Paid Advertising in Professional Services: Which Platform is Worthwhile?

July 24, 2015

You have a range of marketing tools and tactics at your disposal. There are online and offline tools, and it seems like new ones are popping up daily. With so many options, is paid advertising still worth it? And if so, what’s the best ad platform to use?

Here is an overview of four of the most common ad platforms for professional services firms today.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Pay Per Click (or PPC) is a form of advertising where a firm can pay to drive visitors to their website from search engines. This is in contrast to getting those visitors to come organically. Google AdWords is the most popular PPC service.

These ads generally appear at the top and on the right hand side of a search engine’s results pages. Firms can bid for their ad to show up in these placements for certain keywords or keyword phrases that’s related to their services.

The way it works:

Generally speaking, the more that you’re willing to pay for a click, the higher up your ad appears on the page. However, making your ads highly useful and relevant to your chosen keywords can help bring down your cost each time someone clicks. So, even if a firm is willing to pay the most, their ad may not end up at the top if it’s less germane and helpful.


There are a number of details and intricacies that go into setting up effective PPC campaigns. But when done well, PPC can instantly increase website visits and help you gain visibility. Think about niche keywords that people might search for as these will likely cost less and still bring traffic to your site.

And while PPC campaigns can often be a powerful tool, it can also backfire if it’s not managed well. You can be paying too much for clicks and getting a lot of traffic without any conversions if you aren’t carefully monitoring your account. Many companies can get into a bidding war and end up paying inflated prices just to stay ahead of their competitor.

You also want to make sure your ads are relevant and not attracting the wrong type of visitor. You can end up paying a fortune on junk traffic. You might see an increase in your traffic, but are these visitors actually converting or turning into new business for your firm?

PPC can be a great way to build firm visibility and drive traffic for specific campaigns, but should only be set up by professionals that have a deep understanding of how it works. Otherwise, costs could quickly skyrocket without much return.

Banner Ads

Banner ads are paid advertisements that can appear at the top, on the sides, or on the bottom of a web page that take you directly to the advertiser’s website. Size and placement varies depending on the website that’s hosting the ad.

In the following screenshot of Business Insider’s homepage, we can see two banner ads. One is across the top of the page and the other is a box on the right sidebar, both from Google.

You can place ads on third party sites, or use a partner who may have a related target audience.

However, banner ads aren’t necessarily the most effective way to advertise anymore. In Hinge’s own research, banner ads aren’t ranked as one of the least effective online marketing tools.

effectiveness rating high growth firms vs. average firms

There are a number of other sources that discuss the fall of banner ads, too.

There is some good news, though. Because the ads appear on content the user is already consuming, it doesn’t interrupt or interfere with what they are already doing as much as some other forms of ads do. Banner ads can also be good at helping to introduce brand messaging and build awareness, and since you only pay when a user clicks on the ad, a ton of people can be exposed to your firm for little cost.

LinkedIn Ads

Ads on LinkedIn can appear across a number of pages on the social network, including a user’s homepage, profile page, inbox, search results, or in Groups. The placement of ads on those pages will vary. You can also sponsor content, InMail, and updates.

A major benefit of LinkedIn ads is their ability to target very specifically. Advertisers can select their audience by job title, job function, industry, geography, company name, company size, age, gender, LinkedIn groups, and more. You can set a maximum budget so you don’t end up paying more than you expect, as well.

LinkedIn ads are ideal for B2B and professional services firms. You can reach the right audience in a targeted way, without being overly intrusive.

Setting up LinkedIn ads is also much more straightforward than PPC ads, for example. The downside of this type of advertising is that the metrics aren’t as insightful as PPC ads and the ad platform isn’t extremely user-friendly.

Twitter Ads

Twitter provides a number of different ad types, including:

  • Promoted Accounts: This kind of ad suggests Twitter accounts to people that they aren’t currently following, but might find interesting.
  • Promoted Tweets: These are normal Tweets that advertisers can purchase to reach a wider audience.
  • Promoted Trends: This kind of ad allows advertisers to create a trending hashtag and pay to promote it for the day.

Twitter has a good monitoring system so you can easily make adjustments to maximize your money spent. Twitter also allows you to create a tailored audience and target those who went to your website but didn’t complete a download or another goal your firm may have. They also offer the ability to target audiences who are receiving your emails but not opening them.

Paid advertisements can be a good supplemental tactic to your firm’s marketing strategy, but should work in tandem with your other efforts. Dig deeper into these paid advertising options to understand whether or not they’re a good fit for your professional services firm.

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