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Online display advertising

Online Advertising Illustration

Online display advertising is an important consideration as part of a media mix. Online display advertising provides an exciting array of targeting and messaging opportunities and takes advantage of the fact that people are spending more and more time online.

A key take-away from a study carried out in January 2009 on online display advertising and search engine marketing exposed that online display advertising is an effective channel on its own, but its power is substantially improved when it is paired with search engine marketing.

Below are findings that demonstrate the relationship between search and online display advertising that substantiate how and why the two should be used in conjunction with one another:

  • More than half of Internet users (52%) actively respond to online display advertising, demonstrating that this is an effective channel to facilitate interaction with a product; almost a third (31%) respond by clicking on the ad itself.
  • Almost as many Internet users react to online display advertising by performing a search on a search engine (27%) as those who only click on the ad itself (31%). This finding speaks to the symbiotic relationship between the two channels, and the power of search engine marketing to boost the effectiveness of display. If marketers are going to invest in online display, they should consider this relationship and the fact that you can invest in online display advertising but if consumers don’t find you in search results, then they are not likely to take you as seriously.
  • Internet users are more likely to engage with and/or eventually make a purchase from brands that are already familiar to them. One third of Internet users (33%) who respond to online display advertising eventually purchase from a company/offering with which they are familiar – more than twice the number who eventually purchase after learning of an offering/company for the first time from online displays advertising (14%).
  • Nearly four in ten Internet users (38%) who respond to online display advertising learn about a brand for the first time as a result of their exposure to such an ad. This finding validates display as a doable channel for building brand awareness and not just driving sales.
    However, the bigger opportunity for search marketers lies in the relationship that exists between online display advertising and search engine marketing: it tells a story of improved efficacy. This is something that marketers should find persuasive, especially in this dismal economic climate where they are being asked to do more with less.

Given that 27% of Internet users perform a search as their INITIAL response to an online display ad, it’s incumbent upon marketers to have a search presence. After all, online display advertising can help create demand, and search engine marketing can help capture it. Considering that, marketers should think of search marketing as insurance for their investment in display. If they are going to invest in display, then they should leverage search to help capture the demand that their display efforts create.

Capitalizing on the synergy that exists between display and search not only boost the power to each channel, it also lessens the risks associated with not being found in the search results. For instance, marketers must consider what happens when Internet users perform a search after seeing an online display ad, and the brand/company/product they are looking for is nowhere to be found in the search results. What are the consequences? Will the potential customer think less of that brand? Most likely. In fact, the survey revealed that 39% of online users attribute brand equity to the companies and brands that appear at the top of the search results (a happening known as the brand halo effect). Considering that, combined with the fact that nearly a third of Internet users initiating a search after being exposed to online display advertising, together they form a strong argument that substantiates investing in search engine marketing to complement display advertising.

But failing to appear in the search results poses an even bigger risk for marketers: Potentially ceding conversions to your competition. Marketers should be aware that if their website does not appear in the search results to capture the demand that their online display advertising can create, they will instead be effectively motivating 27% of Internet users to visit the websites of their competitors. In essence, marketers will be enabling their competitors to capitalize on their media spend.

To avoid this situation, marketers need to be sure that they have presence in both online display advertising and the search engine results page. Specifically, marketers who are running online display advertising also need to participate in integrated paid and organic search engine marketing campaigns that target the keywords and messaging used in their display ads. Doing so will position marketers to capture the intent of those Internet users who choose to search for a product or brand rather than directly clicking on the ad.

Also, in order for marketers to more accurately assess the effectiveness of both their online display advertising, as well as their search engine marketing campaigns, they should have some time and resources invested in attribution modeling in order to give appropriate credit to each of the channels that combine to generate the concluding sale.

Beyond its association with search, display advertising has a connection with an unlikely candidate: Direct navigation to a website. Though seemingly disparate, the two have a more direct relationship than one might think , as signaled by the fact that 21% of Internet users respond to online display advertising by typing the company Web address into a browser to directly navigate to the website. This finding should send an important message to marketers: A domain name should be intuitive – such as or If it isn’t intuitive, then marketers will risk missing this crowd of Internet users. Considering that, marketers should strive to secure an intuitive domain. However, if that isn’t an option for some reason, marketers need to make sure that their website is found on both misspellings and the first-to-mind thoughts of what their domain name might be, and they need to buy these keywords in the paid search marketplace. In addition, marketers should consider conducting focus groups as an effective way to uncover a domain name that will resonate with their customer and prospect base.

Netting a response rate less than half of direct navigation, social media (9%) not only symbolizes a great alternative advertising method for Internet users (instead of directly clicking on an ad), it also represents both risk and opportunity for marketers. If Internet users are turning to social media venues in response to online display advertising, marketers should consider investing in online reputation management to ensure that their occurrence in this online environment is well cared for and devoid of caustic commentary. Marketers should capitalize on this opportunity by building content on their own websites, as well as proactively joining the social media conversation; becoming part of the community; and populating these venues with content that is authentic, favorable, and useful.

The findings also more than substantiate the investment in online display advertising for both direct sales and brand awareness purposes, and marketers should tap into it accordingly, depending upon the need.

For instance, the online display channel stands for a viable demand-generation AND demand capture vehicle for renowned brands who are leaders in their categories and/or those who invest in a lot of traditional mass-media to drive awareness. Such brands will be well-served to use online display as a direct response channel. Doing so would enable them to capture the percentage of Internet users who respond to online display advertising and eventually purchase from a company/product with which they are already familiar (33%).

However, since online display advertising also appears to be an effective channel for brand awareness and familiarizing Internet users to brands (and not just for generating monetary transactions), lesser known brands and/or those who are not heavily invested in a lot of traditional mass media would be best served to utilize it as an educational or branding channel rather than for direct response purposes. This would give them the opportunity to reach nearly 4 in 10 Internet users (38%) who respond to online display advertising and learn about a company/offer for the first time. And because Internet users are more apt to purchase from companies/offers with which they are already familiar (33%), marketers should leverage display for its branding capabilities to push Internet users to a purchase decision sooner than they might otherwise make.

The findings also speak to the symbiotic relationship between online display advertising and search. Given this, the same advice as previously put forth holds true: Marketers who invest in the online display advertising channel must support it with search engine marketing. In short, they must also be participating in paid and organic search campaigns that target the keywords and messaging used in their online display ads in order to capture the intent of those Internet users who choose to search for a product or brand, rather than clicking on the ad itself. Once again, marketers should consider search to be insurance for their display efforts as it will ultimately boost display’s effectiveness. And as also indicated earlier, marketers will want to have some degree of attribution modeling in place in order to give appropriate credit to each of the channels that combine to generate the eventual conversion.

However, the findings contain an additional element that underscores the importance of leveraging search engine marketing to support online display advertising. The difference is the latency factory – the degree to which searches EVENTUALLY take place after exposure to an online display ad (regardless of the INITIAL response to the ad). Because of this latency, we see the number of Internet users who turn to search after exposure to an online display ad nearly double from 27% to 49%. Given that, marketers who fail to support display with search could end up missing out on nearly half of potential website guests.

Founded in 2001, Psycray helps organizations with websites increase their online ROI and market reach through natural search engine optimization, paid search advertising management, online display advertising, management, paid inclusion management, shopping feed management, global search engine marketing, Web analytics/attribution modeling, reputation management, and other related services. By dramatically increasing business results for clients, Psycray helps to create search marketing heroes every day.