What Is Display Advertising: A Complete Guide to Display Ads & How to Use It Effectively for Your Business

Any marketing campaign aims to attract people who will buy your product or service, and display advertising does just that in many different ways, from paid ads on social media platforms to sponsored messages on search engines.

Display advertising is compelling, but it can also be challenging to understand at first glance, especially if you’re new to marketing and don’t have experience with display ads.

But with so many display ads available and so many different types of businesses using this form of advertising, it can be tough to know how to use display advertising effectively for your business.

Luckily, the popularity of display ads has made them more accessible, allowing more people to use this valuable form of marketing to reach their customers and drive sales.

Here’s everything you need to know about display advertising, including what display ads are, how they work, and what’s required to create an effective campaign that drives sales.

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What is Display Advertising?

What is a display ad? You might think of online display ads like banner ads, pop-ups, or even Google AdWords.

But really, a display ad is any type of advertisement that appears on your screen—be it in your web browser, an app, or a mobile game—it doesn’t matter.

Think of it as another word for web advertisement. As their name suggests, display ads live on your screen and are visible before deciding whether to click on them. Ads can increase brand awareness by 80%.

This can help convert readers and keep them around longer because they aren’t bombarded by interruptive pop-ups and redirects immediately after they arrive at your website.

Display advertising is an online advertisement that combines text, images, and a URL that links to a website where a customer can have more knowledge about or buy products.

Display ads can be targeted by interest (e.g., age), geography (e.g., zip code), gender (male vs. female), and other factors to maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns.

It is also known as a pop-under ad, pop-up ad, pop-up or inline ad.

The goal of display advertising is to reach customers who require your product or service and convince them to buy it.

It works best when it's targeted toward your ideal customer—someone who has shown interest in your brand before but hasn't yet decided to purchase from you.

Display Ad Targeting Process

Display advertising is complicated to navigate, but luckily there are several things you can do to utilize it best:

  • First, determine your desired demographic - age range, gender, location - then research several key phrases related to your products or services.
  • Once these phrases have been identified, the ad networks work on matching those up with content found on the sites on which they'll be seen (i.e., if tacos were one of your key phrases, it would match those with articles about tacos written by other bloggers).
  • Target only one niche - make sure all posts published have something relevant and valuable that ties back to what you're trying to promote.
  • Select an audience based on past browsing history. If someone has been interested in salsa recipes for a while now, then serve them an ad about cooking methods explicitly designed for salsa instead of seafood recipes unrelated (or just beef stir fry recipes if they refuse both).
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Types of Display Advertising

According to research, ad placement and audience targeting are the top tactics utilized by advertisers nowadays.

Display ads vary significantly in terms of who they target and how they work. Here’s a breakdown of the different display ad options and what they do.

Interstitial Ads

Interstitial or banner ads are the most common type of display advertising format. They are hyperlinked, image-based ads in the shape of a strip.

These are the advertisements that appear before the desired web page loads. They take up the whole screen, effectively capturing the user's attention.

Video Ads

According to research, around 30% of Internet users find traditional banner advertising a bit distracting. That’s why advertisers are looking for better ways to display ads.

Video ads are an increasing part of display advertising management strategies. They can be viewed by anyone with access to an ad platform on their smartphone or computer, so they’re great for reaching people who may not otherwise come across your brand or product.

Interactive Campaigns

Interactive campaigns are a combination of text and images that can be displayed in multiple ways, such as 3D animation, video or interactive elements such as games or quizzes.

This type of ad allows you to engage with potential customers in various ways: by connecting them with content like videos and polls that assess how interested they are in learning about your brand.

It can also be done by offering discounts or incentives based on their answers to questions about what products or services they would like to use next time.

Retargeting Ads

Most display ads are remarketing campaigns because they allow marketers to retarget consumers who have visited their website or clicked on an ad.

Retargeting campaigns have become widespread thanks to the trend toward ad personalization. Research shows that 91% of consumers prefer to purchase from brands that remember their wants and give offers based on their needs.

Here's how they work:

  • First, ensure you've implemented the code on your website that gathers information about your visitors' navigating and browsing behavior.
  • Create lists of types of customers and the advertising messages that would most probably appeal to them.
  • Place display ads based on the various categories of interest you have gathered and observed.

Personalized Ads

These allow advertisers to identify and target consumers that fit specific parameters. These parameters may vary depending on the advertiser's particular needs, but each can be customizable according to what type of consumer they are looking for.

For example, affinity targeting allows advertisers to reach many people across a wide range of demographics while still being able to segment out specific types of interests (e.g., car enthusiasts).

Custom Intent Ads

Custom intent ads allow advertisers to advertise only to those who exhibit an active interest in what they're selling (e.g., long-distance runners or orchid growers).

This strategy reduces the number of people reached while increasing personalization through more narrowly defined characteristics.

Similar Audience Ads

This functions similarly to custom intent ads. However, it uses data from existing customers instead of new prospects, eliminating this drawback altogether.

Contextual Advertising

Instead of displaying your ads to people based on their user profiles, contextual advertising places your advertisements on websites or videos according to certain criteria. These criteria include:

  • Your ad's topic and keywords.
  • Your language and location preferences.
  • The hosting website's overarching theme.
  • The browsing histories of the website’s recent visitors.

You can let Google make these determinations for you or take an active role in it yourself through topic targeting.

Topic Targeting

This is similar to Affinity Targeting, except instead of being placed next to a specific person (user), they're displayed on pages within the display network or YouTube. Topics might range from travel holidays or shoes.

Site Placed

Site-placed ads are the most common type of display ad. Sites run custom-made ads on their sites, which allows you to target your audience in a much more targeted manner than with an impersonalized organic search.

These are also the most flexible type of display ads. You can choose to advertise on a site or a specific page within that site.

It's an ideal option for advertisers who want to hand-pick the websites that will host their ad.

With site placement targeting, you can choose to place your ad on entire sites or individual pages within sites. You can also combine this option with contextual targeting so that Google selects the most relevant pages for your ad based on what's already happening on those pages.

Native Ads VS Display Ads

This advertising type mimics editorial content and is meant to be read by the general public. They can be embedded on websites or social posts, like Facebook or Instagram stories.

Unlike native ads, display ads are obvious in trying to get consumers to buy into their product or service; on that principle, most people will ignore them.

Display ads convey your message quickly and visually, making them ideal for quickly and effectively branding your brand. You can convey your message through images and videos that show how you work or what you stand for, rather than explain it in text form.

Additionally, display ads are easy to create and place. They don’t require complex integration with publisher sites or technical expertise, so they can go up on almost any site that's part of the participating ad network without much technical expertise (although some sites may have specific requirements).

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How to Manage Display Advertising

Your display ad management effort should be focused on optimizing these critical metrics so that you can drive more conversions and generate more revenue from your display ad investment.

When you want to measure the success of your ads, one way is by tracking how many people saw them. This comes down to counting the number of views on your display ad - also known as impressions. Tracking this figure helps assess your display advertising campaign's efficiency and ensures you're hitting the right target audience with each new campaign you start.

An impression is counted every time an ad appears on a website or placement (basically everywhere).

For something to count as a click, it has to be someone who clicks through - whether they are targeted correctly or not does not matter.

Finally, but most importantly, there's conversion rate - which measures all these other metrics against what matters most: Did this lead to someone buying something?

What are the Pros and Cons of Display Ads

The pros and cons of display ads are that displays lead to better branding, offer quick communications, and are easy to implement.

This likely goes without saying, but a surefire way to get potential customers interested in what you’re selling is by visually enticing them to your product or service.

Not only that, but display ads (which use videos and attention-grabbing imagery to pull focus) are a pretty effective way to get your message across quickly.

There's little or no complex integration required between publishers' sites as they don't need any technical expertise whatsoever, unlike content direct response marketing which requires a lot more consideration to be implemented correctly.

Some drawbacks include how the visual nature may cause some audiences to disregard it on principle alone, but the good thing about this is that there's instant recognition for those who happen to notice what kind of advertiser it is, which helps increase awareness.

Another drawback would be how some might scroll right past these types of advertisements without even reading anything at all.

Display Ad Quick Tips

  • Be considerate of your reader's experience.
  • Don't force ads they cannot opt-out of by scrolling away, such as pop-up auto play videos. These strategies will surely grab their attention (in the wrong way).
  • Consider a static ad next to or within content instead; these may be smaller than traditional ads but they'll allow you to share all details with your audience.
  • Be concise in what you say because often, these are too small to include every detail, so keep them simple and focus on what is essential.
  • Quality over quantity: make sure everything looks good - high-resolution images, clear and easy-to-read typeface, and a logo that stands out from the rest.
  • Preview every image before exporting it for extra assurance; don't forget about using a compelling call-to-action at the end.

Display Advertising: Final Thoughts

Advertising has always been one of the most important digital marketing techniques, but it's also misunderstood.

Display advertising is a great way to spread your business' message while getting a more tangible return on your investment.

Display ads make a significant impact and significantly do so without being intrusive to your potential customers.

If you're looking for a way to build your brand's image and get more people interested and talking about it, display advertising could be just what you're looking for. There are plenty of top advertising agency websites you can browse in our agency directory or get connected with the right one for you using DesignRush Marketplace.

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