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Buying and Placing Online Display Ads

  |  July 6, 2011   |  Comments

Forty-seven ways to buy and place display advertising by other medium and the types of display ad formats. Part two in a two-part series.

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), Q1 2011 set an all-time record in Internet advertising with $7.3 billion in revenues, a 23 percent year-over-year increase. A growing component of this increase is online display advertising (banners and video), according to recently released predictions by eMarketer, which estimate that banner ad spending alone will reach $11.73 billion by 2015 - that's no small potatoes! Factors influencing this increase include high inventory, lower pricing, and the rise of Facebook. Last week in Part 1 of this column, we covered ways to buy and place display advertising that included by means of buying and by types of targeting. In Part 2 we'll cover by other medium and the types of display ad formats.

By Other Medium

Email. We may take graphical emails for granted these days, but in effect, they are really one big display advertisement. When it comes to buying email display advertising, the options include:

  • In-newsletter. Most typical display ad formats can now be purchased within opt-in email newsletters.
  • Solo HTML. A publisher sends only one advertiser's ad or offer in an HTML format to its database or a targeted segment of its database.
  • Lead generation. Not so much a format as an objective of how the display ad is created and presented in conjunction with a form completion or a call to action that leads to a web-based form that then generates the lead.


Mobile. Mobile offers many variations on common display formats: banners, videos, coupons, and in-game (see below), but a prevalent format in mobile is "appvertising."

Instant messenger. With the rise of social networking platforms like Twitter and Facebook, you might not hear as much about IM anymore, but advertisers can still reach those using IM with small-scale versions of banners.

Adware. Adware is ad-supported downloadable software, commonly found these days in toolbars, desktop applications, and games.

Internet TV. Probably still the least widely adopted/newest terrain, Internet TV advertising presents new interactive opportunities to advertisers.

Types of Display Ad Formats

When it comes to display ad formats, eMarketer data shows video as the fastest growing format, likely to surpass rich media by the end of 2011. EMarketer sees growth of all ad formats breaking out like this:


To further break down display ad formats, we have:

    • Pop-ups.
    • Rich media.By using Flash or HTML5, creative developers have been able to produce many interesting variations on rich media ad formats beyond the basic banner, such as:
      • Interstitials (aka "between the page" or "transitional"). Interstitial ads appear when the user clicks to advance to another page of a website.
      • Floating. When the user scrolls down a web page and the ad "follows" suit.
      • Peel-downs. Meant to mimic the peeling or turning of a page, the peel-down starts at the upper right-hand corner of a web page and upon mouse-over "peels down" to reveal the entire ad.
      • Push-downs. Push-down ads "force" the page content to contract beneath it so the ad can "grow."
      • Expanding. Ads that expand beyond their originally-displayed boundaries upon mouse-over or click.
      • Takeover. Essentially, the ad takes over the entire web page and sometimes "interacts" with what would have been the editorial content.
      • Data capture. These ads allow the user to enter their information directly into the ad so they don't have to necessarily disrupt their current web experience to request information, register for an event, or enter a contest.

      See the IAB rich media creative guidelines or Google's Rich Media Creative Types for more helpful information.

    • Video. Everyone's excited about video, but there are several formats and lots to get acquainted with.
    • Hybrids/custom ads. Like much of online advertising, customized ideas have developed from creative minds. Among some custom display ads you might see:
      • Banner + text hybrids. Publishers like BlogAds offer this as a standard format.
      • Skins. Skins are larger borders surrounding on-page objects like a video viewer or a game and into which ads can be served or inserted.
      • "Game-vertising." Can be static, rich media, or mobile.
      • Apps. Mobile and desktop apps offered free to the user in exchange for ad-support.
      • E-greeting cards and event invitations. Complete your digital invitation or e-greeting card experience and you're likely to be shown a page sponsored by one or more advertisers.
    • Roadblock. When an advertiser buys out all the advertising across a home page, a site, or multiple sites, usually in a short period of time.
    • Widgets.
      • Coupon widget. A widget specifically designed to deliver a coupon as the offer.


EMarketer's research tells us what factors could lead to even more online display ad spending:


What do you think? Will you be buying more display ads now that you're armed with all this information?

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Hollis Thomases

A highly driven subject matter expert with a thirst for knowledge, an unbridled sense of curiosity, and a passion to deliver unbiased, simplified information and advice so businesses can make better decisions about how to spend their dollars and resources, multiple award-winning entrepreneur Hollis Thomases (@hollisthomases) is a sole practitioner and digital ad/marketing "gatekeeper." Her 16 years working in, analyzing, and writing about the digital industry make Hollis uniquely qualified to navigate the fast-changing digital landscape. Her client experience includes such verticals as Travel/Tourism/Destination Marketing, Retail & Consumer Brands, Health & Wellness, Hi-Tech, and Higher Education. In 1998, Hollis Thomases founded her first company, Web Ad.vantage, a provider of strategic digital marketing and advertising service solutions for such companies as Nokia USA, Nature Made Vitamins, Johns Hopkins University, ENDO Pharmaceuticals, and Visit Baltimore. Hollis has been an regular expert columnist with Inc.com, and ClickZ and authored the book Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day, published by John Wiley & Sons. Hollis also frequently speaks at industry conferences and association events.

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