Over the past year or two, many advertisers who rely heavily on digital marketing as part of their direct response strategy that has traditionally focused on search engine marketing (SEM) and Email advertising have been dipping their toe into Display advertising.  Historically, those advertisers have viewed Display as part a branding channel of the digital ecosystem based on the silo approach of direct response and brand advertising in many companies.

As long time display channel advertisers know, display is very broad and covers a lot of different types of media inventory, buying sources as well as endless targeting options. So it is certainly a channel that can be utilized for any type of purpose or business goal.

Given this array of targeting options, what are the main strategies that successful display advertisers employ for their marketing campaigns?   Some of the top strategies include:

For the last 2 years, every company from Google to small agencies have been promoting retargeting for their marketing campaigns quite simply because it works almost every time. Essentially, retargeting involves targeting visitors to a client’s website (usually who didn’t take the desired action of filling out a form, buying a product, etc.) and serving them display ads as they browse around the web on various sites.  The basic premise being that because of their prior visit, this audience group has a higher likelihood than the average person to eventually take that desired conversion action.

Figure 1: Retargeting (Site) Example Workflow

This form of display targeting in principal works in a similar manner to how a TV or print advertiser decides which television network and show or news publication to buy media advertising.

If you are offering a finance product, chances are that your messaging appearing on publisher sites like Yahoo! Finance or Bloomberg will have a greater likelihood of resonating with an audience than a lifestyle site like Babycenter. This extends in a similar vein when you are talking about demographics such as age, gender, income levels, etc.

One of the limitations of retargeting is that your volume is limited to the audience that has visited your site. Thus, the only way to grow this volume is by increasing traffic to the site. Many companies have sprung up in recent years in part to help fill this void by selling data to advertisers and their marketing/technology partners to increase the qualified pool of people to target. There are many forms of this data, but a couple of the major forms include prior browsing habits on other sites and prior search engine queries.
For example, if you are a travel advertiser selling hotel accommodation in Las Vegas and you can target someone who recently searched for that in a search engine or indeed was browsing on another travel site but did not convert, that is a valuable audience to target.
It is important to state that this data is not personally identifiable and does not contain information that an individual would consider private like a social security number, credit card details, home address, etc.   

Another benefit of display advertising, which differs from SEM, is the ability to target an audience directly. Therefore if you have a multi-stage funnel sales process as most businesses tend to have, marketers can message people individually to both the stage of the funnel that the customer is in or tailor to the specific product or service he or she may be interested in.

For example, if you are a retailer who sells red and blue shoes of various brands, you can dynamically serve that particular product or similar products to a consumer who browsed that particular product page on your site. In a similar vein, in a multi-funnel process if the marketer is in the publishing business that is offering a free 7 day trial, the company can serve those that have not signed up for the trial different messaging to those that have but not committed to a full paid subscription.

Real Time Bidding probably requires a whole series of posts and as Display (and other forms of digital) advertising continues to evolve, will probably viewed less as a strategy and rather the default best practice of how media is bought and sold. Without getting overly technical, RTB is bidding for each individual impression each time a given publisher site loads. When applied with a robust algorithm and advanced platform that is able to bid for that inventory with the ROI criteria for a given advertiser in mind, it allows for each impression of media to be priced correctly given the browser who may be exposed to the creative message.

With all these Display strategies, there is lot of complexity that can be employed to maximize ROI and to avoid redundancy in marketing outlay. Ultimately, not only should these campaigns be optimized correctly and efficiently as standalone marketing efforts, they should be tracked and optimized in conjunction with other online media channels like SEM and social media to ensure the best possible return for ad spend.

Chris Jacob