Tag Archives: display ads

[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]
Written by Caroline Cox on Jul 6 , 2022

Before you launch your next display ads campaign, here’s what you need to know. 

Here, you’ll find:

  • What display ads are
  • Why display campaigns are important
  • Types of display ads
  • Best practices for display ads

More than ever before, we’re living our lives online. 

Particularly in the last few years, everything from shopping and working to connecting with loved ones has become virtual. And digital marketers have noticed.

Global digital ad spending is expected to hit $645 billion by 2024 as more businesses turn to online advertising as an effective medium to reach prospects, grow awareness, and boost their bottom line.  

What’s more, Google display ad click-through rates for some industries rose to 0.84% in 2021. This highlights the growing efficiency of display ads as a bonafide marketing strategy. 

Curious about how to make display ads work for you? Read on.

peacock ad on vox

A display ad for streaming service Peacock on Vox’s website. (Image: vox.com)

What are display ads?

A display ad, also known as a banner ad, is a visual-based form of online paid advertising. You usually see these ads on websites, apps, and social media platforms. 

These ads typically feature a photo or designed graphic along with copy. The ideal result is an interactive display that encourages users to engage with the ad. 

To reach customers through display ads, you’ll need to work with a display ad network. (Google has one, of course, but there are dozens more.)

The benefits of display marketing 

Display marketing offers tons of business benefits. The visual nature of these ads helps capture the attention of your audience and convey your message in an eye-catching, direct manner. 

With paid search (also known as pay-per-click or PPC) ads, you can persuade users to click through to a landing page. This helps create effective brand awareness and, ideally, inspire visitors to take the next desired action. 

When placed on the right platforms, these ads help target people who are most relevant to your business and increase your online visibility while offering crucial data.

Common types of display ads 

When creating and running a display ad campaign, you’ll have to choose the ad type and format that will have the greatest impact. You can take advantage of several types of display ads.

  • Traditional banner ads: Ads that appear in a specific location on the website, mobile app, or social media platform. They come in static, animated, interactive, and video formats.
  • Interstitial ads: These pop up to cover the entire page or app screen. Users need to interact with the ad to proceed further by closing the ad or clicking the CTA. Ad types include text, images, videos, and rich media. (Google restricts certain interstitial ads on mobile pages because they interfere with satisfactory user experience.)
  • Remarketing ads: Ads that appear on websites, apps, and social media pages that visitors go to after they leave your website or mobile app.
  • Lightbox ads: These ads appear small at first but expand on the screen once the visitor engages with them. They’re great for improving user experience without the frustration of aggressive ads.
  • 360degree video ads: Ads that provide an immersive experience by responding to mobile phones’ gyroscopes. A user can interact with the ad by rotating the phone or moving.
  • Responsive display ads: For these ads, you upload the assets and Google will “automatically adjust their size, appearance, and format to fit just about any available ad space and improve performance,” the search engine explains.

Regardless of the type you choose, the key here is to understand your target audience. This way, you can opt for the ad type that’s most likely to encourage engagement.

vrbo ad on new yorker

A video display ad from VRBO seen on The New Yorker’s website. (Image: newyorker.com)

Tips for successful display advertising

To make the most of display advertising and grow your business, using the latest best practices is crucial — no surprise there. Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating display ads and executing your marketing strategy.

1. Get your targeting right

Successful targeting involves identifying your ideal client persona and doing research to understand your customers better. With keyword targeting, your ads will show up on websites whose contents match the chosen keywords. 

Placement targeting lets you choose the specific websites on which the ads will appear, while demographic targeting focuses on your audience’s demographic profile. 

Display targeting allows you to serve ads based on what users enter in search engines, and topic targeting involves selecting websites that fit within a certain topic.

2. Create ads that stand out

You not only want to attract the perfect leads, you also want them to click your ad and take action. That’s why content and design are such important elements of a successful display ad. 

Using high-quality images that convey a strong message can help elicit an emotional response from your ideal audience. 

You can also take advantage of programmatic advertising to serve various iterations of the same copy to differently segmented audiences. 

Lastly, short-and-sweet ad copy can establish urgency and serve as a teaser to make users want to know more.

3. Explore rich media

Unlike traditional static display ads, rich media features an element of interaction. This could be in the form of audio, video, Flash, or the ability to expand when a mouse cursor hovers over the ad. 

Taking advantage of the popularity of video content and the effectiveness of this form of multimedia advertising can capture the attention of your audience and keep them interested in what you’re offering. 

Although being more interactive comes at a (literal) price, investing in rich media can be worthwhile for your ROI if leveraged well.  

In 2022, when creating video ads, pay special attention to the sound. In fact, more than 66% of American web users find ads with loud audio annoying. That’s why outstream video campaigns are gaining popularity. They play the video on mute unless the viewer unmutes it with a tap.

When designing media for your display ads, make sure it provides sufficient information (such as captions or copy overlaid on the visual) without sound needed.

target at on apartment therapy

An example of a remarketing display ad from Target on Apartment Therapy’s website. (Image: apartmenttherapy.com)

4. Create effective landing pages

The main goal of any digital marketing campaign is usually to increase lead generation and sales. 

In addition to an attention-grabbing display that gets users to take action, make sure the landing pages you’re linking to are equally as thought-out and optimized. 

The most effective landing pages often follow a few guidelines, including:

  • An enticing call to action (CTA)
  • A design that’s consistent with the ad
  • An easy-to-complete form
  • A mobile-friendly experience 

5. Ensure ads are mobile-friendly

Speaking of mobile-friendliness: Making your ads mobile-friendly will enable you to reach a wider online audience. After all, roughly 1 in 5 American adults are “smartphone-only” internet users, according to Pew Research

Designing your ads with smaller screens in mind will provide a great user experience for people who access the internet through hand-held devices. 

Your landing pages may also need to be optimized so that they adjust to different screen sizes. This process will go a long way in improving the customer journey and increasing conversion rates.

6. Take advantage of remarketing

We talk a lot about remarketing around here. That’s because we know it can be a highly effective tool to have in your marketing arsenal. 

It’s also worth noting that remarketing is evolving. With the third-party cookie phaseout slated for 2023, it’s wise to start focusing on alternatives to straightforward retargeting.

Right now, Google is working on an alternative to remarketing ads. It’s called FLEDGE (First Locally-Executed Decision over Groups Experiment.). This option should allow you to target previous website visitors without revealing their browsing history. 

Chrome describes FLEDGE as “a Privacy Sandbox proposal to serve remarketing and custom audience use cases, designed so it cannot be used by third parties to track user browsing behavior across sites.”

In 2021, 83% of marketers relied on third-party cookies for their marketing tactics. The faster you adjust to the alternatives, the more market share you can steal when the third-party cookie finally sunsets.

callrail display ads on smitten kitchen

A display ad from CallRail on the Smitten Kitchen recipe website. (Image: smittenkitchen.com)

7. Stay true to your brand

To make your ads feel seamless and professional, it’s important to prioritize brand consistency. Ads that mirror the look and feel of your website and landing pages will make it easy for users to connect them with your company. 

When both your brand and products are easily recognizable every time a user encounters your ads, you can create trust, promote brand recognition, and foster loyalty. 

Still feel like your Google display campaigns suck? One of these reasons could be to blame.

8. Test and measure your ads

The importance of measuring ads cannot be denied. A/B testing different ad formats will help you identify, optimize, and serve the most effective ads to your target audience. 

You can A/B test things like CTAs, images, and ad copy — just make sure to test only one element per A/B test. 

As you run your campaign, carve out time to evaluate whether your efforts are bearing fruit. Be sure to set up proper tracking at the beginning of your campaigns and have established KPIs to measure against. These include impressions, reach, click-through rate, and conversion rate. 

You can then use the data you collect to regularly optimize your targeting and ads to improve overall performance. 

Pro tip: Experts suggest spending about an hour a week analyzing ad performance. Don’t have the time? Partnering with an agency might be your best bet.

9. Explore mobile gaming display advertising

Mobile gaming continues to experience a significant rise. These days, active gamers span nearly all ages, genders, and occupations. 

With the number of gamers exceeding 3 billion worldwide, exploring gaming ads can help you reach a wider audience. Formats of in-game ads are similar to regular online advertisements. They include static, video, image, and audio ads.

The takeaway

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it provides a few tips that you can use to ensure you’re running successful display ads for your brand. 

With the numerous opportunities this digital marketing type presents, it’s worth trying out different techniques for your campaigns and seeing which ones resonate most. You may be surprised by the ROI you can achieve.

This article has been updated and was originally published in July 2020.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]
Written by Sam Yadegar on Jun 13 , 2022

Still neglecting the Microsoft Advertising platform and Bing? Here’s why you may want to rethink that.

Here you’ll find:

  • Unique benefits of display ads on Bing
  • Benefits of Microsoft Advertising campaigns  
  • Display ad campaign creation steps 
  • Best practices for helping your ads succeed on this platform

It may not be as heated a debate as Android vs. iPhone, but plenty of people are shocked to discover that Bing users exist — more than 1 billion, in fact.

Even so, most businesses don’t take Microsoft Advertising (formally Bing Ads) seriously because Google dominates the market. 

However, leveraging Microsoft Ads and Bing could be far more beneficial than many realize.

Despite some sources reporting their market share as low as 7.6% in January of 2022, once you add up their network’s combined reach, it becomes clear that Microsoft Advertising is woefully underrated. 

Microsoft extends its reach through its wide range of products. They also work with a massive network of prominent partners, including Amazon, Skype, Verizon, and more. 

bing display ads

Display ads familiarize people with your brand. (Image: Unsplash)

Microsoft Advertising facts & statistics

Without fully understanding what Microsoft Advertising is and how it works, people are quick to dismiss it. If only they knew that:

The value of Bing display ad campaigns

One thing Microsoft Advertising and display ads have in common is that their campaigns can be surprisingly successful. 

Since display ads have a lower conversion rate, people often assume they don’t carry much weight. But immediate conversion isn’t the only metric of success.  

Display ads vs. search ads

Whether on Google or Bing, ads on the search network generally convert better because they’re shown to people actively shopping or seeking information. 

Conversely, display ads are often shown to more passive consumers. But that doesn’t mean they’re less useful — they just serve a different purpose.

Use search ads when:

  • Your goal is immediate conversion
  • Your business is location-specific (storefront)
  • You provide emergency services (plumber, dentist, handyman)

Use display ads when:

  • Your goal is brand awareness or lead generation
  • The product or service isn’t geographically constrained (digital products, e-commerce, services that are accessible worldwide)
  • Your offer has an extended sales cycle (automotive, software)

Pro tip: Display ads familiarize people with your brand. This can help increase search ad conversion and lead to more organic traffic later.  

How to create display ads for Microsoft Advertising

Once you sign up for a Microsoft Advertising account, creating ads is pretty straightforward. There are two ways to get started: you can import ads from Google or create campaigns from scratch.

How to import from Google Ads to Microsoft Advertising

Steps to import one Google Ads account:

  1. To import a single Google Ads account, click on “Import” in the top menu, then “Import from Google Ads.”
  2. Sign in to Google Ads and follow prompts to give Microsoft Advertising permission to import your campaigns.
  3. Select the account you want to import under “Choose accounts,” then click “Next.”
  4. To import without changes, click “Start import.” Your imported Google Ads will be set to the closest Microsoft equivalent settings. 
  5. If you want to specify certain items to be imported or customize bids, budgets, etc., select the “Advanced import” option, choose your import specifications, and/or make the required changes.

Steps to import multiple (up to 10) Google Ads accounts:

  1. To import more than one Google Ads account, go to your manager account from the global menu and click on “Import” in the top menu, then “Import from Google Ads.”
  2. Choose your preferred Microsoft Advertising account to receive the imports and sign in to Google Ads. Follow prompts to give Microsoft Advertising permission to import your campaigns.
  3. Use the “Google Ads account name” and “Microsoft Advertising account name” options to select the accounts your imports will move between, and click “Continue” to see the options.
  4. Advanced import” is also where you set up future imports to run on a schedule. Alternatively, set up automatic imports by selecting “Auto” to have Microsoft Advertising optimize your upload schedule. That way you don’t have to repeat the manual import process every time you create new ads and campaigns or make changes. You can go to the page labeled “Import schedule & history” found on the “Import” page to manually run an import or change the schedule at any time.

Pro Tip: Always check to ensure there are no problems with your campaigns and everything is imported properly, as some settings don’t have a direct match. Microsoft Advertising recommends checking your bids, budgets, targeting options, negative keywords, and Quality Score.

group of coworkers collaborating

Microsoft Advertising has announced a ton of new features, improvements, expansions, and updates for the Audience Network in just the last year alone. (Image: Rawpixel)

How to create a Microsoft Advertising display campaign

  1. ​​Go to the left-hand collapsible menu and click “All campaigns,” then “Campaigns” and “Create campaign,” where you’ll set the campaign goal.
  2. Select Audience Ads (Microsoft’s Audience Network is their Google Display Network equivalent). This includes display ads for Bing, AOL, Yahoo!, Xbox, MSN, and more. The campaign creation wizard will walk you through the steps.
  3. The wizard will take you through the campaign settings like detailing your maximum daily budget, creating an ad group, audience settings, and other details. (Ads will be responsive, so the preview won’t be what the audience always sees exactly, but it should be more or less the same.)
  4. When you’re done adding all the necessary details, create another ad or click “Save & go to the next step” to finish. Once you save, (barring any errors) your ad will appear on the Microsoft Audience Network.

Microsoft Advertising best practices

  • Familiarize yourself with the latest text and ad style guidelines to avoid problems and get the best results.
  • When picking an audience, pay attention to the estimated reach displayed so you don’t make your audience too small. Try to stay above 10,000.
  • Microsoft’s AI will be observing and adapting to the data generated by your campaign to optimize it, but this takes time. That’s why it’s wise to let your campaign run for at least a week or two before making any changes.
  • Ensure you’re tracking properly, analyze often, and adjust your campaigns as needed. 

Helpful recent updates

Microsoft Advertising has announced a ton of new features, improvements, expansions, and updates for the Audience Network in just the last year alone. 

Here are some of the top highlights.

  • Integral Ad Science: Thanks to a partnership with Integral Ad Science, your brand is safer than ever from landing on a page that could negatively affect your brand’s perception.
  • Dynamic remarketing: Using data about what products customers have interacted with, dynamic retargeting ads will be more effective.
  • In-market audience data improvement: They’ve refined the data available on in-market audiences you’ve targeted to provide specific insights.
  • Automated bidding: Automated bidding is finally coming to the Audience Network. Previously available exclusively to search ads, the feature finally expanded.
  • Automatic opt-in for campaign recommendations: Recommendations to improve ad campaigns will be automatically applied. While this won’t increase your budget, it will make changes. Search Engine Land covered ways to monitor the changes and opt out if you want.
  • View-through conversions: Get more accurate conversion data with the ability to track users who account for an ad impression and convert sometime down the line.
  • Market Expansions: The audience network now stretches across 25 countries with more on the way.
  • Similar Audiences: The U.S. now has access to similar audiences to target likely customers based on their similarities to existing ones.

The takeaway

The name change from Bing Ads to Microsoft Advertising represented the brand’s shift from search ads to so much more. 

Between the often-lower cost per click and the purchasing power of this demographic, the Bing display ads audience is an opportunity that’s at least worth exploring for nearly all businesses. 

This article has been updated and was originally published in March 2021.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]
Written by Sam Yadegar on Oct 29 , 2021

If your Google Display ads aren’t bringing you the ROI you want, one of these reasons could be to blame.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Facts about the Google Display Network
  • Guidelines to follow when it comes to your ad creative
  • How to be mindful of your audience targeting
  • Success tips for setting up campaigns

More than two million websites feature Google Display campaigns, reaching 90% of worldwide internet users. 

But that doesn’t mean they’re a first-class ticket to high ROI.

Multiple factors — some you may not even be aware of — could cause your ads to underperform, from hidden settings that affect targeting parameters to creative that misses the mark.

Let’s dig into these potential Google Display problems.

Problems with Google Display campaigns

One of the major reasons your Google Display ads are underperforming could be that your targeting isn’t right. (Image via Rawpixel)

1. Your targeting is off

Google offers multiple options for display targeting. They fall into several broad categories, many with subsections to get even more specific. 

You can use audience targeting to narrow your focus to specific kinds of people. This lets you better reach the exact buyer personas most likely to make a purchase. 

Targeting types

  • Demographics: Demographic options target users based on factors of their identity such as age, gender, income, and parental status.
  • In-market: In-market users are qualified people who are actively researching or considering purchasing offerings similar to your company’s.
  • Life events: Focus on people at the stage in their life when a purchase is most likely. For example, insurance companies might want to target people who recently got married or bought a home, while car dealers might target minivan ads at expecting and new parents.
  • Affinity: Find the right potential customers using their own interests and personalities, for example, sports fans, travel enthusiasts, and foodies.
    • Custom segments: You can get even more detailed using custom segments. “Sports fans” is an affinity group, but custom segments allow you to narrow that further to people who like a specific team or play a particular sport themselves.
  • Customer match: Advertise additional or new offerings to current customers for upsell opportunities via an email list or your CRM.
  • Similar segments: This customer data can help you find new users whose data matches that of your existing users and customers to target new audiences most likely to be interested in your offer.

You can use data you’ve collected on your users, visitors, and customers via sources like Google Analytics and your CRM to target audiences more effectively.

One of the major reasons your Google Display ads may be underperforming is that your targeting isn’t right or the audiences you’re targeting don’t make sense for the campaign. Review what you have set up and make sure you’re targeting the right groups.

2. Your creative isn’t optimized

Launching Display campaigns without going through the steps to ensure your creative is optimized may lead to a low-quality ad with underperforming results. Luckily, there are a few best practices to keep in mind before you go live.

This checklist includes:

  • Making sure any images you use are high-resolution, not heavily filtered, and in focus
  • Avoiding overlaid text or logos on top of your images, since it can be difficult to read in smaller sizes like on mobile 
  • Avoid adding button graphics on top of images, as this violates Google’s ad policy

Pro tip: Google recently updated its platform. The “Audiences” tab is now where you’ll find your audience reporting. “Audience types” are now called “audience segments” and “remarketing” is part of “your data.” Lastly, standard Display campaigns and Smart Display campaigns have merged for a more streamlined experience.  

3. You’re not speaking to your audience’s pain points 

Once you’ve got the creative nailed down, you can focus on the copy. Along with keeping your written content short and to the point, it’s key to speak to your audience’s pain points rather than simply touting how great or award-winning your company is.

Think about your target audience and what might inspire them to click or want to learn more. A/B testing your copy can help illuminate what pain points or value propositions appeal most to your ideal client persona. Remember: It’s about them, not you.

google display campaign issues

Got a small audience but a high budget? You may be targeting the same people over and over, which can lead to “banner blindness.” (Image via Rawpixel)

4. Audiences are set to “observation” rather than “targeting” 

According to Google, if your audiences are set as “observation,” you’re able to “monitor how ads are performing for your selected placements, topics, or audiences while your campaign is running.” 

But this setting doesn’t affect your reach, who sees your ads, or where they’re shown. 

And because it doesn’t restrict your targeting, your Display ads will be shown to anyone in the geographic area you selected as a result.

When you’re setting up a campaign, you’ll notice an option for “Targeting Expansion.” This is turned on by default and basically allows Google to go outside the targeting parameters you set if they think the person will convert (which, as we’ve often found, is unlikely). 

Pro tip: Google has removed the option to exclude all mobile apps. Now, if you don’t want ads to show in mobile apps, you have to exclude placements manually (or through Google Ads Editor).

5. Your frequency is too high

Got a small audience but a high budget? You may be targeting the same people over and over, which can result in “banner blindness.” As HubSpot explains, this basically means that site visitors consciously or unconsciously don’t pay attention to the messaging in banner ads.

While this could be due to a low-quality ad or a site’s design layout, banner blindness can happen when the same person sees the same ad repeatedly and either never looks at it or feels it doesn’t apply to them. And either one can be the kiss of death for your campaign. 

Got more questions about Google Display Network ads? We can help.

How to set your Google Display campaigns up for success

Now that you know a few of the main 🚩red flags🚩 to look out for when it comes to your Google Display Ads, here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you stay on track:

  • Consider using responsive display ads in conjunction with uploaded image ads
  • Test HTML5 (animated) ads
  • Double-check to make sure your audience targeting is on point
  • Try excluding mobile app placements (unless you’re certain they’ll perform or you’re just interested in impressions)
  • Monitor placement performance, then exclude what isn’t working
  • Consider brand safety (Google allows you to opt-out of certain content types, such as “Tragedy and Conflict” and “Sexually Suggestive,” to avoid your brand showing near unseemly content)

The takeaway

When leveraged properly, well-planned Google Display campaigns can be great for increasing conversions and building brand awareness. 

But if you rely too heavily on Google’s machine learning and what their algorithm thinks is best, you may not be getting the most bang for your buck.

If something seems off, it probably is. Take the time to double-check your campaign settings and watch performance closely. Once you pull the data, we bet you’ll be glad you did. 

This article has been updated and was originally published in November 2020.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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