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But in order to add some depth to our coverage of how display is changing and what you need to do to use it more effectively, it's helpful to look at some recent case studies.
Here are two from 2015 which demonstrated an innovative use of the medium to solve a business problem.
Case 1: ZUJI
ZUJI, a large Asia-Pacific online travel agency with nearly 2m visitors per month, faced an issue with its site visitors.
The problem was that people would click on its ads and search for flights but not complete the bookings. So essentially ZUJI was paying for people to come to its site and use it for price comparison, not buying.
And display ads, in particular, were not delivering paying customers as much as other channels, such as search engine marketing.
This can be a problem with display. Display creative is often too general to attract people who are ready to buy, so they are only used for generating awareness.
And because awareness is so hard to measure, advertising spend on display is often written off as an unmeasurable expense.
The new approach
Well, it seems ZUJI wanted to challenge that approach.
In order to get better value from display, ZUJI used Dynamic Content Optimization (DCO) for its ads and clever remarketing to get searchers back to the site to buy.
Specifically, ZUJI looked at users who had been to the site, examined their behaviour, and then bid higher to show ads to someone who was likely to be a customer.
That is, ZUJI segmented its display target audience by behaviour, not just by demographics.
Then, ZUJI used dynamic creative which showed personalized flight recommendations based on what the user had searched on.
So let's say as an example, someone came to the site and looked for flight from Hong Kong to Singapore and searched for multiple dates in April.
ZUJI would then use both the destination data points and the fact that the person wanted to travel in April to customize an ad which gave prices for that flight during April.
ZUJI published results which said that it enjoyed a 14% increase in digital bookings and achieved a 100x return on ad spend.
But the inspiration that other brands can take from this case study is that if all you are achieving from display is a difficult-to-measure level of 'awareness', then perhaps you need to try a new approach.
Segmenting your audiences by site behaviour, dynamic content optimization, and retargeting can all help to get high-value customers back to your site to buy.
Case 2: AirAsia
Following a devastating, high-profile crash in December of 2014, AirAsia wanted to rebuild customer loyalty as a people-driven brand while achieving a return on ad spend through conversions.
The new approach
The airline used Facebook to distribute short video content to instil confidence in the brand.
But, again, instead of using demographics for targeting, AirAsia segmented its audiences using data from its customer relationship management (CRM) system.
It extracted details from its CRM for three different types of customers:
- Those who bought an AirAsia ticket previously, but not since the incident.
- Those who bought a ticket after the incident.
- And those who travel AirAsia frequently and advocate the brand.
Once AirAsia had created these segments, it delivered tailored video display content to them and retargeted those who visited the site but did not purchase.
AirAsia also used Facebook Lookalike Audience generator to find more people who 'look like' its high-value frequent flyers.
According to the published case study, adopting this bespoke targeting strategy helped AirAsia share relevant content to the audience and drive high-value traffic to its site.
As a result, AirAsia achieved a 58x return on ad spend using lookalike audiences and a 30x return on the retargeting.
It achieved increased awareness from brand advocates and those who had not bought a ticket, but did not publish conversion figures.
As with the ZUJI case study, segmenting for display advertising can now go far beyond choosing the site on which ads are shown and demographic targeting.
We now can use our customer database, or CRM, to come up with segments which match our specific business requirements.
Using Facebook Custom Audience (and now Google has a similar service for GDN), AirAsia was able to deliver highly specific content based on its customers' interaction with the airline, both online and offline.
And by then using lookalike audiences, AirAsia was able to reach an audience who were more likely than most to be interested in its services.
As we've pointed out previously, display advertising is still one of the most popular ways to reach an audience in spite of the issues it will face in 2016.
But in order to get the most out of your display campaigns, it's good to know which new techniques and technologies can help with your ads.
Then if you're stuck using display for generating awareness, you can try out things like:
- Dynamic content optimization,
- behavioural targeting,
- or custom and lookalike audiences.
And try and achieve other business objectives.