Adams & Knight Marketing Blog

Does online display advertising still make sense?


Recent industry trends may have you wondering if online display ads are still worth doing.

First, Internet browsers Firefox and Chrome are making it even less likely that visitors will engage with your display ads. When Flash ads appear in these browsers, viewers will now have to manually click—sometimes twice—to play them and go to the advertised destination.

Second, Apple iPhone and iPad users are now able to block mobile display ads from appearing when they’re browsing the internet using Safari. With its iOS 9 release, Apple offers an app that users can install to specifically block this type of content and in the process speed up browsing ability on these devices.

Next, web traffic from generated by display ads is trending downward. In fact, industry sources, like Google’s Doubleclick benchmarking tool, peg CTRs for online displays at or below .1%.

And finally, native advertising is performing better than traditional display advertising. Business Insider, for instance, recently reported that native-mobile ads posted CTRs over 1%, significantly higher than display ads of any kind.

So, are these trends reason enough to abandon online displays entirely?

Not so fast. Here are three compelling reasons for keeping them in a strategic marketing mix.

#1: Widely supported alternative. While static ad formats and animated gifs are still supported across browsers and platforms, the industry is adopting HTML5 as the new standard for animated display ads. A better alternative for digital developers, HTML5 is not only more battery-power conscious than Flash, it can be viewed from all screens and mobile devices. And that means greater opportunities for messages to be seen (and heard).

#2: Brand awareness. Display ads are still a complementary component of integrated advertising campaigns. Animated or not, they can be effective in creating brand awareness and strengthening client loyalty. They are designed to make subconscious visual impact on viewers but NOT necessarily move them to act in the moment. Of course, viewers may occasionally click through a display ad, but “engagement” is a bonus. So, for instance, when it’s time to switch banks or buy insurance, who are prospects more likely to choose? A brand they recognize and trust (and that’s been in front of them) or one they’ve never heard of?

#3: Target marketing. Online display ads also offer flexibility and target marketing advantages to reach online audiences, including:

  • Precise demographic targeting. You can choose relevant content sites or segment by profile data, say on Facebook or by integrating third-party data providers into your digital campaign and other social media sites to direct your messages at the most receptive. And you can easily adjust messages for different audiences.
  • Retargeting. Designed to help non-converting website visitors into actual buyers, retargeting allows you to re-engage with people who already demonstrated interest for your offering, but haven’t pulled the trigger.
  • Geo-targeting. To maximize effectiveness, you can hyper-target buys for digital and mobile displays exclusively reaching audiences within your specific geographic locations, whether its at the zip code, zip-radius, or metro levels.

Indeed, display ads are far from dead. But marketers need to realize that mobile rules. So, as trends continue toward faster internet browsing on mobile devices, display ads will need to be utilized in the most effective ways possible. Even if those ways are changing.

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Denis Gendreau
Connection Planning and Analytics Manager
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Charles Schoenfeld
Sr. Web Developer
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