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Is Display advertising dying?

One of the most obvious and popular bits of inventory we sell is display advertising and creative around this. Yes, it's pretty important stuff and those that get it right (Nike, Apple, Samsung, Google) really get it right! So where are people going wrong if these sorts of companies are making millions off of it? Well, we've already answered the question!

In a commercial sense, a lot of the larger corporations that have massive marketing budgets will typically spend around £90 - 200k per year on marketing, the people who make sure this money is spent are the marketing executives, the juniors hanging onto their bosses every word, the Uni grad who follows the rules of the 'manager'. These guys & girls usually need to get rid of all this budget no matter what and therefore will spend a vast majority of it on display advertising. This means a lot of what you and I see is half cut, pretty boring and actually very irrelevant advertising. Ask yourself, when was the last time you bought a car off a facebook link?

The point here is, display will never really die out (thanks to these corporate giants), but how do the little guys make it work for them? Here's what's going on right now:

  • Display ad viewability rates did not budge between 2013 and 2014. (Source: comScore)
  • The average clickthrough rate of display ads across all formats and placements is 0.06% (Source: Display Benchmarks Tool)
  • Ad blocking grew by 41% globally in the last 12 months. (Source: PageFair)
  • There are now 198 million active ad block users around the world. (Source: PageFair)
  • A 2013 study revealed that 28% of respondents admitted to hiding their activities from advertisers -- second only to criminals. (Source: Pew Research Center)
  • A study revealed that only 2.8% of participants thought that ads on website were relevant. (Source: Infolinks and
  • A January 2014 study found that 18- to 34-year-olds were far more likely to ignore online ads, such as banners and those on social media and search engines, than they were traditional TV, radio and newspaper ads. (Source: eMarketer)
  • About 50% of clicks on mobile ads are accidental. (Source: GoldSpot Media)
  • 54% of users don't click banner ads because they don't trust them. (Source: BannerSnack)
  • 33% of internet users find display ads completely intolerable (Source: Adobe)
Ok, some pretty worrying numbers there, yes. Don't worry though, there are techniques to get around this. The best place to start is the adoption curve, or in other words - finding your niche!

No matter what it is you sell or want to promote, there is going to be a specific audience out there who is interested in what you've got. With 7.4 billion people in the world, your odds are good. Finding those people is the challenge, but when you have got them, understanding them is the next step.

The Adoption curve
Understanding that you can group these different audiences into their own little part of that curve, is what's going to help you understand where you fit. Just because the early adopters or the Pragmatists are the biggest group, it doesn't mean you have to target them.

Understanding your niche is what is going to help you know where to start. Here is a good example of how you can figure this out:

Imagine your customer, Rubin. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, has a nice 9 till 5 job with a pretty decent bike and really nice up to date laptop. He works in IT but he prefers to spend most of his evenings at home either playing the Playstation or surfing through Pinterest. He only drinks on a Saturday afternoon with the girl he secretly likes and he spends more money on 'new innovations' than food.

How do you market to him? Let's pretend in this circumstance you are an online clothing retailer. What do you consider?

  1. Does he want clothes for work because this is where he spends most his time?
  2. He seems to lounge around a lot so does he want comforting clothes?
  3. He clearly likes to bike, do we have waterproof clothing?
  4. That girl! Does she react to his fashion?
  5. Is clothing classed as a 'new innovation'?
Where on the curve would you put Rubin? You'll need to decide whether this is the right guy to go for or not. If your clothing matches what he's looking for, then you can put him into your niche. Do you make cycling clothes that are trendy and formal enough to wear in an office? Rubin is your prime customer then.

What will get you ahead of Nikes new, pretty flimsy set of biking clothes for 2016 is the understanding of this person. These giants will spend thousands outbidding other smaller advertisers on Google Ads and they'll plague us all with their overpriced junk, but they'll never beat that small, independent shop that "just get's it".

What's going to put you ahead of the game is getting this locked away before you release your business online. Have a really vivid picture of what Rubin looks like in your mind, and target him! Target him in his sleep, at his job, watch his every move...well - not that much but get to know his problems. When you know this, you'll know how to present the solution, your solution!
Should I use display advertising?

The truth is, display isn't dying. It never will as long as Apple are around, however consumers are learning more than ever how to ignore it and how to block it. Your strongest audience is the one who needs your product, not the mass bunch who will accidentally click on it. Think about some key things:

  • Have I ever brought anything off a facebook ad? If I did, why?
  • What's the best display I've seen this year?
  • Why don't I click on Apple/Samsung ads anymore?
Yes, you do need display advertising, but you need to be smart with it. Target it, take some time, make it look beautiful, make it relevant and find your niche to set it towards. Once you build that masterpiece, set it free but always keep a close eye.


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