With all the talk about measurable performance marketing, lead generation and social media advertising, it’s understandable that you could start seeing display advertising as a thing of the past. You’ve heard that people block display or banner ads, or simply stop seeing them when they browse online content. Yet you still see so many brands, big and small, running extensive display advertising campaigns.
Should you be running digital display ads? What is the tangible benefit of these campaigns? And how do they fit into your overall digital marketing strategy?
We’re here to tell you that digital display advertising — skyscrapers, big box ads, and of course responsive display ads — are smarter and more relevant than ever. With recent developments in audience segmentation, retargeting and responsive creative, display advertisements remain a critical part of your digital advertising mix.
The key? You must understand the specific role that digital display advertising plays in your digital advertising plan, then fully utilize targeting, creative and messaging to fulfill that key purpose.
Display ads help build brand awareness
No one is going to Google your product or service and then click on a paid or organic search result if they don’t know what you have to offer. Sure, curiosity plays a role. But brand recognition and reputation play the biggest role of all in building consumer trust and driving purchase decisions.
You may notice that your paid search campaigns have the highest conversion rate. But what was the catalyst that inspired your customers to choose your product or service over another? Their journey began long before they landed on your site. Brand recognition plays a massive role in this process. And digital display ads give you the opportunity to put your brand in front of thousands (or millions) of consumers while they browse, share and consume content online.
According to McKinsey’s consumer decision journey, consumers loop through four phases when considering a purchase. The consideration phase is strongly influenced by many conscious and unconscious brand messages and signals the shopper has absorbed, often months before they actually buy.
Digital display ads of all shapes, sizes and formats play a critical role in this online journey by influencing shoppers well before the consideration phase. As they browse online, consuming content that is relevant to their needs and interests, well-placed display ads create familiarity with your brand.
When your ads are targeted to the right consumers and content, brand recognition has an even stronger impact on the consideration process — you’re already reaching the very people who are most likely to buy your product or service, before they need it. And by retargeting to these same consumers after they visit your site, you’re doubling (actually, probably quadrupling) your influence on their decision journey.
How do these display ads ultimately impact your bottom line? Our advertisers find that display ads used in conjunction with a search campaign improve both the clickthrough and conversion rates of their paid search campaigns. This is because prospective customers recognize your brand and are familiar with your value proposition long before they begin searching for your product or service.
Display ads are more cost efficient than search ads
Once you understand the sales boost that digital display ads can give to your referred and direct traffic, the next step is to assess what brand recognition is worth to you. Whether you have a well-recognized brand in a competitive market, or a new brand that is working to establish itself, you want to pay for the most brand recognition you can get, at the lowest CPM or CPC.
With display ads, you can get this recognition for a fraction of the investment you would make in paid search, social media or traditional advertising. According to Wordstream, in 2017 search ads had an average $2.69 CPC, while display ads averaged a $0.63 CPC. When you compare this to the rates for social or display advertising, this is a very affordable rate for advertising that builds your brand and ultimately contributes to your bottom line.
Display ads reach a broader audience
One of the things we love about display advertising is its ability to reach literally every corner of the internet. We’re not suggesting that you do this, of course. But display does allow you to reach a much broader audience at a lower price than any other advertising medium and put your brand in front of consumers you would not be able to reach anywhere else.
Tools such as the Google Display Network give you remarkable access to online content and platforms; you can literally sculpt your traffic, choosing topics, demographics, income brackets and even individual websites where your ads will appear. You can broaden your audience to test responses from different demographics, or micro-target once you know exactly who you want to reach.
Display ads are more visually appealing
When it comes to establishing brand recognition with consumers who are in the consideration phase, well-designed display ads have a lot of power. It’s worth doing some research into your market and demographic, and hiring a good graphic designer who can really speak to your market segment.
The display advertising format gives you so much freedom to experiment, learn and capture the attention of your audience. We recommend creating a suite of visually appealing ads for your display campaigns, testing pure brand, versus product, versus value proposition content.
And if you don’t have access to a graphic designer, don’t sweat it. We’ve had remarkable results with Google display ads’ responsive ad units. To create these, all you need is a logo, an image and some ad copy. Simply upload this content into the ad building tool and Google creates your display ads on the fly based on the kind of space available on every page.
We’ve tested Google’s responsive ads against well-designed display ads and seen very strong results. In other words, whether or not you have a good graphic designer at your disposal, display ads now enable you to affordably implement and test compelling images and messaging… and run these ads wherever you want.
Part of a well-rounded digital advertising plan
Quite simply, when digital display advertising isn’t part of your marketing mix, you risk not been seen by a large part of your market. While those prospective customers may not click on your display ad and buy immediately, they are paying attention to relevant brands and the messages they carry. If you take the time to target your online display advertising campaigns so your brand is in front of the right people at the right time, they are much more likely to consider and choose your brand when they are in market for your product or service.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Director of Paid Media @ Bloom