Contrary to some reports, display advertising is alive and well.
However, marketers must rethink their approach if they want their online ads to drive engagement, clicks and conversion.
Is display advertising on the decline?
Anant Joshi, director of Meetrics, claims that half of all display advertising is never seen by web users (comScore puts this figure at 30%) and apparently the average click-through rate of a traditional (static) online advert is less than 0.1%.
However, spending on display advertising grew by 32.4% in 2013 (source: Nielsen), a bigger increase than in any other channel.
According to Econsultancy, 14% of marketers reduced spending on online display advertising in 2013, while 64% increased spending. Marketers clearly do believe it to be effective, and it’s not going anywhere.
Display advertising is predicted to grow by around 21% (2014 – 2016) and overtake the growth of search marketing in 2015.
Online display advertising needs to become more targeted, more personalised, more dynamic and more relevant to the digital consumer.
With the clever use of product-level content, display advertising can reach a whole new level, becoming functional and far more attributable.
1. Think about targeting
There’s more than one way to get your message to the right people. A clever mix of contextual targeting (putting your adverts on sites that are relevant to your products, perhaps through the Google Display Network) and audience targeting (serving up your content to the people most likely to enjoy it, based on their previous search behaviour and other data they have previously provided) should see you right.
The more specific you can set your criteria, the more efficient you can be with your budget, as the clicks you receive will be of a higher quality and more likely to convert. The key is to test, test, test (and of course refine) your strategy.
However you choose to get your display advertising to the most interested people, the content needs to be engaging in order to garner those clicks.
2. Remember, content is still king
Sorry, but there’s still no better way to say it. Your advertising needs to have the right stuff in it.
Martin Pavey, UK Country Director at Flashtalking, comments:
For advertising to work, and most importantly bring in creative ideas and increase marketing spend, the ads need to get better and start delivering a much better user experience – and that means bringing together high-quality data and high-quality creative… Engaging, targeted advertising driven by quality data makes me smile. It’s good advertising.
Instead of brand-led messaging that may be informative but won’t drive click-through, consider what could be achieved with product-led advertising.
Displaying a product’s attributes effectively may lead to engaging, useful adverts that genuinely assist someone with their buying decision.
3. Personalise adverts to increase engagement
But how do you decide exactly what content to put in your advert? The clever use of data, cookies and real-time information will allow marketers to create online display advertising that is relevant and personalised, engaging the right people with the right information.
You can unlock the sales potential in your ‘big data’ by presenting the right goods to the right people (at the right time).
For example, e-commerce retailers with all their product information (including product features and attributes) at their fingertips could deploy this into dynamic digital display ads, which consumers will be more likely to click on – and then convert through.
4. Create dynamic display adverts
Every advert needs to be eye-catching. With a growing fatigue around static banner adverts, we are bound to see marketers experimenting with more creative and engaging – and indeed more useful – ways of presenting their content.
Why not create dynamic adverts like these, which give consumers the ability to perform a product search within the advert?
The benefit of this type of advertising is clear: as well as putting more power into the hands of the consumer, you can take them directly to their chosen product page once they have filtered the features they desire, radically shortening the sales funnel.
This drives highly qualified traffic and improves sales conversion.
5. Use retargeting effectively to win back site visitors
One of the smartest and simplest ways to gain customers is by going after the people who have already been on your site. Retargeting isn’t new, but brands must be smarter about their approach.
Through real-time bidding, marketers can display an individually generated, relevant advert to the consumer, perhaps showing products they have saved for later, or products that are compatible with previous purchases.
Martin Connolly, Commercial Director at Ve Interactive, says:
If a customer leaves a site without purchasing, enticing them back to the site will only be successful if they are shown relevant content. Adverts need to be personalised so that they engage with the customer and incite a response.
Ad content must be creative in order to re-engage the customer, and should ideally include promotional text that focuses on additional product features to help the consumer contextualise the purchase.
6. Advertise in real time to aid conversion
As mentioned, real-time bidding can help adverts to convert better, as they are shown in the optimum location at the perfect time.
Sanjit Atwal, co-founder and CEO of Squawka, explains:
Consumer engagement is at its highest when tied to particular events or major (and timely) pieces of content through second screen devices. We have seen engagement levels up to ten times the industry average, proving that real-time personalised advertising works.
Harry Hurst, Business Development at Qubit, comments:
Delivering the right content at the right time is key to driving up overall visitor conversion rates. Having all the details about the product clearly outlined can make this targeted message a much more compelling call to action.
With AdAge reporting that Procter & Gamble will be buying 70% to 75% of its U.S. digital media programmatically by the end of this year, it’s very likely other marketers will follow suit.
But clever targeting and retargeting is worthless (and harder to track) if it’s not backed up by engaging content that actually encourages the user to click.
7. Back up your display advertising in other channels
Cross-promotion is crucial, and can help to extend the personalised, targeted experience that your display advertising has already provided.
Display adverts should be supported with a structured follow-up email and backed up within other channels: not only does this offer consistency to the customer and a nudge down the sales funnel, it can offer retailers with extremely useful insights.
If you already have a control of your product data, you can use this content outside of display advertising. All marketing channels, from social media to eCRM, can benefit from the detailed content marketing that this data allows for.
The secret to great display advertising? Great content.
High quality product data is the key to unlocking the potential of display advertising. If retailers want to improve the success of their display advertising, they need to use product data, consumer behaviour insights and real-time information in more innovative ways.
Everyone wants to see good adverts that target us with content that is useful rather than annoying, relevant rather than mistimed, and personalised as opposed to generic.
And realising the potential of this growing marketing channel is surely the way towards increased customer acquisition.