Are Display Ads Dead?


I saw a HubSpot article earlier this week which showed some pretty alarming statistics about on-line display ads:

  • 8% of internet users account for 85% of display ad clicks (and not all of them are human)
  • You are more likely to summit Mount Everest than click on a banner ad
  • You are more likely to survive a plane crash than click a banner ad

So, on this evidence, display ads are a thing of the past, right?  Well, no.  Firstly, the context of these stats is not clear, so we should only take them at face value.  But is the point that they are making fair?

Imagine this scenario – you run a company who sells widgets to other businesses and has been doing so for 10 years.  When you are advertising to your current customer base, you need to drive direct responses.  So, your strategy is to drive enquiries, and your objective is to drive the target audience to your website to find out more. In this case, display ads are not the tool for you – an average click through rate is 0.1%, so you will need 1000 impressions of your ad before you receive just one click. 

However, if you have decided to start selling your widgets to a brand new audience, then your strategy will be to raise awareness of your product to this new audience – you want to get your name out to this new audience, so on-line display ads could be the answer.  Your objective is brand awareness with this new audience, not necessarily clicks.

So, as with every marketing campaign, the objective should help to tell you what tool you should use to get the maximum return – if its clicks and visits to the site, maybe look at PPC; if its awareness, then on-line display ads could be right. 

If you have an on-line display ad campaign with well-targeted keywords, a website which your audience frequently visits, a memorable ad creative, and you want to get this message in front of thousands of your target audience at relatively low cost, then on-line display ads are not dead – in fact, they might just be the tool you are looking for. 

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