The Benefits of Display Advertising for Search Marketing

The Benefits of Display Advertising for Search Marketing

2nd December 2013

My original plan for this post was to continue with Phase 2 of my deep dive into display advertising and start to break down the different elements a little more. Last month I wrote about the need to better understand and use DSPs, and was planning a longer look at Ad Servers this month. However I’ve since realised that I may have jumped the gun on getting too specific, especially with a such a majority of search marketers in the audience.

So before I move onto the more practical, technical aspects of display marketing I thought it would be valuable to spend some more time looking at why traditionally search-focused marketers should both take notice of display and actually learn how to work within that channel a little more. What I find fascinating about this issue as that the arguments and calls to arms have been around for years, with DSPs really coming into force around 3/4 years ago and blurring the lines across real-

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time bidding. Google it and you’ll find quite a number of posts discussing the topic but the vast majority go back to late 2010/ early 2011. From what I’ve seen, despite the clear crossover with advent of DSPs and the like, little has actually changed in terms of true integration across these channels since back then. Think of this as a guide to why unexpected relationships can sometimes be hugely beneficial, I’m using Suriya the Orangutan and Roscoe the dog as a great example of this. Read about them and more over here.

Despite working in an innovative industry that keeps us on our toes, us search marketers genuinely seem reluctant to admit that this more frivolous, less performance-focused channel is worth putting time, effort and most important budget into. We like to be able to attribute conversions directly back to a key point-of-sale with hard cost per conversion attached to it. Attribution modelling has been key, with its massive growth in recent years highlighting  the vastly complicated user journeys that the average consumer takes on their path to purchase.

So, the benefits of display advertising?

1. The Boundaries Between Search and Display are No More

As I mentioned in my previous post on DSPs, the advent of real-time bidding has caused huge amounts of confusion across the industry as the boundaries between the way in which display media is bought, and the way search advertising is bought, increasingly blur. It is no longer a foreign concept inextricably tied to publisher relationships, it’s a scientific process with data-mined algorithms and the ability to alter campaigns and KPIs at click of a mouse. Why do we tend to understand the GDN but we aren’t expanding our horizons beyond that?

2. Demographics

It’s in our blood to be keyword focused, to understand user intent and optimise towards the type of keyword we think will be searched on. But what about who is searching on them? Could this not help everything from landing page optimisation to link building targets? Display advertising is all about understanding ‘who’ to best target and ‘where’. If we want to rank for the Nexus 5, we’ll target keywords around that particular term and try to write content that mobile phone fans will both find interesting and share. With the data that comes from our DSP, we can better understand how campaigns are performing based on male vs female or people who visit certain types of sites or are most active at certain times of day. We can get some of this data from Adwords sure, but what about if we join it all together. Could we not better write our content, better target our link building and articles or even better interact via social media with a longer term SEO goal in mind?

3. Driving Traffic to Search (in the best way possible)

We know that paid search advertising generally has a much better return-on-investment that display advertising. However we also see from attribution modelling that if we pushed 100% of our budget into search and left nothing for display, we’d be shooting ourselves in the foot.  Although far from an ideal attribution model, taking ‘view-throughs’ into account gives us a better representation of that consumer journey. What’s interesting here is that these two mediums are heavily interlinked, yet rarely considered together. We regularly use paid search data to influence our organic work but why are we not ensuring that our display and search work in closer harmony? The best way to do this is to understand and work across both channels holistically (sorry for the buzzwords).

4. Relevancy and Funnel-Narrowing

A piece of research by Stanford University field experiment called Display Advertising Impact: Search Lift and Social Influence, found that consumers who saw a display ad performed 5% to 25% more campaign-relevant search queries than those who were not exposed to the ad. We know that display targets consumers higher up the funnel, and we should be using this to our advantage. Our landing pages or PPC ads should remind consumers of that fleeting glance they gave the earlier display and draw them back into the funnel they may have forgotten about. An extreme case of this would be remarketing for example, one of the few times that display can prove to have a great performance stats too.

5. Branding, branding branding

Yes it’s obvious but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it. I’ve wanted to focus on the benefits of a search marketer understanding display from a research and development perspective predominately. How integrated campaigns are truly integrated only when the people working on them actually understand all the channels they are working across (and want to integrate them). However branding is its own right both a boon every company strives for but also a great SEO tool. Use display to help push your brand, build your community, build awareness of the great work you do. This can only benefit you when you’re trying to share your content and boost your SEO efforts in the long run. Two for the price of one.

I’ll return to the nitty gritty next time but for now, I hope you’re intrigued enough to go look up with a DSP is, what Double Click does, how retargeting works and just at least understand the basics of display. Where’s the harm? Search is no longer an island.

And on that note, earlier this year Mike Volpe posted a piece on Hubspot giving 10 horrifying facts as to why display advertising is so bad. In impressively comic style, Ben Kunz responded in similar style on Digiday with 5 (un)alarming stats about banner ads. Nicely summarising some the search marketing industry’s anti-display tendencies and the flip side to that, they’re worth a little read over a cuppa.

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Written By
Originally from the UK via France and Malaysia, Annabel Hodges is a digital marketer with long experience in the industry now residing in Sydney. She heads up the Digital Marketing at Next Commerce, working across an array of products, channels and brands.
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