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By Alan Coleman on 17 May 2013

The Irish Times online editor Hugh Lenihan shook the audience at the IIA event on Wednesday this week when he disclosed his belief that “Display Ads Are A Crock of Shit”! Hugh divulged that he never clicks on ads on the Irish Times and has actually decided never to purchase certain products because their display ads were so offensive to him.

The biggest secret in the Irish Online Advertising Industry

The Wolfgang crew had a good giggle at this disclosure; we’ve been telling people in the Wolfgang community for years now that the biggest secret in the online advertising industry in Ireland is that many advertisers are massively overpaying for under-performing display ads. There is a ten-fold gap between what different networks charge for display advertising. Yes that’s 10:1 - I kid you not! Believe it or not, even the perceived cheap “blind buys” still work out as more expensive than full visibility campaigns on Google Display & Facebook.

Taking offline advertising methodologies, and lobbing them online

When you take an offline business model and try to crowbar it online as is, more often than not it fails - and fails badly. Search advertising, Social Media, Email Marketing are all native online marketing models. They are built to deliver value online. When it comes to Display Advertising, the way a lot of people are doing it is a clear-cut case of taking newspaper ads, lobbing them online using the same old offline targeting methodology & pricing models. This is doomed to fail and is burning many marketing bucks along it’s path to it’s demise.

Consumers Don’t Trust Display

And hey it’s not just Hugh and Wolfgang who think much of display is broken; internet users have stated that display ads on desktop & mobile are their least trusted form of advertising bar unsolicited text messages. This is a Nielsen study on trust in advertising form the end of last year: PPC Wolfgang Digital Smart Display v Dumb Display

Now, I did mention that not all display advertising is bad. There are some incredibly smart display options out there; if you are an advertiser perhaps you should conduct a display advertising audit to ensure this is where your money is being spent.

Features of Smart display:

Pricing Model.

You are paying based on CPCs. The worlds two largest display advertising networks - Google Display Network & Facebook - both offer CPC pricing models. This means the advertiser pays based on interactions. When as little as 1 in 1,000 views result in a click it seems foolish to pay based on CPMs when you simply don’t need to.

Jaw dropping targeting.

Great display advertising gets your message to the right audience at the right time, in ways that will amaze you at first and then scare you a little  (Click here, then click edit under interests to see what Google reckons you are interested in right now)

  •  Behavioural targets relevant people based on their recent online behavior. Remarketing allows you to advertise to people who have already been on your website. Interest based advertising allows you to advertise to people who have recently been on websites related to your offering. Search retargeting allows you to advertise to people who have recently been searching your offering on Google etc.
  • Contextual advertising targets relevant webpages, offering you the opportunity to place ads alongside relevant content by way of keyword targeting. We’re not talking advertising Mercedes in the business pages here. We’re talking advertising high interest savings products accompanying newspaper articles on declining interest rates. It’s all about intelligence and it’s about granularity.

The wealth of available targeting options means there are lots of ways you can reach your customer in a timely fashion online and in a manner that you have never dreamed of. When you truly understand the myriad of targeting options available on the leading display networks, the only limit to how you communicate with your target audience is your imagination (or that of your digital marketing agency of course).

- Alan

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