A Brief Introduction to the Wide World of Display Advertising

This post kicks off our Digging Into Display (#DigIntoDisplay) advertising series. Be sure to check back daily for additional posts intended to help you maximize your understanding and performance of display advertising campaigns!

BlogTile_3To say “I want to run some display ads” is a bit like saying “I want some shoes”. The first thing the person you’re talking to is going to do is most likely say “Ok,…” then ask a series of questions to get more of an idea of what you’re looking for. “What do you want to use the shoes for?” “Do you need dress shoes or running shoes?” “Do you want to target new audience members or returning folks?” “Where do you want to reach this audience?” There are more questions than answers. Over the course of the next couple weeks, we’re going to be writing a series of posts designed to help you get more out of your display strategy, but we want to set the stage.

Targeting Types

Within “display advertising”, there are numerous different types of targeting that can yield very different results. Within the Google Display Network, arguably the channel with the lowest barrier to entry, there are tons of different types. Some exist solely in the GDN like Gmail Sponsored Promotions, but others, like remarketing are seemingly across all channels at our disposal.

In addition to the GDN, there are also a number of programmatic display channels out there. These tend to reach folks outside of the GDN (though many of them also tap in through DoubleClick) so your reach can be expanded a bit. Some of these solutions focus on specific areas such as mobile, but others are broad reaching and provide larger audiences. These networks, although they achieve the same goals, can be a bit intimidating for the new-to-them advertiser as they can often use different KPIs and lingoes.

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.13.11 AMNative advertising is yet another form that can impact your efforts similarly to those above. Rather than using ad servers like in programmatic or DoubleClick, native ads allow you to go right to the source and can often provide additional customizations based on the site and it’s preferences. Like the image above, IMDb makes some serious use of native advertising. It’s important to note here that both Yahoo and Bing either have or are working on native ad solutions for their platforms.

Additionally, depending on the strictness of your definition, social ads can also be considered a form of display advertising. You’re using the channels in a similar fashion to the GDN by focusing your efforts on a given audience whether they be tagged or accessed via a persona. Moral of the story, although they can be very different and may have different strengths, many different solutions can provide the same types of advertising.

Ad Type Differences

rab-oyster-facebook-news-feed-adWithin each of these ad channels, there are also numerous different solutions for ad types. For the GDN, we’re used to predominantly using text ads and image ads, but not all networks are the same way. Social ads tend to combine a visual and a longer text component in even the most basic ad formats. Video tends to be, well, video focused. Native ads can be a multitude of different options depending on the site’s settings and abilities.

Programmatic ads also have a wide range of types. Many ad units can be dynamically generated based on the user’s interests. These ad units can easily insert the relevant information in holes in an ad format to fit what that person most likely is looking for. The same can be done in many mobile specific networks. These ads can be dynamically generated based on user location to help inform their real-time decision making process.



Long story short (too late), the phrase “display advertising” can cover many different pieces. Throughout our series, we hope to increase your knowledge of some, maybe introduce you to a couple, but mostly we hope to help give you some tips and ideas to improve your display advertising performance for yourself or your clients.

Be sure to check back each day for more display advertising goodies! Enjoy!