Whether you call them display ads or banner ads, the burning question most marketers have is do they work? According to Comscore, the average person is served more than 1,700 banners per month. It’s even more if you fall into the coveted Millennial generation (25-34). They get served more than 2,000 banners a month. Which brings us back to the question do display ads work? We say yes. With a little bit of extra love, display campaigns can and do work.

Set Your Expectations

The first banner ad was launched by AT&T on October 27, 1994. It had an amazing 44% clickthrough rate (CTR). Today, it’s a little different.

  • Average CTR: 0.35%
  • Average CPM: $2.80
  • Average CPC: $0.75

While CTRs have decreased, display ads can be hyper-targeted to reach your audience so the clicks you do get are more likely to be quality clicks. Here are a few other tips for using display ads effectively.

Start with Retargeting

Go after the warm leads. These users have been to your website and left without converting. They are already interested in your product or services so your banner doesn’t have to work as hard. Retargeting to them with an offer or stronger call to action will help you get some banner wins.

Create Every Size Banner. DON’T FORGET MOBILE

It’s easy to think that the bigger the banner the better the CTR. That might be true in some cases but you also have to remember that not all websites support all sizes. If you only make one or two sizes, you are limiting the number of places your ad can be served. While it might be easy to forget mobile ads, don’t. More than 50% of web traffic comes from a mobile device.

Keep it Simple

Think of your display ads as online billboards. You only have a few seconds to catch the attention of a user. Keep your banners simple with a strong call to action. Tell the user what you want them to do – click, download, explore, etc. When you drive by a billboard you probably don’t notice the ones full of text. It’s the same with an online banner. Use striking visuals to catch the user’s eye and keep text to a minimum. Let your website do the heavy lifting. Your banner just needs to get them there.

Don’t Set It and Forget It. Optimize.

To get the most out of your digital campaign, spend time each week evaluating your account. Look at the data. Are you getting the exposure you want? Are the right customers seeing your ads? Are you getting any clicks? If not, make tweaks to your budget and placement. Look at underperforming ads, can you change the image or the CTA? Sometimes changing just one or two words or even a color can make a world of difference.

Be Smart with Targeting

Don’t simply target everyone. You’ll get lots of impressions but few conversions. Instead, go for quality clicks by really thinking about the audience you want to reach. What kind of customer do you want to attract? What do they like? What parameters do you want to set? For example, if you’re a car wash, set targeting to not show ads when it’s raining. Exclude mobile games so you aren’t wasting impressions on accidental clicks and kids.

What it comes down to…

  • Display ads work when you show ads to the correct people at the correct time.
  • Simple is better. Keep your ads clean, visual, and with a clear CTA.
  • Be sure to create all the top ad sizes — don’t forget mobile.
  • Optimize. Optimize. Don’t set it and forget it. Spend time evaluating the data and make enhancements to get the results you want.

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