Is Online Advertising Expensive?

Over the years we often have clients ask us to evaluate marketing platforms throughout the online world, and sometimes even throughout the offline. This request puts us in an interesting position because it gives us visible access to the typical costs and results of a variety of marketing mediums for a particular industry vertical. And that access has shown me something I found really interesting: 0nline advertising is very inexpensive.

Our Measurement: CPM

Measuring the raw efficiency of marketing can happen in a number of ways. One of which is to combine a quantitative measurement, such as Cost Per Thousand (CPM), with a qualitative measurement, such as how qualified a prospect is, to better determine the full impact of the impression. For example, a prospect seeing a bus bench ad may not be as impactful as he or she seeing and interacting with a representative at a trade show.

Untitled-2-01On Average, How Much Does Offline/Traditional Marketing Cost?

So, we’ve talked about how marketers measure the raw efficiency of their ads by measuring the qualitative and quantitative impressions from each prospect, but what’s the cost? The following are some really rough industry averages for CPM in the offline world, but still give great insight into the expense of offline marketing:

  • Radio: $10-$20
  • Network TV: $10-$30
  • Billboard: $2-$5
  • Direct Mail: $15-$20
  • Super Bowl: $36 (4 million dollars, reach 111 million people)

Keep in mind that you’ll have to add that qualitative measure of effectiveness and right audience to the average cost. A billboard will reach a lot of people who give it 1/4 second of attention, whereas an average Super Bowl ad is 30 seconds long and plenty of the people who watch the ad are looking forward to it.

How Much Does Online Advertising Cost?

Like traditional offline marketing, online marketing has a number of different mediums to engage with prospects. We’re going to look at Google AdWords for cost per click advertising and the costs to advertise on the most common social media platforms currently allowing the public to purchase ad space.


Advertising on Google’s search results is typically priced on a per click basis. If we pull it back to a CPM model to match up with our offline methods from above, many businesses find that they fit into a CPM of around $100.

That said, advertising costs on keywords for the exact kinds of services your business performs can range significantly. Yet, it’s a bit silly to compare because AdWords on search results are advertising to prospects at the exact moment they’re looking for information on products/services that your business sells. Not only are we seen by those prospects at $100/1000, we can also reasonably assume that we’ll get about 30 of them to visit our site and turn a few of them into sales.

Advertising on Google’s Display Network is very inexpensive when viewed within the CPM lens. We find that highly targeted display campaigns average $0.50 – $5 CPM. With a more general awareness goal and less targeting, CPM’s can be driven to incredibly low costs, even below $0.01.

Advertising on YouTube through AdWords is typically done on a Cost Per View (CPV) basis, so it’s a bit tough to compare on a CPM model. At an average CPV of $0.10, you’re looking at about $100 per thousand VOLUNTARY ad views. And CPM for the first 5 seconds of the ad could be $30 or less depending on how great (or terrible) your ad is.


Facebook allows for a daily budget or a lifetime budget for advertising. That said, the minimum budget is $1.00.

On average, advertising on Facebook costs marketers $0.27 Cost Per Click (CPC) and around $0.65 CPM, depending on how broad your target audience is.


Advertising rates on Twitter are really dependent on what type of campaign you choose. It can range from $0.50 per engagement to all the way up to $200,000 per day for promoted trends.

While promoted trends provide huge exposure and awareness in a short amount of time, the price is costly, but can be worth it as it guarantees placement in the Trends section for an entire day.

For those who don’t have the $200,000/day budget, there are two other options:

  1. Promoted Tweets. The cost for which can range anywhere from $0.40 to $2.00 per click. Keep in mind this price is dependent on targeting.
  2. Promoted Accounts. The cost can range from $2.50 to $4.50 per new follower.


LinkedIn allows both CPC and CPM advertising, but is more costly than other online platforms and requires a larger daily budget to be effective.

Depending on your targeting criteria and competition on LinkedIn, CPC can start anywhere from $2.00 to $5.00 or more, which is quite high compared to other social networks.

For CPM, LinkedIn charges per 1,000 impressions. Top Draw recently ran a campaign for a cost of $25.35 for 1,341 impressions, and had an average CPC of $8.50.

Online Marketing is Inexpensive


Average CPC

Average CPM



$0.50 – $5.00





$0.40 – $2.00



$2.00 – $5.00


Some of our clients often ask us to evaluate the different marketing platforms of both off and online marketing platforms, which has given us visible access to the costs and results of a variety of marketing mediums. What this research has shown us is that online marketing is very inexpensive. We’re talking about the difference between pennies to dollars. vs-01Offline, traditional marketing costs an average of $22.00 per thousand impressions as opposed to $3.45 per thousand impressions with online marketing.

Want to get in on the online action? Contact us to plan out your online media buying.

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