5 Things You Need for Compelling Online Display Ads

Regardless of your sector, online display ads are a valuable tool. But if you’re not using banners and ad creative correctly, chances are your campaign won’t work. Or worse – it’ll annoy your audience and turn them away. Here are five pieces of advice that really work for improving the effectiveness of online display campaigns.

1. Audience Research

Let’s say, for example, your client has approached your agency with a little skepticism about the effectiveness of online display ads. Their concern is largely fueled by negative feedback from customers about their last campaign where the same banners were plastered across all of the websites that they visited. As a result, no one was converting.

So, how can you turn those negative experiences into positive ones and increase conversions along the way? By identifying your audience’s browsing habits and making sure your advertising correlates with their interests. This is where programmatic display planning really comes into play.

The automated and highly useful tool places ads on relevant websites and targets specific users who fit the appropriate profile. One of the key benefits is that the automated campaign detects when the targeted demographics aren’t clicking through and discards them automatically, therefore reducing waste. It constantly expands its reach to target more users who share the same browsing profiles, effectively creating an ever-evolving network for ad content distribution.

2. Campaign Tracking

If you’re not using an automated system such as Marin or Kenshoo to review your strategy, make sure the tracking on your campaign is accurate and up to date at all times. Google Tag Manager and Facebook Pixel Tracker can help determine whether codes are being tracked correctly. Keep an eye on how your ads are performing so you know what’s working and what needs to change.

Fortunately, with online advertising, you can track specific conversions from specific ad content. Make sure Google Analytics is set up correctly, as well as Google Analytics Custom Campaigns, which will help you see from a high level how your ads are performing. To do that, simply create a customized URL for each ad and compare the performance of each ad against another to filter what’s working. You can find all you need to set that up here.

3. Creative

Display advertising is a highly visual medium, so don’t waste your time using boring or nonsensical images. Wow your audience with great design or photography that makes an emotional connection.

For example, in our own experience working with a prominent children’s charity, we found that we were getting far more click-throughs when we used images of the young people the charity worked with.

In the retail world, showing off actual products will generate more click-throughs than just a company logo. Retargeting really helps drive conversions in this instance, as this form of display advertising targets users who have already visited your site and follows them on their online journey. Seeing images of products or services that they have viewed and perhaps considered purchasing drives conversions – almost like a friend tugging on their sleeve and saying “Oh, go on! Just do it!”

4. Customized Landing Pages

When it comes to conversion and tracking, it really pays to send incoming traffic to specific landing pages for each ad, rather than sending everyone to the homepage. Why? It allows you to personalize your message and present your visitors with the exact information they’re looking for in response to your advertisement. It gives you an opportunity to really encourage them to make a conversion or engage. It also allows you to track and review campaigns, as the click-through rate for each page will be an indicator of success.

(Note: Make sure you block these custom landing pages from the search engines to thwart any duplicate content issues.)

These specific landing pages should be optimized for a specific conversion. A simple design that is heavy on conversion rate optimization (CRO) and has a strong call to action is the way to do it. The goal is to coax the user toward a desired outcome, so ask yourself what you want the user to do and figure out how to make it happen.

A good way of seeing what’s working and what isn’t is to utilize A/B testing. You can then determine which design performs the best and generates more of the desired outcome. This, in turn, helps you make an informed decision on how your pages should be structured.

5. Budget Wisely

Nailing the budget is perhaps the hardest and most important part of the process. Once everything is in motion, it’s important to monitor how the campaign is performing and establish as quickly as possible where funds are best spent and to make that decision based on cold, hard facts. If something isn’t working, don’t hold out in hopes that it does; change it as soon as possible and make sure you’re not wasting money, or worse—annoying the wrong users and creating negative feelings about your brand.

Not one of these five areas of focus is more important than the other when it comes to effective online display. Turn to your data into insights about who your audience is and how to best communicate with them. Personalize your efforts to make all aspects of the journey to conversion a positive and exciting experience. Monitor performance and spend, then make adjustments for continuous optimization. If you get these five steps right, you’ll be on the fast track to better online display ads.

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