The Importance of Display Advertising in Digital Marketing

With the ability to choose from banner ads, half-page ads or small square ads, display adverts are probably the online advertising technique that most closely resembles print advertising.

But how familiar are you with all the different types, uses, and objectives of display advertising?

If your answer is “not very familiar” then don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Similarly, if you are a PPC executive who wants to refresh your knowledge and brush up on the foundations of display advertising, this article is also for you.

We’re going to delve into why display advertising is important for your business, and the ways in which it can benefit your digital marketing strategy.

First, let’s begin with the age-old question of “what is display advertising?”.

What is display advertising?

Display advertising, or display marketing, is the overall term used for visual ads displayed across the internet. These types of adverts generally take the form of images, videos and even GIFs.

Google display ads appear across the entire Google Display Network meaning they have the opportunity to appear on various websites where your target audience may already be browsing the internet.

Outside of Google advertising, you can also create display ads through other advertising platforms such as Facebook Ads Manager. Facebook’s advertising platform allows you to create display ads that will appear across the Facebook Audience Network of partner apps and websites. When using the display ad format with YouTube advertising, your display ad will appear next to the platform’s video player.

Why use display advertising?

With internet use increasing day by day – there are now over 4.66 billion internet users worldwide – it is no surprise that the internet is one of the best places to advertise your business.

The digital age has given people the convenience to shop online in a few clicks without having to leave the house. As a result, using display advertising can be a powerful way to reach your target audience.

By allowing your business to show up in the places where your audience is already active online, display advertising can do things that search cannot. Because the Google Display Network is so vast, engaging in display marketing can be risky for your business — if you’re not careful, you can potentially waste a lot of ad spend with display advertising.

However, there are so many benefits of display advertising and, if you are confident in display advertising, you have the opportunity to transform your PPC strategy.

Display ads have the potential to significantly improve your brand awareness thanks to their eye-catching visual format. With display marketing, you can strengthen brand consistency and visibility, nurture leads, track performance, and support the success of your other PPC activity – to name just a few of the benefits.

Strengthen brand consistency and visibility

People say a picture speaks a thousand words and when it comes to display advertising we couldn’t agree more.

One of the things we love most about display advertising is the visual format. The display ad format means you can get creative with colours, text, video, or even audio, and rich media. This is key for brand visibility and making sure your ad stands out in a positive light.

By using your brand colour palette and styling guide, you can create ads that are (or can become) instantly recognisable. This, in turn, will ensure your advert stands out on the page where it’s displayed and will also strengthen your brand consistency.

Nurture leads and engage new audiences

Display marketing is an important advertising strategy to nurture leads and increase your conversion rate.

Once a potential customer has been introduced to your products or services, a well-placed display ad can also serve as a great reminder that encourages them to make a purchase.

On the other hand, you could use display advertising to engage new audiences who may not yet be familiar with your products or services.

The targeting options with display advertising seem almost endless meaning you can exercise careful control over who does and does not see your display ads.

With display advertising, you are able to target people based on topics, interest categories, placements, context, demographic, or based on custom audience information.

You can even create advantaged targeting options based on your marketing goals. This is great for reaching people who match your ideal target audience, as well as ensuring you are re-engaging existing customers or previous visitors.

By tapping into the wide variety of targeting options offered by display advertising, you are also more likely to find customers who actively want to make a purchase and, therefore, are more likely to convert.

Track display advertising performance

Display advertising also comes with the ability to track and analyse your advertising performance. This means future campaigns can be refined in order to make them even more successful.

The wealth of insights available through display advertising mean that you know who you are targeting, when and why. The Google Display Network and Facebook Advertising platform both offer detailed reports enabling you to analyse the performance of each of your individual display ads.

You can also refine where your adverts are shown based on the performance of your ad placements. If you find a particular site is underperforming and wasting ad budget, you can add this placement to your exclusion list.

Gaining a thorough understanding of your display advertising performance and which PPC metrics you should track will enable you to make informed decisions about future ad campaigns and minimise your ad spend.

Support other PPC advertising activity

Digital marketing is a system of interlinking tactics.

Display advertising happily complements other forms of digital marketing and other pay per click advertising activity. By using multiple forms of online advertising, you are constantly pushing your products or services and increasing your brand awareness.

Each type of advertising offers different benefits for your business, meaning it is important to consider all forms of online advertisements when creating a well-structured digital marketing campaign.

What is display marketing: the three types of display ads

When developing a display advertising campaign, there is a plethora of display advertising strategies and formats to choose from. However, most of these advertising methods can be covered by three key strategies: site placement advertising, contextual advertising, and remarketing.

These display marketing strategies all have their place within any good digital marketing campaign depending on which stage of the customer funnel they intend to target. These display advertising formats complement each other and work together to help you achieve your marketing goals.

Here’s a quick rundown of each of the three overarching display advertising strategies:

Site Placement Advertising

This type of display advertising puts you (or the marketer working on your behalf) in control of where you want your display ads to appear. You are able to choose sites, pages and apps where research has shown that your target audience resides.

Contextual Advertising

Contextual advertising is, as the name suggests, based on context. This type of display advertising ensures that your brand’s displays ads are placed on relevant websites. For example, if you are a hotel owner, your display ads would appear on travel websites, meanwhile a clothing advertiser would be shown on fashion blogs.

The Google algorithm can use numerous sources to determine context including keywords, linguistic page structure, audience data, and other factors. Using the keyword planner tool when designing your display ads can ensure your ads reach the right people.


Remarketing display ads will appear only to users who have already interacted with your brand. When using remarketing display ads, you have several targeting options to choose from. For example, you could choose to display a particular set of display adverts to people who visited your website but have failed to convert.

Display adverts tailored to retargeting previous audiences are the type of ads that subconsciously say ‘hey, you forgot to check out!’. It is an incredibly personable type of display advertising that can generate incredible results.

Google Display Advertising

Obviously the biggest player in the game when it comes to display advertising is Google. The Google Display Network currently reaches 90% of all internet users across the globe – on millions of different websites, blogs, news sites and their own sites such as YouTube and Gmail.

The two main types of Google display ads

There are two main types of Google display ads that are commonly used; responsive display ads and uploaded image ads. For many years the Google Display Network only supported basic text ads or image ads, which came in several standard sizes.

Over the years, the number of available ad formats on the Google Display Network has drastically increased and the introduction of responsive display ads has, arguably, transformed the advertising game for many businesses looking to promote their products and services with Google Ads.

Responsive display ads

Responsive display ads are the default ad type for advertisers using Google display advertising.

With responsive display ads, you upload a selection of images or allow Google to scrape your website for suitable images, and write a choice of headlines and descriptions for your ads. Google will then use these to create responsive ads for you.

Google Ads will automatically optimise your responsive display ad for performance by testing different combinations of visuals and copy to determine which versions of your ad perform best.

On top of this, responsive display ads automatically adjust in size to suit the requirements of the webpage it appears on, helping to make the entire advertising process faster and more seamless for you.

Responsive display ads typically have a lower cost-per-click (CPC) and a higher click-through-rate (CTR) than uploaded image ads. However, the responsive nature of these ads means that you hand the reins over to Google and have less control over the design process.

Uploaded image ads

Unlike responsive display ads, uploaded image ads allow you to have creative control over the look and feel of your display ads.

When using standard image ads, you can create your ads in a design tool of your choice then upload them to the Google Ads interface using one of the support image file formats; JPG, PNG or GIF.

However, it’s important to note that uploaded image ads won’t automatically resize to fit the webpage they are shown on. Therefore, if using this display ad type, you will need to upload your ad in various ad sizes to ensure your advert will be shown across different web pages.

As a result, uploaded image ads allow you to exercise greater control over the design of your display ads. However, it is a more manual process that requires you to take onus for the optimisation and performance of your display ads.

Standard ad sizes on Google

Variety is the spice of life when it comes to display advertising through Google. There are a wide range of ad sizes to choose from, allowing you to test which format works best for your ad campaigns.

The current supported ad sizes for Google Display ads are:

Square and rectangle ad sizes

  • 200 x 200px – Small Square
  • 240 x 400px – Vertical Rectangle
  • 250 x 250px – Square
  • 250 x 360px – Triple Widescreen
  • 300 x 250px – Inline Rectangle
  • 336 x 280px – Large Rectangle
  • 580 x 400px – Netboard

Skyscraper ad sizes

  • 120 x 600px – Skyscraper
  • 160 x 600px – Wide Skyscraper
  • 300 x 600px – Half-Page Ad
  • 300 x 1050px – Portrait

Leaderboard ad sizes

  • 468 x 60px – Banner
  • 728 x 90px – Leaderboard
  • 930 x 180px – Top Banner
  • 970 x 90px – Large Leaderboard
  • 970 x 250px – Billboard
  • 980 x 120px – Panorama

Mobile-only ad sizes

  • 300 x 50px – Mobile Banner
  • 320 x 50px – Mobile Leaderboard
  • 320 x 100px – Large Mobile Banner

When uploading your standard image ads for use on the Google Display Network, make sure you upload your ad in a variety of sizes to ensure it will be displayed across different mobile and desktop placements.

Why display advertising is important: a wrap-up

Hopefully, this article has answered your questions to “what is display advertising and why is it important?” and reminded you of the importance of using display advertising within your wider digital marketing efforts.

Display advertising is a fantastic way of increasing brand awareness and converting leads into sales in a way that is customisable, personable, and entirely responsive.

If you are looking to level up your display advertising campaigns, we are here to help. Growing your online business is important and, here at Common Ground, we will use our proven frameworks and PPC experience to generate measurable results for your business.

Want to see how we’ve helped other businesses to leverage the powers of paid advertising? Take a look at a selection of our PPC case studies to see exactly how we helped numerous brands improve their paid advertising performance.

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