The most successful digital advertising campaigns are both multi-faceted and fluid, drawing on several different channels and platforms and flexing approach in-line with results – but one really effective yet sadly often under-utilised tool in this area is Google Display Network.

The problem for many brands is that their focus tends to be towards click-through rates and conversions. Yes, these are undeniably important (and measurable) aspects of digital advertising, but while investing in search, businesses and the marketing agencies representing them sometimes forget about display – but that’s exactly how traditional advertising always worked! Yes, of course you want consumers to interact, but familiarity and embedding your brand in consumers’ consciousness still brings a return on investment, as the results of this study show.

While it’s completely reasonable to want to realise a direct and tangible ROI on any advertising, it’s important to remember that the sales funnel isn’t linear – even in this ‘immediate-fix’ world where we can buy what we want, whenever we want it, and at the touch of a button.

Digital advertising and brand awareness

Digital advertising and pay per click services such as Google Adwords (yes, other options are available!) can be an effective way of driving traffic to your website, targeting your advertising to different audiences and promoting specific products and services. But people aren’t always ready to purchase, they may just be researching, comparing or browsing – so just because you lead them there, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll buy right then, or even ever.

So to get the maximum value from your marketing activities, you need to do some broader thinking – and part of that means getting your brand into people’s psyche, even if just in a subtle, subliminal or subconscious way. With every new product launch or adaptation, you need to think about impressions, not just clicks – and remember that your digital activity will also translate into offline buyer activity too.

By making your brand more visible, you create a greater level of ‘brand awareness’ – which in turn, nurtures a culture of confidence. While your audience may not be ready to buy right now, if they’ve seen your brand pop up on the screen during their day-to-day digital dealings, once they’re ready to purchase the types of products you sell, they may well be more likely to click on your website when searching than a competitor website that they’ve never heard of. Familiarity is truly a many favoured friend.

Does display advertising really work?

This is a pretty easy question to answer – yes! And the evidence of this is everywhere…

Check out any bus shelter (or bus itself), billboard, print magazine, leaflet dropping through your letterbox… display advertising has pretty much been around since the Egyptians posted sales messages on walls using papyrus. In fact, commercial messages have been found on walls, rocks and ruins throughout the world – it’s nothing new, and it still works.

So while we now have a relatively new kid on the block in the shape of digital advertising, its close cousin of traditional marketing still has lots to offer – and it transfers beautifully to our tech screens. Put your brand right in front of your audiences’ face: every impression makes an impression.

As with anything, it’s all a question of balance. We’re not in any way suggesting that there’s anything wrong with the pull approach of paid (or organic) search advertising, but the push approach of display digital advertising can be a great weapon in your marketing armoury. Here’s another reason why…

Living in the (micro) moment – how behaviour drives digital strategy

To understand and effectively utilise any form of advertising – digital or otherwise – you need to adapt to changes in consumer behaviour. Internet use and the consumer journey is increasingly formed through ‘micro-moments’: intent driven, fragmented interactions. You’ll recognise this behaviour as soon as you stop to think about how you yourself use the web – especially when using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets…

How often does a conversation, random thought, TV commercial, search for an answer lead you to hopping online to search for information? We do this almost without thinking these days. Maybe winter is coming and you’re thinking ahead to buying a pair of sturdy, seasonal boots – so you pop online to start looking at what’s available. Then you get sidetracked, hop back off, do something different… and later that day/week you pop back to resume your search. This can happen multiple times before you go ahead and decide what you want. Sat on the bus, waiting to go into a meeting, relaxing on the sofa, drinking in the pub; micro-moments are part of your day-to-day digital experience.

See? It’s not linear or immediate, but your end-purchase decision is already being formed and influenced.

Influencing buyer-intent through image and impression

They say that image is everything, and that applies to digital advertising and FMCG as well as anything else. Creating a positive brand image even if a consumer is just at the start of their purchasing journey tells people that you’re there, you’re relevant and you’re ready to provide a product or service.

The Google Display Network facilitates this concept of making a good impression, with the added bonus of being able to choose exactly where your ads are displayed – so you can target specific websites, consumer groups and demographics to ensure you’re reaching out to the right audience.

If set up correctly, you can also set your budget to target the ad groups that are bringing the best return, allowing you to adapt to results. Additionally, you can go down the remarketing route, putting your ad impressions in front of consumers who have already expressed an interest in your website and specific products.

It’s also worth mixing up your impressions e.g. using a combination of text and image ads – again, you can monitor results and adapt your digital advertising and display network strategy accordingly, for that sweet sense of complete control!

The cost-efficiencies of Google Display Network

While some retailers are reluctant to spend on display rather than search advertising, it’s worth flipping back to the traditional forms of display ads. Remember those billboards etc we mentioned? They can cost a pretty penny, and while they increase visibility, you can’t target a specific audience or re-channel your spend once they’re up.

The display network gives you much more scope to evaluate and adjust your advertising campaign – just set aside an hour or two each week to check out your dashboard and make informed marketing decisions and you’re much more likely to see a (measureable) return on your investment.

Integrating Google Display Network into your digital advertising

If you’re still not sure if display advertising can add value to your marketing efforts, it makes sense to set up a test on the network just to see what kind of results it can bring – nothing ventured, nothing gained.

If you decide to dive in and integrate it into your strategy, the one thing you absolutely must get right is the design of your ads. While it’s important to get your ads displayed on the right websites, it’s crucial to make sure they’re professionally designed – an aesthetically pleasing ad that draws attention for the right reasons is the lifeblood of any successful ad campaign, offline or online.

If you have any questions about Google Display Network or digital advertising in general, please feel free to give us a call for a no-obligation chat – but whether you go it alone or bring in some professional help, it’s definitely worth considering trying out this platform in order to influence your target market and increase brand visibility and awareness.