Display Advertising 101

Since its inception in 1994, when Wired posted the first banner advertisement on its website, the digital advertising industry has been booming. Nowadays, the industry has turned into the essential market that can "make or break" businesses.

Display Advertising 101
Since its inception in 1994, when Wired posted the first banner advertisement on its website, the digital advertising industry has been booming. Nowadays, the industry has turned into the essential market that can "make or break" businesses.
Jan 10, 2022
A full stack advertising technology company for publishers and advertisers.

As of 2020, online advertising accounts for 51% of all media advertising spendings. This number is expected to grow by 15.4% in 2021 with $455.3 billion in expenditures.

Display advertising spending report 2019 to 2024

Digital display advertising takes up a big chink of those spendings amounting to $92.53 billion or nearly 54% of the total outlay on digital advertising in the US. However, there are numerous ways to leverage online ads. Each business enterprise needs to build a specific strategy to gain an advantage and monetize its content. 

Display advertising turns out to be one of the best channels to take advantage of in the quest for monetization. It is pretty flexible, can be adjusted to a variety of strategies, and effectively attracts new visitors, and raises brand awareness. To benefit from display advertising, let’s first learn what it is, how to leverage display ads in the best way possible without any drawbacks. 

What is display advertising?

Simply put, display advertising is a type of digital advertising using such visual aids as images, video, and text. Often called “banner advertising”, these ads can promote any kind of business or service; they come in various formats and can be static or dynamic. For example, display ads can be placed among the content, on the top, bottom, or the side of the webpage. More traditional display advertising includes only static visuals. At the same time, rich media employ more advanced features such as video, audio, games, etc. 

Display vs native Advertising

Native ads appear in your social feed, blog recommendation results, and try to emulate the content around them. For example, ads on Instagram are native ads as they mimic other posts in your feed and look just like them. On the other hand, display ads are traditionally placed as banners on the web pages and try to capture viewers’ attention without blending with the surroundings. 

Display vs search advertising

Search ads appear in the search engine results and cater to short-term sales among customers ready for purchase. Display ads are more oriented towards a customer’s specific needs based on various metrics and typically have longer sale cycles. They also help raise brand awareness and build long-lasting relationships with a brand.

Display vs video advertising

Video ads are the ads run on YouTube, Instagram, and other websites with HTML5 video player and video content. There are many different ad formats and placement options for video ads: desktop, mobile, in-apps, and OTT (over-the-top) options.

While video ads drive up engagement rates, display advertisements are praised for their simplicity. Video ads require a lot of resources and production efforts, they can also be quite costly. Display advertising is affordable for any type of business or advertiser, while still keeping high-efficiency rates. Display ads are very clear about their calls to action, while video ads it takes more time and viewers’ attention to grasp them.

In the end, both display and video advertising have very strong sides and have some drawbacks. It all comes down to the specifics of the particular marketing strategy and its goals to determine the best-fitting type of ads.

Types of display advertising

Static and dynamic ads

There are two types of display ads based on how they perform throughout the platforms, with the main distinction being static or dynamic.  

  • Static ads are just images, and they come in different sizes, around ten most famous of them being across all advertising platforms. Wide size ads produce better results than tall and narrow options. The most productive display ad format is the 300×250 pixel rectangle per Google’s report. They are compatible with mobile platforms and perform best when embedded within the content. Other effective ad sizes are 336×280 pixel rectangles, 300×600 pixel half-page ads, and 728×90 leaderboard ads.
display advertising formats
  • Dynamic ads are banner and sidebar ads that can adjust the image itself and the accompanying text to the most appropriate size for the channel displayed on (desktop or mobile website, app, etc). Usually, dynamic display ads can cover a wide range of audiences across devices due to the flexible nature of this ad type.  

Dynamic Ads Example

300×250 Sidebars

Adt Ad Monetization platform v.5.2 300x250px
Adt Ad Monetization platform v.5.2 300x250px 2

728×90 Leaderboard

Adtelligent SSP

The best results are often achieved by combining static and dynamic banner ads in the marketing strategy, as both have advantages and shortcomings. The benefit of using static ads is having a lot of control over targeting audiences. The drawback is not adjusting ad formatting to fit different devices and mediums, thus missing valuable impressions. On the other hand, dynamic ads require more work and technical expertise, as they are more challenging to produce.

Programmatic display advertising

It is no wonder that programmatic display advertising is gaining traction as it combines very powerful advertising trends. Merging together dedicated software to automatically buy digital ads with one of the most reliable and popular types of ads.

Programmatic display advertising refers to the automated buying and selling of banner ads on a variety of platforms. These types of programmatic ads can also be static or dynamic, come in all sorts of sizes, and are placed mostly as headers, footers, or sidebars on the websites.

Working with programmatic advertising to amplify the productivity of the display ads is a great idea because you combine automated auctions with precise targeting capabilities and effective visual ads that are a staple of any advertising campaign. It guarantees yield optimization and a more productive marketing strategy.

Targeting options for display ads 

The targeting mechanics can also categorize display ads. There are several types of standard options for targeting ads based on their platform capabilities: 

  • RemarketingThis type of display ads aims at new or returning customer re-engagement. They might employ visuals of a new product or service to draw back visitors. 
  • Contextual. Targeting is based on the content preferences of the desired audience. It functions as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which helps display ads through keywords. With the help of keywords, the appropriate website for the ad placement can be found. 
  • Placement. Targeting is found in the types of websites your viewers regularly visit. You can choose the relevant websites for your display ads. 
  • Interest. In this case, display ads target two groups of people: in-market audiences and affinity audiences. The first group is ready to make a purchase, while the second only consider this option in the long term perspective. Ads can be displayed based on the interest categories that the advertising platform proposes.
  • Location / Language. This category is pretty self-explanatory and is very helpful in international marketing campaigns, as it targets specific locations and languages. 
  • Demographic. This targeting method includes age, gender, income, and other factors rooted in the analysis of the previous viewership. 
  • Custom intent/affinity. View ads to people who searched similar keywords on Search, engaged with similar content, or visited topically relevant websites. 

Popular display ad formats

As the advertising market constantly evolves and upgrades, it is essential to keep up with changes. More and more display channels and mediums appear, so new advertisers need to develop new formats that are appropriate for changing situations. 

  • Static – usually an image with accompanying text. 
  • Animated – consists of a short animated GIF or a looped video.  
  • Interactive – requires some response from a viewer like answering a poll, playing a game, or giving some personal information. 
  • Video – videos that are up to 30 seconds long containing advertising information. 
  • Floating – ads that stay visible in the same place even while the visitor is scrolling through the web page. 
  • Expanding – ads that change their initial size upon users’ interaction with them – by clicking, scrolling, or pointing at them with a cursor. 

New forms of display advertising 

As we have mentioned before, the online advertising industry is booming and transforming, so it is no wonder that new ad forms have emerged in recent years. A phenomenon was discovered in 1998 referred to as “banner blindness“. A study found that many internet users tend to ignore information displayed in banner-like formats due to the sheer amount of such advertisements on the web. So they unconsciously developed a blind spot for such data to avoid additional information overload. Naturally, this was not a good situation for marketers. As a result, new, more creative, and engaging approaches to display ads have emerged. Here are some of the most relevant display ad forms available as a result of those transformations: 

  • Pop-up is a form of ad that comes up as a pop-up window covering the current web page. 
  • Pop-under is similar to the latter but is displayed under a web page and appears upon closing it. 
  • Wallpaper (watermark) – an ad placed in the background of a page similar to the “bottom” layer of the page. 
  • Lightbox ads were initiated by Google in 2012 and looked just like regular ads. Still, upon scrolling over them with the cursor (for two full seconds at least), they expand into a full-page canvas ad feature with various rich media. 
  • 360-Degree video ads is a virtual reality type of media that invites a viewer for a higher engagement with ad content, as 360-Degree video ad is sensitive to the gyroscopes in smartphones, so the viewers can interact with an ad by rotating their devices. 
  • Interstitial refers to the ad that loads before an actual web page is displayed and takes up an entire screen. 
  • Superstitial ads belong to the interstitial type, but usually, they contain animated content or a video.

As per the next step, let’s figure out the main benefits and disadvantages of display ads. 

Pros of display ads

Visual appeal – display ads stimulate the viewer by showing visuals. It is much easier to draw attention through this medium than only text, for instance. In the modern digital environment overwhelmed with information, where a viewer loses focus after only 8 seconds due to the highly digitized lifestyle on some parts of the brain, it is essential to capture the attention instantly. Creative visuals proved to be a valuable contribution to solving this attention span issue. They can also help build brand recognition. 

Helps raise brand awareness – eye-catching ads can increase brand recognition and create a holistic brand identity across platforms. By including such elements as the company’s logo, slogan, new products, tagline, advertisers can create a consistent narrative around the brand and familiarize the audience with it.

Better viewer’s engagement – because display ads allow for lots of creativity and inventiveness, they draw in better engagement rates and provide the ability for tracking and monitoring. This can give marketers some insights into the way audiences interact with their ads and allow for more efficient marketing strategy planning. 

Relevant targeting – display advertising provides a chance to choose where exactly your ads will appear, not only in terms of the sources but also placement on the web page. Advertisers also use display ads for retargeting leads which might be on the verge of making a decision, as well as to reach audiences based on numerous factors such as interests, location, demographic specifics, keywords, the content they consume, etc. In terms of targeting efforts, it is especially relevant considering the perks of programmatic advertising. Adtelligent advertising platform provides a wide range of opportunities for purchasing display advertising inventory and takes full advantage of its marketing capabilities. 

Cost-effectiveness – compared to other types of advertising, display ads are famous for being quite flexible and affordable in terms of pricing. It makes it accessible for businesses of all sizes without compromising on the outreach scope and quality of the ads. 

Measurable performance – all of the ads can be tracked and evaluated in terms of how they perform; this includes information on clicks, impressions, and conversion, 

Cons to display ads

Ad-blocking – such ads are usually fought off with various ad-blocking software, especially if they are too invasive.

Invasiveness – some display advertising practices can be way too intrusive and, instead of attracting users, can turn them off. It is crucial to find a balance with attention-grabbing techniques without overpowering a viewer and coming off as demanding and forceful. 

High competition – as mentioned before, display advertising is among the most popular online ads, and it is only natural that everyone wants to do it. Under such circumstances, it is important to be inventive with visuals in order to catch the attention of a viewer. High competition and general data overload play a significant role in users’ informational fatigue, so the demand for fresh and creative content is high. 

Lower conversions can mean that display ads are more fit for long-term sales rather than for selling high volumes, though adequate targeting can negate this issue. 

Display ad networks & platforms

Ad Networks

Display ad network is a platform that helps advertisers to manage the distribution of banner ads and acts as a mediator between ad content and the audiences. One of the biggest examples of a display ad network is the Google Display Network which helps to reach new audiences, employ advanced targeting and achieve high conversion rates. It optimizes audience targeting and segmentation and makes the most out of every display ad. Display ad platforms allow to manage to buy and sell display ads, they can also include display ad networks as a part of holistic solutions. Usually, it involves a demand-side platform and a string of beneficial functionalities like fraud protection, audience segmentation, granular statistics, superb targeting, and premium partners. The most popular display ad networks and platforms you can find in our article about best CPM networks for publishers.

Display advertising services

There are display advertising services available for advertisers who want help creating visuals for their advertising campaigns. Take notice of such display advertising services as Marcel Digital, Hibu, Nobel Studios, Valve+Meter, SevenAtoms, TechMagnate, and Fiverr.

Display advertising strategies

In order to take full advantage of display advertising capabilities, there is a need for a proper marketing strategy that takes into account all aspects of business and potential goals set out by the marketing team. Good points to keep in mind while crafting the advertising campaign based on the display ads: 

1. Keep it simple and straight to the point

Ad has just one chance at the time to attract the attention of the viewer, so it has to have clear messaging that is easily digestible and isn’t overwhelmed with irrelevant text or imagery. Nobody says that there is no place for creativity, but it has to account for the way users interact with advertising on websites and the sheer amount of visual information they consume on a daily basis. It is better to have short, crystal clear messages and distinguishing visuals that are not too overwhelming.

2. Targetings are essential

Relevancy is a cornerstone of successful targeting efforts as well as marketing campaigns in general. People will be frustrated with irrelevant ads that do not interest them. If you set wrong targeting keywords or interests on websites that are not thematically connected, the messaging of the ad is irrelevant to the viewer, you risk wasting your budget and decreasing the engagement levels, which basically erases all marketing efforts in terms of display advertising.

3. Invest in high-quality visuals

Unique and attractive images are the basis of any display advertising strategy. The image should be optimized for scaling, with a visible logo, sized to recommended dimensions, and should not be too heavy to load. No one wants to click on the crooked image that is not even correctly displayed, so the basics of having successful display ads are having good-quality visuals fit for the chosen placement and sizing. 

4. Set clear goals

Important steps in planning any kind of strategy is setting clear and achievable goals that are ideally suited for the specific needs and aims of the particular business. In order to attain the maximum benefits with any kind of advertising, including display ads, developing a plan is a must. Think about the desired goals of the advertising strategy and what do you want to achieve as a part of the advertising campaign. 

Display ads monetization 

Display ads are viral among publishers for their monetization abilities. There are two ways for display advertising monetization:

  • Cost per Impression (CPM): advertisers pay for every served impression. This model is the most common, and many publishers employ it.
  • Cost per Click (CPC): advertisers pay only if a visitor to the site clicks on an ad. 

Publishers are attracted by this type of advertising due to the ease of setup, flexibility, and minimum amount of input required to start. If the website attracts visitors – it is already eligible for making money on display advertising. Stable income presents a significant benefit for publishers as well. The revenue stream from display advertising is known to be relatively stable and can be combined with other monetization efforts. The main drawback in monetizing display ad traffic is volumes, meaning it requires large viewership for generating substantial profits. 


#digital advertising#display ads#dsp#monetization#programmatic advertising

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