Digital advertising expenditures overall are up more than 20% over the past year, and digital display advertising is matching that torrid pace of growth.

Today’s digital display advertising is more powerful and compelling than the banner ads of yesteryear, for various reasons, including:

Google now offers very powerful and free tools that permit businesses of all sizes to move quickly and economically into digital display advertising. But what are the options for business owners and marketing managers, and where and how to start?

  • The availability of performance-based (pay per click or per engagement, rather than the cost-per-impression model) display advertising.
  • Enhanced rich media and video options.
  • Improved contextual targeting options and capabilities.
  • Remarketing – the ability to show ads across the network specifically to users who have visited your site(s).
  • Display advertising options on the fast-growing mobile platforms.
  • Dramatically increased online video viewing, and a corresponding increase in options for advertising in and around topical videos.
  • Improved response and sales when an advertiser can show a product, and even show how a product works.

Google has long been the undisputed leader in text-only search engine marketing (which still produces the vast majority of its revenue), but the company recognized the growing importance of display options, and has been investing heavily in display capability over the past several years.

Display Network Options Through Google

The Display Network, as described by Google, “is comprised of Google properties like YouTube, Google Finance, Gmail, and others that offer display advertising, as well as a network of millions of partner sites on which you can place your ads.”

Google display inventory comes from websites in Google’s AdSense network (they sign up with Google and insert code on their pages for a share of revenue) and the DoubleClick Ad Exchange.

Ad formats that can be presented in the Display Network include text ads, static image ads, video ads, and rich media ads.

Available image ad formats include:

  • Leaderboard (728 x 90 pixels)
  • Banner (468 x 60)
  • Small square (200 x 200)
  • Skyscraper (120 x 600)
  • Wide skyscraper (160 x 600)
  • Square (250 x 250)
  • Medium rectangle (300 x 250)
  • Large Rectangle (336 x 280)

Rich Media Ad Options

Rich media ads presented in the Google display network include “video ads, Flash animated ads, and ads that mix text, animated content, and designs,” as described by Google.

Video ads may be presented as:

  • Click-to-play
  • In-video as an overlay message at the bottom of a video
  • In-stream, as a video ad that plays at the beginning or end of a “content” video.

All of these ad types—image, rich media, and video—may be quickly and cost-efficiently designed by advertising professionals using Google’s built-in display ad builder tool.

Contextual Targeting

After you’ve created your display ads, how do you present them to the right audience at the right time? Google provides a powerful set of tools to help your AdWords pro identify good potential sites. You may also work with your AdWords pro to identify and select specific sites for testing your ads.

After you’ve created your display ads, how do you present them to the right audience at the right time? Google provides a powerful set of tools to help your AdWords pro identify good potential sites. You may also work with your AdWords pro to identify and select specific sites for testing your ads.

Most often, we recommend a combination of using Google’s automated targeting tools to prospect for good sites, while also individually selecting known affinity sites, and excluding sites that are not a good match with your message.

Remarketing

Potential customers or clients often go through a three-step process to buy online. These steps include research, consideration, and purchase.

Remarketing is a way to continue to reach potential customers as they browse sites across the Google content/display network.

If a potential customer visits your site, then moves on without buying or completing a lead form, for example, remarketing lets you add them to your Google AdWords “audience” list and continue to offer ads to them as they browse other sites. You may even develop your own set of separate audience lists to remarket to, based on which part of your site was visited.

Remarketing helps you bring customized messages to potential customers or clients in each step of the three-step buying process as they browse. You may work with your AdWords pro to develop and implement a remarketing strategy and campaign – the underlying remarketing technology itself is provided free of charge by Google (though of course you still pay for clickthroughs). Like other AdWords campaigns, Remarketing campaigns include full performance metrics, including clickthroughs, conversions, cost-per-conversion, etc.

Mobile Pay-Per-Click

You’re no doubt aware of the rapid growth and reach of mobile devices, including smartphones, iPads, and more. Mobile presents opportunities to reach potential customers when they may be near one of your locations. Mobile ads for smartphones may also include convenient-for-the-customer click-to-call phone numbers.

You may run text-only mobile ads, but there are display ad options as well. There are 15 different mobile image ad sizes available, ranging from 167 x 30 pixels, to 200 x 200 pixels and larger.

Work with your AdWords pro to create a mobile-specific campaign that includes a separate budget, mobile-specific ad copy, and mobile features, such as click-to-call.

YouTube Options

There’s no need to recap the power and reach of Google-owned YouTube here – you’re already familiar with it. But you may not be aware of its advertising opportunities. Within YouTube you can…

  • Reach audiences through traditional keyword targeting, and contextual targeting.
  • Select by age, gender, location, and language preference.
  • Select where your message appears by interest category, and through remarketing campaigns.

YouTube formats include in-stream ads, which, Google states, may be up to 30 seconds long, and appear before a user watches a video on YouTube.

Another YouTube option: If you already own and post video content, YouTube promoted videos let you promote your videos in appropriate interest areas of YouTube.

As with other formats discussed here, YouTube campaigns may be quickly and efficiently launched and then made performance-measurable by your AdWords pro.

While search-based text-only advertising is still a great (and the predominant) way to reach potential customers and clients in an extremely targeted way, emerging display, remarketing, rich media, mobile, and video options provide a rich palette for enhancing digital campaigns.

Thanks to Fred Zahradnik, our Google AdWords partner, for his research and writing for this blog post.