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A beginner’s guide to display advertising

If you are a business looking to dive into display advertising, it can be overwhelming.

In an increasingly digital world, where everybody’s eyes are glued to a screen, most advertising can seem like white noise. So you want to make sure you’re designing and promoting worthwhile ads in a proper venue.

Here we’ll go over some simple best practices for creating a display ad: how to decide where to advertise, and what type of advertising you want to pursue. You can reach out to websites directly and do the dirty work yourself, or you can also utilize a marketing network to manage your marketing.

Lastly, you want to make sure that you are spending your dollars wisely, so you’ll need to measure the impact of your campaign.

What are the main types of display advertising?

Display advertising is a bit of a blanket term because it covers just about any visual advertisement on a website. However, this broad category can be divided up into a few main types:

  • Site placement advertising: This is when a marketer/advertiser chooses the site they would like to advertise on.
  • Contextual advertising: This is when you advertise your product or service on a website with similar content. IE- promoting wedding dresses on a honeymoon destination website.
  • Remarketing advertising: These ads appear when a user has already been to your website. A service uses cookies to track the visit, and then your ad would appear on another website they visit, and ideally this causes the user to return to your website. This would be done through a marketing network like Google Display Network (more on that later).

Display ad standards

When it comes to digital advertising, there are standards that both advertisers and publishers must adhere to.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is an organization that provides insight on industry standards for digital media. In its display ad guidelines, the IAB states that display ads should be “distinguishable from normal web page content and the ad unit must have clearly defined borders and not confused with normal web content”.

They also recommend flexible ad sizing, meaning the ad units are defined by aspect ratios that can adjust based on the screen size the user is viewing. In their guide to ad sizes, Google lists top performing ad sizes as 300×350 (medium rectangle), 336×280 (large rectangle), 728×90 (leaderboard), 300×600 (half page), and 320×100 (large mobile banner).

Display ad creation best practices

When working on design it is important to create ads that are unique and clearly identify your goal, here are some simple practices for creation.

Make sure you are relevant

Ads need to be relevant to your audience as well as your main objective. You want to entice a viewer, not annoy them.

If you are using contextual display advertising, your ad is already on a website with similar content to your product. When a user clicks on your ad, it’s important that it leads to a corresponding landing page, not just your main website.

For instance, if the viewer clicks on a banner ad for a Valentine’s Day sale, you should have this link to a stand-alone landing page that focuses on that topic, not your main ecommerce site.

Keep mobile in mind

Display ads were originally geared towards a desktop user, and mobile users were considered second. However tides have turned and that has flipped around.

According to recent eMarketer research 70.5% of all display ads in the US are mobile. Meaning depending on the audience you are trying to target, you may want to create ads with mobile-viewing in mind first.

Compelling, concise, clear design

Google Marketing advises to use the “3 C’s” when it comes to creating display ads: compelling, concise, clear. You want your ad to stand out by using eye-catching design, with a clear call to action button (CTA).

Use high resolution images. Display ads can be very compact, so your pitch and CTA need to be brief. Lastly, your marketing goal needs to be clear, only advertise one message- sign up now, check out our holiday sale, etc. You want to avoid overloading your viewer.

How to start display ad marketing 

With site placement advertising you can directly approach a website or publisher on your own. This could work for a small local business that knows its market.

For instance, if you are an event planning company, you could approach your local chamber of commerce about advertising on their website. However, depending on your digital marketing goals, it might be better to work with a third-party service.

Here are three popular options:

Google Display Network

This is the display ad arm of Google AdWords. Google Display Network offers over 2 million websites that your ad can appear on. It also promotes ads across other platforms like apps and mobile-based programs.

They use contextual and remarketing advertising to target your audience. Their guidelines can be somewhat strict to adhere to, but this is one of the largest audiences you will be able to reach, all with the backing of Google. AdWords also offers deep analysis of your campaign’s performance.

Facebook Audience Network

With over 1 billion users worldwide, Facebook offers a  huge audience for digital marketing. Their ads not only appear on Facebook, but other high traffic apps and sites. If you are already using Facebook advertising for your business page, transitioning to using the audience network is fairly simple, their advertising guidelines are the same.

Media.net

This allows you to display ads on the Yahoo! Bing Network, which may not be as large as it once was (or as Google’s), but they claim that they reach 46 million unique searchers who aren’t using Google.

Measure your results

However you chose to display advertise, you need to track your ad performance. What is your marketing goal, and is your digital campaign getting you there?

Hubspot recommends tracking the following KPIs:

  • New site visitors: How many new visits after launching the campaign
  • Engagement: Time spent on your site, page views, bounce rate
  • Number of conversions

If you are individually managing your display advertising, you can request this info from your publishing website, or track where traffic is coming from on your landing pages.

If you are using a service like Google Display Network you can download analytic reports and use their tools to monitor conversion tracking.

Is it worth it?

Display advertising can help you reach a targeted customer base, drive engagement, and get users to your site. Navigating this type of digital marketing can be complicated. The click-through rate on display ads hovers around 0.07% worldwide, which often scares marketers away.

Yet in spite of this, display advertising is continuing to grow. A recent IAB study found that display ads grew 13.1% in 2017 (compared to search ads at just 12.8%). If you have a measurable goal for your campaign, create compelling ads, and you keep track of results you can see a high ROI in a short amount of time.

If you found this guide useful, don’t miss our other beginner’s guides to search marketing and advertising:

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer for No Risk SEO, an all-in-one reporting platform for agencies. You can connect with Amanda on Twitter and LinkedIn, or check out her content services at amandadisilvestro.com.

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