DIGITAL DISPLAY ADVERTISING - The Art of Digital Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Creating Strategic, Targeted, and Measurable Online Campaigns - Ian Dodson

The Art of Digital Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Creating Strategic, Targeted, and Measurable Online Campaigns - Ian Dodson (2016)


An Introduction

You know those ads that follow you around the Internet? The ones that somehow know exactly what you have been searching for? Your computer is not psychic—you are simply experiencing remarketing, one of the tools of digital display advertising (DDA).

As a digital marketer, you can create online ads just as you would for an offline campaign. These online ads (or display banners) contain copy, logos, images, maps, and video—anything that will hook users as they browse. Then you can call on certain publishers to pick the most relevant websites, social media channels, and devices for your ads to appear on.

You learned in Chapter 2 that SEO is all about driving traffic to your site. Just as you should optimize your site so that it shows higher in search results, you should also optimize the ads that direct users to it—by including a hyperlinked call to action, for example. Makes sense, right?


Formal definition of DDA: A form of digital marketing that uses display ads appearing on web pages as a means of communicating relevant commercial messages to a specific audience based on their profiles.

Informal definition of DDA: Your onscreen pickup line!


In the opening sections of this chapter you will be provided with an overview of the DDA industry, the key terminology involved, and the benefits and challenges that face display advertisers. Then we will cover in detail the four key stages of the DDA iterative process, as shown in Figure 4.1:

1. Define. This stage starts by helping you to identify and segment your customers based on demographics like age, location, and interests. You will learn how to find the right publisher for your ads and how to set display campaign objectives in line with your overall goals.

2. Format. This stage will introduce a range of creative ad formats, among which you can choose the most appropriate, according to your target audience and budget. Once you have looked at formats, you will learn about the media channels available to you and how you can create compelling ad copy across these channels.

3. Configure. You can maximize your campaign's potential by using targeting tools like Google Display Planner and assigning KPIs to help you track your campaign on an ongoing basis. Once you go live, you can't hide from the eyes of the public—so it is best to iron out any bumps early on.

4. Analyze. The final stage is when you measure the success of your campaign using analytics. Then you can enhance and optimize your ads as necessary before getting ready to relaunch.

Figure illustrating four-stage DDA process denoted by four circles connected by arrows and arranged in a circular manner. Starting clockwise from top left the circles represent define, format, configure, and analyze

Figure 4.1 Four-Stage DDA process

Key Terms and Concepts

It is this chapter's aim to equip you with the knowledge and confidence you need to launch your own display campaign. When you have completed this chapter you will be able to:

· Recognize the importance of DDA on a global level and be aware of its benefits and challenges.

· Know how to select the most appropriate audience for your ads and the websites on which they appear.

· Appreciate the various creative ad formats available and how you can optimize the space you buy.

· Understand different targeting, tracking, and measuring tools that help you to analyze your campaign.

· Be familiar with the mechanics of display advertising, its associated terminology, and the laws to which it must adhere.

Display Advertising: An Industry Overview

Before you dive into the mechanics of display ads, let's take a step back and look at the big picture and the process we saw in Figure 4.1. This section will first focus on the DDA industry from a global perspective, then explore the mechanics behind DDA and some of the benefits and challenges it presents.

It cannot be denied that DDA is a pretty awesome branding tool. Even though it may not generate revenue in the same way as an email marketing campaign, it can influence a user's future buying behavior. By the end of this section, you will understand that as a digital marketer, you should:

· Allocate your budget across different media.

· Be aware of online consumption and of social media usage in particular.

· Appreciate the importance of mobile in display advertising.

Ad Spend: Offline and Online

The amount you spend on advertising varies across a range of media. For instance, the global spend for TV, outdoor, and online advertising increased in 2013, whereas formats such as radio and newspapers suffered.

However, advertisers are still willing to fork out for TV, even though viewers can easily fast-forward past ads or change channels. Less is spent on newspapers and magazines, which are losing out to display advertising—many publishers now sell advertising space in the physical newspaper and offer display banners as part of the deal.

The biggest spending success story has been online—that includes display, email, Google AdWords, mobile, and social. Traditional advertising spend in the United States has leveled out, whereas online spend is growing rapidly. And this trend will not go out of fashion anytime soon.

Unlike the one-way nature of traditional advertising, digital can engage users in a dialog and be used to communicate with them in a more fluid way. Still, as a digital marketer you need to be smart in terms of what media you use and not kick offline formats entirely to the curb. Outdoor ads can drive potential customers online—where you can engage them with display, social, and email. Offline and online formats are inextricably linked, so you should utilize both when developing your marketing strategy. And since there is nothing worse than seeing an ad offline and going online to find that the promotion has ended, you must keep a consistent message across both formats.

The Move to Online

So how has this love affair with online come about? Think about it. With increased accessibility, there are more and more users online. In fact…

· Of households with children, 98 percent have a device for online access—for households with no children, it's 76 percent.

· While on our smartphones, 87 percent of us multitask on other media.

· On average, adults have access to four devices for online access at home.

That means more people are using email, more people are logging on to social media, and more people are researching online before buying offline. More people are buying online too, thanks to the surge in popularity of online payment systems such as PayPal. Businesses are investing in Google AdWords, SEO, and organic search to connect with these multiscreening users where it matters most.

When people do go online, Google is their favorite place to visit. The runners-up in our popularity contest are Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube; further down, Amazon and Wikipedia get a nod of approval.

American users access social media sites at least once a day, so it comes as no surprise that these platforms are among the most popular sites.

Facebook is the social site used most often—and its vast network combined with comprehensive targeting and budget tools make it an advertiser's playground. Twitter and LinkedIn have a smaller reach but they can still be pretty effective.

Different social advertising platforms (and how we can target our audience within them) will be further explored in the “Display Ads on Social Media” section.

Going Mobile

Whether we are waiting for the train, prolonging our lunch breaks, or relaxing at home, we are glued to our mobiles most of the time. There are now more mobile devices in the United States than there are people, and marketers need to recognize and exploit this opportunity by advertising on mobile technologies.

Advertisers should target mobile users that search for local information with geographically relevant, mobile-optimized ads. Once they have finished searching on their phones, one in two of them will go on to buy through their phones, too.

So what is in the pipeline for the display industry? There are lots of opportunities from technologies such as retargeting, remarketing, and real-time bidding. Advertisers should also focus on producing ads for mobile devices, creating richer ad formats and incorporating snappy videos into their ads that users will want to watch.

Technology and Mechanics

Having provided an overview of the display industry and the direction in which it is headed, let's focus on the nuts and bolts of the DDA process.

Soon you will be able to hold your own in a DDA conversation at your next digital dinner party, as you will:

· Be familiar with essential DDA terminology.

· Know the stakeholders in display advertising.

· Understand the mechanics and the technology involved.

Display Ads: Key Terms

Ad click

Occurs when a user clicks after seeing an ad.

Ad impression

The number of times an ad is seen (not necessarily interacted with or clicked on).

Ad unique user

A user who sees an ad from a given device for the first time.


The number of clicks on a hyperlink.


A text file or Internet tag that a website places on a user's hard drive to remember data about that user, such as search history.


Hypertext markup language is the set of commands—or code—used by web browsers to interpret and display page content to users; it is the language that people use to build websites.


The term or phrase that triggers your ad to appear and target potential customers. For example, if you own a bakery, you might use fresh cookies as a keyword in AdWords—it then triggers Google algorithms to match that phrase.

Page impression

The number of times that a user views a certain page within a website.

Rich media

Interactive media (including text, graphics, animation, video, and audio) used to promote products and services on digital computer-based systems.


The number of times that a user visits a website—each new visit occurs when there is at least 30 minutes between requests for new content.

How Display Advertising Works

Now that you know how to talk the talk, let's walk you through the display process. The key stakeholders involved are detailed below and in Figure 4.2.

1. Create ad. It starts when advertisers create the ad, choosing a format in line with your budget. For example, if you want to advertise on The New York Times website, you need to bear in mind that this will cost more due to the heavy traffic on that site.

Next, you design the ad with an engaging call to action and a balance between text and imagery. When the ad is ready, you can choose your publisher—by working with agencies or by using a Google tool called DoubleClick, which allows you to search for suitable publishers. The Google Display Network is probably the most well-known publisher. It includes the full suite of Google products and its partners (e.g., YouTube).

2. Publish ad. Once you have identified your publisher and adhered to its format specifications, the publisher places your ad on sites based on your target audience and budget. So say you want your ad to be across 10 of the most prolific websites and targeted at people who have browsed for shoes in the past week—there will be a cost for that. In addition to choosing the sites on which you want your ad to show, you can also decide the time of day and across what platforms or devices that it should appear.

An agency can also play a part in this stage of the process; advertising houses such as Ogilvy and W+K match your ads with the people you want to reach and can often help you with design, too.

3. Serve ad. Websites are crucial stakeholders in the DDA process, as they enable users to see your ads. There are millions of websites across the GDN and beyond, including The New York Times, Facebook, and LinkedIn—the sites on which you want your ads to appear. These websites host your ad through their advertising banner spaces. Ad impressions occur due to any of the following variables:

· Your ad matches the end user's search.

· You hold a tenancy agreement, an arrangement in which you occupy a particular space and your ad appears there irrespective of the user's search history.

· You end up bidding against an advertiser who is paying the same amount for the same timing—in this case, your ad rotates with theirs, like a carousel.

4. Click ad. Ultimately, consumers are what make the display advertising world work. They see your ad and you want them to take action as a result (like buy, subscribe, or just fall in love with you). That is why so much is spent on advertising. It's also why every message you send should allow the user to take this action. But even though you want consumers to convert in some way, you should remember that display advertising is not really about revenue generation; it's primarily used as a branding tool. So even though CTRs may be low, your ads are still having an impact. Those users are smitten.

5. Track ad. Once users interact with the ad, the responsibility is on you to monitor the ad on an ongoing basis. If you have space on a publisher's website for a month, you should continually refine your ads for the best results. If your call to action is weak, you should change it. If your ad is underperforming, you should pimp it up. Whatever it takes!

Figure depicting the key stakeholders in DDA represented by five rightward arrows in a series. Starting from left the arrows denote advertiser (create ad, design ad, and chooses format and publisher), publisher (publish ad, distributes ad across sites based on budget), website (serve ad through sites, ad impression, and page impression), customer (views, engages with, and clicks ad), and advertiser (tracks ad)

Figure 4.2 Key stakeholders in DDA

Display Technology

DDA depends on some pretty slick technology to make it all run smoothly. For example, you can use real-time bidding—an auction process that matches you with ad impressions and with end users as a result (the publisher acts as a medium). Basically, it allows the most relevant person to see your ad.

Mobile has fast become the starlet of DDA, and everyone wants to please her. So you no longer create display ads for PCs; instead you target them to appear on smaller-screened laptops and mobile devices. And since most websites are now mobile-responsive, your ads will be displayed in the best possible light, whatever device the user is on.

Benefits and Challenges of Display

Now that you understand what drives display advertising, the key people behind the wheel, and a little more about the journey, let's explore the benefits and challenges that you may face down the DDA road.


Influence. Some forms of traditional media simply raise awareness, but research has shown that DDA actually influences buying behavior. It lets us reach a mass audience with a message that sticks.

Targeting. Targeting tools provide advertisers with a better ROI, less waste, and more focus. With tools such as AdChoices on the GDN, you know that your ads are reaching a specific audience.

Control. You can control where your ad will appear, who will see it, and how they can interact with it. Ultimately you want your ads to generate clicks. Failing that, you root for interactions, or for conversions between online and offline responses.

Integration. Create matches made in heaven by integrating display and social media with TV, radio, and print. But always remember to maintain a consistent message across all channels.

Segmentation. You need to create ads that satisfy different needs and wants. Segmentation allows you to cozy up to your different customer groups and get to know their behavior through how they interact with your ads, what makes them tick, and what makes them click.


Banner blindness. With the average user being served more than 1,700 banner ads per month, you can appreciate why he might dismiss your ads.

Low click-through rates. CTRs on display ads can be as low as 0.1 percent. One in a thousand may not seem like much, but if you apply it to one billion users on Facebook, it becomes a pretty big target audience. Also, that one in a thousand could have a branding impact on another 990 people—through sharing the ad across her own network.

Stage 1: Define

We can't start planning creative ad formats or designing clever calls to action until we understand the people we are targeting and how best to target them. Stage 1 of the iterative process—define, as highlighted in Figure 4.3—will turn you into a display ninja in no time, adept at:

· Understanding how display advertising works.

· Knowing your audience and finding publishers to help you connect with it.

· Setting SMART campaign objectives that work within your budget.

Figure illustrating four-stage DDA process focusing on the first stage (define). The circle representing define is shaded

Figure 4.3 Focus on the First Stage in the DDA Process

Finding the Audience

From the outset of your display campaign, you should ask yourself who the people in your target audience are—their gender, age, location, and likes and dislikes. You can then segment this audience (which is far more humane than it sounds)!

Users leave a trail online; for instance, as they browse sites or engage with email marketing. Their clicks tell you who they are, where they live, and what their interests are. You may not know how they take their coffee just yet, but you do know that they are interested in your brand. And so you should avoid scaring them away with too many calls to action; a few details now will be enough to engage them later. Patience, grasshopper.

If a user decides to register for updates, great—this implies their intent to buy. You can also collect data from the registration form and use it to shape, augment, and tailor your digital marketing strategy. For instance, you can create personas, personalities, and preferences, such as Debbie in Figure 4.4.

Figure depicting Debbie digital customer persona where a lady is standing and looking at her smart phone. On the left- and right-hand side of the lady are mentioned the various traits of her persona

Figure 4.4 Debbie Digital Customer Persona

Debbie can be segmented according to her age, marital status, her hobbies, and the fact that she earns a steady income. Once you have developed her persona, it becomes easier to predict her personality, her preferences, and her buying behavior. Then you can meet her needs and requirements with your marketing strategy. Thanks, Debbie!

Researching Publishers

Now that you have defined your target audience, you need to match this audience with the most appropriate publisher for your ads.

Back to the user's trail. Say a user searches for adventure holidays. Now that you know what he is interested in, you can show your ads on the most relevant sites. Ultimately, you are looking for a publisher that facilitates targeting based on segments like demographics, location, and interests. You should ask potential publishers for testimonials and KPIs, plus examples of work they have done across PCs, mobile devices, and social media. Google offers a range of tools to help you choose the best publisher for your display advertising—for example, the AdWords Display Planner.

Once you have found a publisher, you need to follow certain ad specifications and formats (like size and download speed) to make it a happy relationship. The example in Figure 4.5 is a 300 x 250 expanding ad. In this case the advertiser needed to satisfy certain criteria before MSN would publish it.

A screenshot image depicting MSN ad specification

Figure 4.5 MSN Ad Specification

Source: MSN.

Setting Objectives

As a digital marketer, you can use display to help you:

· Build your branding. Building on the success of your existing brand.

· Raise awareness. Utilizing online advertising in addition to offline to introduce a new product.

· Engage customers. Offering people new ways to interact with your brand.

· Encourage direct response. Gathering data when users fill out forms, enter competitions, or request quotes.

· Connect on social media. Enabling your followers to act as brand advocates as they engage in customer-to-customer (C2C) advertising.

· Generate leads. Creating subsequent email marketing campaigns as a targeted form of revenue generation.

· Increase conversions/sales. Driving sales later in the campaign process when your display branding tool is combined with other digital marketing elements.

So how can you achieve these goals? You can start with some SMART objectives…

1. Specific. Create a numeric goal; for instance, to achieve 100 sales by June 17.

2. Measured. Put systems in place to accurately track your progress towards this goal.

3. Actionable. Take certain actions to influence the outcome.

4. Realistic. Set achievable goals—for instance, there is no point in shooting yourself in the foot by aiming for a 50 percent CTR with your display ads.

5. Timed. You have a deadline by which you want to achieve your goals.

Stage 2: Format

You have now got the lowdown on target audiences, publishers, and how best to set your objectives and feel ready to start advertising online. But what formats should your ads appear in? Good question..

Time for stage 2 of the iterative process, as highlighted in Figure 4.6. Let's starting by diving into the creative space to help you:

· Understand the different dimensions available.

· Know how to maximize ad space.

· Realize the benefits of advertising on social media.

Figure illustrating four-stage DDA process focusing on the second stage (format). The circle representing format is shaded

Figure 4.6 Focus on the Second Stage in the DDA Process

Ad Formats

Just like how you were taught in kindergarten that boys and girls come in all shapes and sizes, so do ad formats. And in order to best utilize DDA, you need to be aware of each one.

Types of Display Ads

The most commonly used ad formats are listed next and are also shown in Figure 4.7.

· Leaderboards are generally at the top of the page, and because they are the first messages that people see, often perform best.

· Mid-placement units or MPUs are expandable, dynamic ads in the middle of the page. They can move up or down, are often animated, and see higher CTRs than most other formats.

· Skyscrapers and wide skyscrapers are the areas to the left and right of the homepage.

· Islands are small and niche areas that hold static ads. And no man is one either.

Figure depicting most commonly used ad formats consisting of leaderboard (on top of the page), half banner (below leaderboard), MPU (in the middle of the page), island (small and niche areas that hold static ads), and wide skyscraper and skyscraper (on the right and left of the page)

Figure 4.7 Most Commonly Used Ad Formats

Roadblocks, takeovers, and in-tandem ads. A roadblock is a combination of two or more ads for the same campaign, on the same page, with the same message.

In the roadblock shown in Figure 4.8, there are ads for the product within the leaderboard banner, the MPU, and both skyscrapers. All of the ads share the same key message but the design has been changed for each ad—with a variation in color within the MPU. This is also an example of a homepage takeover (HPTO). Everywhere you look on the screen, you see content related to the product. Bear in mind, this option is pretty expensive. Roadblocks are often used in affiliation programs between advertisers; for example, if Newstalk radio station (seen in Figure 4.8) were to team up with a coffee chain.

A screenshot image depicting roadblock format consisting of ads within leaderboard banner, the MPU, and both skyscrapers

Figure 4.8 Roadblock Ad Format


The ads in Figures 4.9 and 4.10 are examples of in-tandem ads: two or more ads on the same page that interact. Some of these ads may be animated, as shown by the couple in Figures 4.9 and 4.10, but ultimately they are designed to work in parallel, so that one carries one message, the other carries a similar one, and they work in tandem. Aptly named, don't you think?

A screenshot depicting the first frame of an animated leaderboard

Figure 4.9 First Frame of an Animated Leaderboard


A screenshot depicting the second frame of an animated leaderboard

Figure 4.10 Second Frame of an Animated Leaderboard

Source: The

Creative Ad Formats

Now that you know what ad spaces look like, how can you optimize them? Well, you can start by getting creative with the following ad formats:

1. Animated. These ads typically consist of three slides on a carousel. Looking back at the animated leaderboard in Figures 4.9 and 4.10, the first view of the ad in Figure 4.9 asks, “What can you get for €1?,” the next shown in Figure 4.10 starts with “Sky Sports for €1,” and the next might simply be “Switch to UPC.” Three is the magic number here—any more frames will confuse the end user.

2. Static. These strong and simple ads are often used by powerful, blue-chip companies that only need to say, for example: “Internet Explorer 10. Download here.” This message will carry a lot of weight within a very small area.

3. HPTO. As you now know, this is an ad display in which most of a publisher's webpage is replaced with advertising content. Even if it has no effect on users' buying behavior there and then, they will remember it the next time they browse.

4. Floating. The floaters temporarily interrupt navigation—so if users move their cursors over a display ad, a floating ad comes up. They might tempt people to start interacting with your ads in new ways, but make sure that you do not disrupt the user's experience so much as to have a negative influence on your brand.

5. Expandable ads. These dynamic ads differ from the floating kind in that people choose to click and expand them, rather than the ad appearing out of nowhere. You can use expandable ads to encourage interaction with your brand even if the user does not click through. You have the option to include videos, competitions, email subscription forms, social media buttons, and a link back to your website. Usually you will not be charged extra for taking over this space because you will have stuck to the publisher's specifications—you have just been clever with optimizing the space provided.

6. Rich media. These ads enable video streaming and are pretty effective—because as mentioned earlier, one in two users will interact with videos in display ads. If you can get airtime of up to 30 seconds with your audience you will have earned some serious display advertising kudos.

7. Filmstrips. Filmstrips consist of five different segments (maybe three of which contain video); the user can explore all segments by scrolling, hovering, or clicking on the creative. They provide a content-rich experience, and since they do not interrupt the homepage, people can interact with them whenever they want. Filmstrips offer advertisers a powerful branding canvas, because even if people do not watch your videos you are promoting your brand the entire time.

Display Ads on Social Media

Advertising on social media is becoming increasingly popular thanks to the size of the audience available. Let's start by looking at YouTube and the types of formats it offers in Figure 4.11.

Figure displaying YouTube ad formats in a tabular form consisting of four columns. From left to right the columns indicate ad format, placement, platform, and specs. The different types of ad formats are display ads, overlay ads, skippable video ads, non skippable video ads, and sponsored ads

Figure 4.11 YouTube Ad Formats

Source: Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.; used with permission.

All of these ads come at a different cost. They generate a different number of impressions and clicks and have different implications for your brand.

YouTube ads allow users to skip them after 5 or 10 seconds, and the ads are targeted in line with the user's browsing history.

Facebook is a powerful advertising tool because you can see what your audience likes, shares, and comments on. So any ad that users see on the right-hand side of a Facebook stream is targeted specifically at them. You can segment your audience according to demographic, location, interests, behaviors, connections, and so on.

Facebook ads will vary depending on where you want your ad to appear and the results you are after. Your ads can appear within the news feed (on desktop or mobile) or down the right-hand side. You can decide on the type of ad you will use depending on your objective. For example, you can use photo, video, or text for page post-engagement and links for website conversions.

Advertising on Twitter can help you to reach users on mobile devices, since 65 percent of Twitter's ad revenue is from mobile tablets or smartphones. Ads appear as what are called promoted tweets—so if users search for Starbucks, promoted tweets from Starbucks will appear in their feeds.

Twitter uses similar targeting as Facebook (location, interests, followers, etc.) to ensure that promoted tweets are directed to the most relevant users. Your ad can be discovered by the audience of your choice, and you only pay when people follow your account, retweet your message, or take action as a result of your ad.

Social ads within LinkedIn are also extremely targeted, but in a slightly different way, as shown in Figure 4.12.

A screenshot image depicting LinkedIn ad targeting the audience

Figure 4.12 LinkedIn Ad Targeting

Source: LinkedIn.

In LinkedIn you do not really target by demographics or interests. Instead you target by job title—sales manager, marketing director, and so on. You can also target people by company or by group; for example, a group within the MBA Association. You can even see how big your target audience is and how many people can potentially see your ads (shown on the right-hand side of the figure). This is a whole different ballgame from guessing how many people might see your billboard. And it can be very effective, too—in fact, 60 percent of LinkedIn users have clicked on ads on the site.

Pinterest and Instagram have smaller subscriber bases, but they still offer a great way of engaging users with imagery. With Instagram, you can take advantage of Facebook's insights, too.

So now you have covered the type of ads available, how advertisers can capitalize on them, and the social platforms that you can use. Feel free to choose the best mix of formats to suit your own company's objectives and budget.

Allocating Budgets

Now it's time to talk money!

To plan your campaign spend, you need to consider the following factors: your target audience (how much it will take to reach them), the publisher's price points (whether you can afford the big ones or if you should go local), location (because websites in prolific areas such as New York City will cost more), competition (whether you will be involved in real-time bidding, competing for advertising space), and finally, the cost of the creative (taking into account rounds of amends and special formats like expanding ads).

Integrated campaigns require a variety of media, so you should spread your budget strategically across the spectrum. For example, Coca Cola utilizes display, print, TV, outdoor, and experiential advertising (which means giving people a brand-enhancing experience, even if they do not engage directly with your product) in its advertising campaigns.

The costs that you need to take into consideration include:

· Cost per mille (CPM): This is the most common way to be charged; you pay for every thousand times that your ad appears in a page impression—irrespective of whether the end user engages with it or even sees it.

· Cost per click (CPC): You are charged when a user clicks your ad. With display's low CTRs this structure will not drain your budget, and since it is based on unique IP addresses your competitors cannot rack up costs with clicks either.

· Cost per lead (CPL): Say you have a smart banner that opens out—you are charged for displaying it and also if a user submits its subscription form. Every action costs you.

· Cost per acquisition (CPA): If you spend $100 on advertising, you can convert 10 customers at a CPA of $10. You could include a call to action to email you at a specific address—then you can work out from the number of emails the cost you incurred to acquire those customers.

· Tenancy/sponsorship: You have exclusive ownership of a position for a set period of time. You are charged a fixed amount, irrespective of factors such as CPM.

Marketers use a set formula to calculate costs:

So 1 million page impressions at $5 CPM will cost $5,000.

Let's try out a couple of quick exercises using this formula…

· How much would it cost to buy 200,000 page impressions on CNBC at $5 CPM?

· You have $6,000 to spend and want to run a campaign on If they work off a CPM rate of $4, how many impressions will you get for your budget?

· You want to run a display campaign on a blind site that charges $1.60 CPM. How many page impressions will a budget of $3,000 get you?

Did you get through those okay? This formula is an important one to remember because it allows you to work out the cost of your advertising—which in turn can help you to shape your display campaigns.

Media and Format Options

Now that you know the costs involved in digital display media and how to calculate these costs, where do you go to buy? Well, there are a few options:

· You can go direct; for example, by advertising directly on CNN.

· You can use value networks like the GDN. They make it easier for you to allocate your budget and place your ads.

· You can seek the expertise of digital ad agencies. Since going direct or even using value networks can quickly drain the budget of novices, these guys can help you to get your money's worth. AdRoll is a popular one at the moment—they specialize in retargeting.

Google owns 33 percent of all online advertising revenue and can offer advertisers a range of digital media formats. These include:

· Search. Text ads shown on Google above or to the right of search results.

· Mobile. Text ads on Google mobile search results. Text and display ads served on the GDN.

· GDN text. Text ads shown on the Google Display Network, which consists of millions of websites that allow ads on their sites.

· GDN display. Display ads served on the GDN.

· YouTube. Video or display ads on YouTube.

Ad Copy

When creating your ads, you should include:

· A clear call to action (CTA).

· A strong design that fits that particular ad format.

· Copy that is in keeping with the publisher, the target audience, and your keyword research.

· Your brand displayed prominently.

· Direct, concise, and urgent language.

Once you have all these elements in place, you need to check if your ads are working.

Split testing may just become your new favorite hobby—it saves you time by publishing multiple versions of an ad campaign and monitoring the best-performing version. You should use whichever campaign delivers the best ROI going forward, carrying elements of that campaign over to your creative iterative process. Usually split testing will offer a higher ROI because you have done your research, your content is more targeted, and a user will be more likely to interact/convert.

There are six parts of a display ad that you should always split test:

1. Content

2. Offer

3. Pricing

4. Creative

5. Call to action

6. Banner size

So if you want to test calls to action, one test could supply a phone number as a call to action, while another could be a button that the user can click to learn more.

The display ads in Figure 4.13 contain very subtle differences. The call to action (for example, “Learn More”) and the copy may be the same, but the creative is different. You could run both on the same day for the same audience and whichever performs better is the one you would choose going forward. This is called A/B testing. Advertisers can add more tests if they have the resources and reporting capabilities—for instance, Google uses as many as 10 tests (A/B/C/D/E, etc.) with some of their own products.

Figure depicting A/B testing where two vertical rectangles placed side by side have a square labeled A (left) and B (right) inside them. Above and below the squares are horizontal bars whereas on the left (in case of A) and right (in case of B) are vertical bars

Figure 4.13 A/B Testing

Stage 3: Configure

By now you will be familiar with stages 1 and 2 of our iterative process. Right?! So let's move on to stage 3—which has been highlighted in Figure 4.14.

Figure illustrating four-stage DDA process focusing on the third stage (configure). The circle representing configure is shaded

Figure 4.14 Focus on the Third Stage in the DDA Process

In this section you will learn how to capitalize on each stage of your integrated marketing campaign, so you can link online and offline activities with a consistent and effective message that engages customers. Before long, you'll be a display ninja, adept at:

· Targeting well-written ads to appear on the most appropriate media.

· Tracking and measuring your ads before optimizing them for better results.

· Scheduling your communications effectively so they have maximum impact.


Now that you know what your ads will look like and how to make sure the best-performing ones are picked, you need to make them appear at the right time, in the right place, to the right people. Because ads are no longer generic—they are incredibly targeted. So when you see an ad on LinkedIn, that ad is aimed specifically at you. It is relevant to your browsing history, your searches, and your patterns of behavior. It may remind you of Big Brother's all-seeing eye, but that is how the process works!

See some of the ways below that you can target customers using the GDN.

Targeting option

How it works

Contextual (automatic placements)

Google evaluates all the keywords in a Display ad group and places your ads on websites that match this theme.

Managed placements

You select the specific sites where you want your ads to run.


Targets your ad to websites that include content about topics you select.

Interest categories

Targets your ads to users with specific interests based on websites they visit.


Shows ads to people who previously visited your site.

Auto-optimization (DCO)

Google automatically optimizes both targeting and bidding to find additional conversions. Also known as Display Campaign Optimizer.

Inferred demographics

Targets your ads to users based on gender and age.

The first form of targeting described here is contextual targeting: Using relevant terms and keywords to try to find ads that will match the advertiser to the end user. Advertisers can also apply behavioral targeting, which is (you've guessed it!) based on people's behavior—what they search for, what cookies they leave on websites, and so on.

Remarketing is a Google tool that takes full advantage of the GDN. For example, when users visit they drop an Internet tag on that site even after they leave. Those users may then be followed by holiday-related ads. You can show ads to people who have already visited your website, browsed your products, searched for you via mobile, and watched your videos. Before these users got distracted, they expressed an interest in what you have to offer—so you need to catch them and hook them with your ads when they are most likely to buy. And you are not charged for this tracking—you're only charged when a unique user clicks through or sees the ad.

Retargeting uses the same idea but it drills right down into a user's buying behavior and is thus far more specific. It is also used by publishers other than Google. Retargeting focuses on the people that have almost bought and tries to close that sale. In short, it converts window shoppers into buyers.

When using these targeting options, you should avoid discouraging potential customers by stalking them with your ads. Instead, you should apply ad frequency capping—in which you limit the number of times that your ad shows to a unique user within a given period of time.


Your ads are live, the right people are seeing them, and you've got that warm and fuzzy feeling. However, you still need to track your campaigns and monitor your ROI to make sure that your little gems are working as hard as they can.

The way in which an ad's impact is measured has evolved. You no longer have to use the blunt instrument of a CTR, because after all, there is more to business than clicks! Advertisers also take the following metrics into account:

· Interaction rate. The number of times that a user interacts with an ad divided by its impressions. At 2.48 percent on average, interaction rates are much higher than CTRs and are more in line with a PPC or a Google AdWords campaign.

· Video completion/conversion rate. The number of times that a user converts and watches a full video, such as a 30-second video that plays to the end. Since 50 percent of users would prefer to watch embedded videos instead of clicking a display ad, advertisers should get that camera rolling.

· Expansion time. The average time that an ad is viewed in an expanded state. Display ads are becoming more playful and less static. If users choose not to click on the ad, they can expand it to watch video streams and interact with its embedded material, such as games and competitions.

· Average display time. The average time that a rich media ad is displayed to a user. It should be quite short—so if an ad has video, ideally it will be displayed for fewer than 30 seconds.

You should apply all the relevant metrics you can to suit your business objectives. In this way, you can overcome the challenges of display advertising and start to see more of its benefits. Remember to take advantage of the variety of reporting sources available to you, including:

· Publishers/agencies. They can use analytics to tell you about your performance.

· Sales. You can check if they have increased since the campaign started.

· Ad networks. Large media outlets like the GDN.

· Analytics. Those internally and those reported by Google (Google Analytics, AdSense, and DoubleClick).

· Offline reports. Since online and offline are linked, any increase in performance offline (purchases, phone calls, coupon redemption, etc.) can indicate the level of success of online activities.

Going Live

Throughout the campaign, you should use a systematic process for your communications and decide how frequently you want to send them. You can set a clear time frame or schedule so that you can see clearly what ads are running, where they will appear, when they will appear and any follow-ups needed, who the target market is, and the cost involved.

Stage 4: Analyze

Not to sound like a broken record but remember—successful digital display advertising is an iterative process. It involves tracking and optimizing all aspects of the campaign, allowing you to maximize effectiveness and ROI and helping you to achieve your business goals. And that is why the analysis process within stage 4 (highlighted in Figure 4.15) is so important.

Figure illustrating four-stage DDA process focusing on the fourth stage (analyze). The circle representing analyze is shaded

Figure 4.15 Focus on the Fourth Stage in the DDA Process


You need to continually measure your message and your creatives with publishers to create a culture of testing. This is made easier if you first set out KPIs such as:

· Click-through rates

· Interactivity rates

· Expansion rates

· Bounce rates

· Page views

· Average time on page

· Direct traffic sources

· Conversions

Another method of analyzing success is measuring your ROI. A wise man once said, “Show me the money,” and as a marketer, you want to see that your hard work has paid off—literally. So how do you calculate your ROI? Check out the example below…

Say you want to convert 15 new customers.

Your budget is $1,750 for the media and you have a design budget of $650.

Your media budget gets you 150,000 ad impressions with an estimated CTR of 2 percent (although it will usually be a lot lower).

The website that hosts your ad gets 3,000 unique visitors and you are aiming for a 10 percent conversion rate (again, normally this is lower). This results in 300 inquiries. Your publisher tells you that 20 percent of these will be quality leads, so you get 60 sales leads.

And since your publisher also tells you that usually one in four sales leads results in a conversion, that is 60/4 = 15 new customers.

Now you have met your business objective, but you also want to check your ROI. So if each new customer buys a product worth $100, your ROI is 15 × 100 = $1,500.

Boom! You have officially been shown the money.

In addition to hard metrics such as conversions (which are the ultimate goal), you can use soft metrics such as:

· Page or ad impressions to determine whether your campaign is delivering; if you have a million ad impressions but nothing has happened, something is fundamentally wrong.

· CTRs to measure which creative is most engaging.

· Unique users and impressions to assess your reach and coverage.

Analytics can be a little confusing—but there are great tools out there, such as Google Analytics, that can clear things up. It offers real-life tracking capabilities so that you can trace every cent you spend and you can customize it with your own digital marketing activities. For instance, Figure 4.16 shows an example of paid search, organic search, and display.

A screenshot image depicting conversions per channel grouping in Google analytics

Figure 4.16 Conversions Per Channel Grouping in Google Analytics

Source: Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.; used with permission.

Within the Analytics dashboard you can create your own goals and objectives. You can also tailor how you want your reports to look, how specific you want them to be, and whether you want to use funnel visualization to identify the different data sources feeding them, as illustrated by Figure 4.17. This gives you end-to-end visibility of the users that engage with your ad before converting.

A screenshot image depicting Google analytics report with funnel visualization to identify the different data sources feeding them

Figure 4.17 Google Analytics Report with Funnel Visualization

Source: Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.; used with permission.

Your own funnel visualization process might be different. You might want it to run from left to right instead of from top to bottom. And that is the beauty of Google Analytics—you can augment and customize your analytics in whatever way you like.

Now that you have covered the measurement and analysis within stage 4, you can optimize your ads for even better results. This in turn brings you back to the start of the iterative process, during which you can prepare to launch your new and improved display campaign.

Laws and Guidelines

Right now your head is probably swimming with all the ins and outs of the display campaign process. And you probably want us to stop talking so you can start advertising, right? Easy, tiger—first there are a few legal considerations you should know about.

Laws and guidelines will differ across all locations, and some may be more stringent than others. But still, when it comes to display advertising there are some universal restrictions (the most obvious example of which relates to alcohol). Wherever you live, you need to be aware of that particular region's laws and guidelines.

Maintaining Privacy

Within the arena of display advertising, one major consideration is privacy, and advertisers need to adhere to privacy policies at all times. For instance, most websites now include strict cookie policies, and it is mandatory for digital marketers to display these policies. If you are going to join the game of Internet tag you need to be transparent in your actions. Within the privacy arena lies the whole area of data protection, too. You must follow whatever legislation applies to your area in terms of storing, using, and destroying the information you have gathered through your marketing activities.

Creative Copyright

“Borrowing” creatives from Google Images to use in your ads is an absolute no-no. Instead, advertisers can source images from libraries such as iStock or Shutterstock, which allow you to buy a copyright for promotional purposes. In some cases you can contact the photographer or artist and request copyright through them—sometimes you will pay, sometimes you might catch a lucky break. But you should never assume that just because something is free for download that there will be no repercussions.


Who are you allowing to see your ads? And are you adhering to the privacy laws of those that are accessing them? All over the world, there are advertising standards bureaus in place to protect not only the consumer but also the advertiser. In the United States, for example, you should consult the American Advertising Federation (AAF) if you plan on advertising transnationally or globally. They will tell you what you can and cannot do.

Having covered the legal bit—that concludes this chapter on digital display advertising.

So, What Have You Learned in This Chapter?

Here are some final pearls of wisdom:

· Keep things simple. With your message, with your creatives—clear, succinct ads are more likely to grab attention.

· Use your publishers. They have the expertise and insights that can make a huge difference to your campaigns.

· Try out tools. Use AdWords Planner, DoubleClick, and other Google tools to help you plan, manage, and optimize your display campaigns.

· Be smart. Set SMART objectives in line with your online and offline targets.

· Think laterally. Do not just focus on CTRs, which are a pretty blunt measurement of success. Use the other KPIs that have been covered, like ad impressions and interaction rates, to get a sense of how your ads are doing.

· Know your audience. Once you have created segments, you can build personas, predict behavior, and meet preferences.

· Stay on track. Measure your campaigns on an ongoing, iterative basis—linking to analytics and testing for success whenever possible.

· Get creative. At the end of the day, after all the planning and testing and analyzing, you want customers to like your ad. And it is the creative ones that will help you stand out.

Now go forth and put yourself on display! to access the case study on DDA as additional support material for this chapter.


Exercise 1

Think about your own business, or take as an example a business that you are interested in. List all of the potential primary and secondary target audience types there might be for that brand and add interests for each. Write down what their interests might tell you about their online habits.

Exercise 2

You have been given a budget of €25K to run a display advertising campaign. You have been told to advertise on PC, mobile, and tablets. After some research, you realize the majority of your target audience uses Android smartphones. Devise a budget plan and apportion budget to each of the above elements accordingly.

Exercise 3

You are now working with a smaller budget of €5K—€10K for your display advertising campaign. The likes of a HPTO are not feasible at this stage. What are the alternative options and strategies you can undertake for display advertising?

Exercise 4

It is Q1 of a new year and you have been rewarded with a sizable digital marketing budget. Display advertising is top of your agenda. Using SMART principles, set out five objectives that you want to achieve for the quarter and year. Outline a plan for how you will go about achieving each objective.

Exercise 5

Develop a social media display advertising campaign aimed at the following audience:

· Females 24-35 years old.

· Working professionals.

· People looking to get married.

· People who live primarily in the capital city of your country.

· People who have an interest in sports.

imAction Plan: Digital Display Advertising
Digital Marketing Planning Scheme for DDA


Reach, frequency, awareness, brand uplift, influence, conversion, click

Action Items and Frequency

· Budgeting:Per campaign

· Media purchase:Per campaign

· Creative:Per campaign

· Targeting:Weekly

· Tracking:Daily

· Optimization:Weekly

Measurement Tools and KPIs

· Ad-serving software:Impressions served, flight management, CTR

· Social-listening software:Brand mentions

· Web analytics:Campaign clicks, brand search increases, conversions