In the early days of the internet, when websites were in their infancy, displaying banner ads on your webpage was just about the ultimate sign of a successful website.  Once your website was popular enough for someone to want to pay you for advertising real estate, you were an online success.  People advertising with banner ads back then easily got between a 50% and 90% Click-Through Rate (CTR) – meaning 5 to 9 out of every 10 people who saw the ad, clicked on it.

Now fast forward to the modern web as we know and love or loathe it today.  Banner and display ads are everywhere.  We are blinded to them and many people distrust them.  They hardly ever get clicks – in fact, most often the CTR of a Display campaign in Google is counted in the sub-1% range, like 0.23%.

This begs the question, are Display ads still worth the investment?  To answer this question, we should look at the feasibility of display ads from another angle, which is traditional advertising.

I’m talking specifically about pole ads.  We see them every morning on our way to the office, or to drop the kids off at school.  While we’re stuck in traffic one of the ads on a lamp post might say something or ask a question that draws our attention.  Do we always respond to this?  No, I know I most definitely don’t.  I can’t even always remember what the ad was about, or who the advertiser was.  But marketing science has proven that the repetitive viewing of an ad tends to influence our decision making process and lead us back to that company, or at least raise our awareness that we might need a product or service similar to the one offered, even if we don’t always realize that it was triggered by the ad.

Conversions from these pole ads aren’t always measurable, just like display ads on the web.  We can’t always reliably say that a company received 10 clicks and 3 of those clicks turned into business.  That’s because display ads don’t always have immediate results.  It’s the repetitive viewing of the ad that leads to results.  You’re not reaching an audience that are necessarily actively looking for your product or service at that very moment, like you do with search ads for example.  But with a properly configured display ad campaign you can reach viewers that are likely to be interested in your product or service sometime in the future, and you can even encourage that realization within them.

So how can you best use this fact with your display ads?

There are a few obvious points, like the following:

  • Design your ads with your audience and your goal in mind. Have something memorable to say and say it quickly and to the point.  You don’t want your display ads to be overloaded with text, but you do want to grab the attention of your target audience and inspire either clicks or at least something that they will remember.  This will take a lot of planning and testing but it’s well worth the effort.
  • Set your targeting properly. You can usually target the placement of your ads based on either the characteristics of the people that they will be shown to, or their interests, or the kind of content pages that the ads will be displayed on based on topics or keywords, or a combination of all of these factors.  Choose the targeting carefully in order to get to as many of the right kinds of people as possible.

But there is also a lesser known element supported by some display ad services, like Google and Facebook ads.  The true power of display ads, in most cases, comes from a feature known as Remarketing or Retargeting.  This involves a piece of code that is integrated into your website or landing pages.  Google refers to this as the Remarketing Code and Facebook calls it the Pixel.  Facebook and Google use this tag to build a list of people who visit your website or pages and store them in a database.  This database will then consist mostly of people who have expressed an interested in your service or product to some degree.  You can then set your ads to target this list specifically and show your ads to them repeatedly, thereby keeping you fresh in their minds.

But you can also use this database to build an affinity audience to show your ads to.  This means Google or Facebook, or whichever platform you’re using, looks at the general characteristics of the people in your database and then targets people with similar interests and characteristics.  This would usually mean a more targeted approach to reaching the right target market for your service or product.

In summary, a display network ad campaign can still be a very effective marketing and advertising platform.  If it is customized and configured properly it can be well worth the budget that you spend on it!  If you’re unsure about how to do this or want to get professionals to implement it for you, take a look at PS Digital’s Google Ads Management service, or our Social Media Marketing packages.