Guide to Utilizing Display Advertising For Effective Growth

Digital marketing has transformed the advertising industry tremendously. In fact, it has become pivotal to developing advertising strategies. But, there are two forms of digital advertising: search ads and display advertising. The former was the most popular in the advent of digital advertising, but display advertising has outdone text ads by a pretty significant margin in the last three years.

Experts predict a 25% increase for the next five years due to the soaring demand for display content among consumers. Here’s an in-depth overview of what display advertising is and the types marketers should use to foster growth.



Understanding Display Advertising

The Essence of Display Advertising

Display advertising is the digital equivalent of a billboard that you encounter on the internet’s highways. Yet, it transcends the static nature of traditional billboards, offering interactive, dynamic, and targeted content tailored to the online consumer’s interests and behaviors. At its core, display advertising is a visual-based form of online advertising that encompasses banners, images, and videos to convey a marketing message across various websites, social media platforms, and digital environments.

The Strategic Role in Marketing

Display advertising doesn’t just aim to inform; it seeks to engage and persuade. It plays a pivotal role in the marketing mix, offering versatility in strategy from brand awareness and engagement to conversion and retention. By leveraging data analytics and targeting technologies, display ads can reach a specific audience segment at optimal times and places, making every impression count.

A Journey Through Time

The evolution of display advertising is a testament to the internet’s rapid growth and the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing. From the first banner ad that graced the internet in 1994, proclaiming “Have you ever clicked your mouse right HERE? You will,” to today’s sophisticated programmatic advertising platforms, display advertising has come a long way. It has adapted to the shifts in consumer behavior and technological advancements, becoming more personalized, interactive, and measurable.

Display Advertising Categories

It is a form of sales and marketing that attracts the audience to a website, social media platform, or other digital channels to perform a particular action (click-through a landing page or purchase an item). The ads are also used for retargeting a campaign encouraging a visitor to return to the website to take action. The adverts may be in the form of images, videos, flash or audio and may appear on specific websites on the internet. Here’s a breakdown of the different categories:

Banner Ads

It is an advertisement displayed on a web page that consists of an image (gif, .jpg, .png) or a multimedia object. Banner ads can be animated or static, depending on the media used to create it.  Banner ads function the same way as regular table banners, and other forms of print media advertise products, inform customers about a new product and create brand awareness. Some advantages of using banner ads include:

  • Announce sales offers and discounts
  • Increase sales: Customers are then encouraged to purchase certain products
  • Increase customer traffic: the banners encourage visitors to go to the advertiser’s website

Rich Media

This kind has interactive features like audio, video, and clickable elements that encourage visitors to engage with the content. The ad provides more ways of engaging an audience as it can float and expand. Additionally, marketers can access aggregated metrics like the audience video completions, their behavior, and the number of expansions.

Rich media display advertising allows marketing agencies to create elaborate ads that can trigger a user’s response. What’s more, the introduction of HTML5 technology enables advertisers to include different content (tweets, videos, games) in one placement. Some advantages of using rich media are:

  • Access to better metrics than traditional advertisements
  • Increased view rates, conversions, and click-through rates
  • A better user experience

Interstitial Ads

They are full-screen ads designed to cover the interface of a website. Interstitial ads are a popular form of advertisement used on mobile ads due to their high impression rate. Since they appear between the content, they are best placed at natural breaks, e.g., in-between game levels. This full-coverage differentiates them from other ads like banner ads and pop-ups. Other reasons marketers use these ads include:

  • High click-through rates that lead to higher conversion rates
  • Their large sizes that leave large impressions on the target audience

Video Ads

It is the use of video content to advertise products. Marketers use this form of advertising because it allows them to connect with the audience on a personal level and is relatively cheap to create. Also, the proliferation of mobile devices has spurred the growth of video advertising.
A report by IAB Video Advertising Spend shows that two-thirds of video ad revenue originates from mobile devices. There are three types of video ad formats, which are Linear video ads that mimic TV commercials, non-linear video ads that run along with video content, and companion ads that include images and texts.

Types of Display Advertising

As we delve deeper into the world of display advertising, it becomes evident that one size does not fit all. The diversity in types of display advertising allows marketers to craft campaigns that resonate with their target audience, align with their objectives, and fit within their budget. Here, we explore the primary types of display advertising that have become essential tools in the digital marketer’s toolkit.

Standard Display Ads

Standard display ads are the foundational elements of display advertising. These ads appear as static or animated images or banners placed on websites within ad networks. They are versatile and straightforward, offering a direct approach to conveying a message or promoting a product. However, their simplicity does not detract from their effectiveness. With compelling creative elements and strategic placement, standard display ads can significantly enhance brand visibility and user engagement.

Responsive Display Ads

In a world where consumers switch between devices like channels on a television, responsive display ads stand out for their adaptability. These ads automatically adjust their size, appearance, and format to fit any ad space available, ensuring optimal display across different screen sizes and devices. This fluidity not only improves the user experience but also maximizes the ad’s reach and impact. Responsive ads are a testament to the evolution of display advertising, embracing flexibility in a multi-device world.

Retargeting Ads

Retargeting ads serve as a digital reminder, nudging users who have previously interacted with a brand but did not convert. These ads strategically reappear to these users as they browse the internet, keeping the brand top of mind and encouraging them to complete a desired action, such as making a purchase. Retargeting is a powerful tool in converting potential interest into tangible action, leveraging past engagement to foster future transactions.

Social Media Display Ads

Social media platforms are not just social networking sites anymore; they are powerful advertising landscapes where display ads thrive amidst engaging content. Social media display ads leverage the platforms’ vast user data to offer unparalleled targeting capabilities, from demographic and psychographic segmentation to behavior-based targeting. Each social media network offers unique ad formats tailored to its environment and audience behaviors, such as Facebook’s Carousel Ads, Instagram’s Sponsored Posts, and Twitter’s Promoted Tweets. These ads are designed to blend seamlessly with the user’s feed, offering a less intrusive advertising experience that can drive higher engagement and conversion rates.

Native Advertising

Native advertising is the chameleon of the display advertising world. These ads match the look, feel, and function of the media format in which they appear, disguising themselves as natural content rather than blatant advertisements. By aligning closely with the user’s browsing experience, native ads reduce ad fatigue and improve user engagement. They can take various forms, including sponsored content articles, in-feed ads, and recommended posts. The key to successful native advertising lies in its relevance and value to the audience, providing content that is not only promotional but also informative or entertaining.

Video Display Ads

As digital consumption patterns shift towards a preference for video content, video display ads have surged in popularity and effectiveness. These ads incorporate video to capture attention, convey messages more dynamically, and create a deeper emotional connection with the audience. Video display ads can be found in pre-roll, mid-roll, or post-roll slots within video content, as well as in standalone placements on websites and social media platforms. The immersive nature of video allows for creative storytelling and brand presentation, making it a powerful tool for awareness and engagement campaigns.

Interactive Display Ads

Interactive display ads invite user participation, transforming passive viewers into active participants. These ads incorporate elements such as games, quizzes, polls, or interactive videos to engage users in a unique and memorable way. The interactivity not only enhances user engagement but also provides valuable insights into user preferences and behaviors. Interactive ads can significantly increase the time spent with the brand, fostering a stronger connection and higher likelihood of conversion.

Measuring Success in Display Advertising

In the realm of digital marketing, the adage “What gets measured gets managed” rings particularly true. For display advertising campaigns, assessing performance and impact is crucial to justify investments and guide future strategies. Here’s how to measure success in display advertising:

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Display Advertising

Success in display advertising can be quantified through several key performance indicators, each offering insights into different aspects of campaign effectiveness:

  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): The ratio of users who click on an ad to the number of total users who view the ad (impressions). High CTR indicates compelling ad creatives and effective targeting.
  • Conversion Rate: The percentage of users who take a desired action (e.g., purchase, sign-up) after clicking on an ad. It measures the ad’s ability to persuade users to complete a conversion goal.
  • Cost Per Click (CPC) and Cost Per Acquisition (CPA): CPC measures the cost incurred for each ad click, whereas CPA denotes the cost for each conversion. These metrics help evaluate the financial efficiency of display ad campaigns.
  • Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS): A metric that calculates the total revenue generated for every dollar spent on advertising. ROAS is critical for understanding the profitability of display advertising efforts.
  • Engagement Metrics: Includes metrics like time spent on site, pages per visit, and bounce rate for users who arrive via display ads. These metrics provide insights into how engaging and relevant the ad content is to the audience.

Tools and Techniques for Tracking and Analyzing Performance

Leveraging the right tools and technologies is essential for accurately measuring and analyzing the performance of display advertising campaigns. Google Analytics, Google Ads, and various ad management platforms offer comprehensive analytics features, including:

  • Conversion Tracking: To monitor actions taken by users after clicking on an ad, enabling advertisers to understand how ads contribute to conversion goals.
  • A/B Testing Tools: For comparing different versions of ads to determine which performs best in terms of engagement and conversions.
  • Audience Insights: To gain deeper understanding of the audience’s demographics, interests, and behaviors, informing better targeting and personalization strategies.

As we look to the horizon, the future of display advertising is shaped by technological advancements, evolving user expectations, and changing regulatory landscapes. Here are key trends that will define the next era of display advertising:

Emergence of AI and Machine Learning

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are set to revolutionize display advertising by enabling more sophisticated targeting, personalization, and optimization. AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data to predict user behavior, automate ad placements, and optimize bidding strategies in real-time, ensuring maximum efficiency and effectiveness of ad campaigns.

Increased Focus on Privacy and Data Protection

With growing concerns over privacy and data protection, regulations like GDPR and CCPA have reshaped the digital advertising landscape. Advertisers will need to navigate these regulations carefully, adopting privacy-first strategies that respect user consent while still delivering personalized ad experiences.

Rise of Augmented Reality (AR) and Interactive Ads

Augmented reality and interactive ad formats are gaining traction, offering immersive experiences that engage users in novel ways. AR ads, in particular, can bridge the gap between digital and physical worlds, providing users with interactive and personalized experiences that drive engagement and conversion.

Shift Towards Contextual Advertising

As cookie-based targeting becomes less viable due to privacy restrictions, contextual advertising is making a comeback. By aligning ads with the content’s context, advertisers can achieve relevance and engagement without relying on personal data, ensuring compliance with privacy standards.


The landscape of display advertising is continuously evolving, driven by innovation, consumer behavior shifts, and regulatory changes. By understanding the various types of display advertising, adopting strategic approaches for growth, measuring success accurately, and staying ahead of future trends, marketers can leverage display advertising to achieve significant business growth. As we venture forward, the agility to adapt and innovate will remain key to harnessing the full potential of display advertising in the digital era.

FAQs: Display Advertising

1. What is the difference between display advertising and search engine advertising?

Answer: Display advertising and search engine advertising are two pillars of digital marketing with distinct approaches. Display advertising focuses on visually engaging ads (like banners, videos, and interactive ads) placed on various websites across the internet to build brand awareness and capture attention. It targets users based on their interests, demographics, or behaviors, often regardless of their immediate intent to purchase. Search engine advertising, on the other hand, targets users based on their search queries on platforms like Google or Bing. These ads are text-based and appear alongside search results, targeting users with a specific intent or who are actively searching for related products or services.

2. How do I choose the right type of display advertising for my business?

Answer: Choosing the right type of display advertising depends on your marketing objectives, target audience, budget, and content strategy. For brand awareness and broad reach, standard and responsive display ads are cost-effective options. If your goal is to engage users or promote interaction, consider video or interactive display ads. For businesses aiming to drive conversions from users who have previously shown interest, retargeting ads are highly effective. Analyzing your audience’s online behavior and preferences can also guide your choice, ensuring your ads resonate and achieve your desired outcomes.

3. Can small businesses benefit from display advertising?

Answer: Absolutely, small businesses can significantly benefit from display advertising. It offers a flexible and scalable approach to reach a broad audience without requiring a large upfront investment. By targeting specific demographics, interests, and behaviors, small businesses can efficiently allocate their budgets to reach potential customers. Additionally, the use of retargeting ads and local targeting strategies can help small businesses drive conversions and build brand loyalty within their community or niche market.

4. How much should I budget for display advertising?

Answer: The budget for display advertising can vary widely depending on your campaign goals, target audience, and competition. It’s advisable to start with a test budget to experiment with different ad formats and targeting options to see what works best for your business. From there, you can scale up your spending based on the ROI and KPIs like CTR, CPC, and conversion rate. Remember, the key is not just how much you spend but how effectively you allocate your budget across different types of display ads and targeting strategies to maximize your returns.

5. What are the best practices for creating display ad creatives?

Answer: Effective display ad creatives are visually appealing, brand-consistent, and message-clear. Use high-quality images or videos, concise and compelling copy, and a clear call-to-action (CTA) to encourage user engagement. It’s also important to design with your target audience in mind, personalizing the message to their interests and needs. A/B testing different creative elements can help identify what resonates best with your audience. Additionally, ensure your ads are optimized for different devices and screen sizes, especially for responsive display ads.

6. How does retargeting work in display advertising?

Answer: Retargeting in display advertising works by tracking visitors to your website and then serving them targeted ads as they browse other sites on the internet. This is achieved through cookies or pixels placed on your website, which collect data on user behavior. This information allows advertisers to target ads based on specific actions a user has taken on their site, such as visiting a product page or adding items to a shopping cart, with the goal of encouraging them to return and complete a purchase or another desired action.

7. What are the most common mistakes in display advertising campaigns?

Answer: Common mistakes in display advertising campaigns include not defining clear objectives, failing to target the right audience, using generic ad creatives that don’t resonate with the target audience, neglecting A/B testing, and not optimizing campaigns based on performance data. Another mistake is overlooking the importance of mobile optimization, given the increasing prevalence of mobile device usage. Avoiding these pitfalls by setting clear goals, targeting effectively, creating engaging and personalized creatives, and continually analyzing and refining your strategy can significantly improve your campaign’s success.

Andrew Martin

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