Online advertising has developed into one of the main ways to build a brand, run a direct marketing campaign and effectively promoting e-commerce.

There are several advantages to online advertising as compared to print advertising. For example, there are no printing costs and you can keep information up-to-date without requiring additional print runs. Also, by advertising online, you have the ability to enhance your business image: a recent study found that companies who used online advertising were perceived as being 'forward thinking'.

The options for online advertising are vast. Start with the basics and enlist some help for large campaigns. These are some basic types of online advertising:

Banner ads

These are the 'banners' that sit on thousands of web pages – some are static, some are animated and some are interactive. If you decide to take out a banner ad, make sure you give some thought to which types of website you place them on; just like any other advertising strategy, you need to target your market.

Links or click-throughs

Placing your website address or logo with a hyperlink to your site is a common form of advertising on the internet – some websites provide a free click-through service, while others charge for the privilege. It is important to do some research in this area as recent studies have shown that these links are not as successful as banner advertising. A good place to start is the Advertising Association.

Online classified advertisements

Placing a classified on the internet is much the same as placing one in a newspaper, and these sorts of advertisements are suited for small companies or individuals with goods or services to sell; classified advertisements are commonly seen on online auction and buy and sell sites.

Online agencies

Search the internet for online advertising agencies for advice on how to spend your advertising budget – these agencies have experience in buying web space for their customers and will also put together a plan tailored to your target market.

Internet advertising is aimed at increasing the profile of your business and maximising your profits. Before committing to any online adverts, make sure to enquire about the site itself and ask for a report on web traffic. This should provide you with information about how many visitors the site receives and who they are. A successful online advertising campaign means your business can be marketed to a worldwide audience, giving you better exposure and a larger customer base.