Whenever Google Display is brought up in client meetings, the response usually falls under one of four categories:

  1. “Why? Nobody clicks on Display ads.”
  2. “Isn’t it better to focus all our budget on Search?”
  3. “You mean those annoying ads that follow me around the internet? I hate those.”
  4. “Great, the more exposure for my business the better. Let’s get started!”

If you’re still unsure, number 4 is the correct answer! The first 3 responses highlight the misconceptions many people have about Google Display and are usually based on personal experience, not actual data.

Let’s have a look at each point of view in more detail, debunk the myths and find out why Google Display is worth your marketing budget.

“Why? Nobody clicks on Display ads.”

Compared to Search ads, the click-through-rate (CTR) of Display ads are very low. For every 1000 impressions, you will probably get 1 click or less. That’s a 0.1% CTR, which may seem abysmal at first glance…until you stop measuring Display ads using Search metrics.

Display advertising is about staying front of mind. Think of Display like a billboard that follows people around wherever they go.

The most basic metric for measuring Display ads are impressions, or how many people saw your ad. These are free, you do not pay for impressions, only for clicks. 

You could also measure the cost-per-click (CPC), conversion rate (CVR) and return-on-ad-spend (ROAS), and for some campaigns these might be important, but…did you read the bit about impressions being free?

By the numbers, if you have an ad that gets 100,000 impressions and 100 clicks, you only pay for the 100 clicks. The 100,000 impressions – that’s 100,000 pairs of eyeballs being exposed to your business – did not cost you a cent.

That’s the equivalent of someone offering you a billboard on Queen Street for free, except that the billboard then follows people around the CBD. This is the true value of Display advertising.

“Isn’t it better to focus all our budget on Search?”

Short answer is no, and here is why. Display ads can improve the CTR of Search ads by a rate of 2-3x. If you want to know why, look up “brand affinity”.

If you’d rather just be told, brand affinity is when consumers feel like a brand shares their own personal values. These shared values make the consumer more likely to choose your brand over a competitor. 

Display ads can give your business huge brand awareness and build this mythical “affinity” with your audience by offering them discounts on products they are interested in, highlighting the unique-selling-points (USPs) of your business and sharing company values and culture.

There is also another less tangible effect.

Display ads just make a brand seem “bigger” than it really is. Even if you are a savvy marketer and know exactly what is going on, it works every single time. It’s a primal brain thing: see everywhere, must be big and important.

When planning out your marketing strategy, allocate around 5-10% of your search marketing budget to Display advertising. 

Budget spent on Display will have a far greater impact than if used to add a little more juice to your Search campaigns. Display is all about big numbers and even a 0.5% increase in impressions can make a huge difference in how many people become aware of your business.

“You mean those annoying ads that follow you around the internet? I hate those.”

A quick primer on remarketing: when people visit your website they get tagged by a tracking code and you can then use remarketing to show them ads across the Google Search and Display network.

Now, Search ads are pretty great. For users, they are unobtrusive, often provide helpful shortcuts to information, and if done well, are highly relevant to the users end goal.

For advertisers, Search ads are cost-effective, quick to implement and actively target users searching for their products and services. 

Most importantly, they work. Win / win for everybody.

Display ads are different. Nobody asked for them, they can be visually distracting, they are not usually relevant to the website they appear on and they can give the impression of being “followed” around the internet. And nobody likes that. 

The cure to all these marketing ills is a foundation of good account management.

Segment your audiences, don’t just show the same ad over and over, cap how many times your ads are shown per day, manage what websites your ads appear on and don’t remarket to people who have already bought your product.

Basically, advertise to others as you would like to be advertised.

And if that sounds like more effort than spamming your ads across the internet, well it is! So if you are going to invest in remarketing, please also invest in someone whose job it is to fuss over these things.

A good reputation is hard to win and so, so easy to lose.

Final Thoughts

When properly managed, Display ads are an essential component of any marketing campaign, either digital or offline, and serve to boost the trust and awareness of your brand.

Resist the temptation to set and forget. Put in the effort to create the same nuance that you would with any other type of marketing campaign. Display ads will boost the effectiveness of your search campaigns, and have surprising flow-on effects to other unrelated areas of your business.