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Display Advertising Strategy

A display advertising strategy is the blueprint for a campaign's ad development, landing page development and technical structure. In essence, the campaign strategy answers three questions: What are we trying to sell, to whom are we trying to sell it, and what are the best ways to sell it?

1. What Are We Trying to Sell?

A display advertising campaign without an objective is busywork. Display ad objectives must be clearly defined; common objectives are generating sales leads or e-commerce revenue and/or building brand awareness and building an email list from display ad conversion options such as contests, surveys, and downloads (white papers, e-books, etc.). If the primary focus is lead or revenue generation, specific products/services and/or specific product/service groups will be the creative focus. If brand awareness is the primary objective, creative work and conversion goals may become more generalized, such as encouraging users to set up a free consultation.

2. To Whom Are We Trying to Sell It?

The more clearly the target audience is understood, the more effective the display advertising strategy will be in generating conversions. For keyword selection and creative work, the marketing team should understand the ideal target's gender, age, geographic location, marital status, number of children, ages of children, hobbies, interests, and other pertinent details. Without this information, keywords, ad creative, and landing page creative will be generalized — and generally ineffective.

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3. What Are the Best Ways to Sell It?

  • In terms of product/service messaging, ads must highlight important product differentiators; i.e., selling points that matter to customers and will persuade them to take action. Highlighting unimportant differentiators, or failing to highlight them at all, does not produce conversions.
  • In terms of display ad campaign options, retargeting, contextual targeting and site targeting each have their strengths and weaknesses. In the display advertising strategy phase, an evaluation is made regarding which option(s) is best suited to the client's objectives and target audience.
  • In terms of branding, guidelines are established for the ideas and imagery to be woven into the design of the ads and landing pages.

When the display advertising strategy is in place, development of the campaign's creative materials and technical management structure can begin in an organized and focused manner. While copywriters and designers need creative space to produce highly effective work product, they must also have enough guidance to ensure that ads and landing pages are not creative merely for the sake of being creative. As advertising legend David Ogilvy said, "If it doesn't sell, it isn't creative." This is advice well worth following every step of the way in display advertising strategy.

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