Display advertising is a form of online advertising which relies on images, audio and often video to communicate advertising messages to target audiences. The effectiveness of display advertising has traditionally been questioned however, in 2013 the market grew by 32.4%accounting for 30% of all online advertising spend. What’s more it is the favourite form of advertising amongst 40% of American marketers.

Driving brand awareness and direct response are the primary objectives of online display advertising, but it is the platform’s ability to accurately target and retarget individuals and prospect new audiences that makes it such an exciting channel. Ultimately, effective display advertising aims to place your marketing message in front of the right people and encourage them to act/convert.

The platform

Promising to show ads at the right time to the right person, there are a number of display networks available:

Let's get visual

The first and main advantage to online display advertising is that users love visuals and tend to display more interest in image and video ads than they do to standalone text ads. But note, while ads may be aesthetically pleasing, clicks will not be received if content is not engaging. Instead, it is imperative the advertiser focuses on the USP and attributes of the product/service to capture the attention of the desired audience and aid the purchasing process.

Impact on search marketing

Secondly, it is important for display advertising and search marketing to work in harmony with each other and as display advertising captures and engages the audience, it is proven to have a positive effect on search marketing. Researching top performing keywords and trends amongst the target market and utilising theses in your ad copy can ultimately lead to higher conversion rates, as ads are being displayed to relevant users only.

Reaching the right people

Display advertising is highly targeted and great for prospecting. Advertisers are able to outline specific targeting criteria of the individuals they wish to display their ads to, target by topic or interests, or specify particular sites they wish their ads to be shown on. Taking into consideration the online preferences and historic online behaviours of these web users, the display network then decides whether it is worthwhile displaying the ad to any given user. As such, the more specific the criteria, the more likely it is to lead to high conversions.

Mix and match

Advertisers can use a mix of different types of targeting across display networks, allowing them to tap into very niche audiences and increase relevant conversions. For example, combining placements (specific sites you wish to display on) and topics (only showing on pages which are relevant to defined topics).

Although advertising to those who may be interested is great, remarketing specifically displays to those that have expressed an interest in the products/services offered. Effective remarketing can be implemented utilising cookies and real-time data collection, in order to reach an interested audience at the right time. This allows ecommerce websites, for example, to take full advantage of their ‘save for later’ feature and to retarget those who have abandoned their shopping baskets before conversion however, it is imperative the web user is served relevant content to aid conversions.

In both audience targeting and remarketing, personalised ads are well received by users and have proven effective. For example, “Book now” buttons may not promote a high click-through-rate, but if the content was tailored specifically to the user based on their previous searches, i.e. “two nights in Edinburgh from £129”, this encourages a user to click and can ultimately lead to conversions.

Display advertising boasts more conversions than any other medium, 30% more likely to be exact, and having a clever mix of both audience targeting and remarketing helps ensure optimal display advertising results.

Performance Tracking

Display advertising also allows the performance of ads to be tracked in order to make informed decisions regarding future campaigns. AB split testing is an effective way to identify the what is working well, allowing for ads to be optimised accordingly based on a number of factors - ad format, location, copy, content, targeting criteria, etc.

Display advertising’s ability to accurately target your online audiences and track performance makes it a cost efficient form of digital marketing, which is expected to generate a higher return on investment than ever before.

Display advertising is a great channel for increasing brand awareness and advancing ahead of the competition. As with all marketing, you need to take an integrated approach, providing consistency across your full marketing mix and using coherent messaging to strengthen your communications.