4 Ways To Revitalize Your Display Ads

by Mike Tyler | February 1, 2016


We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again:

Click-through rates for banner ads were at 9 percent in 2000; today, they’re less than 1 percent.

Many brands have taken advantage of various advertising types and methods; native advertising, social ads, mobile advertising and many others, in the hopes of boosting their conversion rates and engaging with younger demographics.

Which leads to the question many marketers ask:

Are display ads at their bitter end?

The answer is, and always will be:


They’re actually far from their denouement; aside from being much easier to track and alter from an analytics standpoint, display ads are often less expensive, but have a farther digital reach than their distant cousins.

Moreover, dynamic re-marketing and re-targeting allows display ad enthusiasts to target potential customers even after they leave your landing page, for even higher rates of engagement, click-through ratings, and hard-conversion for Ecommerce platforms.

We’re down with PPC (yeah, you know me!). That being said, it’s time you took a long, hard look at your display ad efforts. For a minimal dollar, they can have maximum impact on your marketing efforts, if implemented correctly.

And especially if you read the following 8 tips on how to improve your display ads, in a few simple ways.

Get Real!

Although it’s easy to jump to Flickr’s Creative Commons, Shutterstock or Death To Stock for the images you need, there’s nothing worse than seeing an ad that has the exact same stock image as you do.

The second that consumers see this, question marks will arise. Question marks that lead to lower click-through ratings; trust is everything! How to break this cycle? Take your own photos.

I mean, that’s ideally speaking, of course. In any case, always aim to use real photos, of real things, taken by real people–whether they’re taken in-house, or crowd-sourced.

Sex Sells

Don’t be afraid to show em’ your PPC.

Yes, that was crude. Did that make you giggle on the inside? Absolutely. Like all ads, sexual innuendos are provocative, edgy, and if well-placed with a humorous touch–they work.

From a study done at the University of Georgia, researchers determined that now more than ever, sexual references in advertising demand attention because we are genetically hard-wired as such.

Think about it: why do men actually buy Axe? Think about every Axe commercial you’ve ever seen;  every single time, the body spray/wash result in a man using the product, and almost instantly being more attractive to women.

Basically, well placed humour + sexual innuendos = home runs for display ads.

Consider the fact that with many banner and flash ads, you are competing among multiple PPC ads, sponsored posts, etc. on a page. What will stand out among the rest, and result in consumers clicking through to your product page?

Products they need, packaged with an illustration of benefits they’ll receive in a catchy, engaging way.

Don’t Discount The Discount

When it comes to display ads, there’s nothing more gratifying than the promise that you, consumer, will save X amount of dollars by clicking-through for a specific product they already wanted.

Packaged with a time-sensitive offer (Hurry! Offer ends in 7 days), providing a product discount as a percentage or dollar value off provides a great incentive for customers to click-through and engage with your ads, helping to boost conversion rates. Here are a few great examples:

Aim At The Right Target

Since you’ve read our last posting on the importance of online targeting, you know that tailoring the key words, headline, colour palette and copy towards a specific demographic makes all the difference.

Regarding display ads, a “one-size-fits-all” approach won’t yield the right results with click-through and conversion ratings.

Within the Google Display Network, you’re able to target your display ads to a variety of demographics, in a specific way. Through dynamic remarketing, contextual targeting, language targeting, even online targeting based on geographical location, campaign managers are able to filter ads to the demographics that are actually interested in their services.

Find out more about Google’s online targeting techniques here.

But aside from actual techniques, consider the context of your content and overall display ad appeal; does it call to a younger demographic who are mobile-heavy? Does it cater to the interests and needs of baby boomers? Middle-aged? Content and context are everything when it comes to tailoring ad copy/visuals to a specific audience that will click on your ad, among the rest.


Humour Me!

Last but not least, display ads that hit consumers right in the funny bone. Humour sells! And considering that as a tiny display-ad competing among many others, you better make sure that your copy packs a punch.

As a general tip for headlines, effective copy should be around 5-6 words–which isn’t all that much.

Considering the competition in general, let alone the display ads on a single page, humour is a great way for your display ad to stand out among the others. Take this great example from Harvey Nichols:

Or, this baby getting his new year’s resolutions off to a great start:

Baby…knows best. And no one puts baby in a corner, either. That being said, baby’s right! Only the strong survive, in life, and with display ads; be sure to implement these 5 steps in your next campaign, and watch the numbers grow.

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