Whether you are a blogger, a small business owner or someone who simply enjoys browsing the internet, you might have come across ads on your favourite pages.
Some ads take the shape of unobtrusive marketing displays that appear in the body of the text you are reading or even as a sponsored item or a service in a video.
These ads are called native ads, and their nature is to blend in with whatever content they are implemented in.
Native ads pose several problems, however, not the least of which is figuring out how to pair certain types of products with the content that needs to serve as their anchor.
The tips we mention will be numbered and continue throughout the article and the points we make, so make sure to check them all out before making a call as to whether or not to implement some of our strategies.
With that said, let’s jump into it:
- You will find out why some people dislike display advertising and why you might want to consider the alternatives.
- We will also take a look at how the content creation process looks and how to choose the right type of content for your audience. We will also briefly cover programmatic display advertising and how you can benefit from it.
- Your landing page is also a matter of great importance for future visitors – optimising it correctly will sometimes be the deciding factor of whether or not they stick around for long.
- We will close things off with a look at how you can track your leads and what types of software you might want to consider using throughout your display advertising process.
The “why” and “how” of display advertising
This is where the contrary to native ads comes into play – we call these ads “display advertising”. What this allows small businesses and large companies is to promote their products or brand on other sites without seeming out of place. They take the form of banners and sidebar displays that are not unlike the ads we see on bus stations and city streets.
Believe it or not, but display advertising remains one of the oldest forms of internet advertisement that was used for promoting content with Google’s help. The trend that continues to this day dictates that Google chooses what material is suitable for each visitor and displays it in a predetermined spot on your page. The resulting ad revenue goes to your pocket which makes it a viable, self-sustaining solution for advertisement.
Display advertisement business is significant and continues to generate vast amounts of revenue for all parties involved. The reason for this is because not every web user is using smart or mobile devices (which are less suitable for display ads). The majority of people still prefer using their desktop and laptop computers to browse the web, thus ensuring that display advertisement works correctly and displays correctly.
Contradictions and beliefs
Before we delve any further into why you should use display ads on your site and how to set them up, let’s take a look at some common beliefs, contradictions, and myths surrounding display advertisement:
- Display ads are too obstructive – They are the most obstructive form of advertisement you can implement, but they are far from harmful or annoying. People are accustomed to seeing them wherever they go on the web, so it doesn’t make more or less sense not to use them for that reason.
- Display ads slow down the website – Yes and no. It all depends on what type of ads you end up using (image, video, animated, etc.) and how good your compression algorithms are. If your content creator knows what they are doing, your ads will be very light and responsive towards visitors.
- Display ads are ugly and don’t fit in – This also depends on what type of a content creator you hire for your ad design needs. The best designers and content managers will always look for ways to complement the content you are featuring on your site to make the entire page cohesive.
- Display ads lower my reach and traffic – If you fill your pages with obtrusive ads that serve to make you quick cash, it will most certainly result in fewer people visiting your site. Balancing the need to display ads and the need to make ad revenue with a sense of reason will always work in your favour – use your banner spaces wisely.
- Pairing audience with content – A call to action
#1 Pairing audience with content – A call to action
Now that we have covered the basics of display advertising, what can you do with it to achieve your marketing goals? Small businesses can benefit significantly from automated advertising as long as they can pinpoint what type of audience is frequenting their website.
Using an outside tracking solution like the one featured in Google Analytics or merely creating questionnaires that can help you determine what your audiences’ likings should be straightforward.
The real question is how to create the right content for your audience and implement subtle yet compelling calls to action that will make sure that they click on the ads.
Remember that the entire point of display advertising isn’t just to show an ad and be done with it – the real target is making sure that users visit the ad links and do something with it.
Whether this action includes making a purchase, checking out writing websites reviews or participating in a paid survey doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you pair the right content with the right viewer – and this is where content creation and designers come into play.
#2 Content design options
The real meat and potatoes of display advertising lie with creating content that complements your audience. You will be happy to hear that display ads are very strictly monitored by Google when it comes to their pixel size.
This means that your designers have very strictly set canvases to work with, not to mention the overall bandwidth a single piece of display ad might take to load.
Both of these factors play a huge role in determining how your ads are displayed and when.
With that in mind, what are the ratios and sizes your content creators can work with?
- Vertical rectangle: 240 x 400
- Mobile leaderboard: 320 x 50
- Banner: 468 x 60
- Leaderboard: 728 x 90
- Square: 250 x 250
- Small square: 200 x 200
- Large rectangle: 336 x 280
- Inline rectangle: 300 x 250
- Skyscraper: 120 x 600
- Wide skyscraper: 160 x 600
- Half-page: 300 x 600
- Large leaderboard: 970×90
- Large mobile banner: 320 x 100
- Billboard: 970 x 250
- Portrait: 300 x 1050
As you can see, these sizes are set in pixel counts because monitors and smart devices use pixels when determining the resolution of your screen. Depending on the size of a display ad you choose to use, it will take up more or less space on your page.
Luckily, native advertising has made it relatively easy to display ads even on mobile devices (when absolutely necessary), meaning that their ration will often be downsized proportionally.
However, deciding what size of a banner or a sidebar ad to use is only the beginning of your worries. You also need to consider what type of content you will use to efficiently create a Call-To-Action (CTA) for your audience and make sure they visit the link you have provided.
Static images are a good choice if your small business is working in a niche where elderly and less tech-savvy people are bound to visit. These visitors are often unaware of what display advertisement is and simply click on banners out of sheer curiosity.
Using this opportunity to promote relevant content is highly efficient since 50% of banner ad visits on the web are accidental.
Using videos, animations or any form of moving images is often a hit-or-miss situation. Banners that feature videos are often muted or blocked off by Ad-block software entirely, making it highly unlikely that people will sit through your content even for 30 seconds at a time.
Google has used this tactic with their free Android applications, and it showed potential, but mobile apps are a different breed of advertisement entirely. Should you decide to use video ads on your site, make sure that they are highly relevant to your main content. Display advertising and SEO favours static images due to their light size and flexibility – disturbing that should always be for a good reason.
Hiring a content creator and a manager with a semblance of experience when it comes to SEO and display advertising is a must if you want to promote your small business efficiently and earn ad revenue on the side. Optimizing the ad content from a technical and a visual standpoint does require a certain degree of objectivity and research that novices are likely to overlook.
Programmatic display advertising is also a good idea if you are short on funds since bidding against the competition for ad space might be a viable solution for a start. It will undoubtedly give you a good idea as to how your banners are received and should you implement them into your small business website to boost its ranking and traffic.
Invest in a small but dedicated content creation team that you can rely on continuously since your audience’s’ needs and wants will change over time. Reflecting that need in your content is a sure way to keep your traffic numbers high and retain the majority of your visitors even if they are presented with display ads whenever they visit.
One of the brands that took advantage of display advertising is Airbnb with a lot of their traffic and business going through Google Ads. They have successfully created a network of display ads with relevant content (popular cities and deals to travel to) which made it relatively easy and tempting just to click and take a look at what they have to offer.
Babson has also made a massive breakthrough in their marketing strategies thanks to displaying advertising. Reading more about their success and individual reasons for opting for display advertisement may help you decide as to how to approach the topic when your brand is concerned.
You can do the same with your own small business as long as you know exactly what your customers and audience are after. Creating this need and implementing it through a call to action on the banner is what display advertisement is all about.
#3 Optimizing the landing page
Learning from the past mistakes and missteps done by other companies is an essential part of innovating on the market. Just because your business is small doesn’t mean that you can’t add something new to the table and change the tide of display advertisement. One such conundrum that most brands are struggling with is how to implement display ads into their landing pages without making the “landing” too cluttered, slow or downright broken.
Keep in mind that the majority of the traffic that comes through your site will be aimed at the landing page – whether people continue browsing or not remains to be determined by the feeling, they get once they land.
This means that you should pay extra attention to what types of banners to include on the page and where to place them. Checking out some interesting and innovative case studies into brands such as the already mentioned Airbnb and Time Magazine might be a good idea before making any rash decisions.
Your landing page is the face of your brand and business. Including only the most necessary ads and outbound links is considered a good practice, while leaving the majority of your display ads on other pages is a smart move. Think of the visitors as fish that should be lured closer to you.
While the analogy might be unfitting, the point remains that over cluttering your landing page with ads doesn’t bode well and will likely result in the visitor leaving your site altogether.
#4 Tracking your leads
Considering the moderately low clickthrough rates sitting at 0.6%, lead tracking is an important aspect of display advertisement.
Tracking leads amounts to keep tabs on which of your visitors clicked the ad that you put on your page and if they intend to do anything with it.
These “leads” can often help you determine the type of content you should create further down the line to generate even greater leads. Depending on the size and scope of the display ad campaigns you want to run on your site, you should opt for tracking software that can help you achieve those goals. More expensive services offer more complex data, but the question remains do you need that much information for a small business such as yours.
We recommend checking out several of these just to make sure that you have their price points in mind once you make the final call. Remember that as soon as you start tracking leads actively, the more prepared you will be for the inevitable rise in traffic and public interest in the ads you put on your site.
#5 Ad management and design software
The two major categories of display advertisement software you should pay attention to fall into management and design – both of which are equally important. Depending on the type of content managers and creators you have hired, they might have their options to suggest, and that’s great!
All you need to worry about is that the content they create goes through proper optimisation and that the managers can connect their software to your site for adequate tracking results.
- Ad management software branches off into different categories in itself, meaning that not every tool will be right for every task. Some of these apps and platforms focus on reach and cost management while others offer content management and tracking options. Most of the tools found on the list can do many of the tasks among themselves, meaning that it’s easy to find platforms that will allow you to do more than one task at a time at the same price point.
- Design tools are solely dependent on the designer you end up hiring and their preferred choice. Most designers opt for using Adobe Creative Suites since they offer a large plethora of content creation tools ranging from image and video editing as well as retouching and audio editing software. These Suites come in different packages and are available per subscription, meaning that you will have to acquire the rights to use them commercially should you hire a designer and provide a computer for them.
- Opting for outside design agencies and contracting several of their content creators might be a good option to consider for the beginning. Once your display ads are up and running, and you get a decent idea as to how to manage and create them, go for a designer of your own.
Putting it all to work
Putting all of this information into context and creating your own automated display advertisement content can be daunting. Make sure to do all the necessary research until you are satisfied that you know enough about how display advertising works and whether you can opt for programmatic advertising rather than manual.
News outlets and large companies such as Audi and The Economist have used this method of the highest bidder for most of their time on the web which can make it difficult for small businesses to make a dent in Google’s armour. Focus on creating ads that effectively communicate your mission and products without coming across as clickbaity to the untrained eye.
Banner ads on websites are here to stay no matter how advanced the mobile market may become. Invest in ads as much as you can and grow your public image using every method available to you. Let us know what you think about display advertising and whether or not small businesses should invest in it in the comment section! We look forward to hearing from you and discussing new ideas and outlooks.
This is a guest post by Luisa Brenton, Luisa is a brand developer in the past; mom, educational blogger in the present. She writes in a variety of venues – academic, business, and online marketing content.