What is display advertising and how can it work for my business?

The digital marketing industry is full of buzzwords that are very often used incorrectly. Display advertising is an often misunderstood form of marketing and these misunderstandings often lead to people dismissing this effective form of marketing without fully understanding how it works.

What is display advertising?

Display advertising is any type of image, text or video advertising on a website that you don’t own which is clearly marked as an advert. This might sound obvious, but it’s important to distinguish between display advertising and native advertising.

Wait, what is native advertising?

Native advertising often tries to blend in and look like it’s part of the website it appears on. An example of this would be an advertorial feature on a newspaper’s website. It will be written like any other editorial piece, but with a clear advertising objective. Native marketing often falls into the realm of content marketing, but not always.
As you can see in the example below, the page is sponsored by Cancer Research UK and there is a display ad to the right of the page for Cancer Research UK. This type of advertisement is on the line between native and display advertising.
Example of native advertising

Okay, how do I set up display ads?

One of the easiest ways to set up a display advertising campaign is through the Google Display Network. This will allow you to create text, image, interactive and video ads for a variety of websites. There are three main objectives when creating an ad campaign. Increasing awareness, increasing traffic/sales and boosting brand loyalty. Before starting any campaign, you should think about which of these aims is most closely aligned with your objectives.

How do I design my adverts?

Your ads should be an extension of your brand, meaning you should stick to brand colours and company fonts where possible. You should also ensure you don’t crowd your advert with too many messages. Your adverts should be impactful and memorable.
You should also create the adverts in a number of different sizes, including banner ads and skyscraper ads. According to Google, these are the most effective sizes for your banner ads:

  • 300 x 250
  • 336 x 280
  • 728 x 90
  • 300 x 600
  • 320 x 100

When designing your adverts, it’s important that you keep the branding the same across all adverts. This is because you may sometimes have multiple ads appearing on the same page and you want to present a cohesive brand experience.

Sounds great, but is it effective?

Display advertising is one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing available. Thanks to the up-to-date analytics available, you can see how effective an ad is in terms of views, clicks and conversions in real-time. However, the average click-through rate across all formats is less than 1%.

What problems can I face with display advertising?

Often, you don’t have control over where precisely your ads are displayed. This has led to problems in the past when companies appear alongside content which is not aligned with their brand. There are millions of websites signed up to the Google Ad Network, so it’s difficult to say with certainty where your ads will appear. For example, a website that is signed up as a display partner might publish an article which divides opinion. Appearing alongside this could be problematic for your brand.
Another problem with display advertising is the rise of pop-up blockers making it difficult to serve ads to customers. There are 77 million people using pop up blockers in Europe and a further 44 million monthly active users in the US using pop up blockers.
Even if users don’t physically block the ads, there is also the high risk of them being ignored. When users are assaulted with adverts all day, every day, there comes a point where they simply stop paying attention to anything they identify as an advert.
There may be many pitfalls to display advertising, but there are also many benefits to branding, increased awareness and increased loyalty. Provided you start your display advertising campaign with a clear and measurable objective in mind, you will be able to determine just how effective display ads are in helping you to achieve your goals.
If you’d like someone to take the reins on your display advertising campaign, get in touch with our friendly team to find out how we can help!