Why You Shouldn’t Downplay Display Advertising

In my experience as a PPC analyst, mentioning the words “display” and “content network” often induce (many times humorous) looks of cringe or disgust on the face of clients who have yet to try it. For those that don’t know better, “Hogwash,” “Bunkum” or some other underused, but equally charming, synonym escapes from their lips.

But why?

Why is display advertising derided and chastised so?

By placing ads on sites and platforms with information relevant to what your target market is into, it’s nothing more than “digital prospecting.” But isn’t that a major part of business: Prospecting?

I believe the main thing associated with display advertising is low click-through rates (CTRs). “No one ever clicks on those things. I know I never do.”

Yes, display ads usually have a low click-through rate. I get overly excited if a display campaign has anything over a 0.10% CTR.

The fact of the matter is that savvier businesses are starting to increase their display budgets after awakening to the two distinct advantages display/content advertising holds over traditional search network platforms:

  1. Lower costs per clicks (CPCs)
  2. Branding

Save More, Convert More

Let’s say you are the pay-per-click manager for a local personal injury law firm. The average CPC for keywords on the search network is around $5 (pretty good, given the competitive industry).

The average CPC for keywords on the content network is one-third less: $1.54. I can hear your inner monologue right now: “Big whoop. If they don’t convert, it’s still a waste of money.”

I agree with the voice inside your head – to a certain extent. There needs to be some sort of measurable ROI, and creating a properly structured display campaign (a future how-to post) will yield those results.

But, that potential prospect, who very likely may not have visited your site if it weren’t for the display advertising network, comes at a significantly reduced price.

Even if that visitor doesn’t convert on that first visit – and in all reality, they probably won’t – that sometimes-controversial-yet-innovative tactic of remarketing comes into play.

Data shows that a combination of prospecting and remarketing can significantly increase conversions. While I never took calculus, I do know that combining cheaper clicks and sending friendly reminders in the form of banner ads while your prospects continue to surf the web, is a wise, economical way to increase conversions.

Allow Yourself to be Discovered

Impressions mean everything in the business world, literally and numerically. One of the keen advantages display advertising holds over the search network is the amount of people who can be exposed to your brand. While life often calls for conservative exposure, marketing is not one of those times.

Our agency recently launched a display campaign for a business telecommunications provider. They were more concerned with expanding their brand’s reach, literally making an impression with the ads, on as many people as possible.

With only a test budget and targeting smaller DMAs, we had over 5 million impressions. In just two weeks. The client has since added more to their budget as a result.

Display ads serve as online billboards on the internet highway drive, and every time one is served, it does one of two things:

  1. It reinforces your brand to people who already know about you. (Good!)
  2. Your brand is introduced to someone unfamiliar with it. (Better!)

An effective display advertising campaign, when set-up properly, can be economical and effective. At the end of the day, there’s nothing to lose, except new customers.