Online Advertising: 4 Things You Need to Know Before You Start

Online Advertising

Online advertising can be a very lucrative way to draw in new customers. It offers businesses the chance to put their names in front of tens of thousands of people for a slim fraction of the cost of traditional marketing.

It’s a powerful tool in a marketer’s belt, but one that demands a lot of preparation and information to use with success — which is why you’ll find countless guides to picking platforms and creating ads.

Despite all the how-to’s and instructional articles online, however, many businesses still find themselves missing out on the benefits of online advertising. 

To help prepare your business for its next foray into paid marketing, we’ve written this guide covering four important concepts that are essential, but rarely covered in-depth.

1. Why Online Advertising Really Matters

Before anything else, it’s important to define what online advertising can and can’t do for your business. If this is your first time exploring the subject, or if you haven’t spent enough time studying it, this section will give you a sense of the results (and effort) you should aspire for.

Online advertising is an excellent way to boost your brand visibility and recognition, and it truly can pay off in the long term. Google’s estimates put the average ROI of its search ads at 200%, meaning businesses make around $2 for every $1 they spend on the platform.

Conventional wisdom says that the reason why running ads on Facebook, Google, and even TikTok is so useful is because it allows you to deliver branded content to large numbers of people for relatively low costs. From this point alone, we can begin to guess what kinds of unexpected hurdles a business might encounter. 

Your content needs to be appealing. You need to monitor and control costs before they spiral out of control. Most importantly, you need to find out how to target the right sets of people to avoid wasting time and money on people outside your market.

If you approach your digital marketing strategy with a maximalist perspective (basically, get your numbers to go as high as they can), you’re doomed to fall short. Success comes from recognizing that its real value comes from the high degree of control that it offers: it lets you be as creative, precise, and data-driven as you like. Conversely, if you aren’t creative, precise, or data-driven, your investment will fizzle out faster than you can say pay-per-click.

Finally, the nature of digital marketing in the Middle East means that online advertising may be a necessity. We’re witnessing steep rates of digital transformation in many parts of the region at the level of the consumer — just consider the fact that smartphone penetration in the UAE is expected to hit 96% in 2021.

The addressable market for businesses online is massive and ever-growing. As such, digital advertising isn’t just a nice-to-have — they can keep you from losing a substantial share of your market.

2. Setting Clear Digital Marketing Goals

The best way to start on the right foot when it comes to online advertising is to set clear and realistic goals. You’ll see much better returns if you aim for a specific outcome instead of crossing your fingers for, “more business.”

Begin by figuring out the business outcome you want to accomplish:

  1. Spread awareness…
    1. …of your business / solutions
    2. …of the problems your business can solve
    3. …of a promotion or limited offer
  1. Direct users to…
    1. …your website
    2. …your app
    3. …your virtual or physical events
  1. Generate…
    1. …new leads or inquiries
    2. …new customers
    3. …repeat customers

While it’s possible to accomplish a few of these results at a time, you can run ads with more ease and greater effect by focusing on one core goal at a time.

If you’ve run digital ads in the past, use those results as a benchmark for future marketing targets — and don’t be afraid to aim for better numbers, either by increasing your ad spend or improving your ad materials (e.g. images, copy).

If you’re new to online advertising, don’t feel too pressured to set and reach precise targets. Studying your audience and your platforms of choice are an important step in performing well over time.

Online Advertising

3. Measuring Your Online Advertising KPIs

Understanding the data behind your digital advertising can be transformative. While most businesses take their ad results at face value or leave the numbers to a third party, we believe businesses do best when they monitor their performance.

Keeping a close eye on your metrics in real time allows you to run smarter experiments, adjust your ads as the situation calls for it, and make meaningful improvements based on data instead of guesswork.

One key performance indicator (KPI) you need to watch is your return on investment (ROI). This metric tells you how efficiently your ad spend translates into profit — a higher ROI means your ads are more efficient.

ROI = (Profit from Ads ÷ Cost of Ads) ✕ 100

Another is what we call “cost per” metrics: your cost per click, cost per lead, and cost per acquisition. These tell you how much you spend on average in order to achieve a certain outcome (clicks, inquiries, or new customers). Lower “cost per” metrics mean your ads are more efficient — you receive more of them for your budget.

Cost per Click/Lead/Acquisition = Ad Spend ÷ Total Clicks/Leads/Acquisitions

We also recommend tracking your unique monthly visitors, and digging into your data to see where they come from. You can find this number on the Google Analytics dashboard, though you might need to read up or consult your web developer to find out how to track and check your sources of traffic.

Modern web development and ad platforms allow you to track how many new site visitors you receive from your ads and how many conversions you can attribute to them. This is an essential component of your online advertising because it gives you an exact idea of how your ads translate into more business for you.

4. How to Outsource Your Online Advertising

The last thing you should know before you start an online ad campaign is that digital advertising is difficult. Oftentimes it takes time, money, and talent that the average business can’t reasonably access.

It’s common to see businesses outsourcing their digital marketing (including their online ads) to third party marketing agencies, which we think is a good strategy — as long as you choose the right agency.

Your decision should come down to three things: experience, coverage, and communication.

Experience is a must-have when choosing an agency. Digital marketing companies that have been around for longer know more about servicing clients and are more likely to stay current with marketing trends and best practices.

More often than not, they also feature client testimonials, case studies, and other data points you can refer to when measuring their ability. Their reputation and history will determine whether you should trust their ability to service your needs.

Coverage is another key point to consider: how many services do they offer? A one-stop shop can help you manage your costs and simplify your marketing. Likewise, flexible marketing agencies can give you the advantage of a unified and coherent marketing strategy — satisfying the need for consistent marketing across all channels.

Finally, you should expect clear and reliable communication with your agency of choice. True experts are able to present their plans, explain their decisions and results, and even share their knowledge. Aim for partners you can count on, because there are marketing firms out there that will focus on profit over service.


As an agency that specializes in PPC marketing in Dubai, we at Igloo understand the demands and challenges of running ads online. We offer a broad suite of services that weave together to leave you with excellent results and a firmer understanding of digital marketing.

If you are looking for a leading digital marketing agency in Dubai, get in touch at Igloo today to learn how our team of industry veterans can help you stay competitive. We take pride in establishing meaningful partnerships with our clients and committing to their long-term success.


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