3 Ways To Change Your Thinking About Display Ads & Move Out Of Your Comfort Zone


We have all seen it: marketers deeply loyal to “last click attribution” and the comfort zone it brings along with it. With a last-click mindset, they have focused on maximizing their search marketing volume via Paid Search and SEO until the query supply is maxed out.display-ad-here-featured

These marketers also use remarketing (another comfort zone), with proven intent similar to search queries, as well as similar success metrics such as return on Ad Spend (ROAS) and effective cost per acquisition (eCPA).

But once these three channels are maxed out, what can marketers do to continue to ramp business?

Getting Back On The Road To Growth

There are several changes that need to take place — in terms of both measurement and mindset — to cross this chasm and transform marketing. Keep in mind, half of the challenges you’re expecting are in your head, so take a minute to clear your brain, and read on to learn what it takes to get back on the road to growth.

1. Move From A Search Lens To A Display Lens: Search is all about speed, with very predictable and measurable outcomes based on click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate. Search allows you to quickly test keywords, copy, and landing pages and instantly (or at a minimum within hours) view results.

Display, on the other hand, requires patience. Since the click-through rate on display is very low, you have to look at the impact that display impressions are having on channels further downstream in the purchase funnel. Take time to look at the holistic picture and see how display is working within the entire ecosystem and funnel. A few ways to monitor this include an increase in branded queries, CTR increases for non-branded queries, or growing email open rates.

2. Adapt Your Optimization To The Conversion And Not The Click: In search, marketers are accustomed to optimizing for the click. In display, it’s important to instead adapt and optimize for the conversion.

This is key for two reasons: as mentioned, click-through rate on display is so low that you are optimizing on a much smaller base, and secondly: your clickers are often not your converters. Typically, clickers are comprised of younger and older demographics, which in most use cases are not the buyers being targeted by advertisers or industries.

3. Change Your Attribution Framework From Last-Click To U-Shaped, In Which All Touch Points Along The Conversion Path Receive Credit: The u-shaped attribution model gives your display campaigns enough credit to justify additional spend. Display is largely at the top of the purchase funnel: an introduction to the brand, product or service. Using u-shaped attribution, you can give equal credit to the introduction as well as the last touch point (one point for each). All touch points in between get one point over N (where N is the number of touch points).


This model will ensure that you are mapping the entire customer journey and giving credit where it’s due. It’s also critical in this model to leverage viewability measurement, to ensure the user actually saw the ad, so you give credit to the right touch point, specifically on introduction and last touch.

Right Metrics = Increased Success

The big question is how to balance your ad spend amongst retargeting and prospecting. In order to do this effectively, you need insight into the right metrics. A common trap is to assume that all of your retargeting conversions are, in fact, incremental. This trap ensures that your retargeting CPA is artificially lowered, including attributing too many conversions in the denominator of the CPA equation.

Prospecting using display can increase your volume at the top of the funnel (the supply of both branded and unbranded search queries) and also improve your efficiency further down the funnel with improved CTRs and open rates.

For marketers who have supply issues in search, or are looking to further optimize their search spend, this can be a huge growth opportunity. And in the process, you get the bonus of moving out of your comfort zone and growing as a marketer.

 (Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Tim Mayer is President of Heddle Marketing, working with companies, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, on e-commerce site builds and multi-channel marketing plans and campaigns. He has served in executive positions at Yahoo, ShopAtHome, Trueffect, Trada as well as search pioneers Inktomi, Fast Search & Transfer and Overture.



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