A Quick Guide to Display Advertising

We talk a lot about search advertising here on eZanga articles, but what about display advertising? Is it a good choice for your company?

Allow me to answer these questions for you. I’ll be your display ad guru.

Quick Definition

What is display advertising?

It’s a shorter way of saying any type of graphical advertising that shows up on a web page. They can include text, pictures, videos, audio, etc. These ads, often called banners, differ from search ads in that they don’t require someone to search for a related query. Instead, they appear on different websites, usually in a sidebar or at the top or bottom of the page.

So, a ho-ho-hoing Santa Claus jiggles his jelly belly at you from an ad for fake snow that has loaded on the side of a blog post you’re reading. There’s text, there’s pictures, there’s even a bit of Jingle Bells playing in there. What’s this? A display ad.

Why Use Display Ads?

Display ads work a little differently than search ads. So why use them?

Increase Brand Awareness

Display ads make their impact through ad impressions, how many people see your ad. People don’t need to click on the ad for it to do its job. Instead, people just see your display ad and it starts working to help them remember you.

(Because display ads work through impressions, they’ll often run on a PPI, pay per impression, basis.)

Say that little dancing Santa is your company’s mascot. Once people see him a few times, they’ll recognize him and associate him with your brand. The more people who do so, the more people that know your company. Eventually, they’ll think of your company even if they’re just reminded of the connection.

This works with all aspects of your ad: logos, slogans, color schemes, songs, etc. People make associations between these things and connect them back to your company. For this reason, display advertising is great for branding. Use display to control what will make people think of your company.

Remember, people may not click through to your website right away. But your company will now stick in their head, become familiar. If or when they develop a need for your product or service, there’s a better chance they’ll think of you.

“I may not need fake snow now, but if I did, I’d call that company with the Dancing Santa.”

Grab Attention

Display ads are sometimes better for reaching people at the beginning of the sales funnel. Since people seeing your ad aren’t searching for what you’re offering, you can use display to develop initial interest.

Make sure to create them with that purpose in mind.

Just because people aren’t actively searching for your offerings, doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. Maybe they just hadn’t thought of it yet and seeing your display ad inspired or reminded them. Show users a need they didn’t know they had.

“Fake snow?! Sounds like a great addition to my holiday decoration collection!”

“Oh no! I totally forgot to buy fake snow when I bought decorations!”


Getting those people who didn’t initially convert to head back to your site is also a big use of display advertising. Maybe they loved your stuff but had to get offline before buying. Now, remind them who you are as they browse the Internet.

Google Analytics Display advertising can track and collect demographic and interest data using cookies. In case you weren’t sure, that’s awesome intel to have!

You can use it create different buyer personas that can allow you to customize campaigns for each persona.

Remember to be careful not to annoy your visitors with your retargeting, an easy mistake to make!

So if users forget the name of your company, you can use display ads to make sure they remember. But I’m not sure how anyone could forget such a jiggly, giddy Santa Claus.

The Down Side

Because everything has one.

Like I said, display ads don’t need clicks or conversions to make an impact. But that makes it hard to measure their impact. You may be able to see how many impressions were made, but not how lasting they were. With search ads, you can check out your conversion rate or other KPIs.

Also, since display ads can spark interest, they can lead people to search for your product. Though this is great, it leaves us with a bit of a dilemma.

Your stats may show that all of your conversions are coming from search ads. But you might be getting the search traffic because of your display ads. Then again, you might not be.

Because display ads can lead to more search volume, it’s difficult to know how much money to allocate to each type of ad. You may want to invest more into search, but cutting back too much on display ads may decrease search volume.

It’s a slippery slope. The way you need to divvy up your budget will vary from product to product and campaign to campaign. It’s something you should take time to figure out carefully.

Is Display Advertising For You?

What do you say? Are you trying to increase brand awareness or recognition? Do you need to spark that initial interest in your company? Are you looking to retarget or drive people further down the sales funnel?

If you’re nodding your head vigorously at your computer screen, then I’d say display advertising is a go.

Even with the difficulties of figuring out a budget (which is a hard part of any marketing campaign), display ads can give you a serious advantage in gaining customers who know you and your products well enough to want to make that purchase.