Digital Marketing In 2023: Are Web Display Ads Still Relevant?

One of the biggest challenges for a marketer is the volatility in advertising. What is trending today might become an obsolete strategy tomorrow. And if your business does not keep up with the ever-changing trends, it becomes tough to survive the competition. 

One such trend that was once huge in the world of marketing but soon faded out is web display advertising. Yes, we are talking about those ads and banners that pop up on websites you browse. There was a time when these were the go-to options in digital advertising. But then social media happened and things changed for display advertising. When marketers could create social media ads that looked like native content, the craze for web display ads started declining. And marketers thought display advertising is dead. But is it really? Let’s find out. 

A promoted post on social media appears like it’s part of the user’s Feed. However, a web banner ad popping up on a website is something we choose to ignore at first sight. That’s one main reason why people thought that display advertising is a thing of the past. But the truth is with Google bringing in a lot of changes to the display advertising landscape, display ads are back with a bang. All it takes is for you to understand the changes, have a relevant strategy, and have the right designs that get your display ads noticed. 

Display ads and social media ads – an overview 

From the positioning of the ad to the targeting methods and specifications of design, a lot differs between web display ads and social media ads. Knowing the nuances that set them apart will make it easier for you to segregate your budget and marketing efforts between display advertising and social media advertising strategies. And it will be a solid first step in identifying which one to focus on. 

Web display ads

As you are browsing the web, you see ads appearing in different places on the web page. Clicking them takes you either to a landing page that captures customer information or a website homepage. These are web display ads and they come in many shapes and sizes. 

Social media ads

Social media ads, on the other hand, are ads that you see on your Feed. They appear like the rest of the posts on social media but you see them labeled as “sponsored” or “promoted”. 

Web display ads vs. Social media ads – the differences 

web display ads

Web display ads and social media ads can be used for different purposes. To create an ad and get good results on social media, you should also have a strong social media presence. When your social media ad takes users to a lead capture landing page, customers will be curious to know about your brand first before they furnish their contact details. For this, they might visit your social media page. So, if you do not have a strong social media strategy in place, users might abandon the ad. 

On the other hand, for a display ad to be successful, all it takes is a powerful landing page. And you can also take users to a specific webpage on your website and thus boost traffic through display ads. When planned right, display ads can get good returns on your marketing investments. Let’s look at some of the benefits that display advertising offers even today when social media seemingly has an upper hand in marketing. 

Why display advertising is a timeless entity in marketing 

Gives you a better reach 

One of the main strengths of display advertising is that it helps expand your reach and strengthen brand awareness. As a startup struggling to familiarize your brand with your target audience, you might find display advertising to be of great help. 

Google Display Network includes more than 2 million websites. And this means that with a good display advertising strategy you have the potential to reach 90% of the global internet users

Even users who are not yet into the social media frenzy will view your web display ads as they browse the internet. So, when you combine display advertising and social media advertising, your brand’s reach skyrockets. 

The versatility of web display ads

On most social media platforms you have restrictions on the size and orientation of the ads which leaves you with fewer options in ad design. Display advertising is a highly competitive space in this regard. You get to choose tiny banners or immersive interstitial ads depending on your budget. You can flexibly choose the design that feels relevant to the concept of your ad. 

The unbeatable perks of remarketing 

Targeting strategies can be very different on social media and web display advertising. However, one of the biggest strengths of display ads that makes them viable strategies even today is the potential for remarketing. When you see random ads on websites they might be annoying. But what if, these ads remind you of something you were planning to purchase? We’ll break it down for you. 

Imagine this: Christmas is near and you are browsing the web to find gifts for your family. A mail notification pops up and Christmas shopping takes the back seat. So, you get busy with your work and forget about buying gifts. In a few hours, when you sit down to browse the internet again, you see display ads featuring those very items you were earlier checking out for Christmas gifting. These ads remind you of something you left mid-way. And the best part is that you can pick up from where you left. This is precisely what remarketing is about. With the smart use of cookies, your ads can be used to bring back customers who show interest in your products. 

Display advertising has evolved 

We have seen a resurgence of display advertising in the past few years. Programmatic advertising and the use of AI (artificial intelligence) are all part of the game now. All this has been possible because display advertising has evolved. You are no more restricted to boring stationary banner ads. You can use GIFs, short videos, animated typography, and various other media types to get people to notice your ad and evoke an emotional response from them. 

Given the many benefits of display ads, we can safely say that web display ads are here to stay. However, there’s no denying that some web display ads appear more clickable than others. And these are the ones that get better click-through rates and conversions too. Have you ever wondered why? If you want yours to fall into this category, here are some design tips to create click-worthy web display ads. 

Design tips to get people to notice your web display ads

1. Contrast matters as much as colors

Choosing colors that suit your brand or the campaign is essential. But what matters, even more, is choosing the right contrast. Even the best color palette will be of no use if poor contrast leads to the text not being legible. The text, the imagery, and the CTA button should all have their own space in the design. And the contrasts you choose should make them stand out. Users don’t often react to an ad unless there is a button to click and a copy that convinces them to click that button. 

2. Design and copy go hand-in-hand

A good ad is the marriage of great copy and catchy design. The images you choose for the display ad should have a strong connection with the copy. A simple stock image will be enough for a basic ad. But it does not add much value to your brand. You need imagery that communicates the same message as the copy of the ad.  Take a look at the example below.

The above ad from Apple shows how the simplest copy combined with the right visuals can make a lasting impression on onlookers. 

3. Clear layouts lead to better conversions 

Hierarchy is an indispensable trait in design. It tells users the priorities of each design element. And it thus tells them what to read first and what to read last. This is important because unlike blogs your design will not have a full page of continuously flowing content. There are going to be crisp sentences that give a gist of what the ad is about. So, you can use different design elements like color variations, font size or font style variations, and other aspects to draw attention to certain elements.

Clearly defined visual hierarchy ensures that:

We’ll look at an example to see how this is done.

In the above ad, the big bold text draws your attention, and the copy on the right tells you why the ad is relevant to you. Together they increase the chance of you clicking the CTA on the right. That’s how a clean layout on web display ads gets those clicks. 

4. Using the right typography for the theme 

Just like colors, typography also has a strong role to play in web display ads. And considering the small space that most display ads get, using interesting typography can get people to notice you. 

Setting a strong theme for your display ad will make the design more impactful. Understand the personality of different typefaces and choose one that solves the purpose. At the same time, the typeface you choose should be legible even if the ad is to be displayed on a small mobile screen. Fleeting visuals like display ads will only gain traction if the text is clear. 

Most users do not like ads interrupting their web experience. And if the ad that breaks the flow does not have text that is clear to read at first glance, your ad appears intrusive. So, users will ignore them. To avoid this, ensure that your design incorporates catchy fonts that resonate with the style and are easy to read, as in the design below. 

The above design shows a lot of variations to break down the content but without using too many typefaces. That’s what makes the whole composition look harmonious. 

5. Use illustrations 

Photos are everywhere. And many brands use stock images in their ads. To make your display ad stand out, you need bespoke content that talks in the language of your brand. Custom illustrations can be your best pals in this. Illustrations are fun and interactive. And you can create designs that are in line with your ad theme. 

Illustrations can be contextual. And since you are designing them from scratch, they will become unique identities of your brand. When your competitors use stock images, custom illustrations in display ads can give your brand a competitive edge. 

The below example shows an ad from GEICO. The reputed insurance company uses illustrations to set its ads apart in the heavily crowded motor insurance segment. 

6. Be consistent with your branding 

Banner ads have the potential to strengthen brand awareness. Unlike social media ads that people might often scroll past as they scroll down their feed, display ads are there before their eyes, for a good amount of time. As they read a blog post or search for content on a website, the ad remains in sight for quite some time. This increases the chances of the user remembering the ad or at least certain elements of it for a longer duration. 

Considering the retention power of these ads, the wisest way to make it work will be to maintain consistency in branding. Choosing your brand colors, incorporating specific fonts that resonate with your brand’s persona and other tactics help create consistent-looking ads. And when users continue to see a few ads with similar color schemes and visual styles, they will recollect the old ads and thus start remembering your brand better. The below ads show how you can do that.

The above ads are enough to help any customer remember that blue is AOL’s brand color. That’s what visually consistent web display ads can do for your brand when it comes to branding. 

Walking into the future 

Web display ads, when designed well, can increase your brand awareness. And they can also become cost-effective tools to boost your revenue. So display ads are still relevant. Even with the growing popularity of social media advertising, efficiently positioned web display ads can add value to your marketing campaigns. Combine the right strategies with great design and you are good to go.