How to Generate Quality Traffic With Display Advertising

For a few years it seemed that “display advertising” had become something of a dirty word for many in the Internet marketing community.

Perhaps they only tested contextual targeting on the Google Display Network (GDN) – throwing a few keywords up and hoping for the best? Maybe they tried some large buys from a demand side platform (DSP) and didn’t see the best ROI? Or maybe they signed on with a self-service DSP only to find the platform was confusing and lacking in features?

Whatever the case, there are so many options available for display advertising that you should be out there testing.

Google is pushing the envelope with their offerings on the GDN. But that is just one display network! Peel back the curtain and you will find a big world of networks, DSPs, and remarketing services – all of them offering their own special sauce of algorithms, self-service platforms and generally raising the bar for the entire industry.

Google AdWords – Google Display Network (GDN)

The GDN is the most well-known display network given that it is a part of the Google AdWords platform. However, the consensus among an alarmingly high percentage of advertisers is that GDN doesn’t work. My gut instinct is that the advertisers crying the loudest know the least about how to leverage the range of GDN features to target their customers.

So, if it has been a while, here is a sampling of the myriad ways you can tweak GDN campaigns to generate quality traffic – and yes, conversions:

  • Contextual Targeting: This is the basic foundation of the GDN. Input some keywords that are relevant to your product or service, and Google will match your ads to websites. This is where a lot of advertisers stop. But you have to dig deep. Segment your keywords. Google has given us the ability to bid on individual keywords. Review placement performance reports and exclude poor websites. Add demographic settings to gain another layer of relevancy.
  • Placement Targeting: Cherry-pick the websites that are most relevant and/or convert the best. Layer on keywords, demographic settings for even more detailed targeting.
  • Topic/Category Targeting: Need to increase your ad reach? Try Topics or Categories relevant to your product or service. This will open you up to a much larger portion of the GDN. Be sure to control performance with site exclusions, keyword targeting, and demographic targeting.
  • Remarketing: Where do I start? The possibilities are endless! Tag your website and landing pages. Segment those visitors into audiences. Create targeted ads. Voila! – watch the conversions come in!
  • Beta Features: Google is consistently testing new and exciting features for the GDN. Keep your eyes and ears open as these updates come through from your Google representatives. The newest features allow for even more precise targeting and in some cases shift the paradigm of GDN as we know it.
  • Similar Audiences: Already running remarketing? Great! How can you gain even more impressions, clicks, and conversions? Run ads on audiences that are similar to your existing remarketing audiences. Google reviews your audiences and will match you to an audience that expands far beyond those visitors who have already been to your website.

DoubleClick Bid Manager

By now you likely know that Google bought DoubleClick a few years ago. That’s why we now have the Google Ad Planner and now DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBA).

DBA is a demand-side platform that gives you access to ad exchanges with reach far beyond the GDN. Why would you choose DBA over another DSP service?

  • DBA is a platform that is similar to AdWords. So there is familiarity and a lower learning curve for managing campaigns.
  • Options include contextual, placement, and category targeting. However, you can up the game by targeting third party data segments – which are essentially demographic levers you can pull.
  • Want to make a direct buy on a premium website, but don’t have the resources or time? DBA allows for “private exchange deals” which are self-service direct buys on premium websites.

Broader World of Display

Outside of the world of Google, there are countless options for display advertising. Here is a brief sampling:

  • DSPs: Also known as demand side platforms, DSPs are the backbone of the display industry. Familiar names include The Trade Desk, Media Math, AppNexus among a host of others. Offerings range from utilitarian display buys (budget, CPM, bam you’re done!), convenient self-service platforms and emerging real-time bidding options (RTB).
  • Remarketing: So many advertisers have made the unfortunate connection that Google is the only name in remarketing. Not true. If you want to be a remarketing pro, Google is only the first step. Services like FetchBack, AdRoll and Perfect Audience (among countless others) are changing the face of remarketing every day. Target your previous website visitors on ad exchanges and websites far outside the reach of the GDN. AdRoll and Perfect Audience are specializing in Facebook remarketing, too.

So, even if you have been burned with a poor display experience in the past – or were just too scared to try – know that now is the time to test display again. There are so many options, it is truly like being a kid in a candy store. Options, reach, flexibility and – best of all – great performance!

What is your favorite or preferred display network, DSP, RTB service or remarketing service? Leave a comment!