How Much Does it Cost to Advertise on the Internet?

If you’re considering advertising online for the first time, cost is likely one of your primary concerns. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get concrete answers about how much you’ll have to spend to see results.

You’ve probably seen ads and videos claiming it’s possible to advertise your business online for free. You may also have heard about multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns launched by major companies such as Facebook, Apple, and Nike. So how can you develop a budget with these wide variations?

The true online advertising cost for most businesses lies somewhere in between the two extremes. While it’s certainly possible to market your business online for free, it’s very labor-intensive and the results won’t be nearly what they could be with even a small budget. In addition, you need to have a lot of know-how to make it happen.

And while it’s certainly possible to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions of dollars on online marketing, you don’t have to have such a gigantic budget for your business to attract new customers and clients to your company.

The cost to advertise on the Internet depends on which channels you use, who manages them, and what exactly your goals are. Marketing on social media on your own, for example, will have a very different price point from hiring an SEO agency or launching an intensive PPC campaign.

Call 888-601-5359 to speak with a strategist about Internet advertising services from WebFX, or keep reading to learn more about the options available, as well as how much you should expect to spend on each.

Bonus: Claim your copy of our free budgeting guide to create a digital advertising budget that works for your business.

How much does it cost to advertise on the Internet?

The cost of advertising on the Internet varies widely depending on the channels you use, the extent of your campaign, and more. Small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) pay, on average, $2500 to $12,000 per month or $1000 to $7500 per project for online advertising.

Online advertising costs by channel

Let’s break down the cost of online advertising further by looking at some of the most popular online advertising channels:

Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO includes all actions you take to help your site’s pages rank higher in search engines like Google. With the right strategy, it can help your business attract visitors that are actively searching for what your business has to offer.

If you have experience with SEO, optimizing your site could be free. That said, it’s typically best to hire an experienced SEO agency. They’ll research your business, select keywords, and create and manage a strategy to help your site attract more traffic and visitors—without running the risk of getting your site penalized.

However, the cost of hiring an SEO professional will vary widely. There are individual or freelance SEO professionals who charge less than agencies but offer fewer resources and services. Then, there are SEO agencies of all sizes around the world that all charge varying amounts.

In general, however, expect prices of $500-$5000 per month or $76-$200 per hour. Your exact cost will depend on the agency are working with and the services you need, as well as their pricing model. It’s also important to note that many agencies now require yearly contracts, and ones that don’t typically charge higher monthly rates.

Keep in mind these are only ballpark figures, though—and if you’re thinking about hiring an agency, feel free to use our SEO RFP template to get estimates from the ones you’re considering.


Next to SEO, the second most common method of reaching customers online is paid advertising. And although there are many options, the majority of businesses use Google Ads.

The platform uses three different pricing models:

  • Cost-per-click (CPC). In this type of pricing model, you pay every time someone clicks on your ad.
  • Cost-per-acquisition (CPA). In this model, you pay for conversions or those interactions likely to lead to a transaction.
  • Cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM). In this model, you pay a set amount for every 1000 views of your ad. You pay for the views whether someone clicks on your ad or not.

Many other platforms use one or all three types of pricing models.

Regardless of which option you choose, Google Ads operates on an auction system. You decide what you will bid for each click, acquisition, or a thousand impressions. This bid can be as low as a few cents or as high as a few hundred dollars, depending on the pricing model and your keyword. Although the average CPC is about $1-$2, the most expensive ones cost several hundred dollars per click.

These ads don’t only display in search engine results, though. You can also opt to run them on Google’s Display network, meaning that your ads will be shown on sites relevant to your target market.

In addition to this, you can also explore your advertising options on platforms other than Google. For example, sites like Yahoo and YouTube sell “takeover ads”. These are large display ads remaining on the background of the Yahoo! or YouTube homepage. The cost of these ads is typically over $400,000. Facebook logout ads—which display your marketing message when someone logs out of their Facebook account—cost over $100,000.

However, these options are typically only used by large companies with large marketing budgets—and in most cases, using platforms like Google Ads is much more cost-effective.

In addition to advertisements, PPC campaigns, and other promotional options, you can also opt to sponsor content on sites that are relevant to your target audience. Sponsored content is paid content offering readers a benefit or information while also promoting your company or services.

For example, you can purchase a sponsored article on BuzzFeed for $20,000. However, this is a site with millions of daily visitors—and more likely than not, you can find a less expensive option to suit your potential customers.

Alternatively, you can create original content and publish it on your own site, then promote it on channels like social media and email. If the content is interesting and relevant to a major site’s readers, they just might republish it on their own site. And although this is more time-intensive than simply purchasing space, it’s also a much more budget-friendly practice.

The bottom line

The truth is, it’s difficult to put a price on Internet marketing, since there are so many channels and pricing models to consider. However, this simply means that you have the freedom to set a budget and experiment with several options within it.

It will take some testing to determine which channels and strategies work best for your business, but once you do, Internet marketing can definitely be a cost-effective way to reach new customers.

Ready to start advertising on the Internet?

If you’re considering starting an online marketing strategy, WebFX can help. We have years of experience helping our clients choose the best channels for their business model and goals, and we’ll do the same for you.

Our talented team of Internet marketers can use SEO, PPC, social media, and a variety of other channels to reach new customers and generate more revenue. So if you’re ready to start advertising on the Internet, contact us today to speak with a strategist!