I always scoffed at the low click-through rates on banner ads. Things are changing.

Image courtesy Teracent

I completed my thesis on the evolution of online advertising in "Evolving Further Toward Targeted Display Advertising." Our journey ended with Homo Optimizapien, "Optimization Man." Homo Optimizapien has achieved a place where display advertising, or banner ads, deliver search-like returns, only with wider reach than search can deliver.



Display is more than clicks


Through my work with my clients, it has become apparent that display advertising can influence purchases even if it doesn’t generate clicks. I was fortunate to have seen this first hand when working with Apogee Search. Apogee had recommended that one of my clients use a portion of their paid search budget on the "content" networks, meaning that my client’s ads would appear on other Web sites. You’ve seen the "Ads by Google" blocks. I was skeptical.


As predicted, click through rates from the content ads were horrible. However, our client saw a marked increase in purchases from direct traffic. When we turned off the content network, the sales dropped. When we turned it back on, sales went up.


While everyone’s trying to figure out how to measure this effect directly, I’d recommend that you try text or display ads. The cost is low, but the benefit could be great.


Juicing Display Advertising


There are companies who can make display advertising work even better for you.


One is a company called AdReady. AdReady has a library of banner ads that can be customized by you. Furthermore, you can select the ad template that is currently performing well for other advertisers. AdReady can share your ad on the major ad networks such as Google and Yahoo! and track your results.


Dapper.net has an interesting approach. They will literally scrape your eCommerce Web site and build a database of offers from your product pages. As you change offers on your site, the ads running through Dapper change as well. This is great for organizations who have a large catalog of offers, or whose offers change frequently. Think "Travel."


If you’ve had success with pay-per-click search ads, and are spending $10,000 or more per month, you might consider some of the more sophisticated implementations, such as those offered by Tumri and Teracent.


Consider Display


It’s easy to test display advertising, and often the cost is low. My recommendation is try it in our market to see if you can increase direct and indirect conversion rates.


Images courtesy Teracent

Brian Massey
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