July 21


Boosting Your ROI with Display Advertising

By Hanson Cheng

July 21, 2023

  • minute read
  • Last Updated on July 21, 2023 by Hanson Cheng

    This comprehensive article will teach readers about display advertising, its purpose, features, and various types such as static, animated, and rich media ads. The article also delves into popular display advertising platforms like Google Display Network and Facebook Ads, along with guidance on selecting the appropriate ad formats and sizes.

    The Purpose of Display Advertising

    What is Display Advertising?

    Display advertising refers to a type of online advertising that seeks to convey brand messages using text, images, animations, or a combination of these elements. These advertisements usually appear on websites and social media platforms in the form of banners, images, and other interactive formats. Display ads are designed to capture the attention of potential customers and direct them to a company’s website or a specific landing page.

    Display ads can be found in various sizes, including leaderboards, skyscrapers, rectangles, and other custom sizes to suit different websites and devices. They come in a variety of formats, such as static images, GIFs, HTML5, and rich media. Display advertising is one of the oldest and most popular forms of online advertising, offering advertisers a wide reach and targeted audience selection. It is considered an essential component of an effective digital marketing strategy.

    The Goal of Display Advertising

    The primary goal of display advertising is to reach targeted audiences with engaging and persuasive content, intending to drive conversions, increase brand awareness, and strengthen brand loyalty. There are several specific purposes of display advertising, including:

    1. Brand awareness: Display advertisements are an excellent way to introduce new products or services, remind users of existing ones, and elevate brand perception. By strategically placing display ads on various platforms and targeting specific users, brands can increase the reach of their message and create connections with potential customers.

    2. Attracting leads and conversions: Well-designed display ads can entice users to click on them, directing them to a landing page where they may learn more about the product/service, sign up for a newsletter, make a purchase, or complete any desired action. Display advertising can help generate new leads and increase Return on Investment (ROI) for businesses.

    3. Retargeting potential customers: Display advertising is a powerful tool for retargeting users who have previously interacted with a brand or visited its website. By showing them ads relevant to their interests, advertisers can re-engage with those users and encourage them to complete a desired action that they didn’t initially.

    4. Targeting specific audiences: Display advertising offers advanced targeting options, including contextual targeting based on keyword relevance, geographic targeting, and behavioral targeting based on user interests and demographics. Advertisers can deliver their message to the most relevant and responsive audience by utilizing these options.

    Features of Display Advertising

    Display advertising offers various features that make it an attractive choice for marketers and businesses, including:

    1. Visual appeal: Display ads use engaging graphics, animations, and other media elements to capture users’ attention and create lasting impressions. This visual component can bolster brand recall and the overall effectiveness of the advertisement.

    2. Wide reach: Display advertisements can be placed on multiple websites and platforms, reaching a broad audience. This allows advertisers to tap into new markets and expand their brand’s visibility.

    3. Customizability: Display ads offer a high degree of customizability in terms of design, size, format, and targeting options. This allows advertisers to tailor their campaigns to align with their brand identity and specific marketing objectives.

    4. Measurable results: Display advertising campaigns generate data on impressions, clicks, and conversions, providing advertisers with valuable insights into their campaign performance. These metrics enable marketers to measure the effectiveness of their advertisements, optimize their campaigns, and improve ROI.

    5. Cost-effective: Display advertising offers various pricing models, such as pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM). Advertisers can choose the model that best fits their budget and campaign goals, ensuring cost-effectiveness and maximum returns on their investment.

    Different Types of Display Ads

    Display ads are a form of online advertising that utilizes images, videos, and other interactive elements to attract customers and encourage them to take specific action. Display ads come in various formats and sizes, with each type serving a different purpose. In this article, we will be discussing eight popular types of display ads to give you a better understanding of their unique features and advantages.

    Static Display Ads

    Static display ads are the most basic form of digital advertising. They consist of a single, non-animated image with text, a call-to-action, and a hyperlink. These ads are usually smaller in file size, which makes them load quickly on websites. They are affordable for businesses looking to create a simple yet effective online presence. However, their static nature could limit engagement and click-through rates, as they are less attention-grabbing than other display ad types.

    Interstitial Ads

    Interstitial ads are full-screen ads that appear between two pages on a website or during specific moments within an app. They can include images, videos, and other interactive elements. Since they take up the whole screen, interstitial ads reach maximum visibility, providing advertisers with greater engagement potential. However, they can also be intrusive if not implemented correctly, causing user frustration and potentially leading to website abandonment.

    Rich Media Ads

    Rich media ads are advanced display ads with interactive elements like video, audio, or gameplay. These ads can expand or change size upon interaction and track user behaviors and interactions. Rich media ads are highly engaging, providing a more immersive user experience than other ad types. However, they can also be more expensive to create and heavier in file sizes, which might cause slow loading times on some website pages.

    Video Ads

    Video ads can either be standalone, pre-roll, or in-banner video ads. They are highly engaging and can convey a message or tell a story in a short time. Video ads have been proven to garner higher click-through rates and better brand recall than other display ad formats. However, they can also be more expensive to produce due to the need for high-quality video production.

    Native Advertising

    Native ads are ads that blend seamlessly into the design and content of a website or app. They are designed to look like part of the original content, making them less intrusive than traditional display ads. Native ads can come in various formats, including sponsored, in-feed, and recommended content. They typically have higher engagement rates and better user experiences while also being more difficult to recognize as ads, which might result in ad fatigue among users.

    Retargeting Ads

    Retargeting ads are personalized display ads targeting users who have visited or interacted with a website or app. These ads aim to remind users of the brand or products they viewed and encourage them to return and complete an action. Retargeting ads effectively convert users, as they serve highly relevant content based on users’ previous online behaviors. However, excessive retargeting can lead to ad fatigue or annoyance among users.

    Responsive Ads

    Responsive ads automatically adjust their format and size to fit various ad placements, devices, and screen resolutions. This makes them highly versatile and efficient, as they can be served on multiple platforms without any additional effort by advertisers. Responsive ads can also include features like dynamic text and real-time data, making them more engaging and relevant for users.

    They can have better performance and reach due to their adaptability and optimization. However, creating responsive ads might require more effort and technical expertise in the initial design stages.

    Display Advertising Platforms

    Display advertising platforms are essential tools for marketers and advertisers to reach their target audiences and promote their products or services. These platforms offer various ad formats, such as banner ads, native ads, video ads, or audio ads, that can be served on different websites and applications. In this article, we will discuss some of the most popular display advertising platforms to help you make informed decisions about where to invest your advertising budget.

    Google Display Network

    The Google Display Network (GDN) is one of the largest and most popular display advertising platforms available. GDN enables businesses to target people with a wide range of interests across millions of websites, apps, and videos through the use of banner ads, text ads, video ads, and more.

    The pricing structure for GDN is based on a bid-based cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-impression (CPM) model, which allows advertisers to specify their maximum bid amount for each click or impression. This ensures that advertisers can control their ad spend and optimize their ads for the best performance.

    Facebook Ads

    Facebook Ads is another widely-used display advertising platform that offers a variety of ad formats, such as image, video, carousel, slideshow, and collection ads. With over 2.7 billion monthly active users, Facebook provides an enormous reach for advertisers to connect with their target audience.

    Facebook Ads operates on a bidding system, where advertisers set their desired budget and choose between cost-per-click (CPC), cost-per-impression (CPM), or other optimization goals depending on their campaign objectives. This flexibility allows advertisers to maximize the return on their ad spend.

    LinkedIn Ads

    LinkedIn Ads is a display advertising platform specifically designed for business-to-business (B2B) marketing. With over 660 million users, LinkedIn presents a unique opportunity for advertisers to reach professionals and decision-makers across various industries.

    LinkedIn Ads offers multiple ad formats, such as sponsored content, sponsored InMail, display ads, and video ads. Advertisers can target users based on attributes such as job title, industry, company size, etc.

    The LinkedIn Ads platform operates on a bidding system as well. Advertisers can choose between CPC or CPM and several other pricing models. This allows for better control over ad spend and the ability to optimize campaigns for desired results.

    Twitter Ads

    Twitter Ads is a display advertising platform that enables businesses to reach users on popular social media platforms. With around 330 million monthly active users, Twitter offers a unique opportunity for advertisers to engage with a diverse audience in real time.

    Twitter Ads provides multiple ad formats such as promoted tweets, promoted accounts, and promoted trends. Advertisers can use keyword, demographic, and TV targeting to reach their desired audience.

    Similar to the other platforms mentioned, Twitter Ads also work on a bidding system, allowing advertisers to choose between various cost models, including CPC and CPM.

    Programmatic Advertising Platforms

    Programmatic advertising platforms allow advertisers to buy ad inventory across various websites and apps through automated bidding and optimization processes. These platforms use real-time data and algorithms to ensure that ads are served to the right users at the right time and on the right websites.

    Display Advertising Formats and Sizes

    Display advertising is a crucial part of digital marketing that helps businesses reach their target audience through visually appealing ad banners. Display ads appear on websites, apps, and social media platforms as content, images, audio, or video messages. Choosing the right ad format and size is essential for an effective display advertising campaign. 

    Standard Display Ad Sizes

    The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) establishes the guidelines for standard display ad sizes for desktop and mobile platforms. These ad sizes are widely accepted and used by advertisers and publishers worldwide. Here are some of the most common standard display ad sizes:

    1. Medium Rectangle (300×250 pixels): This ad size is perfect for placing within text content or at the end of articles, offering an excellent user experience. They’re also supported across desktop and mobile devices.

    2. Large Rectangle (336×280 pixels): This ad format is bigger than the medium rectangle and features higher visibility. They work best placed within content or on sidebars and can be utilized on desktop and mobile devices.

    3. Leaderboard (728×90 pixels): For desktop use, this banner size is suitable for placement at the top or bottom of a web page, often as a site header, making it highly visible to site visitors.

    4. Half Page (300×600 pixels): Also known as a super skyscraper, this ad size provides a large canvas for more engaging and interactive visual content. It can be used on both desktop and mobile devices.

    5. Skyscraper (160×600 pixels): This vertical banner is typically placed on a web page’s sidebar, making it suitable for desktop or laptop users. It’s a popular choice for publishers who want to maximize their ad inventory.

    Mobile Display Ad Sizes

    As mobile device usage continues to increase, it’s vital to optimize ads for mobile devices as well. Here are the most commonly used mobile display ad sizes:

    1. Mobile Leaderboard (320×50 pixels): This ad format is similar to a desktop leaderboard but is specifically designed for mobile devices. It’s perfect for placement at the top or bottom of the screen and is easy to spot without disrupting the user’s experience.

    2. Mobile Rectangle (300×250 pixels): Like the desktop version, this versatile ad size works well within content or at the end of articles on mobile devices.

    3. Mobile Interstitial (320×480 pixels): Interstitial ads are full-screen ads that cover the interface of an app. This intrusive advertising format is used to capture users’ attention but should be used with caution to avoid disrupting the user experience.

    4. Mobile Half Page (300×600 pixels): As with the desktop version, this ad size is perfect for delivering rich and engaging ad content on mobile screens.

    Custom Display Ad Sizes

    Custom display ad sizes allow for more creativity and uniqueness when designing your digital advertising campaign. Advertisers may use custom sizes and formats to tailor their ads to unique placements or target specific platforms, like social media or native advertising.

    Some popular custom ad sizes include:

    1. Facebook Carousel Ads: This ad type allows you to include multiple images or videos within a single ad, letting users scroll through your content. Each carousel card is 1080×1080 pixels.
    2. Instagram Stories Ads (1080×1920 pixels): These ads take up the entire user’s device’s screen, providing an immersive and engaging experience.
    3. YouTube Masthead (2560×1440 pixels): YouTube provides a unique, large-format ad placement at the top of the website, visible to all users upon visiting the site.
    4. Inline Rectangle (250×360 pixels): This ad size differs from standard IAB ads and provides a more compact, responsive format that fits well within the content.

    Selecting the display ad format and size that best aligns with your brand message, target audience, and desired user experience is vital. By understanding the options available and how each format can offer specific benefits, you can create a more effective and successful display advertising campaign.

    Developing a Display Advertising Strategy

    Display advertising is a powerful digital marketing tool that allows brands to reach potential customers with visual ads on various websites, apps, and social platforms. A successful display advertising strategy is essential for businesses to achieve their marketing goals and objectives. 

    Setting Campaign Goals and Objectives

    Defining your campaign goals and objectives is the first step in developing a display advertising strategy. Your objectives should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Some common display advertising goals include generating brand awareness, driving website traffic, increasing sales or leads, and improving customer retention.

    Choosing the Right Display Ad Platform

    Selecting an appropriate display ad platform can make or break your strategy. Popular display ad platforms include Google Display Network (GDN), Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and programmatic ad networks like The Trade Desk and MediaMath.

    Each platform offers unique features and targeting options, allowing for a tailored ad experience. Research each platform’s audience demographics, ad formats, and metrics to ensure the chosen platform aligns with your campaign goals and target audience.

    Selecting Ad Formats and Sizes

    Display ads come in various formats and sizes, each presenting unique benefits and limitations. Common display ad formats include a banner, native, video, and rich media (interactive ads). Within these formats, there are numerous ad size options that can impact ad performance and visibility.

    Choosing the right format and size depends on your campaign goals and target audience preferences. For instance, video ads can be more engaging and memorable but may require a higher investment in production. On the other hand, banner ads are more affordable but might not stand out as much.

    Targeting and Segmentation

    Display ad platforms offer an array of targeting options, including demographic, geographic, interest-based, behavioral, and remarketing. By segmenting your audience and applying the right targeting, you can personalize your ads and improve campaign performance.

    Consider using a combination of targeting strategies to reach a wider audience while remaining relevant. For instance, target users in specific geographic locations and layer on interest-based targeting for a more focused approach. Additionally, A/B tests different targeting options to optimize your campaigns.

    Ad Creatives: Design and Content

    Ad creatives play a crucial role in determining the success of your display advertising campaigns. Effective ads resonate with the target audience and drive desired actions like clicks or conversions. Consider the following elements when designing your ads:

    • Visuals: Attract attention with high-quality, relevant images or videos that showcase your product or service.
    • Text: Keep copy concise and compelling, highlighting key benefits or offers.
    • Call-to-action (CTA): Include a clear, actionable CTA to encourage users to take the desired action.
    • Consistency: Maintain a consistent look and messaging across all ad creatives to build brand recognition.

    Budgeting and Bidding Strategies

    Allocating a budget and deciding on a bidding strategy are essential to your display advertising campaign. Your budget should align with your campaign goals and allow for flexibility in response to the performance.

    Display ad platforms offer various bidding strategies, such as cost per click (CPC), cost per thousand impressions (CPM), and cost per action (CPA). Analyze your campaign objectives and KPIs to determine which bidding strategy will deliver the best results.

    Measuring and Optimizing Display Advertising

    Display advertising is essential to online marketing strategies for businesses of all sizes. To make the most out of your display advertising efforts, it’s crucial to measure and optimize campaigns at different stages. This involves setting the right goals, tracking performance to identify areas of improvement, and optimizing your ads and landing pages for maximum conversions. 

    Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

    KPIs are measurable values that demonstrate the effectiveness of an advertising campaign in achieving its objectives. Choosing the right KPIs is essential to track the success of the display advertising campaign. Here are some important KPIs to consider:

    1. Click-Through Rate (CTR): This ratio indicates the percentage of users who click on your ad out of the total number of ad impressions. A high CTR implies that your ad is engaging and relevant to your target audience.

    2. Conversion Rate: This metric measures the percentage of users who completed a desired action after clicking on your ad, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter. A high conversion rate is a strong indication that your campaign resonates with the intended audience and drives results.

    3. Cost per Click (CPC): This is the average amount you spend for each click your ad receives. Lowering CPC while maintaining the same ad performance can improve the overall campaign’s cost efficiency.

    4. Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): This metric provides an idea of the revenue generated from your ad campaign compared to the amount spent on ads. The higher the ROAS, the better the return on investment.

    Tracking and Analyzing Performance

    Tracking and analyzing the performance of display ad campaigns is fundamental in making data-driven decisions to optimize the campaign. This involves the following steps:

    1. Implement proper tracking tools: Use tools such as Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, or other third-party tracking solutions to monitor user behavior on your website and the effectiveness of your display ads.

    2. Set up conversion goals: Define the specific actions you’d like users to take after clicking on your ad, like making a purchase, filling out a lead form, etc. Conversion goals should be clearly linked to the primary objectives of your campaign.

    3. Analyze performance data: Regularly review your KPIs to identify areas where your campaign is performing well and where it needs improvement.

    4. Identify trends: Detect patterns and trends in your data over time. This can help you make better ad creatives, targeting, and budget allocation decisions.

    A/B Testing and Optimization

    Regularly conducting A/B tests is crucial for the continuous improvement of display advertising campaigns. Tests should be performed on ad creatives, ad placements, targeting settings, and landing pages. Some practical strategies include:

    1. Test different ad creatives: Experiment with variations in the ad text, images, colors, and calls to action. Identify the creative elements that resonate with your audience and drive better performance.

    2. Test different ad placements: Not all websites, placements, or ad formats work equally well for your campaign. Experiment with different placements to find the ones that bring the best results.

    3. Test targeting settings: Targeting is a powerful tool to help you reach and engage the right audience. To find the optimal mix, experiment with different targeting criteria, such as demographic, behavioral, and contextual targeting.

    4. Optimize landing pages: The user experience after clicking your ad is crucial for conversion. Test different landing page designs and messaging to improve user engagement and conversions.

    Common Challenges and Solutions

    Some common challenges faced in display advertising include low CTR, poor ad quality, and ad fatigue. Here are some solutions to tackle these challenges:

    1. Improve ad relevance: Enhance the relevance of your ads to the target audience by incorporating their interests and preferences into ad messaging, imagery, and targeting settings.

    2. Maintain ad quality: Ensure that your ads are well-designed, visually appealing, and have clear messaging. High-quality ads are more likely to attract users’ attention and generate clicks.

    3. Refresh ad creatives: Rotate your ad creatives regularly to prevent ad fatigue and keep your target audience engaged with new and interesting content.

    By implementing these strategies, you can effectively measure and optimize your display advertising campaigns for improved performance, higher conversions, and better returns on investment.

    Display Advertising Trends and Future

    Display advertising has been a significant part of online marketing since the internet’s earliest days. The rapid evolution of technology and changing user behaviors have significantly impacted display advertising. As marketers and advertisers continually look for innovative ways to promote their products and services, staying updated with the latest trends is essential for success. 

    Emerging Display Advertising Technologies

    Several cutting-edge technologies are shaping the display advertising landscape, and businesses need to adapt to these changes to stay competitive. Some emerging display advertising technologies include:

    1. Programmatic Advertising: Automating the ad buying process, programmatic advertising uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and algorithms to analyze and target specific audiences. This technology enables advertisers to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time, enhancing overall campaign performance.

    2. Video Advertising: With the increasing popularity of smartphones and high-speed internet, video advertising is flourishing. Advertisers are investing more in video ads, particularly in social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, to capture users’ attention.

    3. Native Advertising: Native ads are designed to blend in with the platform’s content, making them less intrusive and more engaging for users. Sponsored content, in-feed ads, and content recommendation engines are examples of native advertising. This format has gained popularity because it offers a better user experience and typically generates higher click-through rates.

    4. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) Advertising: Integrating AR and VR technologies into display ads offers users an immersive, interactive experience. By enabling customers to interact with products and services in a virtual environment, brands can create memorable experiences that drive higher engagement and conversion rates.

    Advertising Personalization and Relevance

    The need for personalization and relevance in display advertising is paramount as users are increasingly bombarded with adverts. Consumers have become more discerning about which ads they engage with, and irrelevant or generic advertisements are ignored more than ever. Personalization techniques include behavioral targeting, contextual targeting, and retargeting campaigns.

    Ad Blockers and Their Impact on Display Advertising

    Ad-blocker usage continues to increase as users seek to have more control over their digital experiences. Display ads, particularly when intrusive or irrelevant, can negatively impact user experience, prompting users to install ad-blockers. This trend has led to significant revenue losses for publishers and advertisers.

    To combat ad-blockers impact, marketers must adapt their strategies to create engaging, relevant, and unobtrusive ads that provide value to users. Adopting best practices like the Coalition for Better Ads standards and offering opt-in advertising experiences are crucial methods for advertisers to tackle ad-blocker usage.

    Final Thoughts

    As technology develops and user preferences evolve, it’s essential for advertisers to adapt their display ad strategies to capture audiences effectively. Some future trends and predictions include:

    1. Voice-activated search and advertising: With the rise of smart speakers, voice-controlled devices, and voice search, audio-based ads become increasingly important.

    2. Increased use of AI and machine learning: Utilizing AI and machine learning to analyze vast data sets can help derive insights to target better and optimize display ads.

    3. Continued focus on mobile and in-app advertising: With mobile usage consistently growing, advertisers should continue to optimize their display ads for mobile devices and invest in in-app advertising.

    4. Embracing transparency and user privacy: As regulators and users demand more data collection and usage transparency, advertisers must balance data-driven personalization with privacy concerns.

    The display advertising landscape is ever-changing, and to stay ahead, marketers must be aware of these emerging trends and embrace new technologies and ways to engage customers. By focusing on personalization, relevance, and creating positive user experiences, businesses can ensure their display advertising efforts remain effective and deliver better results.

    Display Advertising – FAQs

    1. What is Display Advertising, and how does it work?

    Display Advertising refers to the process of placing visual ads, such as banners or videos, on websites and social media platforms to reach the target audience. Advertisers usually collaborate with publishers through ad networks, and ads are served based on behavioral data, demographics, or site content, enhancing audience engagement.

    2. What are the different types of Display Ads?

    There are several types of Display Ads, such as banners, rich media, video ads, and interstitial ads. Each is designed to capture user attention in various ways. Banners consist of static images and text; rich media ads may include video or interactive elements; video ads play before, during, or after content; and interstitial ads appear between content pages.

    3. How does the pricing model for Display Advertising work?

    Display Advertising typically utilizes three primary pricing models: Cost-per-click (CPC), Cost-per-impression (CPM), and Cost-per-action (CPA). In CPC, advertisers pay for every user who clicks on their ad; CPM focuses on impressions or views of an ad, while CPA involves paying only when users take specific actions, such as submitting a form or making a purchase.

    4. Why is targeting important in Display Advertising?

    Precise targeting in Display Advertising helps tailor ads to the most relevant audience, thus increasing audience engagement, conversion rates, and return on advertising investment. Advertisers can utilize various targeting methods, including contextual, demographic, behavioral, and retargeting for improved effectiveness.

    5. How do ad networks and ad exchanges differ?

    Ad networks serve as intermediaries between advertisers and publishers, aggregating inventory from multiple websites and selling it to advertisers, often based on specific audiences or content. However, ad exchanges are platforms where buyers and sellers participate in real-time bidding to buy and sell ad impressions, providing a more dynamic and transparent marketplace.

    6. What is the role of programmatic advertising in Display Advertising?

    Programmatic advertising automates the process of buying and selling display ads by leveraging technology, data, and algorithms. It streamlines the ad purchasing process, enables real-time bidding, and helps target and optimizes better. Overall, programmatic advertising enhances efficiency and effectiveness in the Display Advertising ecosystem.

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    Hanson Cheng

    About the author

    Living in Portugal with my wife and puppies.
    Scaling online businesses and sharing lessons learned on this website and in our email newsletter.

    Always happy to hear from you, so find me on Instagram if you want to say hi!

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