How to Succeed with Display Advertising

How to Succeed with Display Advertising - display advertising

“How to Succeed with Display Advertising” written by Mike Marko.

Display advertising has come a very long way.

The first display ad dates back to 1994, which seems a lifetime ago.

Over the years, display advertising has only continued to grow. Consider the fact that ad spend on it rises yearly, for example.

Display ad spend was $26.15 billion in 2015. Flash forward to now, and it’s become $46.69 billion.

That’s some serious ad spending. In fact, it’s already overtaken search ad spend — it has since 2016.

So display advertising is clearly something businesses believe to be worth using. Unfortunately, a lot of people aren’t using it the right way.

If you don’t want to be among those people, you’re in luck. I’ll show you today how to succeed when using display advertising, the way I do it for my clients.

In order to do that, you need to learn more about ads too, of course.

Read on to begin this crash course in display advertising for your business!

Making Display Advertising Work

Display advertising is a type of paid advertising online. It often shows up in designated areas of a website or platform (like Facebook or Instagram).

Let me ask a quick question to make sure we’re on the same page.

Have you ever seen any of the following when visiting a website or social media platform?

  • Popup banner ads.
  • Autoplay video ads.
  • Interactive ads (mini-games, dynamic images, etc.).

Well, those are just a few examples of display advertising at work!

Now this should give you a sense of how ubiquitous this type of advertising is.

In fact, it’s gotten to the point where people have developed partial blindness to it. It’s called “banner blindness”.

You’ve probably experienced this yourself. It’s natural to develop a tendency to ignore something when it’s all around, after all.

That doesn’t mean display advertising is no longer worth it, though. As I said before, businesses wouldn’t spend billions on it if they thought it useless.

But making the most of your display advertising investment requires some care and careful planning.

Expert tips from people like yours truly would help too.

Before we go into that, however, let’s get to know display advertising a little better.

That way, you’ll have a better sense of the tool you’re going to use to market your business.

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What Is Display Advertising?

As I said before, display advertising is a type of ad presented to consumers on websites and apps.

It appears in certain parts of websites and can come in different forms and sizes.

It’s also usually (but not always) distinguishable from the content around it as an ad.

Display advertising can be composed of text, images, videos, audio, or any of those in combination.

It’s also very often limited by the display ad size restrictions of the platform where you’re using it.

For example, if you’re doing display ads for Google Adwords, you’ll have a wide range of size options.

But for the most part, you’ll probably end up using these, since Google notes them to be most effective:

  • 336×280 Large Rectangle.
  • 300×250 Medium Rectangle.
  • 728×90 Leaderboard.
  • 300×600 Half Page.
  • 320×100 Large Mobile Banner.

Each platform or network has both ad size restrictions and ad size recommendations. You should always take note of them before creating your ad.

The Uses of Display Advertising

Display advertising has a lot of uses. Some people think it’s all about conversion — and admittedly, that is one of its chief aims.

But given that the average CTR or clickthrough rate for display ads is less than 1% on all platforms, there’s surely more to it than that.

Thing is, display advertising also makes your brand more visible.

Even with people’s tendency to ignore ads online, there’s a point where an ad shows up often enough to be unmissable.

When that happens, viewers can’t help but remember your brand.

So display advertising also promotes brand awareness, which can feed into conversion later on.

It’s also worth noting the classic marketing Rule of 7 where display ads are concerned.

This rule states that prospects need to “hear” or “see” a marketing message before they take action on it.

Thus, just because the number of clicks an ad gets may seem low compared to the number of times it’s served, the “unclicked” impressions may still serve a purpose.

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Types of Display Advertising

Now, I said that there different types of display advertising. In fact, more and more types are showing up each year!

For the sake of convenience, we’ll take up only the most popular ones below:

1) Banners

You might call the banner the basic display ad.

It’s certainly the oldest of all the types. The first display ad was a banner for AT&T.

The banner ad is usually expandable. Some of them even expand automatically when you visit a webpage.

Take note that I’m putting image and text ads here too.

After all, most banners put those two types of media together. In a few cases, they use only one of them.

2) Video

These are basically display ads that are presented as videos.

Some of these require the viewer to press “play” first, but most of them play automatically when a webpage is opened.

3) Audio

Audio ads are fairly similar to video display ads, if less common.

They may also automatically play upon visiting a webpage.

4) Rich Media

Rich media ads come in all forms and flavors. They have massive variety and often support high creativity.

They add a little more to the usual video, image, or text ads.

For example, a rich media ad might be an interactive image or GIF.

5) Interstitial

This kind of display Ad is a full-screen ad that pops up in between activities. It usually takes up the whole screen.

An example is whenever you click from one page to another, and an ad shows up before the next page does.

Platforms like Pinterest and Yelp used to use an interstitial ad to drive their audiences to app downloads.

6) Overlay

The overlay is pretty much like the interstitial.

It shows up in between activities, but is usually translucent or transparent.

That’s why it’s called an overlay — it lies just above the content you’re about to see or are navigating to.

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Tips for Using Display Advertising

So now you know what display advertising means, what it’s used for, and what forms it can take.

It’s time to show you how to use it for optimal results.

Below are my tips for those who want to succeed with display advertising.

1) Don’t Be Disruptive

One of the most important things you can learn in advertising is how to avoid being too interruptive to your audience.

There’s a reason many people now use ad blockers on their browsers. Too much advertising is interrupting their daily activities!

As much as possible, keep your ads relevant to the page or platform where you’re putting them.

This lowers the disruption they cause, because they still seem related to the content the viewer is trying to see.

In that much, good advertising doesn’t differ too greatly from SEO (search engine optimization) — relevance should always be considered in your strategy.

2) Use Data Feeds

A data feed or web feed is a spreadsheet recording updates or changes to your ad.

It usually comes as an XML file that you can use to track your display advertising.

A data feed makes it easier for you to present the latest content to your audience.

It also helps you keep ads up-to-date as well as relevant.

Take note too that data feeds can help you serve up more personal ads for remarketing campaigns.

Google Ads has an option to use data feeds for personalized ads in dynamic prospecting, for example.

3) Try Rich Media

The classic text, image, and video ads are fine, sure.

But rich media may just be the future of display advertising.

That’s because it takes classic media to the next level by adding a little extra to it.

Generally, that little extra is something that encourages engagement.

It’s effective at that too. Rich media has better engagement rates (16.2%) than static banners.

Just remember to use a Creative Management Platform or CMP to make your rich media ad.

It makes coding, sizing, and polishing the ads much easier.

If you don’t use a CMP, you may end up with an ad that’s not sized right or that doesn’t perform as it should. It may even end up slowing down a webpage!

4) Run In-Banner Videos

An in-banner video ad is a kind of display ad that doesn’t interrupt the user’s experience too much.

It just sits on the sidebar or header of a page, waiting for the viewer to click on it.

I particularly like this type of display ad because it’s non-disruptive yet noticeable.

It’s also meant for use with video content, which is probably the most popular type of content for today’s audiences.

If you’re doing YouTube Marketing, you’ll probably realize that YouTube’s TrueView “discovery ads” are actually a type of in-banner ad.

They’re actually a great example of the efficacy of this ad type. Some reports indicate that YouTube discovery ads get 5x more clicks than in-stream ones.

5) Experiment, But Be Consistent

This display advertising tip probably seems contradictory.

It’s not, though. What I’m telling you to do is to experiment with the media or ad format you use on occasion.

You may hit on an ad format that works best for your company this way. Testing is part of advertising, after all.

Just remember to stay true to your brand’s image and mission. No matter what the ad format, consumers should still be able to recognize your brand in ads.

You can try ensuring all your ads have a visual reminder of your brand, like the logo in a corner, for example.

You can also be consistent in the tone of your advertising content/messages.

6) Optimize for Mobile

Mobile Internet usage has already overtaken desktop Internet usage. 58% of site traffic in 2018 was mobile.

Google itself has made mobile a priority, what with mobile-first indexing and Accelerated Mobile Pages.

That’s why your display advertising should now be optimized for mobile. Ask yourself questions like these:

  • Does your ad display properly on mobile screens?
  • Do you need to make a mobile-specific ad?
  • What are audiences on mobile looking for?
  • Is your ad lightweight enough to load quickly for mobile browsing?

Don’t forget to track, test, and optimize your mobile ad campaign.

You want to keep an eye on the data so you understand the following things:

  • The conversion pattern for your target demographic.
  • Where and why users drop off.
  • How to improve your ad further for mobile audiences.

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Bonus: What about Native Ads?

I feel like it’s impossible to wrap up a guide on succeeding in display advertising without talking about native advertising…

All the more since some businesses are now using the two together.

So to start with, let’s talk first about native ads.

Native ads are ads that naturally appear as part of the design and content of a web page.

They take a softer approach than display ads and often have an editorial look and feel.

Contrast that to the aggressive, obvious nature of most display ads.

Here are some examples of native ads:

  • Sponsored posts on social media.
  • Sponsored or ad posts in search engine results pages.
  • Recommended content on certain platforms.

1) Why Use Native Ads?

A lot of businesses now use native ads when they feel display advertising would be too “obnoxious” to work.

The statistics seem to bear it out. Here are some interesting ones for native ads:

  • Native ads have a CTR of up to 0.38% for premium ones viewed on mobile.
  • On desktop, the average CTR is 0.16%, which is still better than the average CTR for display ads.
  • Native ads get more engagement than display ads (53%).
  • 32% of people would be more likely to share native ads with others than display ads.
  • 25% of visitors remember seeing native ads (the number is only 20% for display ads).

So it seems like native advertising outperforms display advertising in some situations.

Even so, it’s not a perfect solution. Native ads tend to have a high bounce rate offsetting their high CTR rate, for example.

That may be because people clicking on them don’t immediately recognize them as ads, and thus drop off when they come to that realization.

That’s less likely to happen with display advertising due to its obviousness.

When people click on a display ad, they usually know it’s an ad — so they’re clicking on it with high intent.

2) Using Native Ads with Display Ads

Now for the question: should you use native and display advertising together?

It’s not easy to answer that. As with most things, it depends on your situation and resources.

It can be a chore to find publishers willing to allocate space for both types. Managing both can also be more than a little trying.

You may even end up with highly varied results.

My advice here is to start out small, or you may find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of tracking and management you need to do.

Better yet, start with just one of them for one campaign and try the other one afterwards.

3) Native Ads vs. Display Ads

If you want to see how the two stack up against each other, though, here’s a rundown of their properties.

Let’s start with native ads:

  • Tend to be read as native (organic) web content by audiences.
  • Ideal for driving traffic to a website.
  • Time-consuming to make. You have to design them to match editorial content.
  • Tend to be trusted more by visitors because they look less “ad-like”.
  • Design and look is restricted in order to match the host website.
  • May contribute to bounce rates.

Now for display ads:

  • Stand out from the rest of the content and can bring out the feel of brand mentioned in the ads.
  • Tend to be ignored by audiences due to “banner blindness”.
  • Ideal for remarketing campaigns.
  • Tend to be viewed with some suspicion, due to them being obviously ads.
  • Allow rich media and interactive ad types, which may be promising for stimulating engagement.
  • Easy to measure for performance.

Consider the above when deciding which of the two to use. Keep in mind too that none of this means anything if you don’t understand your audience.

That may even be the first question you should ask to make your decision.

Would your audience be more likely to engage native advertising? Or would they prefer display advertising?

If in doubt, test each one and see which works better for your target demographic.

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Final Thoughts on Display Advertising

That concludes my guide for how to succeed with display advertising.

As you can see, display advertising is a good way to gain exposure for your business as well as get leads and conversions for it. It tends to be an obvious ad type, but it still serves its purpose.

Display advertising comes in many different forms. Nowadays, you can see display ads that aren’t just banners but even in rich media format.

There are also audio ads, interstitials, overlays, videos, and more.

To succeed with display advertising, you can follow the tips I gave you. Here’s a quick recap of them:

  • Try to keep your ads’ disruptiveness low.
  • Make use of data feeds to keep ads fresh.
  • Employ rich media for higher engagement.
  • Run in-banner video ads.
  • Experiment with formats while staying true to your brand’s image.
  • Optimize for mobile.

I also showed you what native ads are and how they differ from display ads.

They tend to be softer and subtler in approach, blending into the content that surrounds them.

There are pros and cons to both native and display ads. While some people try to use them together, it’s not advisable until you have the hang of both, taken individually.

Now you’re ready to start using display advertising for your brand.

Want even more expert advice? You can get in touch with me and let me guide your display advertising plans. I’ve run enough campaigns to help any business figure out how best to use display advertising to get more exposure!

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How to Succeed with Display Advertising - Mike Marko

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