4 Tips for Stretching Your Display Budget to the Max

Budget. It’s a word that invokes mixed emotion. The most common emotion: stress. Budget the right way and you stand to save and hopefully make money. Budget the wrong way, and well, you’re in the hole. No wonder advertisers feel pressure.

When it comes to display advertising, you don’t want to just dump money into your ad campaign and hope for a successful ROI. Instead, you need to allocate your money where it counts.

Here are four tips for making the most of your display budget.

1. Target Users, Not Devices

Have you ever felt bombarded by the same display ad? Everywhere you look, it’s there, watching you like Sting and The Police. Even worse, an ad that may have once been funny or intriguing is now annoying. Don’t be that advertiser.

Avoid throwing precious dollars down the drain. Instead, target your display ads by user, not device.

Think about it. The same target audience may be on desktop at the beginning of the day, and mobile towards the end of the day. If you’re delivering the exact same ad to them on desktop, and later on mobile, it’s no wonder they’re experiencing ad fatigue.

Currently, I’m being retargeted by a fabulous art deco piece from Wayfair. Originally, I was served a super expensive version ($1,400+). However as much as I love their Borghese Mirrored Desk, I need to find something a little more within my price range.

Now if Wayfair continues to retarget me with the same product over and over, it would be a waste of their display ad budget. But they don’t.

While lamenting the cost of the mirrored desk to my co-workers, Wayfair must have read my mind (or heard me through my iPhone), and started retargeting me with this less expensive version below.

Florentine Writing Desk
Source: Wayfair.com

Here, Wayfair adapted their display ads to serve me — the user — different versions and price points for the same type of item, making sure not to repeat the ad on both my desktop and smartphone. And now they’ve got me seriously considering this latest version: The Florentine. (It’s cheaper by a $1,000.) Well done, Wayfair!

2. Use Behavioral Targeting

Taking into consideration a consumer’s search patterns and activity is important. It’s quite possible Wayfair picked up on my browsing patterns using behavioral targeting. After seeing the expensive version, I Googled “cheap mirror desks,” so it’s a possibility Wayfair was tracking my search activity as well.

Also keep in mind that serving display ads to perhaps too narrow of a niche could potentially exclude your true audience. If potential buyers are never seeing your display ad, well, that’s costing you money.

For instance, HubSpot cites a great example. Instead of targeting women who wear makeup, thus isolating men who also wear makeup, change your display ad campaign to target people who have read makeup related articles. Genius!

Here, Muir Glen Organic takes that same approach with their display ad. While I’m not 100% organic, I do buy some organic products. If Muir Glen only targeted solely organic consumers, they would have lost out on me (and others) who are “sometimes organic.”

Muir Glen Organic

3. Invest in Ad Placement

The old adage: you get what you pay for, couldn’t be more true in display advertising. Buying smart is the most efficient way to stay within budget. When divvying up your dollars, it’s okay to allocate more of your funds towards display ad placement and viewable ad impressions.

Where your ad runs has a huge impact on your campaign (and budget). You will never increase your odds of getting clicks if you don’t get views. Here, advertisers should invest more in:

Low on the Impression Curve. Buying low on the impression curve is more expensive, but it’ll pay off in the long run. By being placed where people will immediately see your display ad, you’re making a strong impression. So, don’t hesitate to cough up dollars for this area.

Above the Fold. Spending money to appear above the fold will also pay off as well. When you bet on people scrolling down to see your ad, you’re already in a lose money situation. Always, if you can, allocate money to appearing above the fold.

Here’s a display ad that straddling just above the fold in my desktop Twitter feed. Note it’s a third version of the same style of desk I’ve been considering purchasing. (They’re trying to get me to meet them in the middle now, with a mid-priced version.)

Third Desk Version
Source: Wayfair.com

Again, Wayfair has caught my attention with a well-placed display ad.

4. Don’t Scrimp on Viewable Impressions

Don’t attempt to save dollars by going with served ad impressions, which will only count as an impression if an ad display was triggered. You don’t know if the ad was actually viewed. Investing in viewable ad impressions instead will guarantee your ad was at least viewed, plus help cut down on fraud (and save you money).

How It Works

With viewable ad impressions, you pay only if the ad appears on the user’s screen for a minimum standard duration (e.g. for display it would be 50 percent of pixels for one second, video 50 percent of pixels for two seconds.) By instituting a viewing standard, you lessen your risk of getting bot views. And bot views cost you money.


Display ad budgeting doesn’t have to be intimidating. Remember to target your users (not devices), use behavioral targeting, invest in ad placement, and don’t cut corners on impressions. By employing these four tips you’re on your way to hopefully a flourishing, strong campaign.