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What is Display Advertising – A Definitive Guide

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Head of Marketing

Last updated January 10, 2020

Display advertising has been around for over 20 years, yet many advertisers are asking themselves if it’s still worth investing in.

Despite its negative reputation, the digital display advertising market is slowly getting rising. The estimated display ad spend is expected to reach $141.96 billion by 2023 with a smaller decrease of 1.1% from previous year and that’s only in the US. 

So why are advertisers investing such massive amounts of money in display ads, especially with problems such as ad-blockers and banner blindness?

1. What is Display Advertising?

what is display advertising

Display advertising is a form of online advertising that relies on banners, text, images, or video to deliver ads to users. It is meant to attract attention and spread brand awareness across the internet. This way marketers find lucrative methods to reach and acquire customers. 

Since their appearance, display ads have come a long way. They exist in a variety of shapes and forms but are mainly grouped into 2 categories:

  • Static – text, images (png or jpeg);
  • Dynamic – HTML5, video, gif, or other rich media elements.

Let’s take a look at some examples of display advertising banners to see how they are different.

While static ads are easier to produce and are accepted by all advertising networks, dynamic ads provide a richer experience but are not accepted as often.

In display advertising, the only limitations are those imposed by the advertising network. For example, at Coinzilla, we generally work with HTML5 banners, and we support the following banner ad sizes.

  • Medium Rectangle – 300 x 250
  • Wide Skyscraper – 160 x 600
  • Leaderboard – 728 x 90
  • Large Mobile Banner – 320 x 100
  • Half Page – 300 x 600
  • Banner – 468 x 60
  • Sticky Desktop – 100% x 48
  • Header – 100% x 90
  • Sticky Mobile – 100% x 75
  • Mobile Leaderboard – 320 x 50

Besides these, here are some other display banner sizes you may encounter:

  • Half Banner – 234 x 60
  • Skyscraper – 120 x 600
  • Vertical Banner – 120 x 240
  • Portrait – 300 x 1050
  • Large Leaderboard – 970 x 90
  • Billboard – 970 x 50
  • Square – 250 x 250
  • Small Square – 200 x 200
  • Small Rectangle – 180 x 150
  • Button – 125 x 125

2. Types of Display Advertising

types of display advertising

The type of display advertising campaign you should run depends on the goals you want to achieve. Primarily, there are 3 goals you may want to aim for:

1. Attract new customers – Acquisition;

2. Reach new users and create awareness – Brand Awareness;

3. Direct previous customers back to your website – Retargeting.

And while acquisition and brand awareness campaigns are available on most ad networks, not all of them provide retargeting services.

3. Display Advertising for User Acquisition

display advertising user acquisition

Acquiring new customers is tough. Acquiring new customers through display advertising is even tougher. Especially if you’re new on the market.

A display advertising campaign usually requires large investments over extensive periods of time. This is usually the biggest issue small brands face when they try to promote their brand. They simply don’t have the budget or the experience to compete.

But those aren’t the only problems a business may face. An unfinished product or a poorly-designed landing page can sabotage even the best advertising campaigns.

This is why so many people are reluctant to display advertising in the first place. The competitive market and difficult learning curve can quickly discourage new advertisers.

The average CTR in Google Ads for display across all industries sits at 0.46% for the GDN, with an average CPC of $0.63.

SIDENOTE. GDN = Google Display Network.

So, considering these numbers, you might be wondering – are display ads worth it

Of course, they are. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a $479.20 billion global market.

But there are some questions you need to ask yourself first:

  • Is my product competitive? What differentiates it from the competition?
  • Does my business afford to invest time and money in display advertising?
  • Is my team experienced in creating and managing display campaigns?

Setting up a campaign

Setting up an acquisition display campaign is a process that differs depending on the platform you use. But some elements are general throughout all ad networks. 

Probably the most important aspect you have to take into consideration for user acquisition through display advertising is – context.

Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine you’re reading a post about the “Real-World Applications of Cryptocurrency.” On that page you see 2 banners:

1. One promoting a crypto gambling website.

2. One promoting an e-commerce website that started accepting payments in cryptocurrency.

Which of the two would you say is more relevant?

By paying attention to the context, your ads will actually enhance a user’s experience instead of just driving users away from the website.

And the best way to do this is by using the contextual targeting tool available in Google Ads.

And while context is important, there are more factors you should pay attention to. Your audience targeting and your copywriting also have a direct impact on your Click-through Rate. Targeting users who aren’t interested in your product or failing to clearly state your USPs will also hinder your advertising efforts.

Measuring the performance of a display acquisition campaign

When it comes to measuring the performance of an acquisition campaign, there’s a simple way of looking at it. How much money did you invest and how much did you get out of it?

And while at first glance you may feel like the costs are way higher than the gains, there’s one more factor left to weigh in – Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

Let’s say you own a gambling website.

While a new user may spend $200 and then leave your website forever, another one may gamble $20 on a daily basis. Over time, this can amount to thousands of dollars, making them a far more valuable customer.

customer lifetime value explained

But how to calculate Customer Lifetime Value? To better explain the process, we will use some fictional numbers.

1. Calculate your Average Purchase Value by dividing your Total Revenue by the Number of Purchases over a set period of time. Let’s say our business had a revenue of $200,000 from 10,000 purchases over a 1-month period.

2. Calculate your Average Purchase Frequency Rate by dividing the Number of Purchases by the Number of Unique Customers. From those 10,000 purchases, only 1,200 were unique users.

3. Calculate your Average Customer Value by multiplying the Average Purchase Value by the Average Purchase Frequency Rate

4. Calculate your Customer Lifetime Value by multiplying the Average Customer Value by the Average Customer Lifespan.

how to calculate customer lifetime value

SIDENOTE. In order to determine your Average Customer Lifespan you have to know for how long you have been working with all of your clients and average that duration. This is a little tricky, but you can also use this formula to get a rough estimation.

While it may seem daunting at first, calculating your CLV isn’t that difficult. As long as you got access to all the data you need, that is.

Once you know your CLV, you can compare it to your CPA (Cost per Acquisition/Action). This will help you decide if your investment is worth it.

As long as your CPA<CLV, you’re in the clear.

4. Display Advertising for Brand Awareness

display advertising brand awareness

The main purpose of a brand awareness campaign is to create a buzz around your project. So instead of targeting users who will be more likely to become customers, you will address a more general audience.

But that doesn’t mean you should pump money into your campaign to reach as many people as possible.

A poorly targeted brand awareness campaign will not only come with tremendous costs but will also reach people who have a low chance to become future customers.

Unlike acquisition campaigns, brand awareness campaigns usually span over a longer period of time.

The main problem brand awareness campaigns face is the fact that they don’t deliver immediate results. This drives most of the small business away, as they don’t have a budget large enough to afford such a long-term investment.

But these are exactly the types of businesses that need a brand awareness campaign the most.

Just think about it.

How likely are you to make an online purchase from a brand you have never seen or heard of?

For me, that chance is pretty small. We go back to the same brands because we trust them. And unless they do something to let us down, it’s very unlikely that we’ll switch to another brand.

You need people to find out who you are and which of their problems you can solve. Here are some points your ads should touch:

  • What does your business do?
  • What can you do for your customers?
  • How experienced are you in that market?
  • Why should a customer ditch your competition and choose you instead?

Measuring a brand awareness campaign

Since you’re running a brand awareness campaign, engagement metrics such as clicks or CTR (or shares if you’re running it on social media platforms) are not that relevant.

Instead, track your impressions, brand mentions, organic searches, and organic traffic. All of these are crucial when trying to determine the success of your campaign.

When it comes to tracking organic performance, there are many tools available. You can get a good idea of your organic performance through Google Search Console and Google Analytics.

But the really good ones come at a cost. If you’re looking for detailed information you may want to check out tools such as Ahrefs, Moz, or SEOlium.

5. What are Retargeting Campaigns?

what is retargeting

Also known as remarketing, a retargeting campaign helps re-engage users who previously interacted with your website. A retargeting campaign is usually the perfect way to boost sales or conversions since conversion rates (CVR) are higher on returning users.

Retargeting also solves one of the major problems of online advertising – context.

When a user sees an ad for a business he never interacted with, the chances of him ignoring it are pretty high. But remarketing campaigns rely on customer segmentation, thus delivering ads that are relevant to your audience.

How does remarketing work?

Generally, retargeting lists are built from your website’s current user base. The technology uses a JavaScript code known as a pixel to anonymously track your audience.

The pixel is installed on your website. When a user lands on one of your pages, the pixel drops a cookie in the user’s browser. Later, while he browses other websites, the cookie will let the ad provider know which ads to serve, helping you re-engage with the user.

SIDENOTE. The code does not affect in any way the performance of your website, nor is it noticeable by the user. However, if a user clears their cookies, a remarketing campaign will no longer be able to target that user.

How to build a remarketing list with Google Ads

The most straightforward way to build a retargeting list is by using Google Ads. Here’s how:

1. Sign into your Google Ads account;

2. Open the “Tools & Settings” menu, and click on “Audience manager” under the “Shared Library” tab;

3. Click the blue plus sign. The dropdown menu will let you choose what type of audience you want to create:

  • Website visitors (users that visited your website or a specific landing page);
  • App users (users who downloaded your mobile app);
  • YouTube users (users who interacted with your YouTube channel or videos);
  • Customer list (based on data you collected on your customers);
  • Custom combination (a combination of multiple retargeting lists).
google ads retargeting setup

Based on the type of list you create, you will have to decide which users you want to include in your list and wait for it to populate.

For Google Display Network, a remarketing list must have at least 100 active users in the last 30 days. Your ads will be displayed only after your list passes this threshold.

How to create a remarketing list in with Google Analytics

Creating a remarketing list using Google Ads isn’t the only way to do it. Google Analytics is also a great tool that helps you to do that, but it is a bit more advanced. It allows for much deeper personalization of your audience, thus being the preferred version for most advertisers.

While Google Ads allows you to target users based on the landing pages they visited, Google Analytics takes this a few steps further:

  • Target users who visited your pricing page but didn’t complete a purchase;
  • Target users who created an account but never logged in;
  • Target users who purchased items X and Y, but not Z.

To build a custom retargeting audience you need to link your Analytics account to your Ads account. This can be done in the admin panel, under the “Google Ads Linking” tab.

Once your accounts are linked, here’s what you have to do:

1. Head over to the admin tab and select the “Audiences” option under the “Audience Definitions” section

2. Click on the red button labeled “New Audience”. Here, you’ll have two options:

  • Create a new audience. Define your audience and Analytics will fill the list with users that fit your criteria.
  • Import an existing segment. If you already have an audience, you can import it.
google analytics retargeting setup

After creating your audience, a new option will appear labeled “Create a Remarketing Campaign in Google Ads”. If you’re ready to start working on your campaign, click on “Create Campaign” and you will be guided throughout the whole process.

6. 5 Tips to Improve your Display Ads

display advertising tips

So now we know what display advertising is, and how to decide what type of campaign we should run.

But there’s a long way from knowing how to do something and actually doing it.

1. Set up remarketing campaigns

Retargeting is by far the most effective campaign you can run as an advertiser, regardless if your brand is huge or just getting started.

By delivering your ads to users who already expressed an interest in your brand/product, your chances of maximizing conversions are considerably higher.

A study found that users who are remarketed are 70% more likely to convert on your website than users who just found out about your business.

But remarketing in the world of crypto is difficult since Google no longer allows crypto related products to serve ads through their platform. But there is a solution – a restricted financial products certification.

Google lets advertisers apply for a certification that will allow them to promote “complex speculative financial products or cryptocurrency exchanges” with certain limitations. To receive the certification, your business must be licensed by relevant authorities.

Besides the certification, the landing page and product pages must be in compliance with Google’s guidelines, and the ads must meet all the local legal requirements of the country they want to get certified for.

All the information is available on this page, including a link to the application form.

2. Split test your display campaign

Creating the perfect campaign from the first try is next to impossible. That’s why testing is such an important process in the world of marketing.

The best way to reach the optimal campaign, banner design, or call to action is by experimenting with multiple variants. And that’s exactly what A/B testing (or split testing) does.

Instead of creating one design for your banners, create 2 or 3 of them. Run them all at the same time, and see which one performs better. Once you have a clear winner, stop the 2 campaigns that are underperforming and put your budget into the winning one.

However, keep in mind that you’re testing the impact of a single element.

That means that only a single element should be different across all your ads, be it the text, the CTA, the banner design, or the banner size.

3. Use simple visuals

The world of design is constantly changing. But there is one principle that remained constant and influenced several trends throughout the years – simplicity.

The design of your banner must persuade users to engage or to pay attention to it.

Don’t add elements just for the sake of “making it pop”. Stick to your brand identity and make sure that you use white space wisely, to direct the focus of the users towards the CTA and the main message.

Last but not least, use qualitative images that don’t distort when displayed on larger or smaller screens. We live in a mobile-first world, so always consider the responsiveness of your ads.

minimalist design banner

Don’t have the resources to create your own banners?

Coinzilla’s design team can help create custom banners for your campaign, aligned to your brand identity. Just get in touch with your account member, and he’ll walk you through the whole process.

If you’re not a member of Coinzilla’s network of advertisers, there are still ways for you to design great banners.

Google’s display ad builder is a pretty awesome yet underrated tool which can help you create banners for your campaign in a matter of minutes.

4. Target your audience properly

Properly targeting your audience is a pivotal step in the creation of your campaign. By knowing which audiences convert best on your website you can maximize your ROI with little effort.

SIDENOTE. ROI is the abreviation for Return On Investment and reffers to ratio between net profit and cost of investment. You may calculate ROI with the following formula: (Gains – Investment Cost) / Investment Cost.

And this is where the power of Google Analytics comes in.

All the data about the behavior and demographics of your users can help you create strong customer personas. Crafting messages specifically for those audiences and targeting them with your banner ads will increase your chances of creating a successful display advertising campaign.

However, be aware that the audience targeting options can vary depending on the advertising network you are using.

While Google allows advertisers to create detailed custom audiences, we decided to make things a little simpler. That’s why we grouped our audiences into 2 main categories:

  • Premium – recommended for projects that are looking for investors, traders, or customers;
  • Brand Awareness – recommended for projects that are looking for new users, such as gambling websites or exchanges.
coinzilla traffic type

You can then further break down your audience based on location or device. This allows our advertisers to target their audiences with customized messages and designs based on their country or their used device.

SIDENOTE. We covered all about advertising with Coinzilla in a previous article, including tips & tricks to better target your audience utilizing our platform. You can check out the full post here.

5. Use multiple ad formats

While it’s true that some ad formats are statistically better than others, all campaigns are different.

And some websites support only specific ad sizes, which may limit your potential to reach new users or customers.

The usage of multiple formats blends perfectly into a split testing campaign and can help you determine what type of display advertising campaigns work best for your business.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to display advertising, many people don’t even know where to start.

While having a clear objective in mind is important, you must invest time and money in both your product and your overall strategy. Otherwise, your project might be doomed from the start.

I hope this guide helps clear things out a bit. If there’s anything you want me to cover in an update (or in an upcoming post), let me know.