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What Is Display Advertising?

An Introduction to Display Advertising

Published: March 8, 2022
What is Display Advertising

Rebekah Carter

Advertising in today’s digital world comes in a wide variety of different styles, from native ads intended to blend with their surroundings, to eye-catching display advertising.

The first “banner ad” – a type of display advertising, appeared on the web first in 1994. This little rectangular image invited people on to check out a service from AT&T. You’ve probably seen similar display ads to this (though perhaps a little more professional appearance) during your time browsing the web.

The question is, what does display advertising mean today, and why is it a valuable part of a marketing strategy in today’s digital world?

Here’s your introductory guide to display advertising.

What Is Display Advertising? The Basics

Display advertising is the process of “displaying” an image or graphic to a visitor on a website or online platform. Display ads are usually banners or boxes featuring images and text, which link back to a specific website or landing page. Most display ads will include a product or company image, branding details, and a CTA (call to action)

Over the years, display ads have evolved to become more eye-catching and attractive. Some display ads are simple static images placed on a website, while others use animations, videos, and interactive elements to connect with a specific audience.

Some of the most common types of display ads include:

1. Remarketing ads

The majority of display ads placed on the web today are special kinds of advertisements called “remarketing” ads. These are ads designed to re-capture the attention of audience members who may have interacted with your business in the past but clicked away from your website before they’ve had a chance to purchase anything, or “convert”.

Remarketing display ads are often particularly effective at capturing customer attention because they can be personalised to appeal to a specific audience. Using tracking information, it’s possible to determine which products your customer viewed when they visited your site in the past, so you can deliver an ad which showcases that same product.

According to studies, around 91% of customers prefer to buy from brands that remember their interests and provide offers based on their specific needs. This is the kind of thing you can accomplish with the help of remarketing display ads.

2. Personalized ads (Display Network Ads)

In Google’s opinion, remarketing is a sub-category of a wider topic known as “personalised advertising”. Personalised advertising is another option for display ads, designed to help you target customer base don specific contextual information.

For instance, in Google’s “Display” network, you can choose where to place specific ads based on a number of different targeting options such as:

  • Affinity targeting: With affinity targeting, you show ads to consumers who have demonstrated a specific interest in your market. These affinity groups can be relatively broad, such as “technology enthusiasts” or “music fans”.
  • Custom affinity groups: Smaller affinity groups allow you to focus more specifically on a certain sub-set of people like “gaming computer fans”, or “vegetable farmers”. This increases your chances of showing your display ads to people most likely to convert.
  • Custom intent: With custom intent and in-market ads, you can target consumers actively searching for specific products or services similar to yours. While you might reach fewer people with this kind of targeting, the people who do see your ads will be more likely to buy.
  • Similar audience ads: This kind of display advertising allows you to display your banners and content to specific people who have interests or characteristics in common with current visitors. To create lists of new, but similar audiences, Google compares the profiles of people on your marketing lists with those of other users, then identifies commonalities.
  • Contextually-targeted ads: Instead of displaying ads to people based on their user profiles, you can place ads on websites according to certain criteria, such as your ad’s topic and keywords, or the theme of the host site.

3. Site-placed ads

One of the best ways to make sure you reach the right audience with your display advertising strategy is to hand-pick the sites that are going to host your display advertisements. If you want to reach a specific audience, placing an ad on a site where you know your target audience will be is a great solution.

Choosing the sites where you show your display ads can also help to make the content appear less intrusive. For instance, customers are more likely to appreciate an advertisement about IP phones on a site about communication technology.

Display Ads vs Native Ads

Display advertising is a kind of “push” approach to marketing, which involves placing information about your products and services in front of your audience in places where they’re likely to be.

While the term “display ads” is often used to apply to all ads users see online with visual elements – these kinds of ads are typically seen as separate to “native advertising”. Native advertising is a form of advertising which attempts to place content within a platform in a way that’s easy for other people to miss. Native ads appear in-feed and are non-disruptive, like promoted posts on Facebook.

The intent of display ads is to stand out, while native ads are primarily intended to blend in with any web page they’re situated on. Display ads can be a good way to avoid the issue of “banner blindness” with certain native advertisements which blend in too much with their surroundings.

Should You Be Using Display Ads?

Display ads present business owners with a convenient way to showcase their offers in a wide variety of ad formats. Plus, when you create display ads with advertising platforms like Google’s Display Network, you can potentially reach users on websites all around the world.

Display advertising is a fantastic tool for building brand awareness, driving traffic to your website, and making sure you can connect with your target audience. All you need to do is make sure you display your advertisements on the right websites.