Debunking 5 Myths About Display Advertising

Display advertising has made major leaps over the past few years; today, it’s a tool tailor-made for direct response marketers with a programmatic mindset. Unfortunately, many direct response marketers – haunted by memories of display’s days as a low-click crapshoot – remain reluctant to embrace modern display advertising. Simply put, they don’t know what performance display looks like. It’s time to debunk those myths.

Myth No. 1: Display Can Only Be Used for Brand Awareness

Right…and social media can only be used for contests. Display is much more than a pretty banner that makes people know that a brand exists. Every day, more performance marketers are using display advertising to drive conversions through precisely targeted ads based on a user’s site and search behavior. There’s a misconception that display is on its way out the door. In fact, it’s growing faster than SEM.

Myth No. 2: Display Is Expensive

This is true when marketers go directly to sites to buy placements – where they can end up paying up to a $100 CPM – or when they insanely spend $450,000 for a one-day Yahoo home page takeover.

These tactics are unnecessary and downright foolish. The vast majority of publishers have a significant amount of remnant inventory, which is made available through auctions on ad exchanges. The average CPM for remnant inventory is between $1 and $2. Even in super competitive verticals such as finance, display can often be a cheaper (and more efficient) acquisition channel than SEM.

Myth No. 3: Display Doesn’t Work

You know what doesn’t work? Click metrics. Clicks seemed like a novel way to measure display advertising when they first burst onto the scene, but they really had no connection to the way that advertising actually works. After all, print ads, TV ads, and billboards have been working for a long time now without anyone actually clicking on them. Want a much more accurate measurement? View-through attribution. View-through attribution – the practice of measuring users who convert a short time after seeing a display ad – just makes more sense. Though view-through attribution lost some credibility when marketers gamed it by setting insanely long conversion windows (like 30 days), we’re seeing that, when measured correctly, view-through makes much more sense than counting clicks.

Myth No. 4: Display Ads Don’t Talk to the Right People

Display has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past year, as search retargeting has emerged as one of the most effective forms of intent-driven advertising that we’ve ever seen. When you combine the power of search marketing with the advanced precision of programmatic site retargeting, you have a combination that allows you to find exactly the right people and deliver exactly the right message.

Myth No. 5: Display Advertising Is Not Exciting

Display advertising is advancing at a rapid pace: the hyper-evolution of ad exchanges, dynamic creative, retargeting pixels, and display inventory has made it one of the most complex forms of advertising. That may not be exciting to some people, but, at least for data nerds like me, it can be a lot of fun.

If you don’t believe it, just look at Facebook’s newest development, where users can be retargeted with socially activated ads right in their news feeds, meaning that you can share great content with the right people in the place they’re most likely to see it. And if that doesn’t get you excited, you might be in the wrong business.

Image on home page via Shutterstock.

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