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Which Ad Channels Should You Start With?

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In the first part of our Advertising 101 series, I delved into the importance of first targeting high-intent audiences when starting your advertising journey. Now that I’ve established it’s important to start with high-intent audiences, it's time to explore the best channels and strategies to reach them. In this article, I'll examine various advertising platforms and provide insights on how to target high-intent customers effectively and efficiently.

Where to Find High-Intent Traffic

Search Engine Advertising:

Search engine advertising platforms, such as Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising, are the most powerful way to reach high-intent audiences. These platforms allow you to target users actively searching for solutions to their problems. By bidding on specific keywords and phrases relevant to your product or service, you can ensure your ads appear when potential customers are most likely to be interested in what you have to offer. With search engine advertising, you have the opportunity to reach people right when they're in the decision-making process, increasing the chances of converting them into customers. 

If there is little to no search volume for the types of products or services you are offering, you may need to rethink your business strategy because that means there is either little market demand for what you’re offering, or nobody is expecting to shop for that product/service online (which is becoming increasingly rare). 

Google and Microsoft ads are really the two only options in the search engine market, and I recommend starting with Google. It’s where the overwhelming majority of volume is. You likely won’t be able to max out Google search with your initial budget. And, once you’re ready to scale, it’s easy to import your Google search campaigns to Microsoft Ads to capture additional volume. 

To summarize, don’t overthink things. Google search is most likely where your highest intent audience is, and they are searching directly for solutions like yours. Start by getting in front of those people.


Retargeting strategies enable you to reach users who have already interacted with your brand or product. By using tracking cookies or pixels, you can display targeted ads to users who have visited your website or engaged with your content in the past. This helps keep your brand at the top of their mind, encouraging them to reconsider your offering when they're ready to make a purchase. Retargeting is an effective way to stay connected with high-intent audiences, increasing the likelihood of turning interested users into loyal customers.

It may sound redundant to pay to show ads to people who have already been on your site. But the majority of people on your website won’t convert on their first visit. Your conversion rate may only be 1%-3%. That means the vast majority of your traffic is still actively researching and considering products. Continuing to stay in front of this audience will ensure they won’t forget about you and gives you the chance to reinforce your unique value proposition as a business. 

Running retargeting ads will increase the overall conversion rate of your website. It will make your search ads perform better and your whole marketing funnel will flow more efficiently. Once you start running search ads, the next step is to make sure you have enough retargeting going to cover your site traffic. The exact amount you need to spend on retargeting can vary a lot by website, but my general rule of thumb is that your retargeting budget should be about 15% of your overall spend. 

Retargeting ads will have the most limited audience size compared to all your other campaigns, since it is only made up of people who have hit your website. You need to make sure you are spending enough to cover the size of that audience. But if you spend too much, you end up wasting spend. This is because you likely won’t see a benefit from showing 10 ads to one person in your audience vs 25. This requires consistent testing to make sure you stay in the sweet spot with your retargeting budget. 

What’s Next?

Now I’ve established that you need to start by targeting high-intent audiences, and that this is best done with search ads backed up by some retargeting campaigns. The final step we’ll explore in this series is how to make sure you can measure, optimize, and scale your campaigns to grow revenue and make a big impact on your business. 

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