Display advertising has been much maligned lately, regarded as fraudulent, expensive, and worst of all: ineffective and useless. But lumping all display advertising options together is unfair and unwise since they were not all created equal. By carefully following a few simple rules you can implement a cost-effective, trackable display advertising campaign:

  1. Know your audience.
  2. Don’t fear the cost; you must pay more for more effectiveness.
  3. Track your ads’ conversion funnel to ensure you are getting the most from every dollar spent.
  4. Always place your ads above the fold.
  5. Utilize a reputable, effective display advertising provider.

Rule #1: Get to Know Your Audience

The road to effective display advertising begins with identifying and understanding your target audience. If you know your target personas you can create ads and buy display advertising that is delivered directly to them. Targeting these narrow audiences is more expensive, but seeking out the cheaper, wider audiences is ineffective and wasteful. Your objective is to reach the right audience with impactful creative, not just show ads to any set of eyeballs.

Rule #2: Pay for Quality and Effectiveness

If you’re looking into display advertising and the price seems too good to be true, it usually is. Some audiences can be purchased very cheaply, and if so, they’re usually the wrong audience. You know the audience you are after; accept no substitute.

Rule #3: Track Your Ads’ Conversion Funnel

Tracking is also critical. Your conversion funnel tracking needs to be in place before adding display advertising to your media plan. This will help you follow the journey a prospect undertakes, and it will also help you isolate potential obstacles that may discourage prospects while on their conversion paths.

Dedicated tracking can reveal that your CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) bidding strategy is generating hundreds of thousands of unqualified and non-targeted impressions. These can be the result of clicks that are mistakes (which are easy to make on a mobile phone) or those sinister bots that indiscriminately rack up clicks on your ads all day, skewing results and bloating numbers (likes, click-throughs, etc.). The key is to track the clicks and conversions from these ads to know if your audience is made of relevant users and whether those users are driving quality leads.

Rule #4: Ensure Your Ads will Show Up Above the Fold

Displaying your ad “above the fold” is another way to increase the effectiveness of your display advertising program. There are tools in Google Display Network that will allow you to choose whether you want your ad to appear above or below the fold; this is a no-brainer.

Rule #5: Know the Most Effective Types of Display: Facebook, Demographic Targeting, and Remarketing 

With a familiarity of how to make the most of your display campaign you then need to decide with whom you will entrust your ads. Fortunately, there are reputable opportunities for your display ads via Facebook and Google, which offer advanced demographic and psychographic targeting.

Facebook Display

Facebook display has the potential to be one of the most cost effective advertising programs available. The benefits:

  • Highly focused targeting capabilities

  • Flexibility to spend as much or as little as you like.
  • Dealing directly with Facebook instead of a network of sites so fraud is not a major concern.

With Facebook’s access to users’ likes, dislikes, interests, demographics, location, and whatever else users like to offer up (including indicators that they have recently moved or are likely to move), you can target and carve out your ad for as broad or narrow slice of the audience as you wish. It also offers CPC (cost-per-click) bidding, which allows you to pay only when a viewer is interested enough to click your ad and learn more. These add up to an ideal budget situation with flexibility and ads directly targeting your chosen audiences.

Demographic Targeting

Google Display Network also offers a budget-flexible option. Just like with Facebook, you can choose the maximum amount you’ll pay for clicks, conversions, or impressions. Google provides several ways to capture your intended audience on websites relevant to your services or on specifically chosen websites. You can even target users who have a browsing history that indicates they are interested in services similar to yours.


Remarketing is a type of display advertising available through Facebook and Google that targets audience members who have previously visited your website or taken specific actions on your website. This way you already have a pre-qualified audience, and you can tailor your ads to target them. If you have done your research and know your audience, remarketing can be a cost-effective pathway to conversion.


Certainly you need to remain watchful when embarking upon a display campaign, but as long as you know your audience, have a comprehensive tracking platform in place, and use a reputable display advertising provider, you can be well on your way to more traffic on your site as well as increased brand recognition and leads. Stay vigilant, and stay viable.