Display advertising was a booming business during the early days of the Internet. It has since waned in popularity as Internet users succumbed to banner blindness. Few marketers use display advertising as a form of performance marketing anymore. However, it still has a valuable role in branding.

If you are trying to create a branding campaign, you can’t ignore the benefits of display advertising. You just need to create a well-executed strategy.

The right and wrong ways to use display advertising

Around the turn of the century, some of the largest brands made a killing running simple banner ads to their sites. Even inexperienced affiliate marketers were able to create campaigns making $50,000 a month or more by running simple banner ads to their partner sites.

Those days are long gone, because customers have started tuning them out. A 2013 study from InfoLinks found that 86% of customers suffer from banner blindness.

Or do they? Banners may not work as well for performance marketing anymore, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their place.

The reality is that customers don’t ignore banners altogether. They simply aren’t likely to engage with them. Their subconscious mind still notices them. If you choose the right distribution channels, negotiate competitive bids and create well optimized banners, you can dramatically improve your brand with display advertising.

Here are some tips for brands that want to lose their reach and standing with customers through display advertising.

Select Highly Relevant Digital Magazines for Placements

Choosing the right web properties to advertise on is incredibly important. I have found that digital magazines tend to perform the best for a couple of reasons:

  • People are highly engaged when reading digital magazine content. They will be more focused on your ads than people that read generic news sites or browse social media.
  • You can reach a much more targeted audience. If you find an online magazine with the same demographic as your customer base, then you will do well with it.

You need to use Alexa or another demographic analysis tool to make sure the site appeals to your target customers before bidding on it for placements. It is also important to make sure the site is well-designed, because that tends to reflect the level of engagement of their readers. I find that online magazines that use grouping design elements tend to have superior engagement.

Highlight benefits over your call to action

When you use ads in a performance marketing campaign, you need a very clear call to action. You must make sure the ad is consistent with your conversion goal for the campaign to pay off.

Your call to action is not nearly as important when you are creating a branding campaign. Instead of focusing on it, you should use your ads to highlight key selling points of your product. Viewers will pay attention to them and remember them down the road.

Go easy on flashy creatives

When banner blindness first became a real problem, marketers had to find more creative ways to make sure their ads stood out. They used animated GIFs to draw more attention.

These flashy creatives may modestly improve The ROI of your performance marketing campaigns, but they won’t help much with branding. They may actually hurt your brand image, because customers may feel that your brand is tackier.

You don’t need your ad to be a major attention grabber. It just needs to stand out enough that customers will remember the core message down the road.

Choose prime real estate placements

You don’t need your ads to stand out enough to get clicked. However, they can’t be so invisible that the customer never sees them at all.

When it comes to making sure your ads are seen, finding the right placements is usually a lot more important than choosing the right ads. Try to make sure your ads are shown above the fold and not clustered near a lot of competing ads. The 125×125 pixel ads that are shown in the sidebar with half a dozen ads won’t have much visibility. Using a 728×90 pixel ad at the top of the site will usually be much better.

Using a large, standalone ad at the bottom of the site can also work, provided that the CPM is low enough. However, keep in mind that it is much harder to test the ROI of a banner ad campaign, unless you are measuring conversions too. Since conversions will probably be limited, it is usually best to test ads that have the most exposure possible.

Banner Advertising Still Plays a Valuable Role in Branding

Digital advertising is constantly evolving. Some strategies have declined in popularity, but few have died out. Display advertising is a prime example. It hasn’t lost its relevance, but you need to embrace it as a branding strategy instead of using it for performance marketing.

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