Display Ads Best Practices

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Whether you’re looking to improve your creative or adjust your audience segmentation, these display ads best practices for 2022 will help you optimize campaigns to improve performance.

1. Stick to the basics: branding, value prop, imagery, fonts.

Include the following somewhere in the ad or associated copy:

  • Your logo or company name.
  • A value proposition or message you want to convey.

What makes your business and your offerings different from your competition? Say this in fewer than 4 lines of text on your ad.

  • An image that represents the product or service, even if it’s abstract. (See tips below.)
  • Carefully chosen fonts.

Hard-to-read fonts can be detrimental to your campaign. Use a brand-aligned font that’s attractive and sized appropriately.

2. Use high-quality images and video assets.

Images should include the following:

  • Legible typefaces and crisp elements.
  • An overall design that matches the corresponding landing page. Keep it simple.
  • Product or service imagery; or
  • Imagery that represents the consumer problem you can solve or the positive emotion that your business offering causes.

3. Stand out from your competitors.

  • Use white space and defined borders that pass IAB standards.
  • Choose an enticing call-to-action.
  • Test multiple formats to see what your customers prefer. There are over 40 display ad formats on the Google Display Network. The top 10 performing banner sizes make up 90 percent of impressions.
  • Test messaging approach. If your competitor is speaking to a benefit of their product, try speaking to a customer’s specific pain point instead. If your competitor is being straightforward, use surprising language instead.

4. Be true to your brand.

  • Visual and tonal brand consistency is crucial across all marketing channels.
  • Avoid mixed messages and imagery – e.g., when clicking from the ad to the landing page – which can lead to users’ confusion and mistrust.

5. Have someone proofread it.

  • You’ve spent time creating a beautiful ad, so don’t inadvertently turn people away with a misspelling or insensitive message.
  • Tone and messaging are so important during times of upheaval.

While the above practices are all important, they mostly describe what a display ad should look like. But how should it be set up to catch the right eyes? Keep reading to see how to optimize Google display ads, social media ads, and more. 

Choosing Display Ad Networks

Explore and experiment with all your paid media options, including the various placements that comprise the Google Display Network. In general, there are two types of Google ad types: uploads and responsive.

Uploads and responsive ad options include:

  • Square and rectangle
  • Skyscraper
  • Leaderboard
  • Mobile

Each of these types can be made in various sizes.

Google Display Network is one of the easiest and most popular publishers of display campaigns. The network reaches nearly 90 percent of internet users and more than 2 million websites, and it’s where Oneupweb commonly operates successful campaigns for our clients.

Other excellent avenues for display ads include YouTube and Gmail. Social media display ads are effective as well. For example, here’s how to set up a LinkedIn paid advertising campaign. A high-quality display ad on a platform like Instagram or Pinterest is a great way to reach users as they browse the platform or partner sites.

What Is a DSP?

Display side platforms (DSPs) allow brands to buy impressions across a range of publisher sites. Publishers make ad impressions available through marketplaces called ad exchanges, and DSPs automatically place your ads based on potential impressions and returns. Often, the price of those impressions is determined by a real-time auction through a process known as real-time bidding, or RTB. Oneupweb recommends using a DSP to expand targeting options outside of Google’s inventory and to use different types of targeting options.

Choosing Types of Display Ads

From traditional banner ads to responsive display ads to native ads, there are many formats to choose from. There’s no magical mix of ad types that are considered perfect practice.

Ultimately, you’ll need to play around with ad types and configurations to see what works best for your business. Keep in mind that algorithms and performance can change quickly, so consistent paid media management is important for achieving the best ROI.

How can you begin? You could read the rest of this article and start experimenting or check out our resource about the different types of display ads, which includes plenty of examples.

Google Display Ads Optimization

Google Ads provides ample options for customizing and optimizing your campaigns. Here’s how to optimize Google display ads:

Adjust audiences.

You can create custom audiences, in-market audiences, affinity audiences, or any combination of those to reach the right group of people. Using different audience combinations allows you to reach customers at different stages of the sales funnel. Test and refine to reach the right audience. Analyzing Interest reports in Google Analytics is a great source of information about your customers.

Play to the right demographic. *

You can optimize your paid campaign by age, gender, parental status, or household income. Refine campaign targeting to those who meet your target demographic. Advertisers can use advanced combinations to show ads to specific users to maximize impression share.

Choose placements.

You can communicate to Google where you want your ads to appear and exclude certain websites or apps. Utilize whitelisting to show ads on specific placements that are higher performing. Analyze engagement, CPM, conversion, and quality of leads. Similarly, use a blacklist to prevent ads from showing on certain domains or categories.

Use different formats.

You can also choose your ad formats, such as video, HTML5, dynamic ads, and more.  Use multiple ad formats to maximize reach within different web and app placements. Another option is to use gifs in Google Display Ads. Refine to specific ad formats that are driving conversions.

*Note: Household income is a demographic option in Google Ads that allows you to adjust bids on HHI levels ranging from the top 10%, 11 – 20%, 21 – 30%, 41 – 50% and lower 50% of US incomes.

Also: Remember that Bing Ads, YouTube, social media platforms, and all the others are awesome too! Cruise our paid media FAQs to make sure you have the info you need.

Test & Refine Your Ads

  1. Test different audience combinations to determine how to optimize Google display ads. Instead of running your campaign in “observation,” you’ll get better performance from “targeting” a specific audience or set of audiences.
  2. Don’t forget to exclude customers who have previously purchased or are currently part of your sales funnel unless you do so intentionally to upsell.

How Does an Extension Work on Display Ads?

Google Display Network ads can show in affiliate location extensions (such as Walmart or Target), or call extensions, depending on the space available and relevancy to the user.

Extensions on your display ads are not guaranteed to show with every ad impression. Google Ads determines whether to show the ad extension based on your historic performance, among other factors.

How to Create Animated Display Ads

Animated display ads are the bees’ knees. We recommend partnering with a full-service digital marketing agency to support your paid media team with high-quality, customized creative assets and a strategy to match.

You can also use Google’s responsive display ads creator to make animated ads. This intuitive tool allows you to upload assets (or scrape your website or social property) for thumbnail, logo, and ad images, along with variations of headlines and descriptive text to serve in several different placements.

If you’re using third-party software to somewhat automate the creation of your display advertising (a great solution for some brands with fewer resources or a high volume of creative), that can be good too. Just be sure the ad creative continues to evolve along with design trends and any changes in display ad best practices – it can be easy to lose sight of this when you don’t have in-house or agency experts backing you up.

Why You Need a Landing Page for Paid Ads

A successful landing page is the final piece of the display advertising puzzle. Using similar imagery and messaging, a landing page provides a continued experience with the ads. This creates a seamless user experience and assures the reader that your brand is consistent and trustworthy.

Your landing page should be optimized for conversions and provide the information your audience needs (and expects) to make an informed purchase decision.

Need help optimizing an ad campaign or landing page? Learn about Oneupweb’s conversion rate optimization services here.

Be More Confident in Display Ads Best Practices

When you build your display ad campaign on a strong foundation of data-informed strategy and skilled design, you get the most from your dollars. Even a single campaign can be powerful – take PKD as an example.

If you need any level of support with display advertising or other paid media marketing, you can count on Oneupweb to bring honesty and experience to the table. Reach out online or call (231) 922-9977, and let us know what you have in mind.

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Taylor Holloran, Account Manager I joined Oneupweb after spending five years as an editor and project manager for an electronic publishing company in Traverse City. Before moving to northern Michigan, I worked on the ground for several international aid organizations, supporting development and conservation projects in Argentina, the Philippines and Cambodia. My experience working with...

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