The practice of advertising on websites or apps or social media channels through banners or text formats, images, flash, video & audio is called display advertising.  In this online form of advertising the promotional messages of a company appear on the third-party websites or the search engine result pages, such as publishers or social networks.

Investing in the right format of display ads is important for B2B marketers as the prospects for B2B marketing are scattered across numerous referral sites & hence, it gets entirely arduous and essential to track both the opportunities as well as revenue generated from each display ad. Display advertising can be a mystical practice for B2B companies as they are paying for impressions & clicks on other websites, that they don’t own.

Display ads differ from search ads in numerous ways. With display advertising, one can target niche-specific audiences that might have shared interests in other niches or related niches. For example, if the target audiences work in Information technology (IT), then an intelligent guess also implies that they might also have some interest in web security or technological news sites. Thus, display ads can be used to target those audiences that are likely to visit other or related niche sites.

As compared to the search ads, display ads have lower Cost-Per-Clicks (CPCs), lower Click-Through-Rates (CTRs) as well as lower conversion rates. The display ads are primarily employed for brand awareness. One can also upload email lists to “warm-up” leads to one’s brand, just before the sales outreach.

According to a report by SEMrush top performing ad sizes identified by Google were also amongst the most frequently seen ad sizes so far in 2019, i.e. 728*90 & 300*250. Leaderboard ads (728*90) were the most popular ad size for advertisers in the shopping niche. The study established that the display network of Google reaches 90% of global internet users.

A study by comScore reveals that 210 million unique visitors see ads served by Google Display Network each month in the US.  

According to a report by Bannerflow display ads with videos have 18.4% better Click-Through-Rates (CTRs). 

For the marketers in the display network, audience targeting is a crucial part of success. Targeting can help the marketers in reaching to the prospects by tracking their interests, demographics, their relationship with a brand (whether existing or new customers) & the funnel-stage they belong to. If the targeting is not impactful enough, display ad campaigns can be easily spoilt. Getting the targeting right is a deal-maker or breaker when it comes to displaying advertising.

Different formats of display ads are perceived differently & reacted to differently by the prospects. Hence, for marketers venturing into display ads, it is important to choose the right format, as thus, they will be able to make most of the medium as well as, will be able to optimize the Return on their Marketing investment (ROMI). The following might act as essential addendums to display ads:

  • Videos
  • Rich Media Ads (Expandables): 

These comprise of the flash files that may expand when the user act together on mouseover (polite), or auto-initiated (non-polite)

  • Overlays: 

These comprise of the ads that are placed over a piece of content & can be removed by clicking on a close button

  • Interstitials: 

These ads are displayed on the webpages before the anticipated pieces of content (before the target page is displayed on the screens of the users)

  • Sponsorships: 

These ads include a logo or addition of a brand to the design of a website. This can also fall under the realm of native advertising, which is an ad that looks like Editorial, or “In-Feed”, but has been paid for

  • Programmatic Display Advertising or Real-Time Bidding (RTB):

In this activity, advertisers manage their activities through a technology platform (Demand Side Platform) & bid to advertise to people in real-time, across multiple websites, based on certain targeting criteria, rather than booking for an advertisement to run directly in synchronization with a website. This advertising model allows more control to the advertisers, as they can control the person they advertise to, rather than just deciding on a website to place their ads on.

How to Target Prospects with Display Ads

Marketers need to be very careful in setting & targeting options being utilized in the display advertisements. Display advertising requires a lot of patience & can take a bit longer to give positive ROI, depending upon the buying cycle associated with a particular product. Many companies such as Intuit, Salesforce & Zendesk already use display advertisement to optimize for their leads & sales

Jonathan Dane, the Founder of KlientBoost, and Kite, a PPC and CRO agency, stated:

Marketers spend a lot of time thinking about their buyers — who they are, what they need, and how to reach them.

But when a precious prospect clicks your ad, your landing page form hits them with the conversion equivalent of a cold wet towel:

*Name: 
*Phone Number: 
*Email:
*required field

What does this form really say? “I want your information, but I don’t want to know anything about you.”

Is that the message you’re trying to send? Even if you’ve optimized your landing page for engagement, your form needs to be a seamless extension of your sales message. A guide, if you will, that leaves a trail of breadcrumbs for users to follow and use as a basis for action.”

Following are the 5 imperatives of designing effective display advertising campaigns:

1. Establish the Best Sources for Traffic i.e. the aptest Ad Networks:

To get quality traffic on the landing pages & to optimize the website conversion rates, B2B enterprises need high-quality sources of traffic. The marketers need to preferably target the highly-specific audience classes made up of business owners & decision makers & there aren’t often enough “affiliate traffic sources”.

Most frequently used networks for display ads are as under:

a. Google Display Network: 

Google Display Network on Google AdWords provides the quality traffic & scalability & hence most B2B marketers use Google as the prime source of their traffic. 

According to AdSense, over 2 million published websites use the ad serving platform by Google, out of which nearly 5% are removed every year by Google through an automated process.

With Google, one needs to be 100% transparent & needs to back up all the claims made in ads with legitimate pieces of evidence. One needs to explain one’s offers & comply with a privacy policy, in which one should disclose how they manage the privacy of users.

b. BingAds: 

BingAds are second to Google in terms of fetching traffic. Publishers on the platform are of higher quality. However, the downside to the platform is that they have fewer publishers as compared to Google. 

BingAds can be a great addendum for B2B companies that are already excelling with their Google campaigns.  

c. Native Ad Networks such as Outbrain:

Native Ad Networks are the most recent & grandest ad networks. They serve the “Recommend” & “Around the Web” ads on large publishing display websites, such as Huffington Post, Business Insider & Forbes. This implies that different formats for landing pages & advertisements are aligned with these platforms. Often, large advertisers such as Salesforce use Native Ad Networks to drive traffic to their blog posts or white papers. 

Prospects are enticed by the pieces of content to opt-in & receive more information & eventually are guided down through the sales funnel. Some of the largest Native Ad Networks include Outbrain, Taboola, rev: content & Content.Ad.

d. Direct Buys: 

When the inventory is purchased directly from the publisher & advertiser doesn’t consider ad networks and ad exchanges, a direct buy happens. This gives buyers the ability to negotiate for the best prices. One can often get a much better deal with a “Direct Buy” as compared to exchange or through a network.

2. Researching where your competitors are showing their Display Ads:

WhatRunsWhere is a tool that is used by media planners to gain intelligence on platforms where their competitors are showing their ads. Images of the ads, sites on which the ads of the competitors’ websites are being run, media buying channels used by the competitors, frequency of ads being published on separate platforms, ad strength rating (calculated based on the total time the ads are being shown), all can be unveiled. Competitively benchmarking the direct competitors within a niche, can help the marketers in deducing what are the best display ad practices within their network. Accordingly, it becomes easier for marketers to strategize & execute their display ad campaigns.

3. Strategize layer-targeting: 

The prospects on diverse platforms across the web can be segmented into several segments or layers based on several criteria viz. placement, contextual, interests, topics, demographics & geo or languages. Sifting one’s ad placements along these layers helps the marketers in finding the right audiences & in lowering the Cost Per Click (CPC) of the display ad campaigns.  

a. Placement layer: 

This layer defines the best sites for the display ads to appear. Certain ads perform remarkably well on certain websites & identifying those websites is critical & so is figuring out the platforms that can be worst for showing some niche-specific display ads.  

b. Contextual layer:

This layer includes Google playing a role in deciding on the domains of display ads, based on relevant keywords. If keywords are aligned with the SaaS websites, the ads will show on those websites.  As simple as that. 

c. Interest layer: 

Based on their site viewing behavior, the prospects are divided into several interest groups. This is another layer that is used to establish the relevant prospects for a brand.  

The marketers also need to differentiate between the affinity groups & the in-market groups. The affinity group comprises of users who prefer specific topics & keep abreast with the latest news or blogs relevant to those topics. In-marketing group comprises of prospects that are ready to buy & are actively researching for the cause.

The marketers need to test their display ads amongst both the groups, to establish which one works the best for them.

d. Topics Layer:

This layer comprises of people who possess their expertise in particular topics, but also show their interests in diverse other related or unrelated topics. Such display ads also help in retargeting prospects. 

e. Demographic or Geographic Layers:

The targeting can be further narrowed down based on age, gender & location of the prospects.

Often, a narrower audience base helps in architecting more targeted the display ad campaigns.

4. Discovering the available Media Options & Publishers:  

There are several media buying channels and industry-specific publishers, to get display ad campaigns started. These include non-Google display networks, Youtube video ads, & promotions that have been sponsored by Gmail. 

a. Youtube Ads:

B2B video ads can target entrepreneurial shows or how-to videos. Introspecting what business owners would like to watch is important. Video ads need to grab attention within 3 seconds (Source: bizible.com). Services like Fiverr.com & WickVideo can help in creating low-cost videos for testing purposes.  

Venturing in video-based display ads is a good idea; however, it’s not very smart to upfront invest a major chunk of marketing budget on creating video-ads. Starting by making small investments is advisable. Calculated risks pay off handsomely in video ads.

b. Ads sponsored by Gmail:

Marketers can target their competitors’ email domains in contextual layers, the domains as the target keywords. This tactic ensures that marketers can show their display ads every time prospects receive emails from their competitors.

Furthermore, business conferences and tradeshows that attract target prospects can be targeted by the marketers for their domains & specific keywords. Thus, the Gmail sponsored ads appear in the emails associated with those sponsored events.

c. Figuring-out appropriate publisher websites:

A “Publisher” refers to the website the marketers purchase their inventories from. Choosing irrelevant publishers is the foremost reason why display advertising campaigns fail. The “publisher website” should preferably be industry-dependent or relevant to a particular niche.

5. Evaluation of Display Ad Endeavors: 

For architecting impactful online advertising Google AdWords alone is sufficient. It tells marketers whether their ads are being seen & if they are generating enough clicks & conversions. However, there are additional tactics, as well, which can be used to amass deeper insights into display ad campaigns.

Let’s delve into the following most common practices for measuring display ads:

a. Using only AdWords:

In this single tool approach, a conversion pixel is placed on a “thank you” page. This method has some serious drawbacks:

  1. Conversions are counted every time a person fills up a form & there is absolutely no way to figure out which prospect downloaded which pieces of content. Thus, leads are double-counted or may be cloned several times
  2. There is absolutely no way to analyze the quality of leads being generated – whether they are from highly engaged and qualified buyers or an irrelevant information-seeker.

Looking at the above constraints it is advisable to connect AdWords data to a marketing attribution system, to figure out what proportion of the total leads being generated are qualified for a potential sale. 

b. Using Marketing Automation &  AdWords:

In this dual approach of display admeasurement, marketing automation tools & AdWords are used simultaneously which allows marketers to establish a correlation between clicks to leads, to establish which ads fetch the leads.

Employing Marketing Attribution: 

Using a triploid or three-system approach, comprised of a marketing attribution solution, a marketing automation tool & Google AdWords, gives a holistic view on the effectiveness of display ads.  

However, the major drawback of the dual approach is that it doesn’t show the marketers funnel velocity, i.e. how leads engage with the ads, whilst their journeys from the top to the bottom of the sales funnel.

The model connects top-funnel metrics such as view-through impressions to the final won leads & has the following advantages:

  1. It allows marketers to understand which ads led to a first click or which ones lead to conversions by aligning multiple touchpoints such as views, lead conversions & sales opportunity conversions
  2. It allows B2B marketers to understand the buyers’ journeys along often a long sales cycle (characteristic of display ads)
  3. It helps in dealing with multiple stakeholders from a single account
  4. Marketers can deduce which ads influenced maximum sales conversions
  5. It allows multi-touch attribution to understand which display ads & which publishing websites generate maximum Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) or influence deals. 

Wrapping It Up

Display Ads are not the channels for marketers seeking instant gratification; however, understanding the long-term value of display advertising, particularly in shaping brand equity, should be a good enough reason for marketers to venture into them.

According to the latest statistics published by eMarketer in 2019, display advertisement this year is projected to grow at a rate of 14.7% over the year in France, Germany, Italy, Spain & the UK, which would mean magical total worth of $17.3 billion in ad spend. 

However, it is astonishing how the marketers are still struggling with their display advertising campaigns. Following the steps mentioned in the blog, will help marketers in getting started with impactful display ads.  

Marketers need to plan their spendings on display ads & also need to measure the impact of their ads through the integration of attribution solutions, automation tools & Google AdWords. They also need to check for their preferred websites & measure the impact of display ads being displayed there. Excluding the useless channels is also equally important. 

Using the “customer match” feature from AdWords allows markers to create & target a custom audience group. This is a great technic for “warming up” the leads that have to be called. Display Ads can also be used for list-based targeting of key accounts.  

We, at Valasys Media, employ our tailored B2B services for optimizing the Return on Investment (ROI) for our B2B clients. Our lead generation services, appointment-setting services, content syndication services and account-based marketing services, all have been architected to help our clients with the furtherance of a perennially healthy sales pipeline, to help them achieve their universal bottom-line goals such as Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), optimization of customers’ experiences (CXO) & optimized sales revenues. For further details or any help with our services, feel free to get in touch with us.

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