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What Are Display Ads? A Step-by-Step Guide

As a business leader, staying ahead of the curve is key to success. It can also be challenging trying to keep up with all the latest changes in marketing. 

To help you on your way, we've put together this comprehensive guide on display ads—complete with everything you need to know about this ever-evolving advertising format. Read on to learn more. 

What are display ads?

Display ads are a type of online advertising that use images, videos, or text to promote a product or service on websites and apps. These ads can appear in a variety of formats, including banner ads, interstitials, native ads, etc.

Display ads are an effective way to reach a wide audience with your marketing message. They can be used to raise awareness of your brand, drive traffic to your website, and generate leads and sales.

How do display ads work?

When a user visits a site with display advertising, a small piece of code called a pixel is placed on their browser. This pixel allows the ad server to identify the user and track their activity across different sites. Based on this data, the ad server will serve relevant ads to the user as they browse the web.

Display advertisers create a custom ad for a given site that includes relevant keywords about the site or offer. The ads are typically served by a third party based on the previous behavior of the user to increase relevance.

What are some examples of display ads?

Display ads can appear in many different forms including pop-up ads, side-banner ads, image ads, and more. You've definitely spotted them while clicking around (usually in the form of an ad for a site you've just visited that keeps following you around).

Display ads pop up in all kinds of places. (Image Source)

Let's take a look at the most common types of display ads

Image ad: This is the most common type of display ad and usually includes a static image with some text.

Video ad: Video ads are becoming increasingly popular and can be used to grab attention and convey a message more effectively than an image alone.

Native ad: This type of ad is designed to blend in with the surrounding content on a website or app. It is often less intrusive than other types of display ads and can be more effective as a result. The CTA (call to action) associated with native ads are usually regarding some kind of longer content piece, such as “Read the article about X topic.”

Pop-up ad: Pop-up ads are those that appear in a new window or tab when you click on a website. They can be effective in getting your message across, but they're also a bit annoying for the user—so use them sparingly. Important: choose sites that deploy them in a user-friendly way, or you could end up irritating the user, appearing spammy as a brand, and losing a sale.

What are the benefits of display ads?

There are several reasons you might want to use display ads as part of your marketing strategy. Here are some of the most common benefits:

  • They are eye-catching and familiarize your audience with your brand
  • They allow for remarketing opportunities
  • They make it possible to track and monitor the engagement and success of your campaign

What are the challenges of display ads?

Some things to keep in mind:

  • They can be intrusive and annoying for users, and that’s not good for your brand
  • They can be blocked by ad blockers
  • It can be difficult to stand out from the competition

Despite these challenges, display advertising can be a powerful tool for reaching your target audience and achieving your marketing goals if deployed correctly. 

Here’s how not to do it: intrusive pop-ups look spammy and usually make the viewer think poorly of your brand. (Image Source)

Important considerations to make before buying a campaign

Before you start your campaign, it’s important to first carefully research and weigh the pros and cons of the two main buying models.

CPM (cost per mille/thousand)

PROS:

  • Can reach a large audience quickly
  • Good for building brand awareness
  • Ideal for targeting a specific demographic

CONS:

  • Less effective for driving conversions
  • Can be more expensive
  • More difficult to track and measure results

Impression (CPC)

PROS:

  • More effective for driving conversions
  • Less expensive
  • Easier to track and measure results

CONS:

  • Takes longer to reach a large audience
  • Not as good for building brand awareness
  • Can be more difficult to target a specific demographic

If you’re looking to quickly reach a large audience and build brand awareness, CPM may be the better option. However, if you’re looking to drive conversions and sales, CPC may be a better choice.

When deciding which model to use for your campaign, don’t forget to consider your budget. CPM can be more expensive than CPC, so if you’re working with limited funds, you may want to consider using CPC.

Once you’ve decided which model to use, you can start planning your campaign. Take note of the following best practices:

  • Create compelling ad copy that stands out from the competition
  • Use attractive visuals that are relevant to your brand and product
  • Target your ads to a specific audience
  • Test different ad placements to see what works best
  • Monitor your campaign closely and make changes as needed

How to measure the effectiveness of display ads

If you don't know how you're doing, you can't improve—which is why measuring your ads is non-negotiable.

Measuring conversion goals is a must. (Image Source

When measuring the success or failure of a display ad campaign, you'll need to track the appropriate metrics. Here are some of the key metrics to have on your radar, along with tips on how to measure each one:

Clicks: This metric measures how many times users have clicked on your ad. You can track clicks by using Google Analytics or another similar tool.

Click-through rate (CTR): This metric measures the percentage of people who see your ad and click on it. To calculate CTR, divide the number of clicks by the number of impressions. For instance, if your ad has been seen 1,000 times and clicked on 10 times, your CTR would be 1%.

Cost per click (CPC): This metric measures how much you're paying for each click on your ad. To calculate CPC, divide your total advertising spend by the number of clicks.

Conversions: This metric measures how many people who click on your ad go on to take the desired action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter. You can track conversions by setting up conversion tracking in Google Analytics or another similar tool.

Cost per conversion: This metric measures how much you're paying for each conversion. To calculate cost per conversion, divide your total advertising spend by the number of conversions.

Once you've decided which metrics to track, you'll need to set up a system for tracking them. The best way to do this is by using Google Analytics or an ad management and analysis tool like MarinOne. By setting up event tracking, you can track how many people see your ad, click on it, and take the desired action.

Tips for making the most of your ad dollars

When spending money on display ads, there are a few simple things you can do to ensure your ad dollars are being spent wisely. 

  • Use your chosen platform’s insights section to help determine your optimal times for posting on the platform
  • Carefully research the specific target market demographics before purchasing an ad campaign
  • Run split tests to identify what works best for your brand or product
  • Experiment with new avenues to figure out the best days, times, and even types of content for your ads
  • Use MarinOne’s advanced analytics tools to optimize and easily manage your ads 

The best times for running an ad campaign on social media

There's been a lot of research into the best times to post on social media. As you can see, it varies by platform:

Image Source 

The most important thing to do is test your efforts and figure out what works for you. And remember to keep testing. 

FAQs about display ads 

  • What is the difference between an in-stream video ad and a banner ad? In-stream video ads are those that show up before, during, or after a video. Banner ads are static or animated images that usually appear in the sidebars or header/footer of a website.
  • What's the difference between an impression and a click? An impression is when your ad is seen by a user. A click is when a user clicks on your ad.
  • What's a good CTR for a display ad? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as it will vary depending on your specific goals and target audience. However, a CTR of 1% or higher is considered good.
  • What's a good CPC for a display ad? Again, there is no one right answer to this question. However, a CPC of $0.50 or less is generally considered to be good.
  • What is a pixel? A pixel is a small piece of code that allows you to track conversions, or specific actions people take on your website. Pixels can be used to track a variety of things, such as whether someone has added to a cart or initiated the checkout process.
  • What is an ad set? An ad set is a group of ads that share the same targeting, budget, schedule, and bid type. Ad sets allow you to control how much you're willing to spend on a daily or lifetime basis, as well as who will see your ads.

Wrap-up

While it's always best to experiment with different strategies before making any major decisions, there are some criteria that your ads should meet to be considered successful. Meeting the criteria of your chosen social media platform, and using MarinOne’s ad management platform, is the best way to run a successful campaign. 

MarinOne is an all-in-one ad management platform that helps marketers create, manage, and measure their display ads. It's a powerful tool that provides insights into what's working and what's not, so you can make adjustments and improve your results.

Learn more about MarinOne’s automation tools today. Get in touch and speak to one of the team.

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