platforms have their own analytic tools with standard metrics like the number of impressions, clicks, and percentage viewed (for videos). UTM codes can also show you which portion of your website traffic correlates to different ads. With A/B tests, you can compare two different versions of your ad on two segments of your market to reveal which performs best. Because digital ads are always live, you can adjust any of the content whenever you need to.

Dial-up your online advertising

Although digital advertising is meant to complement your general organic marketing efforts, it alone can boost sales, promote brand awareness and connect with your audience in a much faster way. That’s assuming you have solid advertising content to back it up.

While the numerous approaches to digital advertising might seem daunting, we hope this beginner’s guide has given you a solid foundation to start on. And if you’re ready to take your digital advertising to the next level, a professional designer is essential to make your ads come alive online.


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