Is Display Advertising an Effective Acquisition Channel?

Updated: January 31, 2023
Is Display Advertising an Effective Acquisition Channel?
Display Advertising

Ready to boost your brand online? If you’re ready to level up your business, are interested in building brand awareness, and want to attract leads who will engage with your brand–online display advertising is likely the next best digital marketing strategy for you.

Why? From retargeting existing customers based on their live purchase history to finding new leads with aligned interests, display advertising is a familiar, often expected way, for consumers to find new brands and businesses online. With the right strategy, you can deepen your relationship with existing customers to become repeat purchasers and grow your potential audience market through automated digital campaigns.

Read on to learn more about the basics of display advertising and how you can design and execute an impactful search and display advertising strategy today.

The 101 of Online Display Advertising

If you’re a frequent internet user, you have seen a display ad–even if you didn’t know it at the time! From rich image and text ads to video, animations, and more, display ads are shown on third-party websites (read: not your personal business or brand website) to attract users and lead them through to a designated website or landing page.

In summary, display ads are compelling ‘visual’ advertisements with a specific call-to-action (CTA) designed to lead customers through to your brand. From here, new leads (or existing customers who you want to re-engage) can be led through a dedicated sales funnel relevant to their interests, online behaviour, or purchase history.

Among the most commonly relied on display advertising types that show the best ROI for new marketing teams there are:

1. Personalised Ads:

One umbrella term for targeted advertising is Personalised Ads–which means showing ads to leads and customers based on their personal demographics, interests, and online behaviour. Among the four most common types of personalised ads there is:

  • Affinity Groups:
    Include online users with an explicit interest in your industry or market. For example, ‘dog owners’ or ‘car enthusiasts’.
  • Custom Affinity Groups:
    Similar to the above but usually more defined and niche groups exist here. These could include “golden retriever owners” and “luxury vehicle owners”.
  • Custom Intent:
    These personalised ads are shown to users who are actively searching for your product, service, or offer. These could include “pizza places near me” or 2-bedroom apartments for rent in Melbourne.”
  • Similar Audiences:
    This ad type is a great way to expand your network into new audience members or leads who may not yet be aware of or familiar with your brand. Similar Audience ads find search engine users who have similar interests with your current website visitors. Forgoing the need for potential leads to be familiar with your brand before they engage with your website, Google (and other engines that offer search advertising) review existing visitor data, look for commonalities, and then show your ads to viewers who will likely connect with your brand.

We’ll focus more on retargeting ads below as these are a simple, beginner-friendly way to market to both existing customers and warm leads who have yet to convert to sales.

2. Retargeting Ads:

Sometimes called remarketing ads, these display advertisements are shown to relevant users whose online behaviour aligns with the ad offer or CTA. Because businesses that use this advertising strategy include a unique tracking code on their website, the brand is able to collect relevant information about the user’s online behaviour, interests, and related brands, products, or services. With this data, specific offers can be designed and shown to leads who have visited your website but not yet converted to paying customers. With repeated brand awareness and targeted offers displaying on third-party websites, ad viewers can click through the display ad and re-engage with your brand and be enticed by an updated, highly relevant offer.

3. Contextually Targeted Ads:

One last important and commonly used display advertising strategy is contextual targeted ads. A great opportunity to connect with online users who have blocked or limited cookies, marketing trackers, and other search engine features that can collect and create individual user profiles, contextually targeted ads are displayed on third-party websites that:

  • Dedicated brand, website, or ad topics and keywords
  • Identified language and/or location preferences
  • Your website ‘context’ (what your website and brand represent, offer, or are ‘about’)

With search engines and businesses now required to confirm their website visitor’s explicit consent to track and use their online behavioural data, contextually targeted display ads are a great way to clearly identify what your business and website offer and then connect with highly interested users. (Without having to track their interests or giving up your marketing traction when visitors turn their cookies off.)

If you can see room in your marketing strategy for digital display advertising and how display ads can be an effective acquisition channel, then read on. We’ll offer a few ways to work with your other marketing channels to identify which demographic or niche market could work best for you and then how you can design your first Google Display Network campaign.

How to Create Display Ads From Your Existing Marketing Plan

Display Ad

First things first–we believe in using the real-time data and feedback you have from existing marketing channels to inform your own display advertising campaign. Why?

  1. All of your digital marketing campaigns and traditional advertising collateral:
    should be consistent in its look and feel.
  2. Existing marketing audience data:
    Will inform which target audience you’ll focus on through Google Display Ads–as well as their respective CTAs, position in the sales funnel, and more.
  3. No reinventing the wheel.
    While display advertising may be a new form of marketing for your business, all new digital marketing assets should be informed by your existing marketing channels, platforms, and past campaigns. This real-time data can help you refine and define your display advertising strategy–meaning you don’t have to start from ground zero with limited-to-no information about your online viewers.

Among the many factors you’ll want to focus on when reviewing your existing and previous marketing strategies, platforms, and user data, you should confirm:

  1. Which offers have shown the best engagement/follow through in the past?
    This could include targeted messages or offers made through social media, email campaigns, or in-store and eCommerce offers. If you’re interested in creating a retargeting ad, confirming which previous CTAs have had the best follow through is a great way to re-engage existing customers.
  2. Where will your ads lead?
    After you’ve confirmed the CTA, you should confirm which platform (website, landing page, etc.) will be the designated URL for your online advertising. Which channel you use may be influenced by the ad CTA or business offer–other times, you may review existing marketing data and know that your audience best responds to product-specific landing pages instead of generic website visits.
  3. The messaging.
    Chances are you’ve marketed in some form to the intended target market before. While the CTA and offer may change, your brand visuals, language, and messaging should remain consistent across all channels–including your new display ads. Once you’ve confirmed the CTA, platform, and URL, we recommend updating your messaging to fall in line with brand guidelines based on the language or keywords that have best resonated with your audience in the past. 

How to Design an Effective Display Ad

Designing a Display Ad

Ready to get to work? Here are 5-steps that can walk you through the basics of designing, executing, and monitoring your first display advertisement to attract new audience members and convert more sales.

  1. Review your top-level business goals.
  2. Review your existing marketing strategy, how your marketing goals are helping to achieve your business goals, and which goals the new display ad/s will work toward.
  3. Decide which target market you’ll focus on, what you’re offering, and the CTA to connect your new audience with the offer.
  4. Confirm which ‘type’ of display ad you want to use. This falls into two steps: will you rely on retargeting existing leads and re-engaging existing customers or will a Similar Audiences ad group help you attract new warm leads? Secondly:
  5. From static graphics and text to video ads and rich image ads alike, where your ads will be displayed (and who you’ll be marketing to) will inform the second ‘type’ of display ad you must decide.

Like any marketing campaign, online display advertising campaigns should be created, executed, and measured for their effectiveness in helping you achieve your top-level campaign, marketing, and business goals.

Unsure what you’re working toward? Going back to step two above–time, money, and resources spent on any marketing campaign without a defined end point, goal, or metric to work towards is wasteful, hard to measure for effectiveness, and likely won’t result in any concrete results. Instead, each marketing action you take should be tied to a goal or milestone for the business–no matter how small it may seem.

From increasing your social media following by 100 users to attracting 50 new website visitors per month, small, incremental goals can help work toward larger business goals and milestones.

One last word of note–multiple touch points.

Before you dive in, we would like to mention one last thing that’s important to keep in mind. Like having multiple marketing touchpoints for your customers to engage with, we recommend designing 2 or more display advertising pieces that can:

  • Engage target audience members with different messaging–helping you test the effectiveness of each CTA.
  • Refresh your brand visuals, ad, and messaging every few weeks. If your strategy works, relevant viewers will come across your display ads more than once–changing up your ad design can keep your brand message and offer fresh and interesting content.
  • Increase your likelihood of showing up on multiple sites or ad touch points. Because some platforms will favour certain types of online advertising over others (for example, video ads versus rich text ads)

A similar strategy to deciding which to-level marketing platforms will help you reach your target market from all angles, 

Sharpen Your Tool Kit with the Edge Marketing Team

Edge Marketing is one of Australia’s go-to digital advertising agencies–and we know what it takes to produce a successful display campaign online. With a team of search engine optimisation experts, PPC gurus, and digital marketing managers, we get to know the ins and outs of every client’s customer target market to learn how we can best achieve your marketing goals.

For companies ready to outsource their digital marketing work and want to design display ads with our team, feel free to touch base. If you’re just starting out and not ready to outsource just yet, we encourage you to follow along with the Edge Marketing blog each week. 

Regularly deep diving into the basic terms, best practices, and free online tools of the digital marketing world, we write beginner-friendly and expert-level blogs that can help you level up your marketing. Follow along to learn more about how to get the best out of the Google Display Network, how to design for social media posts that resonate, and how to get the best ROI out of every valuable customer acquisition channel.


Mira -

Head of Paid Media

1300 558 659 -

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