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Display Marketing Basics for Maximum ROI

person doing display marketing and paid google ads

Are you planning to run ads for your business but worried about blowing your budget? This article can teach you more about display marketing to maximize your ROI.

With half of the human brain devoted to processing visual information, there’s no wonder why businesses invest in highly engaging visuals for display advertising.

If you’ve been a regular Internet surfer, chances are you’ve come across display advertisements. While these can come in many formats, from pop-ups to display banners, the end goal stays the same—Engage your prospects and increase conversion rate.
This article will discuss everything you need to know about display marketing. You’ll learn what it is, its various categories, different formats, the benefits, and the downside.

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What Is Display Marketing?

display marketing basics

Display marketing is also known for its other names, like display advertising, online advertising, online marketing, internet advertising, and banner ads. It is a popular type of online paid advertising that utilizes various visual media such as texts, video, audio, and motion ads to achieve its goals.

Businesses employ various display marketing strategies determined by the type of customer they want to reach and their position in the sales journey. These display ads appear based on specific targeting parameters compared to paid search ads that only appear to audiences who are already searching for your product or service.

These display ads could be found sprinkled on websites, apps, and various social media platforms. They’re delivered across end devices, whether your customers are using their mobile phones, tablets, or computers.

Most display marketing ads contain graphic elements and text content. When clicked, these display ads transport customers to businesses landing pages. Sometimes customers are redirected to category pages or a specific product page.

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Display Ads vs. Native Ads

There are two types of online ads: display advertising and native advertising. Display ads are a form of advertising that aims to stand out and catch the audience’s attention. 

Native ads aim to match the advertising platform and strive not to look like ads. These ads are shown in-feed, similar to Facebook’s suggested posts.

Native ads drive traffic through your site using attention-grabbing visuals, educational content or offers, and sneak-peeks to drive visitors to your site. Since this type of ad is non-intrusive, users are not repelled by them, unlike most display ads like banners.

Meanwhile, if your primary goal is to increase brand awareness, increase customer acquisition and conversion, and retarget customers who did not finish converting, then you might want to consider using and making creative display advertisements.

Display Ad Categories

While display marketing is an umbrella term for all types of display ads placed on a website, they can generally be classified into specific categories according to how they are to be utilized in the display campaign:

Site Placement or Advertising

This is also called “managed placement.” In this type of placement, a marketer or advertiser will choose a specific website to run your display ads instead of a publisher.

Keyword Contextual Targeting

This strategy should often be the first part of your ad campaign. When you target specific keywords, your display ads will appear on websites with the exact keywords in their content.

Google offers advertisers its Google Ads (Formerly called Google AdWords) advertising platform, a lead generation system that allows you to choose a specific keyword. You then pay a certain amount for your ad to be shown on pages with relevant content for their query.

Contextual Advertising

In this category, publishers may place your ads on relevant websites. These sites are usually related to your niche. If your niche is sports shoes, ads about your product could appear on specific sports websites, blogs, sports arenas, and courts.

Remarketing or Retargeting

Have you ever wondered how a product in a website that you visited soon starts following you around as you browse the internet? This is the strategy of remarketing or retargeting. According to recent data, retargeting ads have a 70% success rate of converting to sales!

display marketing basics

Whenever an audience visits a site, their browsers download cookies, which businesses use to create an audience list and see their visitors’ interaction on their site. 

Let’s say you’re an e-commerce site. If a customer clicks on a specific product, adds the item to their cart, and leaves without checking out, you can use remarketing ads to show them the product they left behind. This helps increase the chances of converting that prospect into a customer.

Placement Targeting

You can use the data generated by contextual advertising to check which website placements are performing the best. You can then specifically bid for these placements to ensure a quicker return of investment (ROI).

Targeting In-Market Audiences

Google can determine audiences who are “in-market” for a service or product based on four different factors.

  • Their online behavior
  • Ads they’ve clicked
  • Pages and sites they’ve visited related to your niche
  • Clicks from previous conversions 

Affinity Audiences

Publishers such as Google will build a profile of your audience based on their interests. Using Google Analytics, you can target your ads across the Google Display Network to users who have shown an interest in a related niche. 

Audience Targeting

You can tailor-fit your display marketing campaign based on your buyer persona. This includes basic information like gender and age and other characteristics such as income and interests.

You can bid higher or lower for audiences of a specific gender or within a particular age range. Demographic targeting can be done in combination with the other targeting methods above to have micro-targeted display campaigns.

You can also choose to remove a specific demographic from your ad campaigns if the analysis shows that a particular age range does not drive any conversions.

You can also include other characteristics such as income and additional relevant demographic information.

Layered Targeting

Layered targeting utilizes a combination of the targeting mentioned above methods to create wide-reaching campaigns if you aim to broaden your brand awareness or have a micro-targeted reach if you want to focus on a niche audience.

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Different Forms of Display Marketing

There are many forms and types of display ads. They can be static, animated, interactive, rich media, videos, and expanding. They also behave differently. 


display marketing basics

Banner ads come in various styles and sizes. These could be in the form of skyscrapers, squares, buttons, or leader boards. A banner ad usually contains an image of the product or service, a text, and a call-to-action, usually in the form of a button.

Pop-up Ads

A pop-up ad is a small window that would open or “pop-up” in a separate window of your browser. These sit-in or hover or remain fixed over the web pages on your Internet browser. Because of their nature, pop-up ads immediately get users’ attention, although they can also irritate some.

Pop-under Ads

Pop-under ads are somewhat similar to pop-ups. They stay under a user’s current browser window and might only be noticed once other windows have been closed. 

This type of ad may serve as a remarketing tool, which reminds users about the product or service they viewed when they leave the site or when they’re already planning to close their browsers.

Layer ads

Layer ads are sometimes called pop-overs or lightboxes. These ads appear within the browser and appear over the webpage. While these ads may impact user experience negatively, they make sure that content is read or seen. Layer ads can be timed and appear only when the user has scrolled a distance or has been on the page for a certain amount of time to ensure that they don’t frustrate users.

Content ads

This display ad aims to provide value to the audience and connect with them. It is designed to be valuable and relevant. Its primary intention is to promote content through paid distribution channels like sponsored placements and pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns.

Text Links

Websites can ask other sites to include their links on their content, especially when they have a similar or related niche. These texts blend in nicely with the content that the potential customers are engaging with.


Some marketers offer their potential customers printable coupons or codes that they can use when checking out specific products. Coupon codes can either be directly copied once clicked or lead you to a landing page, a product page, or a category page.

Google Search Ads

These are ads that come with the top search results when they search for specific content or query. These ads are pay-per-click (PPC) ads.

Google Display Ads

These are contextual banner ads that appear in the Google Display Network, consisting of various networks that agree to host ads. These also include Google properties like YouTube and Gmail.

Social Media Ads

There is a wide range of social media platforms that you can use to run your ads on. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Reddit are examples of such platforms. Each platform has its own ad appearance, types, and formats.

Display Advertising Networks

display marketing basics

Advertisers seek to promote their company’s products and services on ad spaces provided by networks of publisher sites or display marketing networks like Google.

Different advertising forms are taken and booked from a display marketing network on third-party websites. Your company’s ads are then displayed based on the terms and conditions that you have agreed upon.

These networks can perform targeted online display advertising using specific keywords. You can also customize the audience who will see your ads based on their interests and demographics.

Top Display Advertising Networks

If a display advertising campaign is part of your marketing strategy, you can start to reach users by working with a display ads network. Display ad networks include social media giants, including Facebook and Instagram, and search engines like Bing and Google.

Below we list the top two display ad networks where most marketers run their display ad marketing campaigns—Google and Facebook.

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Google Display Network

Since Google is the go-to place for every person, whether on their devices or desktops, Google is the largest and most well-known display ad network utilized by advertisers. Using Google ads through the Google Display Network may help drive visits to your site, increase customer calls using an ad with an easy click-to-call button or actual store visits (if you are a brick-and-mortar store).

Steps to create a Display Campaign using Google Ads:

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account
  2. Select a new campaign tab and select a goal from the options provided (i.e., sales, leads, etc.)
  3. Select campaign type and campaign subtype.
  4. Enter your business’s website. Select ways to reach your goal by customizing your setup process.
  5. Put in a campaign name. This makes it easier to organize them, especially if you are running more than one campaign.
  6. Select and restrict locations where your ads will be run. Restrict further by choosing to run your ads to only people with a specific language setting (e.g., user’s language setting is in English)
  7. Select from manual CPC bid or maximize clicks. When you choose the latter, you can set a bid amount for ad clicks. Selecting the latter automatically sets your bids using machine learning to help you get as many clicks within your set budget.
  8. Set a daily budget.
  9. Choose between various ad rotation options.
  10.  Define a start and end date for your ad campaign.
  11.  Choose the devices you wish your ads to run on. You can further narrow it down to device models and operating systems.
  12.  Set a limit to how many times your ad is placed in front of the same person.
  13.  Place additional parameters on your location. You can limit your target audience to those interested in your products or those within the targeted location, or both.
  14.  Input a tracking template in your campaign URL options.
  15.  Using content exclusions, choose content that you don’t want your ads to appear on. These may be ads that do not reflect your brand image. Categories include content type, sensitive content, and digital content labels.
  16. Filter your target audience according to demographics, interests, and activity.
  17.  Automated targeting allows you to find new customers by expanding your target users. You can decide to stay with your current setup or allow Google Ads to either conservatively or aggressively targeting more customers based on your determined cost per customer.

Types of Google Ads

Google ads utilize various display methods:

  • Text ads.
  • Image ads
  • Animated ads
  • Rich media ads
  • Video ads
  • Mobile ads
  • Gmail sponsored ads

Facebook Ads

Two billion people are on Facebook per month. This makes Facebook an excellent network to reach your audience. Many businesses use a paid social agency to ensure their ad spend doesn’t go to waste.

Facebook offers businesses a straightforward way to make ads. They give marketers self-service tools to run their own Facebook campaigns. Facebook ads allow you to create goals like brand awareness, increase website visitors, or communicate more with your target audience.

facebook ads for business

They have corresponding tools for each goal, such as Boost Post, Get More Website Visitors, and Get More Messages. Facebook also allows you to filter your target audience based on interests like “food” or “shopping” and specific demographics.

After narrowing down your target audience, you can decide which platforms to run and use display ads on. This includes Facebook itself, Instagram, Messenger, and Audience Network (for apps on mobile devices). 

Set limits on the budget and the timeframe during which your ads will run. These limits allow you to stay on top of your ad budget. 

You can pick an ad format from the following options:

  • Photo
  • Video
  • Stories
  • Messenger
  • Carousel
  • Slideshow
  • Collection
  • Playables

Facebook Audience Network

Aside from using display ads on the platform itself, you can use Facebook targeting to run display ads on mobile devices.

Based on a study on Facebook ads campaigns, people are 8x more likely to convert with ads that they saw across various platforms (i.e., Facebook, Audience Network, and Instagram) than people who only saw the display ads through Facebook.

Audience Network has the following display ad formats:

facebook ad types

  • Native ads. These are display marketing ads that organically blend in the post.
  • Banner ads. These are display advertisements that emerge on top of the mobile screen.
  • Interstitial ads. These are ads that interrupt browsing or play for a short period of time.
  • Rewarded video ads. These are ads that give players incentives for watching the ad.

How to Measure Display Advertising Campaign Success

When you run display ads for your business, it is essential to monitor the performance of your advertising campaigns. Below are three critical metrics you should monitor:

Reach. This pertains to the number of people who saw your ad, whether they clicked it or not.

Impressions. This pertains to your ad’s exposure or how many times your ad was displayed.

Click-Through-Rates. This is the number of impressions that are actually clicked. CTR varies per industry. This number comes in a percentage form and is usually less than 5%

Conversions. This pertains to the number of people who took action following their interaction with your ad. Depending on your ad’s goal, this may be a purchase, a call, giving their details on the form on your landing page, a booking, etc.

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Billing Models for Display Advertising

Display advertising allows users to choose between several parameters in computing for the billing process of your ads. They are the following:

Cost per mile (CPM). This pertains to the amount that advertisers pay publishers for every 1000 ads viewed.

Cost per click (CPC). This pertains to the amount that advertisers pay publishers for every ad clicked.

Cost per lead (CPL). Also called online lead generation, it pertains to the amount that the advertisers pay for every lead or explicit sign-up from a customer.

Cost per sale (CPS). Also known as cost per conversion, it pertains to the amount an advertiser pays for every sale generated by the ad.

Why Should You Pay for Display Marketing?

Display Marketing Will Increase Brand Awareness

Many customers do not know that they need your product because they haven’t seen it yet. Using ads helps customers discover your brand’s existence and become aware of your products and services.

Puts Your Product or Service in the Customer’s Mind

While this may be psychological, being exposed to your product may help users consider them when in their decision-making process. 

Allows You To Re-Engage With Customers

Using ads can help you remind customers of the carts they left behind or reconnect with your existing customers. 

There Are Vast Options Available

You can choose which platform or platforms to run your ads on, the type of ad you want to show, and whether you want a text ad, a static, interactive, visual, or video.

It Is Cost-Effective

Compared to traditional advertising, it does not require hectic and time-consuming productions. It is relatively cheaper, not to mention more versatile.

It Widens Your Brand’s Reach

Using display ads places your products before a vast audience to reach the right audience for your brand across devices and the globe.

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Downsides of Display Marketing


Because many ads are intrusive and irritating, many users are using ad blockers. In fact, around 26% of internet users in the United States have ad blockers installed on their devices.

Banner Blindness

A study found that 86% of users automatically ignore every banner on the screen, termed banner blindness.

It Requires Data Analysis and Research

Unlike traditional ads that you place on a billboard and allow just about everyone to see, display marketing is much more cost-effective when backed up by data. This data requires some analysis and monitoring.


Q: What is a display advertising network?

A: This is an online “ad space” that allows you to host ads. This includes websites, videos, and messaging platforms, and mobile devices.

Q: What makes a good display ad?

A: A good display ad should be simple, straightforward, attention-grabbing, and contains a call to action.

Q: How does display marketing work?

Display marketing is a form of advertising where businesses promote their products and services using visuals and other content that run on display advertising networks or “publishers” that agree to host ads, like Google and Facebook.

Q: What are ad pixels?

A: Like Google Ads Pixel and Facebook Pixels, Pixels are snippets of code that you install on your web pages. These gather information about the visitor’s interaction and behavior while on your page. Pixels start working once one clicks an ad, allowing you to send them ads that are relevant to them.

Q: What are the benefits of display advertising?

Display advertising increases your brand’s awareness, re-engage with previous customers, and widens your brand’s reach. Advertisers also have a vast range of options, and compared to other forms of advertising, display advertising is cost-effective.

Utilize Display Marketing to Your Advantage

Display marketing or display advertising is a tool that businesses take advantage of to garner ROI. Display marketing comes in many categories, forms, and detailed processes that a company should continuously monitor. 

While display ads have great potential, they require careful strategy and planning. This is especially true when these ads are used in conjunction with other marketing initiatives.

Here at Digital Delane, we will sit down with you, listen to your goals, and plan out the best strategy for your brand. Book a consultation with us now to learn more about how we can optimize your Google Display Ads.

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