.author-name { display: none; }

The Do's and Don'ts of Digital Display


Display advertising comes in several forms, including banner ads, rich media and more. Unlike text-based ads, display advertising relies on elements such as images, audio and video to communicate an advertising message. 

With the introduction of programmatic, over the last few years digital display has become much more sophisticated than just buying a target audience. Adverts can be targeted according to consumer behaviour, demographics, geographic and interaction with a brand to name a mere few. Display advertising not only helps you promote new products or offers, but it helps you increase your online presence and reach out to your customers. Display advertising can help drive leads and increase brand awareness too.


1.Think laterally.  Just because it’s possible to click on a banner and subsequently take an action, this doesn’t automatically equate to Display being a linear response channel.   When forecasting returns from prospecting Display activity, approach it in a similar way you might an offline Press campaign; it will pivot between brand and activation, but the primary function is usually to generate awareness and support the wider media mix.  This is less true of retargeting campaigns, where the focus is more on driving clicks / sales or assisting Search.  In both cases, it is important that you have a strategy in place to attribute value across all of your media (both online and offline) and measure your ROI across channel combinations, not in isolation.

2. Get creative.  Display is no longer just about banners, skyscrapers and MPUs.  The variety of different formats available to marketeers is extensive and includes many opportunities to put rich media ads in front of prospective customers.  Results prove that the engagement rates for site sponsorship, interactive and video-led creatives can be over 10 times that of static creatives – they may require more budget to create, but the increase in awareness they can generate is likely to prove extremely cost effective.

3. Embrace data.  There is a wealth of behavioural, transactional and demographic available to marketeers.  Engage with specialist partners who can provide you with access to unique datasets and make the most of the opportunity to improve the targeting & relevance of your campaigns.  At its most basic level, this means showing your prospecting ads to only those audiences which match the profile of your current customers and are more likely to respond.  Taking things to the next level, think about how you might serve different ads to prospects who frequently visit a certain location (e.g. the shopping centre where your store is located, or a competitor’s store), or how messaging might change at different times of day.

4. Consider context.  Where your ads are shown is of equal and sometimes greater importance to whom they are served to.  This is particularly true for sectors such as leisure and tourism, but applies to all verticals to a greater or lesser extent.  Be sure to include contextual segmentations in your Display targeting strategy and consider the use of alternative networks and direct agreements with publishers whose website content aligns closely with your brand.  You should also investigate native advertising and in-stream video opportunities, both of which can position your ads alongside highly relevant editorial content, increasing the likelihood of a response.

5. Treat your customers differently.  It’s a relatively straightforward process to build a cookie pool of visitors to your site and serve retargeted Display to them.  Your next step should be to consider how else you can use this data to improve your campaigns.  Setup your Display activity to exclude current prospects / customers from your acquisition activity, minimising wastage and media costs.  At the same time, think about how Display might fit into your CRM communications plan alongside other media channels in order to provide a better experience and maximise long-term ROI.


1. Get too granular.  Bearing in mind the opportunities discussed above, it can be tempting to over-segment your audiences and end up with results which aren’t statistically valid and can’t inform your future campaigns.  Apply segmentation, rich media and dynamic messaging at scale in order to realise its true value.  Also, make sure to always include broad reach segments in your prospecting strategy; without it, you’ll struggle to identify those potential new audiences which can help you to grow and develop your Display activity.

2. Forget about viewability.   Just because an ad impression was served, it doesn’t mean that anyone ever actually saw it.  This is particularly important when assessing the value of your view-through conversions (VTCs); actions which occurred after someone saw and ad but didn’t click through.  Keep a close eye on your viewability statistics and factor them into your buying strategy, attribution and KPI calculations, in order to improve efficiency and develop a clearer picture of Display’s true value to your media strategy.

If you’d like to discuss anything we’ve raised here feel free to get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.