Like so many aspects of advertising, media buying has gotten more complex with the increase in digital media.
Before the internet, an advertiser could create a print ad and purchase space in a newspaper or magazine. Radio and television advertising were similar—create the audio or video spot and buy airtime from the station to get your message out to the masses.
Today, the options are endless thanks to digital display advertising. With the internet playing such an integral part of our lives, it’s no surprise that digital advertising continues to grow exponentially. In 2020, digital ad spend was nearly $356 billion, and is expected to rise to $460 billion by 2024.
1. What is display advertising?
Display ads can be a catch-all term for a variety of advertising on the internet, but generally it’s the ads shown when you’re visiting a website—typically along the top, bottom and sides in the browser window.
Also sometimes called paid ads, display ads can be an image, video, animation, expandable, or even interactive. As with other types of advertising, display ads are created to fulfill a goal. That could be something specific such as get the user to click on the ad to learn more and “convert” (buy something, sign up for something, etc.), or as simple as creating brand awareness.
2. What are the benefits of display advertising?
In addition to the vast number of options digital display advertising offers, it also has several other benefits:
- Ads can be creative. The space may be small, but that doesn’t mean the ads can’t be intriguing. In fact, the digital format opens opportunities for a range of tactics to grab the user’s attention—animation, rich graphics, and large call-to-action buttons, just to name a few.
- Ads can reach a very targeted audience. Example: a wedding dress retailer can target brides-to-be in a geographical area who have been visiting wedding-related websites.
- Ads can be retargeted to interested consumers. We’ve all been re-targeted by an advertiser. That’s when you’ve looked at a jacket on a website, then a day later you see an ad for that same jacket and store as an ad in your web browser.
- Ads are trackable. Tracking URLs and pixels make it possible for advertisers to see if their ads are reaching the intended target audience, and fulfilling the goals of the campaign.
- Ads are flexible. Creative can be changed and updated relatively quickly. A/B testing is also available to allow for different creative tactics and confirmation of the most effective ad.
- Ads are scalable. Digital media can level the playing field for advertisers, giving small businesses the opportunity to target the same audience as a national brand. This differs from more traditional media, such as television, which has a minimum spend requirement for production that would be out of reach for most small business owners. For example, a $100 digital ad campaign provides the same access to the same targeted audience, regardless of whether you’re a small start-up company, or a large, established business.
3. What do I need for a digital display ad campaign?
The best place to start is with clear objectives. Do you want to increase your brand awareness? Are you encouraging customers to sign up for something? Is your goal to generate qualified leads? Your goals will determine not only the creative of your ad, but the media buying process as well. The results you hope to achieve through display advertising will be dependent on your objectives.
In addition to the actual ad, you may want to create a dedicated landing page. This is the page the user will “land” on when they click the button in your ad. A new landing page is not required—you can send a user directly to an existing page on your website—but it’s a fantastic opportunity to craft a specific message and increase your chances of clinching the intended action.
4. How much do digital display ads cost?
There are many pricing models for digital display advertising, with two of the most common being:
- Cost-per-click (CPC). The CPC method results in the advertiser being charged every time a user clicks on the ad.
- Cost-per-mile (CPM). With “mile” translating to “thousands” in Latin, CPM measures the cost for every 1,000 impressions. An impression is when an ad is shown to a user.
The pricing methods are very different, which makes it imperative to have clear objectives for your campaign. You’ll want to know your target audience and the intended outcome, and have creative reflecting those goals. For example, if you create an ad that implies you’re selling a set of cookware, but your landing page is asking them to sign up for a buying club membership, you’ll be paying for the click, but in return get a customer who is likely not interested in the offer.
5. How do I set up a display campaign?
Display advertising has been an option for advertisers since the mid 90s, with one of the most well-known ad networks being Google’s platform: Google Display Network. It has over 2 million websites, reaching 90% of people on the internet, according to Google.
Programmatic advertising is a newer, more complex method of buying digital ad space. It is not a closed network such as Google’s platform, but instead is an automated way of purchasing space via algorithm-based technology.
Another option is to leave it to the experts: a full-service agency. They’ll help pinpoint your objectives up front, craft creative ads and landing pages, and regularly monitor campaign data to make sure you’re getting the most for your money. For the advertiser, that means budget transparency, efficient pricing, and the ability to have an optimized campaign targeting the desired audience. An agency will also help you with additional tactics to work in tandem with your digital advertising.
Whether you already have clear objectives and creative ideas for a digital display advertising campaign, or you’re not sure where to start, we can help sort through the jargon and get you on the right path.