Everyday, each of us sees them, yet very few of us know much about them. I am talking about display ads (formerly called banner ads), Unlike search ads that rely on someone typing a keyword into a search engine, those running display advertising platforms learned how to show ads to people based on the context of what content they are looking at.

People may dislike banner ads, but if you ask any publisher of a large website, they will tell you how essential they are to keeping them in the black. Marketing expert Jay Baer argued for the ads by saying, “at the end of the day, you have got to realize that somebody has to pay the freight and the guys paying the freight are businesses.” The fact is, advertisers use display because it makes them money.

Who Can you Target on the Display Network?
Google runs the largest platform in this arena, with over 2 million sites in their Display Network. There are many targeting options on the Display Network, beyond the keyword targeting used on PPC search networks. These include:

  • Demographic – Age, Gender
  • Interests (affinities, in-market, Location)
  • Call to action (view, click, call, etc)
  • Video or image ad unit
  • Contextual targeting like Topic?
  • Audience optimization (by target or bid)
  • Placement on particular websites.
  • Inbox targeting
  • Youtube targeting
  • App targeting

How do you Measure Display Advertising ROI?
Google’s Display Network offers several bidding models, beginning with Cost-per-Thousand (CPM), the model that advertisers have used ever since advertising began. CPM is good for awareness, but because we pay regardless of end result, it’s not good for lead generation. Display is a completely trackable form or marketing, which opens it up to additional bid types we can try.

CPC (cost-per-click) in which we pay only when someone click on our ad, more control than paying by the Impressions our ad has. Digging into CPC further, we’re told the ratio of Impressions to clicks, a percentage called Clickthrough Rate (CTR). For those of us used to CPM, we can divide our CPC by the CTR, which gives us CPM. This is like having our cake and eating it too; we can see our spending both in terms of eyeballs and in terms of those who took action.

The last bid-type is CPA (cost-per-acquisition) can be used once a track-record of 15 conversions in a 30 day period is built up. Using CPA means handing over some targeting control to Google, which uses what they know about each viewer to decide who sees an ad, based on who’s likeliest to convert.

In past, each publisher’s CPM rate was set by how many eyeballs they could attract. Number of ad impressions still matters, but now that ad space is auctioned, CPMs are more a function of what a visitor is worth to an individual bidder. An advertiser of corporate jets will value the visitor quite differently from an advertiser of gift baskets. Still, if you want (and are willing to pay for) high-traffic sites like the comScore500, you can edit the sites or ‘placements’ where your ad runs.

Over time, you can see what sites (called placements) ran your ads and what you paid for them
Be aware that ad blocking software has impacted how many desktop PCs see display ads. Though display ads may not reach as many devices as they once did, they are still prevalent on many device platforms that reach prospects.

What are some Display Advertising Best Practices?
Whether you already run display ads or are thinking of it, here are a few pointers:

  • Remember that someone was not on a website going looking for your ad. As an advertiser you need to try and gently bring them along from not knowing anything about you, to being aware of you, to considering your offer.
  • Put thought into what your ads say and how they look. This doesn’t mean you must hire a graphic artist (AdWords has an ad builder that produces good-looking ads). You must, however, come up with pithy, compelling headlines they try to engage the viewer.
  • Choose landing pages that are consistent with what you showed the viewer in the ad. Based on the post-click experience they have, you can make or break a relationship instantly.
  • Consider using display advertising for Remarketing Campaigns, they are a good way to bring people who have already visited your site back, in hopes of deepening their relationship with you. or campaigns using branded terms that we’re only trying to spread awareness of.
  • Instead of pushing someone to buy straight away from a display network ad, it’s better to start with a free giveaway that provides value. Treat them the way you want to be treated.

Now that you know more about Display Advertising, I hope you feel informed enough to make use of this powerful digital marketing tool.

About the Author
This blog post was contributed by Glenn Schmelzle. He is the founder and Chief Lead Generator of Marketing What’s New. Glenn has spent nearly 20 years using technology to market products and generate sales leads. He loves helping companies quench their thirst for leads and grow their revenue, by finding their ideal prospects and compelling them to contact sales.