Bradley Nickel

Online Marketing Guy |

5 min read

Display Advertising: It’s Not All About Banners and Visuals

(Note: this is a guest post from our good friends over at Bannersnack, an easy-to-use banner creation tool. Enjoy!)

Running a successful advertising campaign on any search network can be challenging.

But let’s face it, search advertising is much easier to understand, follow and optimize compared to display advertising. Don’t get me wrong, search campaigns can be a pain to deal with as well, but overall they are more accessible and offer a much clearer view of your progress and results.

Display advertising, on the other hand, hides many secrets. Making sense of what’s actually going on can be quite difficult. Measuring the direct performance of a display campaign can be misleading because giving credit based on first or last click ignores the impact of other customer touch points during the path to conversion.

Focusing on metrics like CTR and direct conversions can give you a false view. These metrics provide limited insights into the benefits of multi-channel marketing.

View Through Conversions

Most people forget about other metrics. For example, “View Through Conversions” is a good metric to follow. This metric provides additional information related to the value of your display campaigns. (For those of you who don’t know what a “View Through Conversion” is, this metric refers to conversions that came from users that saw your ads but didn’t click on them.)

Metrics like “View Through Conversions” can make measuring the return on investment (ROI) for your display campaigns easier, offering better insights that will help you optimize your campaigns based on how your users interact and respond to your display ads.

A smart banner will get you attention. But is it enough?

It’s true that the right banners can make your campaign stand out. A good design has the potential to spread your message to a large audience. If you have access to a professional designer then you are ready to go, and you might get it right from the start.

Cheaper alternatives are also available. For example, tools like Bannersnack offer a large variety of ready made banner templates for various markets. All display campaigns need to test a lot of banners. Having the ability to quickly create and modify banners is a big plus.

A correct way of A/B testing is done by making slight variations of your banners. Testing elements like CTA, colors, images and backgrounds or value proposition against each other one by one.

For example, you can test 2 different CTAs, wait until you have enough data to determine the winner, implement that change to all banners, and move on to the next test.

Having an outstanding banner set is for sure a key element in your display campaigns, but ignoring all other aspects of the campaign can hurt you more than you think. Banner design plays a relatively small role in the setup and optimization process. A slight increase in your CTR won’t give you the necessary edge over your competitors.

Rising above your competitors won’t be an easy task. That’s why I’ve prepared a list of steps that you’ll need to pay attention to before and after launching your campaigns.

1. Target the right audience

Targeting the right audience is vital to your campaign’s success. If you are just starting with display advertising, I strongly recommend that you start with a remarketing campaign first. By doing this you can be sure that your ads will be displayed to people already interested in your product or service and the chance of converting will be much higher.

One of the reasons why retargeting works is because you have a much better control over your audience. You can segment them as much as you want. You might be surprised to hear that 98% of your paid ads could be a colossal waste of money. A big part of that waste is due to poor targeting.

2. Have the right landing page

Having different segments will be a big plus when setting up your landing pages. Customers interact with your site differently and expect different things. That’s why you need to customize your landing pages in a way where everyone gets exactly what they want.


For example, if a customer came to your site looking for running shoes but left without buying, you can create a segment to target them. Then, you can send them to a landing page that offers them running shoes (instead of hiking shoes) when they come back to your website through a remarketing ad.

3. Create relevant banners

Your banners are only as good as your landing page. As I said before, you might get it right and create an amazing ad that has all the right qualities to grab your customer’s attention – a clear and visible logo, a clever message, and a clear CTA – but if you don’t align your banners with your landing page your efforts will be in vain.

It needs to be clear that the ad they click accurately represents what they get once they see your landing page.


4. Track your ad placement

Keep a close eye on your ad placement reports.

Exclude placements that aren’t appropriate and are eating through your budget.

Don’t exclude too many placements when dealing with remarketing campaigns. Remarketing isn’t as much about showing your ads showing on relevant sites, as it is for targeting based on the user’s behavior.

However, if you see a site that generates a lot of impressions/clicks, but no conversions, you can exclude those and focus more on better-performing placements.

5. Set the right schedule

Running your campaigns based on the best performing hours can save you a lot of money. Identify the best performing hours and run your ads accordingly. This will further increase your chances of conversion and lower your cost-per-acquisition.

You can establish your best performing hours and days of the week by tracking conversions with Google Analytics.

6. Target the right devices

Even though mobile and tablet devices have a huge role when it comes to advertising, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are right for every business. Mobile devices can generate a lot of traffic but you need to be sure that your website is mobile-friendly and can actually convert mobile visitors.

Although it’s already 2016 and mobile usage has surpassed desktops and laptops for some time now, there are still many businesses that are not prepared to cope with the increasing number of visitors from mobile devices.


Not all businesses need a strong mobile presence. Spending too much money on mobile advertising can be ineffective for certain businesses and markets.

For example, a B2B SaaS product that’s used mainly on desktops/laptops might not benefit as much from mobile advertising. Of course, there are exceptions. You need to test and find out if mobile advertising works for your market.


By now it should be clear it’s not all about banners and visuals. Display advertising can be as complex as you want it to be, and you should always look for ways to improve and expand.

There are no shortcuts to success and getting to the desired performance can take a long time. So my piece of advice for you is to go out there and try new things. Your ads and the way they look is important, but sometimes knowing how to target and how to be relevant it’s all it takes to have a successful campaign.

Marc Ostrofsky famously said:

“Relevance is a search engine’s holy grail. People want results that are closely connected to their queries.”

This applies to ads too.

Questions? Comments? Let me know in the comments below!

Bradley Nickel

Online Marketing Guy |


  1. Good article, Display Network still looks to me like a campaign that attracks more useless than useful trafic. Especially automatic placements. Instead of sieving through poor placements and blocking them it’s far better to write attractive ads for Search Network. At first GDN is impressive, so many clicks, so many new visitors, but once we get that result is not following and we do not see hords of new customers, it becomes clear that GDN is good for clicks but not conversions.

  2. Insightful article. Display advertising is still very new to me but it has more worth my money benefits for my business. I think for a campaign to succeed it requires well planned laid out set up to leverage most of these professional search engine optimization services and digital marketing.



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