Position your Display Ads to Perform
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Position your Display Ads to Perform

April 7th, 2013, By

This article is about the performance of Display advertising in channels such as Google Display Network (GDN) and Facebook. It discusses how to use a medium that traditionally serves brand advertising, for direct lead and client acquisitions. Using elaborate direct response methods with a multilevel attribution approach is the key to success.


Display is more challenging than Search advertising, as a client acquisition channel. Compared with Google search, targeting is not as accurate, data is more obscure and optimization is not always straightforward. Yet, Display is improving in all of those aspects and the sheer scale of Display inventory combined with better tools – makes it a lucrative medium for direct response marketers.


Display advertising targets audience by three main categories:

  1. Where they are browsing now – contextual targeting or CTX, specific placements, broad topical categories
  2. Where they have been before – surfing history, or “behavioral targeting”, retargeting, interests
  3. Who they are – age, gender, workplace, status, other demographic attributes

Display targeting tools

The marketing goals for Display advertising are usually: driving demand, building an audience and acquiring new users.
The targeting tools available to achieve these goals include:

  • Re-targeting (or remarketing) – targeting users who already visited our site.
  • Keyword-based targeting – targeting web pages containing certain keywords
  • Topic-based targeting (broader than keyword)
  • Profile-based targeting (i.e. women between 25-40)
  • Interest-based targeting – users who display interest in the defined topic, through previous browsing, interaction with related pages etc.
  • Placements – direct targeting of pre-defined websites


A good Display ad strategy will combine and test multiple targeting strategies in order to isolate and focus on the most valuable user segments. Add to that the generic targeting attributes available in GDN and Facebook (location, device, language) and you get a powerful targeting engine and substantial reach.


Where are we in the funnel? Depending on product ticket price (in $$ value as well as the effort involved in using the product) and existing awareness level – Display can serve in either the bottom or top of the funnel, or both. Raising awareness via display advertising can be effective alongside other push media channels. For online-based products, it is one of the most effective demand-creation mediums.


Measuring the results of your Display ads should also take attribution into account. As mentioned, users may need several interactions with your brand and product before they buy in. Often, the “last click” to which the conversion is usually attributed, will not come from Display but from a search on your brand name, or through direct browsing at your site.


How to calculate the value of Display ads?

There are two main methods:
Attribution – in Google analytics and all other major analytics systems – there’s some sort of “click stream to conversion” measure showing all the touch points a user had with your site until conversion occurred. You will find it in Google analytics conversions tab -> multi-channel funnels.
Assign a certain “assist” value to Display wherever the channel had a part in the user’s conversion journey, then add the value of direct conversions generated by Display to attain the overall value of the channel.


Multiplication – this model applies to a relatively ‘sterile’ market – where no other promotions are running simultaneously and you have stable benchmark data on your performance.
Run your Display campaigns and measure the impact in several criteria:

  • Number of direct visitors
  • Number of searches on your brand name
  • CTR on your search ads

Assign a value to each of these criteria and add the value of direct conversions to get overall value.


Summary Display ads are an important part of a well-designed marketing strategy. Utilizing and synchronizing channels so that users get a unified and complete exposure of your product is important. While Display doesn’t always shine in “last click” performance measurement, it’s important to create additional metrics for evaluation and optimization. Use the scale of Display with smart targeting to create more awareness, more demand, and more conversions.