7 Best Practices to Online Display Advertising

Apr 26, 2013

Though fairly new when looking at the long span of advertising in general (a few decades as compared to thousands of years), online display advertising follows a lot of the same general concepts of other forms of advertising. Let’s look at the seven best advertising practices and apply them to the online space.

  1. KNOW. Your Audience:
    This is the first step and most important one to really focus time on prior to kicking off an online display campaign. If you don’t have a handle on your audience you are marketing to, how can you think your campaign(s) will be effective? Look deep into what both your marketing goals are and what which audience will help you hit those marks. Look into the audience’s “pains” or challenges and how your product or service can help address them. It should all be about benefit to your target market/audience.

  2. RESEARCH. Ad Publishers:
    Right behind understanding your audience, is knowing how best to reach them. That starts and ends with web-sites that are built around being found and viewed by your target audience. Of course there are a variety of types of display advertising spends. From higher funnel networks spends to lower funnel direct buy and retargeting spends. Regardless, you will need to know the best way to get in front of your audience so look into a wide range of sites and publishers. In most cases, it is a balance of both to keep your lead funnel full.

  3. CONCEPTUALIZE. Effective Banners:
    Knowing what messages will resonate with your audience, while also considering where the ads will be published, are keys to conceptualizing banners that get a great click through rate. You want clear simple messaging that is also eye catching when side by side with competitors in direct buys and/or when they are put in front of folks that don’t even realize they have a need yet. Spend a decent amount of time looking at a couple different angles of messaging and how it will work within the framework of your branding and banner designs.

  4. EXPAND. Your Messaging:
    The messaging on the banners will need to be backed up by the messaging on the page your potential customers click through to. Keeping the aesthetic cohesive on that page with the banners design will help the clicker feel comfortable. Keeping the messaging simple and above the fold, will keep clickers engaged. Giving them multiple ways to convert, will give them freedom to proceed in a manner how they feel most comfortable. Not all folks are in the same part of the buying cycle, so giving them a way to convert via chat, phone, and forms is key to catering to traffic in all levels of the buying cycle. If they don’t initially convert that is where retargeting efforts can pay dividends.

  5. MAXIMIZE. Your Investment:
    Once you have solid banners and landing pages, you should consider retargeting (aka remarketing) spend to stay in front of your audience after they leave the site. It is a much more involved display effort, as pixels will need to be placed throughout your web-site to ultimately place cookies and target traffic. You will also need to consider what banners and massaging will be most effective in ultimately converting your audience with retargeting. This is done through segmentation of your web-sites pages, conversion points, and a range of banners focusing on last page visited. Or a simplified overall segmentation for a lower funnel promotion could drive them back to the site; it all depends on the campaigns goals.

  6. ANALYZE. Ad Performance:
    A display spend in advertising that is not tracked and optimized is a large waste of money. Google Analytics is the best overall tool to track how your banners perform through UTM information utilized in the links to each banner that can call out distinct information upon click. This information includes: ad medium (marketing channel), ad source (online publisher), ad campaign (banner campaign messaging) and ad content (banner size, placement, etc.). You will want to make sure the proper code is placed on all pages on your web-site to enable Analytics tracking.

  7. OPTIMIZE. Based on the data:
    If a self-optimizing model like many networks employ (behavioral targeting) is not utilized, then tracking each spend through Analytics is key. Looking at click through rate, on-site engagement, soft conversions (leads), assisted conversions (though attribution) and hard conversions (commerce sales) is key to maximizing ROI. This is especially applicable if split testing is used in either creatives/banners or landing pages. You will need to track all data side by side and see what is helping you best hit your goals, then make changes to guide each spend appropriately.

Understanding the overall picture includes: learning about your audiences tendencies/challenges, pre-spend research of publishers, conceptualizing the messaging/design, finally executing the campaign(s), while also aggressively optimizing throughout is key to success for any online display investment.

by Sean Foote
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