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Display advertising has been getting quite a bit of attention in the search industry lately. With the introduction of Google re-targeting functionality on the content network, there is yet another compelling reason for search marketers to take a closer look at the world of display to enhance their search efforts.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before going live with your first display campaign:

Push or Pull? 

While there are similarities between paid search and contextual display advertising with regards to the use of keywords and the underlying auction system, they are still fundamentally different. Search is about pull (inbound, requested by the user) and display is about the push (outbound). Get into this mindset before formulating campaign strategy and not least the creative and call to action.


The question should actually be “what is the objective of the campaign; direct response or branding?”. CPC is most suitable when there are ROI objectives and CPM (cost per thousand impressions) is the often preferred model for branding exercises where the focus is on frequency and reach,

Text ads or Image ads?

Again, consider the campaign objective. Text adverts on a CPC model are typically the best choice for direct response as each click is working towards an ROI target. A possibly risky combination is to use text adverts on a CPM model. 

This is because text ads can quickly accrue massive amounts of impressions when qualifying for less prominent spots on high traffic sites which lead to a low CTR, and consequently an eye-watering effective CPC. Although, the actual results ultimately depends on the targeting and relevance of the advert.

Above or below the fold?

A particularly handy tool for branding campaigns is to make sure that the advert is being viewed in a prominent position to exclude placements that are below the fold. It’s just a tick box away in the AdWords settings.

What campaign structure?

When planning the account structure, consider the bidding strategies, i.e CPM versus CPC and daily budgets to assure efficient management as any one campaign can only have one type of bids. 

Contextual, placement targeted or both?

Contextual campaigns can assist in finding highly relevant content and discover niche sites. Analyse where the ads are showing, and move any high performing sites to specific site targeted campaigns to increase control. Further improve relevance by combining placement targeting with keywords.

Room to improve SEM conversion rate?

A very exciting new feature on the Google content network is the ability to re-target site visitors. For example, by placing a code snippet on the search landing page, and another snippet on the checkout page, it is possible to create a campaign targeting people who came through on paid search but did not convert and are now browsing sites connected to the Google content network with a personalised (by audience, not individual) offer to pull them back in to convert.

Need to learn more?

Study for the Google display advertising exam. The exam may not be available yet, but the study material is already online so what are you waiting for?

Magnus Nilsson

Published 22 April, 2010 by Magnus Nilsson

Magnus Nilsson is Managing Director at RED Performance, a Norwegian based performance agency. Follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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