How Digital Ads is Adding Value to Businesses and How to Begin Your Career in Digital Ads


Digital Advertising is a relatively new field that combines empathy, creativity, and analytical skills. Although machines and algorithms are a part of the industry, it will always need a human touch to be authentic and make business-oriented decisions.

With digital advertising pervading our daily lives, you might be wondering about what goes on behind the scenes. You might even be curious about career opportunities in digital ads and what you need to do to get there. For some perspective from people working on digital ads at different career levels and their day-to-day responsibilities, start here.

What is Digital Advertising and Why Does it Matter?

The name “digital advertising” is somewhat self-explanatory; it’s “marketing through online channels, such as websites, streaming content, and more.” However, within the industry, we tend to use the term to refer specifically to paid ad placements. 

An agency’s Digital Advertising Department is made up of different roles that each play a critical part in bringing in new clients and producing value for businesses. The end result of effective digital ads is reaching the target audience and having people do what your desired action is, which can be creating new leads to downloads of an ebook. 

Digital ads can also be called PPC (Pay Per Click), CPC (Cost Per Click), and SEM (Search Engine marketing). Often these terms may be used interchangeably.

Digital advertising involves  two main strategies: push and pull. The first method, push advertising, involves putting ads for products or services in front of customers to generate their awareness of and interest in the product or service and ultimately buy. This method can often come across negatively, as irrelevant or even pushy, if it’s not executed correctly. However, it can be helpful in giving suggestions to customers of something they might want, even if they didn’t know it before seeing your ad.

By contrast, the second method, pull advertising, starts with what customers are already looking for and pulls them toward your product or service based on the features that make it the best option to meet that need or want. Online Optimism focuses largely on pull advertising by making ads relevant, accessible, and transparent. Both methods have their place in how digital ads is adding value to accomplish business goals. 

In the current competitive landscape, it’s essential for every business to have a strong digital presence. Because of this, jobs in the digital advertising field are in demand, making it worth consideration for those interested in this career.

The employees that make up a successful digital advertising team are diverse and vary in skill set and focus. In the next section, we’ll hear from real people in the roles within a digital marketing firm’s Digital Ads Team, explaining their day-to-day responsibilities and how they each add value.

Let’s see what our Optimists had to say!

The Digital Ads Specialist

Anna Hurtt is a Digital Ads Specialist with Online Optimism for Spring 2022. The specialist role is an intern role with Online Optimism (but this title applies to a different career level at some agencies). Here, a Specialist’s job entails various substantive responsibilities including department-specific work and Specialist projects, designed to help Specialists understand whether a career in digital marketing is right for them. 

As part of her internship, Anna will write a blog about an industry-specific topic. She is also assigned key metrics to achieve during her internship. This includes helping the Digital Ads Team create campaigns and write ad copy. Her job also involves creating an onboarding Asana template for new employees and writing a blog about career pivoting.

Anna is learning more about digital ads and has found that analytical thinking is an essential skill for this work. 

The Digital Ads Associate

Ariel Diaz worked in digital ads at Online Optimism for over  a year, most recently as the Digital Ads Associate. She started as a Digital Ads Specialist, which is the intern role at Online Optimism. 

The Digital Ads Associate is responsible for checking how accounts are pacing. Pacing involves breaking down your overall campaign goal into intermediate goals, allowing you to “measure performance at intervals.” This helps prevent problems from happening before they have the potential to cause damage, allowing the Digital Advertising Team to be effective.

The Associate also covers account maintenance, which includes choosing ad placements, search term analysis, and bid adjustments. 

Ad Placements “include all advertising spaces, mostly paid, offered by online publishers, websites, and social networks to advertisers to display their advertisements.” These advertising spaces include Facebook, Amazon, and Pinterest among many others. 

Search term analysis, also known as keyword research, is a way of figuring out what words and phrases people put into Google when they are searching for something. This is an important part of digital ads, because ads can be placed at the top of the search results. For example, a search for “best shoes for basketball” will reveal ads at the top of the results featuring Nike and Adidas.

Bid adjustments “allow you to show your ads more or less frequently based on where, when, and how people search” by changing how much you pay for a bid. A bid is simply a way for you to compete with other businesses on which ads will show for users who enter particular keywords. 

Ariel says that the skill set that makes someone successful in this role is being “analytical, problem-solving, and adaptable.” She wishes she had known before starting that the landscape of digital ads is always changing and that continual learning is essential.

The Digital Ads Strategist

Xavier Smith is the Digital Ads Strategist at Online Optimism. With five years of experience in digital ads, he started his career by “teaching himself everything there was to know” about digital marketing after graduating with a degree in biology.

In his own words, there is always “a piece of data to analyze or an experiment that needs to be run.” His work days all look different. “One day I might be trying to understand the users’ searches; the next day I might be trying to understand what people need to see when they land on a website.”

The ever-changing landscape of his job is what Xavier loves most about working in digital ads. His job gives clients insights into what their customers are like and what they appreciate about the business. This helps define what the ad will look like and effectively bring it to the right audience. 

“Building a connection between the target audience and the business is imperative. Successful ads do just that.”

Xavier says that the skills necessary to do his job are organization, math, communication, and proficiency in Microsoft Excel. Before starting his career, he wishes he had learned about Digital Advertising in general.

The Digital Ads Director

The Digital Ads Director at Online Optimism is Esteban Largaespada. He has been working in digital ads since 2013.

On a typical day, Esteban looks over and optimizes several clients’ accounts to make sure that they are performing well. He does this by working together with the Digital Ads Team and effectively managing them to leverage their different strengths. “We check the performance [of campaigns] for insights on how we could make our messaging more relevant, or target a narrower audience for better results.” 

Esteban says that the skills necessary to be a Digital Ads Director are empathy, data analysis, and being able to quickly learn about new industries. If he could go back to before becoming a Digital Ads Director, Esteban wishes he had learned more about comparative analytics, and organic vs. paid traffic. 

Comparative analytics takes a sampling of competitors, either in the same market or other geographical markets, to better understand what are the main values and services in the industry (the “table stakes”) as well as what sets the target business apart from others in the same space (a unique value proposition). 

Organic traffic is traffic that is created through non-paid marketing efforts, such as creating quality content that provides value to many users and therefore ranks highly in search results on its own merit. On the other hand, paid traffic involves the business paying for placement, such as paying to have an ad for your website appear above organic search results. Digital ads are a type of paid traffic. 

How Digital Ads is adding value to businesses via different career levels

Digital Ads Career Progression

A typical career progression in digital ads may look like this:

  • An Intern would be responsible for assigned projects that their manager lays out for them, including creating content and other supportive tasks.
  • An entry-level employee such as an Entry Level Ads Manager would be someone who manages smaller tasks but is not involved in the strategy of the accounts. 
  • Someone with a little more experience such as a Mid-Level Ads Manager would likely design and implement smaller campaigns for local one-service companies. 
  • A Senior Ads Manager would likely have several accounts, or larger campaigns that may need complex campaign designs as potential customers move from one layer of the funnel to the next.

Tips for Starting Your Career in Digital Advertising

If you’re interested in a digital advertising career after reading about some of the roles and want to know how to get started, you can follow these tips: 

  1. Consider a certification program, like Google Ads Certification or Google Display Certification. 
  2. Get an internship in digital ads to try doing the work and see if this field is for you.
  3. Reach out to people you may know who work in digital advertising to ask them about their experience.

Get a Digital Marketing Agency’s Take on How Digital Ads Is Adding Value and More!

Digital ads provide value to businesses by raising brand awareness and helping people find what they are looking for, building connections between business and client, and providing potential customers with useful suggestions for products and services that are relevant to their interests. Online Optimism’s Digital Ads have helped businesses in a wide array of industries. To learn more about Online Optimism’s approach to digital marketing, read more of our blog.