Secrets of Success in Display Advertising

Many business owners and marketers spend a lot of time, money, and effort building Internet marketing campaigns to drive traffic to their Website using SEO, PPC, and social media. But, one of the channels that gets overlooked is display advertising, namely banner adverting. Many people believe that it is only effective for brand building and not lead generation. As an Internet marketing agency, we always say that this is not the case. As a matter of fact, there are many display advertising opportunities that exist in various industries that can be very cost effective. It’s just a matter of understanding how it works and what the levers are to drive down price and maximize response.

Importance of Your Purchase Price
The foundation of an efficient display advertising campaign is to buy media at the right price point. If you buy display advertising at too high a rate, you simply have no chance of success from a cost per lead or sale perspective. The first thing to look at is if the site is charging a fixed rate per month or if they are charging on a CPM (cost per thousand) impressions basis.

To compare different display advertising opportunities, simply work the numbers backwards to a CPM basis. For example, if the vendor quotes a fixed rate but your ad is one of four ads running in the ad space, ask for the total number of monthly impressions for the page that you’re thinking about advertising on. Then, divide the number of impressions by four and work it back to a cost per thousand. Ideally, you want to be around $4.00 on a CPM basis for it to be cost effective, depending on your lifetime revenue per sale of course.

Get the Best Possible Placement
The next thing to keep in mind when comparing ads is the placement of the ad. Placement has a significant impact on the click-through rate of your ad and, therefore, your cost per click (CPC) and cost per lead (CPL). Unless the cost of the advertising space is extremely low, we recommend staying away from ad space that is below the fold.

Once you have an understanding of pricing from the various vendors, ask them if they have any remnant inventory or if they can discount their pricing. The key is that if you want to make display advertising work for lead generation, not brand building, you have to negotiate aggressively. You simply can’t pay rate card pricing.

Develop and Test
Once you have negotiated the lowest possible price, start working on your actual banner ads. A great place to start is by reviewing your competition. Many of your competitors may be running ads that they have already tested and are working well for them. If the ads are performing well for them, it may be worth testing a similar ad. If you have tested messaging and creative that has worked in the past for other advertising channels, try testing similar messaging. Start with two different ads with only a single element that is different to see which ad performs better. The metric that will tell you which one is performing better is the click through rate (CTR).

To illustrate the importance of testing, let me share an example. We were testing two ads for a client using the same messaging. The only difference was that one was an animated banner ad and one was a static, single frame banner ad. The static ad completely outperformed the animated ad. This does not mean that animated banner ads don’t work. It simply means that you have to test.

Another split testing example was when we tested innovation versus tradition/heritage. In this test, the content was, once again, the same. The only difference was the look and feel. Both ads were static, not animated. In this case, heritage beat innovation. There was no way for us to know this, which is why we had to test. And there is no way for you to know exactly what will produce the best possible results for you until you test. But, if you have advertised, you should have some understanding of messaging and creative that has performed better than others. You want to take your experience and apply it to banner advertising.

Bring it Home with Your Landing Page
Negotiating the right price and testing different ads is a great start, but if you stopped at this point, you’d be leaving money on the table. The landing page that you are driving your ads to has a major impact on your results. Yes, landing pages don’t impact your cost per click for display advertising, but they significantly impact your cost per lead. Whether you are driving the traffic to a landing page (squeeze page) or Website, you want to ensure that it is converting at the highest rate possible. To achieve this, you have to test once again. But, here are some best practices to get you started. First, because you have complete control of your landing page and you don’t have to abide by any guidelines, start with a very simple landing page, commonly referred to as a squeeze page. Your squeeze page should only contain a headline, web form, and your offer. That’s it. That’s all. Less is better if you want to convert at a high rate.

We have covered quite a bit here. The bottom line is that banner advertising is not a short term win. But, if you work at it, you can uncover long-term gold. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions and have a wonderful day!