2 Secrets of Display Advertisers

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Propelled by big data and automation, direct response marketers have seen significant improvements of display advertising ROI through recent years. Sadly, most marketers are still held back by legacy processes and platforms that have prevented them implementing the practice of matching visitors with the right creative at the right time to improve ROAS. Lets examine two trade secrets that have raised the value of display across acquisition and retargeting.

The 1st Secret: Display does not have to be Expensive

Pricey full-page takeover ads are quickly fading into history as DSPs introduced greater media buying transparency. Making direct run-of-site (ROS) buys have proven to be an inefficient use of valuable media dollars. Why? ROS buys area a catch-all model, burning impressions against all visitors (ideal & non-ideal target profiles). Imagine a retailer such as Neiman Marcus wishes to market plum color Christian Louboutins during Fall 2013. At first glance to reach fashion-forward women, a media buy across Glamour.com might make sense. But Christian Louboutins shoes are pricey and probably not within the budgets of all Glamour.com visitors. For example, such ads would be irrelevant to the recent college graduate earning entry level wages. Get it?

Instead of casting a wide net with premium placements that carry CPMS between $10-100, the advertiser should hone-in on specific segments. Majority of publishers sell remnant inventory through ad-exchanges, at often much lower CPMS under $3. By layering on additional data-points through BlueKain (income, gender, education-level), marketers can purchase traffic based on very specific audience profiles.

Wouldn’t this strategy decrease a marketer’s reach? Ofcourse it would, but that is the point, make ad dollars work smarter. By decreasing the irrelevant impressions a marketer can re-allocate budget to increase frequency, messaging the correct customer type more often, across all channels.

Regarding retargeting, another frequent mistake marketers make: they shop for retargeting impressions across multiple exchanges. If the inventory is identical or has cross-over, the marketers are only bidding against themselves for each impression, driving up the cost. So stick to one retargeting vendor.

The 2nd Secret: How to Talk to the Right People

Retargeting offers digital marketers multiple opportunities to get the right message to the right visitor at the right time. But retargeting is not about re-messaging all visitors with the same generic brand message simply because they visited a site. No, that is called “stalking”.

In order to capitalize on retargeting, marketers do not need to architect an over complex big data strategy, yet they should work within a flexible framework to take action on visitor interest (the most lucrative insight).

Finding a retargeting partner that can manage rules creation while simplifying the setup process is crucial. Digital agency House of Kaizen found such a partner in Cognitive Match who specializes in dynamic creative optimization. Cognitive Match’s ad-units build on the fly depending on the visitor profile (think of a photoshop layer). This approach decreases the workload on creative staff because instead of requiring dozens of individual ad-units to cater to multiple personas, a graphic designer only needs to produce a handful of elements (headlines, main images, call to action buttons). Then the retargeting rules of Cognitive Match can govern which creative variation should populate the ad unit.


Display advertising has a vital role in any marketing strategy. However, maximize the spend by utilizing big data to make specific, deliberate and thus smarter media buys.