Branding & Display Advertising

Display advertising is a known method of attracting the audience of a website, social media platform or other digital mediums to take a specific action. These are often made up of text-based, image or video advertisements that encourage the user to click-through to a landing page and take action (e.g. sign up or make a purchase).

Your strategy will ultimately depend on your goals. Some possible display ad goals include:

  • Building brand and top-of-mind awareness
  • Generating leads by offering a lead magnet
  • Attracting abandoned users/customers through retargeting
  • Nurturing leads through the buying process

Types of Display Advertising:


  • Google Display Network (GDN) (millions of websites/destinations available)
  • CPC or CPM bidding driven by combinations of:
    1.  Detailed Demographics: m/f, parental status, marital status, education, homeownership status
    2.  In-market Audiences: categories based on what users are actively researching or planning
    3.  Remarketing and Similar audiences: retargeting, customer lists, website visitors, YouTube interactions
    4.  Keywords
  • Google Pay for Conversion Display Campaigns
  • Smart Display campaigns that let the advertiser set the target Cost/Acquisition (CPA) that aligns with their goals and are only charged once a conversion has been completed

  • Interactive ads that appear at the top of Gmail inbox tabs
  • Target CPA bidding driven by:
  • Surmount defined customer lists from CRM

  • TrueView video ads run pre-roll of targeted video content while incorporating a call-to-action overlay (outbound link) with the option for an additional card or companion banner
  • Cost per View model - videos are skippable after 5 seconds and are only charged for a view after 30 seconds
  • Targeting is similar to GDN

  • Verizon/Yahoo (Oath) and Bing
  • Paid Ad placements that blend in with rich organic content
  • Ex: Yahoo Homepage below the main section every ~5th post is denoted as Sponsored but blends in with the native content
  • Surmount has not used this ad format but will be vetting it once the Verizon/Bing merger is completed (April 2019)

Surmount is able to leverage our relationship with DoubleClick to expand our product suite to include DoubleClick Google Marketing Platform (Campaign Manager and Display & Video 360)

  • Programmatic media buying is an evolution of traditional display buying that uses algorithmic purchase and sale of advertising inventory in real time. Traditional display is purchased for specific inventory levels and on negotiated sites/placements.  Programmatic still uses advertiser defined buying parameters but is able to make decisions in real time to more efficiently reach targeted consumers.

  • El Toro IP Targeting
  • Using programmatic media, served ads to IP addresses that identified as very interested students
  • These students came from lists of physical addresses that our schools had on file of students who had shown interest but not yet converted
  • Once we matched IP addresses to those physical addresses, we were able to serve ads right to the households where the IP is visible

  • Single/multiple static images and video ad formats across both Facebook and Instagram
  • Flexible bidding strategies
  • Targeting has been most successful using combination of geo+demo+CRM data to reach users that have previously engaged with a brand as well as building lookalike audiences with similar profiles
  • Beyond CRM data interest and behavior targets are curated to align with target audience for additional reach and scale

  • Multiple ad formats for both static images and video
  • Video tends to perform well with extremely efficient cost/views while also over-indexing on reach compared to standard images
  • Can run pre-roll similar to YouTube and also offers TV Targeting where you can select programming aligned to your audience (extension of traditional TV buying)
  • Engagement can be based on awareness (impressions, views, followers), platform specific metrics (likes, retweets) to conversion oriented (leads)

  • Multiple ad formats for both display and text ads as well as sponsored content and sponsored in-mail ads. Targeting and audience variations are available in all ad formats.
  • Text ads appear in multiple places such as a user’s inbox, or side or bottom of the LinkedIn homepage.
  • Sponsored content ads appear right in the middle of a user’s newsfeed
  • Sponsored InMail reaches users in their inbox, creating a poor personal and highly targeting ad approach

As is the case with all other marketing activities, display campaigns come with their own pros and cons.

First, the pros:

  1. Diversity: Display ads come in many shapes and sizes. And as you’ve seen above, they can be presented in a number of formats, too. This means you can choose a style and advertising format that will help you achieve your goals.
  2. Reach: Thanks for the Google Display Network (GDN), you can access millions of sites straight from your Google Ads account.
  3. Targeting: Because of GDN’s extensive reach, you can also target the right audience by placing your ads on the right websites. This includes demographic and geo-targeting, along with specific interests of your target audience.
  4. Measurable: Clicks, impressions and conversions can all be tracked from Google Ads, as well as Google Analytics for more granular performance and engagement tracking.

Now the Cons:

  1. Banner Blindness: Because of the prolific nature of display ads, many users have come to ignore them completely. This means a lower click-through rate. However, this can be circumvented using remarketing and rich media ads. You’ll learn all about remarketing later in this guide.
  2. Ad Blockers: Along with this, ad blocker technology has risen in popularity over the last few years. Many brands and media outlets have tried to circumvent this, however, by giving users the option of allowing ads or purchasing a subscription:

Despite these small downsides, display advertising still works – especially when you do it right.

Get Your Display Network Targeting Right

This is the part that will likely make or break your campaign. Without the right targeting, you will likely serve your ads to people who simply don’t care about what you have to offer.

The number of targeting options available can be daunting.

Let’s explore some of the main targeting options across the display network and how each of them work:

  1. Keyword Targeting: Google will serve your ads alongside content on websites that contain any target keywords you define.
  2. Demographic Targeting: Allows you to target an audience based on a website or audience’s basic demographic profile.
  3. Placement Targeting: This allows you to choose which website(s) your display ads appear on. For example, if you’re targeting a fashion audience, you can have your ads display on specific websites that cater to fashion & fashion enthusiasts.
  4. Topic Targeting: Allows users to target a group of websites that fit within a certain topic.
  5. Interest Targeting: Google has access to several data-points on its users, which allows you to serve display ads based on what users are entering into the search engine. These are then segmented into two further categories:
    1. In-Market: These are relevant to products and services and are usually aimed at those expressing an interest in purchasing.
    2. Affinity: Analyzes overall topics and interests to build the identity of a specific user.
  6. Audience Targeting: Allows you to target users who have already visited your website (remarketing).

Also, there are also times when you don’t want your ads to appear on certain websites or websites that address certain topics. These are known as display targeting exclusions.  This allows you to exclude your display ads from certain keywords, topics, placements and demographics. These act in a similar manner to negative keywords, in that you are defining which content not to target.