Media Shark: What is Display Advertising?

Apparently, the average American sees more than 5,000 adverts a day. Display advertising can be the key to helping you grow your business today!

If some of those adverts are your competitors’, and not yours, you’re missing out on vital brand awareness and remarketing opportunities with your potential customers. This is why display ads absolutely need to be part of your marketing strategy if they aren’t already.

media shark
media shark

But, what is display advertising and how can it help your business?

What Is Display Advertising?

The clue is in the name.

It’s a display, or image-led, advert that pops up in specifically designated areas of a website, app, or social media platform. It comes in a variety of different formats depending on the display advertising network you’re using. The main display advertising networks are:

  • Google Adsense
  • Facebook Audience Network Ads
  • Apple Advertising
  • Yahoo Network
  • Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing)

The first two, GDN and Facebook, are by far the largest and most popular display networks, mostly due to their reach and versatility. 

Display advertising is by no means a new phenomenon. It started way back in 1994, and it’s come a long way since the garish banners and aggressive pop-ups that haunted the internet in decades gone by. Nowadays, your display ads can come in every format, from gifs to lightboxes, making for more visually engaging content for your customers (and increasing your click-through-rate!).

Not only is there a huge variety in the formats, but in the targeting options too. We’ll go through both.

Types of Display Ads

There’s a variety of different types of display ads, and sometimes they’re frustratingly called different things depending on the display network you’re using. In general, they come in the following categories:

Traditional Display Ads

These are the most familiar category of display ads, often called banner or image ads. They appear on other websites or apps your audience may be visiting, and consist of a mix of banner, skyscraper, and square image sizes. They often have text on them as well as an image, and indeed in some instances may be text-only if the ad space is too small.

Responsive Display Ads

Responsive display ads are an update on traditional display ads. These ads look similar in the sense that they’re usually made up of text and images when the customer sees them, but your chosen display network platform actually uses a clever algorithm to create them. This algorithm takes its pick from your assets and creates a variety of customized display ads in various combinations of size and orientation depending on placement and audience. 

Social Ads

Fairly self-explanatory from the title alone, but social ads are the adverts users see within social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and more. There’s a wide variety of formats available to pick from depending on the platform you’re advertising on.

Native Ads

The thing about native ads is they don’t really look like display ads at all if they’re done right. They’re sometimes known as discovery ads, particularly on the Google Display Network. These are the subtle display ads that are designed and placed in the same style as the rest of the content of the page they’re placed on.

They can be placed within an email inbox, website, YouTube search results or elsewhere, and you can only spot the difference as they’ll have a small “promoted” or “recommended content” marker somewhere within the ad.

Display Ad Formats

While most display networks offer various different types of display ads, the formats of those ads will look very different depending on your chosen display network. We’ll only go over the two most popular display network formats – Google Display Networks and Facebook Audience Network Ads.

Google Display Network

Also known as AdSense, the Google Display Network (GDN) offers a rich variety of ad formats for you to choose from, including:

Text Ads: these are most often used within Gmail or in the smallest possible ad spaces available on sites. You can tailor your message depending on placement and targeting options.

Image Ads: these are the banner ads we mentioned above at their most simple level, but they don’t have to be static. Some image ads contain moving elements like gif formats or moving text to highlight your message.

If you’re using responsive ads, you should have a good mix of image sizes and text overlays available to choose from. The most common image ad sizesinclude:

  • Leaderboard: 728 x 90
  • Banner 468 x 60
  • Half-banner: 234 x 60
  • Button: 125 x 125
  • Skyscraper 120 x 600
  • Wide Skyscraper: 160 x 600
  • Small Rectangle: 180 x 150
  • Vertical Banner: 120 x 240
  • Small Square: 200 x 200
  • Square: 250 x 250
  • Medium Rectangle: 300 x 250
  • Large Rectangle: 336 x 280
  • Half-page: 300 x 600
  • Portrait: 300 x 1050
  • Mobile Banner: 320 x 50
  • Large Leaderboard: 970 x 90
  • Billboard: 970 x 250

Video Ads: YouTube is the most obvious placement, but your video ads can be placed on websites too.

Rich Media: these display ads contain images or videos as well as some elements of user interaction. Not only do rich media ads actively engage with your audience, but you’ll be able to access specific metrics on your audience’s behaviorlike the number of exits and video completions. This gives you additional insight into how your display ads are performing and where to improve.

Lightbox Ads: these are a specific type of rich media display ad that change to a fullscreen experience when the user engages with them. Often used for brand storytelling, many advertisers use Lightbox Ads for display ads such as catalog shopping experiences or games.

Facebook Audience Network Ads

Facebook, and its subsidiary Instagram, offer an abundance of display advertising options to suit your marketing campaign needs. Their display ad formats include:

Photo and Video Ads: these are the most basic display ads available within this platform and allow you to raise awareness of your brand within the newsfeed of users.

Carousel Ads: these allow you to have multiple images within a single ad. You can choose up to 10 images or videos, allowing you to showcase the very best of your brand or product. 

Slideshow Ads: similar to video ads in that they’re non-static, slideshow ads use sound and text to show your brand or product. 

Messenger Ads: as well as being able to advertise within a user’s newsfeed, Facebook offers the ability to display ads within its sister app, Messenger. These appear naturally between conversations with other users connected to the app.

Targeting Display Ads

There are four targeting options for display ads, which you can customize within your campaign for your specific goals. Generally using all of them successfully is vital in creating a cohesive display ad strategy.

Remarketing Targeting

Ever visited a website, and then felt like that brand or product appeared everywhere you went online after? That’s a remarketing display ad campaign. This clever targeting option uses cookies to track your users’ activity and follow them online to try and tempt them back to your site. 

Thanks to leaps in technology, dynamic remarketing is also an option. These work with the responsive display ads above, and are mostly used by e-commerce sites.

Your display network will use a mixture of your assets, as well as user data to create display ads based. So if a user has visited a particular product page on your website, dynamic remarketing targeting uses this information to create an advert based around that product using your assets. It customizes your ads to user interest and can increase click-through-rate considerably.

Contextual Targeting

This targeting option uses keyword research, much like Google Adwords, to determine where your ads will end up being placed. So for example, if your e-commerce site sells plant pots, your ads would appear on sites with keywords relevant to your product, such as gardening enthusiast forums.

Interest Targeting

Similarly to contextual targeting, interest targeting uses keyword data to target in-market audiences who are interested in products like yours. However, they also include affinity audiences. Affinity audiences are those with long-term interests that align with your brand or products, even if they’re not currently in the active buying phase.

You can customize these based on what you know about your audience. So, if you sell sports shoes, but you know your audience is interested in health too, you can target websites within the health industry as well as the sports industry.

Site Placement Targeting

You can use this in a couple of different ways. You can target users who have visited your competitors’ websites, essentially marketing your brand to users you know are interested in brands similar to yours.

Alternatively, if you know of several websites your audience frequents, you can put together a list specifically targeting users who have visited these sites. It works similarly to remarketing in that it uses cookies to track and follow these users but has additional reach as these users may not have previously visited your site. 

Benefits of Display Advertising

On the Google Display Network alone, your brand has the potential to reach 90 percent of the total internet audience through a mix of 2 million sites and apps. From this fact alone, the benefits should be obvious, but if not there’s plenty of other benefits to take into consideration. 

We’ve been over the targeting options above, but display advertising offers some of the most specific targeting options available within digital marketing platforms thanks to cookies. This allows you to target the right audience at the right time in their user journey. 

Not only can you target the best audience at the best possible time, but you can customize your ads (or let your display network platform do it for you!) to send customized messages to different audiences, which you know will perform better based on analytical data on user behavior. 

As with all digital marketing, one of the main benefits is that the results are measurable. It’s great having a large display ad campaign, but if that campaign isn’t returning any benefits, you can see almost immediately through tracked clicks, impressions, and conversions. You can also use this data to analyze and optimize your ads for better returns.

Cons of Display Advertising

As with all digital marketing channels, there are some downsides to display marketing ads.

Banner blindness is a real thing. We’re so used to display ads at this point that a lot of the time we unintentionally ignore them. What this means is the click-through-rate of display ad campaigns is much lower than for other campaign types.

As if banner blindness wasn’t enough to contend with, adblocker technology has advanced, so it’s harder to find placements that will actually reach your audience. Some of this is Google deliberately cornering the market for its own display network. As a result, many media outlets now have an opt-in choice for their audience, to let users know that display ads support their platform and asking them to disable Adblock.

Media Shark Display Advertising

Though you now know the answer to what is display advertising, setting up successful campaigns is still a struggle for many businesses.

One of the most common downfalls companies have with display advertising campaigns is a lack of return on investment. This is usually because they haven’t targeted a specific audience or are using lackluster images. Without these two key elements, many display ad campaigns can incur high costs with minimal positive results in return. 

Media Shark can help your business strategize your display ad campaigns to target specific audiences with visually stunning images. We do this by utilizing information on user behaviors like topics, interests, intents, and demographics to place the right ad with the right people. Find out more about how Media Shark Digital Marketing Strategies can help your business today.checkTopic ApprovedHow Does Media Shark Plan for a Product Launch?

Learn how Media Shark prepares for a product launch, and how they utilize advertising to get out the word about your new production.


searchTarget Keywords: media shark


forwardNext Steps

Our writing staff has created this topic suggestion for your review. Once approved, we will begin writing a full blog post on this topic.checkTopic ApprovedMedia Shark’s Ad Optimization for Phone, Tablet, and More

Learn how Media shark uses ad optimization for phone, tablet, and more. Reach more customers by making ads accessible on all devices.


searchTarget Keywords: media shark


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