Is Display Advertising Dead?

Racepoint Global

Written by: Christi Mazareas – Media Planner, Racepoint Global Boston

When planning a media campaign, the goal is to maximize the effect of advertising through the use of different, strategically selected mediums.  Each media component acts as a crucial piece of a holistic approach where media elements and platforms work together to support the campaign’s objective. But as a media planner, I have struggled to see the value of certain methods of display advertising (especially standard banners) and am often confused as to why we incorporate display into the majority of the media plans we make.

I think about my own habits as an online consumer and I don’t like display ads; I rarely click on them and most of the time think they’re disruptive and annoying. The truth is, the majority of users ignore display ads. According to LinkedIn, 92 percent of online banner ads go unnoticed or ignored; they’re overexposed and largely remain un-clicked by most people online.

In 2017, Display advertising made up over 50% of digital spending (over 16 billion). I had a hard time reconciling statistics like “the average click-through rate on a display banner is 0.1%. Surprisingly, we are more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad. So what’s the deal?

Simply put, display is an effective piece of a larger process (I’ve tried to think of these things in real life context). When we buy something in a retail store, we don’t credit the cashier for getting us into the store, do we? Think of display through a similar lense. Display banners serve as “introducers” and don’t expect them to produce high CTR’s or conversion rates. Sometimes, the value of something can’t always be measured with numbers.

Display advertising will work if it’s paired with the right content. We know through analytics that when a person first sees an ad, they’ll later search it or click after being retargeted with the same ad on social media. Display is a “top of the funnel tactic” to enhance awareness, association and interest of the purchase consideration period and path to conversion.

So what is the best way to use display?

Leverage display with retargeting:  Retargeting is the practice of serving ads to users based on their prior engagement. Retargeting has made banner ads relevant and website visitors who are retargeted with ads are 70% more likely to convert on your website. In one comScore study, retargeted ads lead to a 1,046% increase in branded search, a clear sign of heightened brand awareness and recall.

Use native or sponsored content:  Native advertising integrates high-quality content into the organic experience of a given platform. Native ad units conform to the design and feel of the sites on which they’re displayed, provides a more immersive user experience and surpasses display advertising on every engagement metric. Native ads with rich media like images or videos drive up to 60% more conversions than those without and reading a native ad headline yields 308 times more consumer attention than processing an image or banner. Furthermore, Sponsored content boosts favorability for the associated brand. A study by IAB and Edelman showed 54 percent of respondents looked more favorably on the site if the sponsored content is relevant to the site’s content.

Overall, native and video are revolutionizing display advertising. Tactics like retargeting are making standard banner ads relevant again. Although certain metrics may not tell the best story when strictly looking at display advertising, it’s not indicative of the brand lift and gaze duration that display ads undoubtedly generate. It’s important to look beyond metrics at times and realize the additional factors that contribute to user experience and recall.