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We are sure you have heard the term ‘Display Advertising’, but maybe it’s not always clear what it exactly means. There are some common misconceptions around the understanding of ‘Display Advertising’, some of which suggest that any and all online marketing is considered display advertising, which in fact, it is not.
Getting familiar with display advertising can be a slightly daunting task, which is why we have created this complete guide to digital display advertising. We understand the complexities of running an effective digital display ad campaign and the benefits it can have on businesses who do it successfully.
The first display ad was deployed in 1994 and was visually very basic, unclear what it was advertising and didn't look very appealing.
Thanks to advancements in technology, display ads have developed a lot since 1994, everything from the way we create, target, retarget and publish display ads has massively improved, however, the fundamentals have remained the same.
Here are a few examples of what modern day display ads look like:
It’s not just the appearance of display ads that has developed, the number of internet users that are exposed to display ads has dramatically increased in recent years, making display advertising one of the most popular methods of digital marketing globally. According to Statista, online display advertising spend in the UK alone increased by over 10% in 2020, from £6.4 billion to over £7 and is projected to increase a further 13% in 2021.
Whether your goal is to increase traffic to your website, build brand awareness or simply learn more about display advertising and its different forms, you will find all you need to know in this article.
Display advertising refers to the method of advertising products or services using images and videos that are deployed to third party websites through publisher websites such as Google Display Network, Apple Advertising and Facebook Audience Network Ads to name a few.
Display ads are usually displayed on third party websites in the form of a banner, image or text which can be seen on various positions on the website. For example, a banner ad will usually be displayed at the top of the website. Most display ads are either square or rectangular and can consist of text, video, and image-based content that usually contains branding, product/service information and a call to action (CTA), which when clicked, will direct the user to the company’s website or a dedicated landing page.
Although you can advertise with plain text ads and still call it display advertising, businesses get a lot more value and engagement using videos, images, and HTML animation. Regardless of what they look like, all display ads are a method of attracting your audience and encouraging them to click through to a company’s website or a dedicated landing page and take a desired action.
The majority of display advertising campaigns are charged on a cost per click (CPC) basis. When a user is searching the web and clicks an ad, the advertiser will get charged an amount for the click. The amount will depend on the overall bidding strategy.
Most ad networks accept various display ad formats, including PNG, JPEG, GIF and JPG, however, not all ad networks are compatible with HTML5, but the largest and most popular ones are. The best way to ensure your display ads are compliant and compatible with ad networks is to use a digital display advertising platform to create your ads. Fluid Ads have a large selection of digital ad templates ready to go, making the process of creating and deploying a digital display advertising campaign simple.
We shouldn’t confuse other formats of content marketing with display advertising. When it comes to online content resources such as blogs and articles, these don’t count as display advertising. This kind of online content is designed to create a value exchange with its audience and provide targeted, useful information.
We must also not confuse native advertising with display advertising. The term ‘Display Ads’ is used as a term for ads we see online, however, it does not apply to native ads, which is a term used to refer to advertising that matches the design of the place it is located. They are usually found on news feeds on social media platforms and look like regular posts apart from one small difference; they are legally required to inform the user that it is an ad or sponsored post which is usually added in a very subtle manner in the corner of an ad.
Native advertising is designed to make the message more digestible for the user by showing ads in a non-intrusive way, whilst display adverts often aim to do the opposite by standing out and catching the attention of the user. Native advertisers also face the risk of hindering brand awareness through hiding their branding or logo as there is a chance the user may not notice or even remember the ad.
Display ads allow businesses to showcase their offering in a wide variety of formats and provide a large amount of choice as to where to advertise. Additionally, creating a display ad campaign on a digital advertising platform, your ads have the potential to reach millions of people all around the world.
Display advertising is a great method of building brand awareness, increasing customer acquisition, increasing traffic and ultimately conversations. The true success in digital display campaigns lies in the ability to target the right users, at the right time, with the right display advert.
Display advertising can also do wonders for retargeting campaigns. Retargeting is the process of serving ads to people who have already visited a website, whether they abandoned a cart or simply browsed through a few pages, display ads can be delivered directly to them based on the interest they showed on your website. Find out more on retargeting ads in this guide.
Using display advertisements to support any marketing campaigns these days is a must. They help to increase brand awareness, convey messages in a visually appealing way, are easy to create at scale and publish online, and reach consumers at every stage of the marketing funnel to provide great value for money.
People are continuously bombarded with information on the internet which has arguably decreased their attention spans and how much time they want to spend digesting ad content. If you are trying to reach out to wide audiences with the aim of getting them to engage with your marketing campaigns, display advertising is one of the most effective ways to achieve this.
Digital advertising tools allow marketers the capability to highly target massive audiences with unlimited reach. They allow you to target specific people based on their interests in products and services that are in alignment with your company. In addition to this, you are also able to select what sites your ads are shown on that are relevant to your company or offering.
Targeted ads also have the huge benefit of flexible costing. There are two available payment plans for advertisers using display ads. There is no contract in place for these plans, you set the price you want to pay when your ad is displayed online, it will then go to auction. In traditional auction-style, your ad price is then compared to other companies’ advertising price and whoever wins, gets the ad spot.
As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, there is the option of ‘cost per click’ bidding, you will get charged for each click on your advertisement. There is also CPM (cost per thousand impressions) bidding. This means you will be charged based on the number of impressions that your ads receive.
Using a display ad platform will allow you to measure the success of your campaign. There is functionality to receive regular weekly updates that go into detail about the performance of your ad. By tracking the performance of your display ads, you are able to make any necessary changes to enhance its impact and effectiveness.
Imagine a banner outside a shop advertising some sort of deal on a product or service you like, they are usually eye-catching and informal to lure the customer in to buy it. Display ads do the same thing, just online.
If you do any kind of online shopping, you will notice offers on particular apps and websites with their latest product deals which are bright and bold to entice you to click.
When a potential customer clicks onto your display ad, they will be directed to a webpage of your choosing, it could be a page on your website with information related to the product or service that was on your ad or it could be a dedicated landing page designed specifically for optimising conversions.
In order to be successful when planning your display campaign, it is advisable to adopt an omni-channel marketing strategy that allows you to meet consumers where they are in the marketing funnel, with the right message at the right time. By using an omni-channel marketing approach, companies can deliver a consolidated consumer experience that acknowledges the previous touch points of the customer’s journey.
Broadcasting display ads can be very complicated, or very simple depending on the method that is adopted. It is highly recommended to research all the different media buying strategies to discover which is the most suitable for your marketing campaign and its goals.
Display ad networks are the most effective way of reaching the websites and ad spaces you want to advertise on. Display ad networks act as merchants by purchasing unsold ad spaces, grouping websites and online advertising spaces together based on content/demographics etc. and then selling it on to advertisers.
Ad exchanges act as trading networks where display advertisers can purchase ad space from many different ad networks. Using this type of trading network, display advertisers can target their desired audiences for the lowest price available across the internet.
It won’t come as a surprise that Google owns and operates the world’s largest ad exchange, Google AdX which has some of the highest CPM in the world, however, there are benefits to paying a premium. Marketers who use Google AdX have some of the most effective audience targeting options in the digital advertising industry. Other ad exchanges include OpenX and Magnite.
For marketers who create and deploy large quantities of ad creatives, programmatic buying is a very effective way to optimise and purchase digital campaigns across a variety of ad exchanges. Instead of buying directly from publishers, programmatic buying uses artificial intelligence to make purchasing decisions on the marketers behalf. By utilising programmatic buying, advertisers can publish vast quantities of ad creatives at the push of a button.
A creative management platform (CMP) such as the Fluid Ads Platform allows advertisers to broadcast display ads using programmatic buying on an ad exchange or network of their choice at the push of a button.
To attract the right audience and get them to engage with your call to action, it is important to create effective and visually appealing ads. The imagery on the ad should be clutter free and in accordance with your brand. Illustrations can be a great way to get your message across and a good way to grab the user’s attention.
Just like all ads, you will need a call to action on your display ad. Creating a button can be a time-consuming process, especially for those of us that do not really have a flare for design, however, luckily here at Fluid Ads, we have you covered. Our large range of templates have everything you need to create visually stunning ads with compelling call to actions, all within one platform.
The call to action is arguably the most important part of your display ad. An effective CTA can be the difference between success and failure in a display marketing campaign. It should be thoughtfully designed to give users the desire to click through to your website, product page, special promotion or dedicated landing page.
Now that you have created an attractive and attention-grabbing display ad with a compelling call to action, it is time to analyse the landing page and convert the extra traffic into customers and leads. Landing pages are the lifeline of any digital marketing campaign and it is where the desired action will take place. Here are a few tips to help you create the perfect landing page.
You may get some benefit from sending all the traffic from your display ad to your website, however, it is more effective to send it to a dedicated landing page aimed at converting the traffic into sales or leads and will greatly improve the performance of your display ad campaign.
Before you get started with your first display advertising campaign, there are elements that need to be taken into consideration.
The first step in a display advertising campaign is to design your ads. The easiest way to do this is through creative optimisation so it is advisable to use a HTML5 ad builder. You can create display ads from scratch, however, it can be a difficult and time consuming process which requires coding and design knowledge as each ad size has to be made manually. It’s much easier and more cost effective to use an ad builder platform that has a selection of ad templates or blank ad canvases for you to design your Ads with ease.
Start by assembling your images and text to create your display ad, this will be the foundation from which all of your other ad sizes will be built from. It is recommended that you make your ‘master creative’ using the most popular mobile ad size; 320 x 250 (see more on ad sizes further down in this article).
The basic fundamentals of creating effective display ads usually consist of:
The second step in starting your display ad campaign is to scale out your ads into all the different ad sizes you require, this is where a display ad builder tool is critical for saving time as they can automatically create a range of different sized ads at the click of a button. An effective display advertising campaign requires a range of different ad sizes to be effective across different screen sizes and multiple devices.
Once you have designed and created your display ads, it’s time to deploy them. Before you begin, we recommend optimising all your ads so they comply with the sizes offered by your chosen display network. Using this guide for your display ad sizes will almost certainly guarantee your ads will be displayed correctly on most devices. Using a creative management platform (CMP) like the Fluid Ads Platform to deploy ads is highly recommended as you will benefit from direct integrations with display networks allowing you to publish all your ads at the click of a button.
Once your display ads have been published and are live, it is time to start monitoring and optimising the performance of your campaign. Start by measuring conversion rates, click through rates (CTR) and constantly A/B test to establish which images/messages are most effective.
Don’t forget to analyse your landing page to see how relatable it is to your ad, various studies suggest that having continuity between your ads and landing pages improve the performance of your digital display ad campaign.
Now that you have your ad created and launched, the landing page is optimised and the campaign has been active for a while, it is time to measure the success and look for areas you can improve. Measuring the performance of your display advertising campaign depends on the type of campaign you are running and what the goals and key performance indicators (KPI’s) are.
There are four key metrics you can use to measure the success of your digital display ad campaigns.
Whenever your ad appears on a website or the number of times it gets served to a user it is called an impression. This metric helps you quantify the number of times your ad appears on any website and allows you to measure the performance versus the click-through rate (CTR).
If the number of impressions grows and your display ads start reaching a wider audience and the CTR does not grow with it, it is time to analyse your advertising funnel. There could be a targeting issue where your ads are getting served to the wrong audience, in which case it is time to re-optimise your campaign.
While impressions tell you the number of times an ad is served, reach tells you how many people saw your display ad, in other words the number of unique views on your ad.
Monitoring and optimising reach ensures that you are not wasting any of your advertising budget by showing ads to the same people repeatedly. You can also run the risk of showing your ads to the wrong people more than once. Therefore, it is essential to optimise your ad targeting frequently to make sure you get the best value from your advertising budget.
To put it in simple terms, click through rate is the number of people who saw your ad and clicked it. It is calculated using the ratio of impressions to clicks. For example, if your ad gets 1000 impressions that generate 36 clicks, the click through rate is 3.6%. This metric helps us understand the effectiveness of ads. Another thing to take into consideration when calculating the effectiveness of your ads is the intent behind the click, and remember, it’s all about conversions.
If your click-through rate seems quite low, then you should test new ad creatives, experiment with different colours, research industry standard CTR for display campaigns and A/B test to see if the new version increases clicks.
Conversion rate is often considered the key metric of display advertising. Conversion rate is the number of people who click-through to your landing page and then take the desired action, this could be by purchasing something or making an enquiry.
A low conversion rate could mean one of two things; you are generating low-quality traffic and your ads are not optimised effectively or your landing page has not been optimised properly.
If it is the first, then go back to your targeting settings and go into more detail. Perform audits to see which websites, demographics and audiences are working and which websites and placements are performing badly.
If it is the latter and you believe your targeting is right, run A/B tests on your landing pages. Make a change to your headline, layout and design, call-to-action or even the entire offer and constantly monitor until you find the one that performs the best.
There are several forms of display ads and the type of advertisement you choose will depend on your campaign and your goals. Display advertising is a term used to describe every visual ad that is placed on a website, however, there are several categories that they can be divided into. You have probably subconsciously seen so many types of display ads and after reading this, you won’t be able to not see them.
Let’s have a look at some of the different aims of display advertising.
Brand awareness is the most common function of display advertising as it allows brands to display their colour scheme, logo and messaging to a wide audience. Brands pay for their display ads to be displayed across a wide variety of websites with the aim of getting their brand name and logo in front of as many relevant people as possible. Brand awareness display ad campaigns are usually measured on impressions and reach.
Lead generation campaigns are designed to entice interactions on ads which leads users to a website to complete a desired action such as a purchase or complete a contact us form/phone the company. These types of display ads can be linked to a live product inventory and are usually measured using click through rates (CTR) and cost per acquisition (CPA) as a metric to determine the effectiveness of the campaign.
Retargeting ads, also known as remarketing ads are a method of marketing where you deploy a display ad to a user using their previous engagement with your ads or website with the aim of luring them back to take the desired action they didn’t take on their initial visit. It is believed that over 90% of consumers favour buying from ads that remember their interest and display ads relevant to their hobbies and interests. Retargeting ads allow marketers to do just that, hence why it is one of the most effective ways of display advertising.
Remarketing display ads use the process of cookie based pixels that track the movements of a website visitor after they have left your site to remarket display ads to them with the aim of getting them back into your marketing funnel and completing a desired action.
Display campaigns and ads can come in all types of different shapes and sizes. Marketers can choose between standard display ad creatives such as banner ads or can choose between a wide range of rich media ads. Rich media ads are display ads that use HTML5 technology to add advanced features to display ads, but more on that later. These features can consist of videos, audio and expanding or scrolling ads. By using rich media, marketers can offer a more engaging experience for their target audience that helps to grab their attention and increase the likelihood of an interaction with the ad.
Banner ads are one of the most traditional forms of display advertising and usually appear at the top of a website in a banner format. Whilst banner ads are still frequently used by digital marketers today, other forms of display advertising may be more effective in increasing click through rates (CTR) and return on ad spend (ROAS).
Below is an example of how a banner ad would look on Yahoo.
Expandable display ads expand into the majority of the devices screen; sometimes they allow users to ‘click to expand’ from the ad. These types of display ads work particularly well because they create a bigger canvas for a brand to present their story or message. Some expandable ads can be configured to expand automatically when a page loads whilst others can be configured to expand following an interaction initiated by the user, for example, by clicking the ‘Expand’ button.
360 display ads are spherical with flat content allowing the user to view in 360 degrees. These types of ads respond to the movement of the users’ phone which creates more of an experience when viewing the ad. This seems to be a style of display advertising that not a lot of brands are using. Simply because the way the ad pans 360, this instantly grabs the attention of the user. It also works the same when desktop viewing, the pan is just slightly slower.
Rich Media is viewed as quite a broad term, but in its simplest form, it is a type of display ad that is a cut above the standard video or photo. Think more along the lines of GIF’s, animated graphics or a game you can play on a display ad. Rich media ads are very effective because they allow brands to get creative and not be constrained by a format or file type.
Interstitial ads fully take over the user’s phone screen or browser window. This means that users are more likely to see your advertisement. The only potential disadvantage for this kind of ad is that it is very easy for a user to click ‘X’ on the ad screen which means they might not pay too much attention to it.
3D display ads are banners that have an animated 3D object in it to present your product realistically, this encourages more interactivity from the user. Users are able to click and drag on the ad to explore the product as they wish.
Lightbox ads are a form of expandable ads that begin with looking like a traditional ad, but when a user hovers over them with their cursor for more than 2 seconds they expand into a full screen canvas that takes over the user’s screen. Lightbox ads can include all the elements of rich media within them and are a great way to divert the users attention to a brand’s offering, especially if it is relevant to what they are currently viewing or related to their hobbies and interests.
If you are relatively new to display advertising, you may not have any familiarity with the most popular sizes of display ads for various devices. The size of a display ad can also increase the overall impact on an audience. There are several different pixel sizes that display ads can be shown in. We have included the most popular display ad sizes, according to Google’s display ad size guide.
These are the most popular mobile display ad sizes for high end mobile devices:
The following ad sizes are examples of the most popular ad sizes for when people see your display ads on their desktop.
Although there are many different ad sizes available, it is thought that 89% of all display advertising impressions come from the following ad sizes:
To find out more about display ad sizes, have a look at our dedicated article on display ad sizes.
Whilst static banner ads are the foundation of display advertising, they are non-interactive and limit the ability of marketers to capture the attention of their target audience using animated and interactive display ads. Static display ads usually come in the following file formats; .jpg, .pngs or .gifs.
In 2016, Google stopped supporting flash display ads and made it in an invalid file format. This is when HTML5 was commissioned as the number one display ad format for display advertising, whilst static ads remained as the non-interactive relative of HTML5 display ads.
Without the right targeting for your display ad campaign, you will run the risk of serving ads to people who have no interest in your offering. The number of targeting options available to marketers are seemingly endless and can be rather intimidating.
Firstly, let’s go through the different targeting options available on display networks and then proceed onto the different types of ad targeting options.
This option allows marketers to target an audience based on their basic demographic profile. For example, age, income level, education, and employment status to name a few.
This option allows the marketer to personally select which websites their ads are displayed on. For example, if marketers are targeting people who have an interest in fishing, they can choose their ads to be displayed on websites related to fishing.
Display networks can serve your display ads on websites that contain content related to your pre-defined keywords.
Display networks have access to different data points on their users which allows marketers to serve display ads based on what queries users are entering into search engines.
Contextual advertising is a method of targeted advertising where the content of the ad has a direct correlation with the content of the webpage. Contextually targeted display ads are placed on websites relevant to the ad, for example, placing an ad for golf clubs on a website related to golf. This form of targeting is less irritating for the user as it is relevant to their interest and usually increases the chances of an interaction with the ad.
This type of advertising allows the marketer to choose where they would like to display their ads. They have the ability to make them appear on YouTube, GDN, specific webpages, video content or even on mobile apps. If you know of a website or app where your target audience frequently spends time, you could add it as a placement. When using site placed ad deployment it is advisable to design your ads to be hyper focused on the content of the specified website it gets deployed on.
Personalised ads target customers using demographics to target based on their online interests, custom audiences can be created to target consumers based on their behaviour and preferences rather than their past interactions with brands.
Geofencing ads, also known as geotargeting ads are a great way to target people based on their real life movements. Marketers have the ability to define geo fences on a map and deploy display ads to people who enter the specified area; they can even be targeted for up to 30 days after leaving the geofenced area.
Providing marketers use a digital ad platform that has this functionality, (the Fluid Ads Platform has one of the most advanced geofencing ads functionalities available on the market today) they can target physical locations where events or conferences relating to their industry are being held, bookmakers can target football stadiums and horse racing events, marketers can target the physical locations of their competitor’s premises; the possibilities are endless!
If you need any further advice on anything digital display advertising related or would like a demonstration of our all-in-one ad platform, contact us today and one of our friendly customer success managers will be happy to help.
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