A Marketer’s Complete Guide to Paid Search in 2024

In recent years, the landscape of paid search advertising has undergone remarkable transformations, prompting marketers to reassess its efficacy amid evolving consumer behaviors and technological advancements. Even as consumer search behavior expands to other platforms, including e-commerce and social media platforms, traditional search engines are evolving the technology that underpins their solutions to take advantage of new AI and machine learning capabilities.  

As algorithms and AI become more sophisticated, and user intent grows increasingly nuanced, the efficacy of traditional paid search strategies must be scrutinized. Likewise, campaigns must be adjusted to keep pace with the evolving landscape. In this article, we delve into the shifting dynamics of paid search advertising, exploring its evolving role in 2024’s digital advertising landscape.

Table of Contents

Paid search is a digital marketing strategy where advertisers pay to have their ad featured prominently on search engine results pages (SERPs). These ads, often purchased on a pay-per-click basis (which is why paid search is sometimes referred to as “PPC advertising”), typically appear high within organic search results and are marked as “sponsored” or “ad” to distinguish them from organic listings. Paid search allows advertisers to bid on keywords relevant to their products or services, targeting specific audiences based on search queries and demographic data. It’s a highly targeted and measurable way to drive website traffic and generate leads or sales. 

Powered by advanced algorithms and machine learning solutions, paid search is the most direct-response and transaction-oriented advertising channel. Paid search advertising allows advertisers to market their products and services using powerful audience and keyword intent signals across the Google and Microsoft ecosystems, as well as a growing array of retail media networks, such as Amazon, Walmart, and CVS. Popular platforms for paid search advertising include Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), Bing Ads, and Yahoo Search Ads.

As of March 2024, Google’s overwhelmingly dominant share of the U.S. search engine market stood at 87 percent, with Bing representing about 8 percent and Yahoo another 2.5 percent. 

In 2023, U.S. paid search spend reached an estimated $110 billion, representing 41.8 percent of total digital spending. Additionally, paid search saw a growth rate of 8.2 percent, slightly higher than overall U.S. digital ad spend (7.8 percent). Within search, spend in retail media networks grew fastest at 18.7 percent.  

Does Paid Search Still Work in 2024?

With so much investment going into paid search—and continuing to grow at a respectable rate—it begs the question: How effective is paid search in 2024? As with any question of ROI, it’s difficult to pinpoint a single rate of return for paid search advertising in 2024. ROI varies depending on several factors, including:

  • Industry: Different industries have varying customer acquisition costs and profit margins.
  • Campaign goals: Brands may aim for brand awareness, website traffic, or direct sales, each of which influences ROI calculations.
  • Campaign effectiveness: Click-through rates, conversion rates, and ad spend all affect ROI.

However, there are some resources that offer useful ROI benchmarks on paid search. For example, studies suggest an average ROI of 200 percent for paid search advertising across various industries. That falls in line with ROI estimates from Google, which reports businesses making an average of $2 for every $1 spent on Google Ads.

In other words, while ROI on paid search will vary according to the advertiser, return on spend within the channel remains consistently robust. Importantly, paid search can also be used to amplify results in other channels, including display, positioning it as an essential lynchpin in a larger digital marketing strategy.

Examples of Paid Search Ads

Paid search ads can take a variety of formats, depending on the platform on which they appear and the goal that they are trying to achieve. Examples of paid search ads include:

Text Ads

Think of these as the classic paid search ads. Typically seen on search engines like Google,  Bing, and Yahoo, they consist of a headline, description line, and URL, all designed to be clear and concise while convincing searchers to click.

Examples of Paid Search text ads.

Shopping Ads

Often used for e-commerce, these ads showcase product images, titles, prices, and sometimes even reviews or star ratings. They aim to grab attention with visuals and entice immediate purchase.

Examples of Paid Search shopping ads.

Call Extensions

These appear alongside text ads and offer a phone number for searchers to call directly. They’re ideal for businesses with a strong focus on phone inquiries.

Examples of Paid Search call extensions.

App Install Ads

Appearing on search engine results pages or within apps themselves, app install ads are concise promotions designed to convince users to download a mobile application.

Examples of Paid Search app install ads.

These are just a few examples of the diverse range of paid search ads available to advertisers, each offering unique features and targeting options to help reach their desired audience and achieve their marketing goals. While the above represent the most typical paid search formats, it’s worth noting that paid search campaigns can also incorporate video content elements or visuals driven based on contextual and affinity targeting. 

How Is Paid Search Different from SEO?

Paid search and search engine optimization (SEO) are two sides of the same coin, both aiming to get your website or products seen by potential customers. But, they achieve this in fundamentally different ways. Both fall under the umbrella of Search Engine Marketing, also known as SEM, which refers to the overall strategy of improving your website’s visibility in search engine results. Generally speaking, SEO is the practice of optimizing your website to improve its organic ranking and visibility in search engine results.

Here’s a breakdown of the key differences between paid search and SEO:

Paid Search:

  • Cost: You pay a fee each time someone clicks (or, in some cases, just sees) your ad. 
  • Placement: Ads appear at the top or side of search engine results pages marked as “sponsored” or “ad.”
  • Speed: You see results quickly, as your ads can be launched right away.
  • Control: You have a high degree of control over your targeting (who sees your ads) and messaging. However, ad positions depend on your bids and ad quality score. 
  • Sustainability: Traffic stops once you stop paying for ads.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization):

  • Cost: While SEO may require tools and resources, it’s generally considered an organic approach.
  • Placement: Your website ranks higher in the natural search results (the non-paid listings).
  • Speed: SEO takes time and ongoing effort to improve your ranking. 
  • Control: You can influence ranking factors, but ultimately, search engine algorithms determine your position.
  • Sustainability: Organic traffic can be more sustainable in the long run, but it requires maintenance.

In short, paid search offers a fast track to the top of search results, while SEO is a marathon that builds organic, long-term website traffic. Many businesses will use a combination of both SEO and paid search for a well-rounded SEM strategy.

How Does Paid Search Work?

In the sprawling digital marketplace, where billions of searches are conducted daily, mastering the fundamentals of paid search advertising has become indispensable for businesses striving to stand out amid the online cacophony. At its core, paid search operates on a simple yet powerful principle: the symbiotic relationship between advertisers seeking visibility and search engines facilitating relevant connections. Let’s look at the basic process of how paid search works.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is the foundation of any successful paid search campaign. It involves brainstorming relevant terms people might use to search for your products or services. You’ll then use keyword research tools to analyze search volume, competition level, and cost-per-click (CPC) for those keywords. This helps you identify a targeted mix of high-traffic, yet affordable keywords that will drive qualified leads to your website.

Ad Copy

Crafting compelling ad copy for your paid search campaign requires understanding your target audience and what resonates with them. Research your competitors’ ads to see what messaging works and what gaps you can fill. Analyze high-performing keywords to understand the specific needs and desires searchers express. Then, focus on crafting clear, concise headlines and descriptions that highlight your unique selling proposition (USP) and incorporate strong calls to action (CTAs) to entice clicks and conversions.

Campaign Structure and Targeting

Structuring your paid search campaign effectively is key to maximizing its impact. This involves grouping relevant keywords with high conversion potential into focused ad groups. Each ad group then gets tailored ad copy that speaks directly to the specific search intent behind those keywords. You’ll also set targeting parameters to ensure your ads reach the right audience, including demographics, location, device usage, and even interests to ensure your message resonates with qualified leads searching for what you offer.  

Bidding

In the fast-paced world of paid search auctions, bidding determines where your ad appears and how much you pay. You’ll set a maximum amount you’re willing to pay for each click (max CPC) on your chosen keywords. This bid, along with the quality and relevance of your ad and landing page, influences your ad rank. The auction considers these factors to determine the highest bidder eligible to appear and the cost you’ll ultimately pay, which is often lower than your max bid; you only pay what’s necessary to outrank the next competitor. 

Measurement and Optimization

Measurement and optimization are the cornerstones of a successful paid search campaign. You’ll closely monitor key metrics like impressions, clicks, conversion rates, and cost-per-acquisition (CPA) to identify what’s working and what needs improvement. By analyzing this data, you can optimize your bids to get the most out of your budget, refine your keyword selections to target the right audience, and continuously test and adapt your ad copy to maximize clicks and conversions, ensuring your campaign delivers the best possible ROI.

How Do Paid Search Ads Get Ranked?

There are multiple considerations that determine where your ad will be placed on SERPs. These include the following. 

Bidding Price

In paid search, bidding gets your ad in the race, but relevance wins the trophy. You set a max price per click (bid), but search engines consider your ad’s quality too. A lower bid with a super-relevant ad can outrank a higher one. So, it’s not just about throwing money into the mix; it’s about crafting targeted, high-quality ads that resonate with searchers. 

Ad Extensions

Ad extensions won’t magically shoot your ad to the top, but they can be your secret weapon. By adding features like sitelinks or call buttons, you make your ad more informative and useful, potentially boosting click-through rate (CTR). Search engines consider CTR in their ranking formula, so these extensions can indirectly nudge your ad rank up a notch. They’re like bonus points for creating a user-friendly ad that stands out. 

Quality of Ads and Landing Pages

Advertisers who craft compelling ads and landing pages will find their campaigns climbing the paid search ladder. Search engines reward relevant ads that match user intent and landing pages that deliver. Both factors play a role in the ad rank formula, alongside your bid. So, prioritize clear messaging and a smooth user experience. A high-quality ad can outrank a competitor with a bigger budget, just like a great restaurant with good reviews thrives without needing the flashiest decor. 

Keyword Focus

Keywords are the golden ticket to higher ad rank in paid search. By including relevant keywords in your ad copy and targeting, you ensure your ad shows up for searches people actually make. Plus, relevant keywords boost your quality score, a ranking factor. Think of it like a map: relevant keywords guide users and search engines to your ad, potentially placing you above competitors even if they bid higher. So, choose your keywords wisely. 

When U.S. advertisers are willing to spend more than $100 billion every year on a given advertising approach, you can bet it’s because they see multiple benefits in return. In the realm of paid search ads, those include the following. 

Paid Search Ads Can Target Audiences Immediately

Overall, paid search is one of the nimblest advertising channels. Once approved, paid search ads can make their way to SERPs almost immediately. This means advertisers can fire up campaigns quickly and start reaping the benefits in terms of traffic and sales right away. 

Data Comes in Fast and In Real-Time

In addition, advertisers can get visibility into search ad performance fast. Advertisers can expect to glean initial insights pertaining to ad impressions and click-through rates within minutes of launching a campaign. This offers a valuable real-time snapshot of audience reach and potential customer engagement. 

While more granular metrics, such as conversion rates and cost-per-acquisition, may necessitate a data accumulation period ranging from several hours to a day depending on campaign traffic volume, the overall benefit remains significant. This expedited access to performance data empowers advertisers to make data-driven adjustments to their strategies, fostering campaign optimization and maximizing return on investment.

They’re Cost Effective

Paid search campaigns offer granular control over how budget is spent and are incredibly cost-effective. In many cases, you only pay when someone clicks your ad, ensuring your budget targets genuine interest. You can also precisely target your ideal audience with relevant keywords, minimizing wasted ad impressions. Finally, detailed campaign data allows for ongoing optimization, maximizing your return on investment by focusing on high-performing strategies.

How to Create a Successful Paid Ad Campaign

Finally, advertisers should keep the following tips in mind if they want to create a winning paid search campaign.

Know Your Audience Inside Out

Before diving in, conduct thorough audience research. Understand your ideal customer’s demographics, needs, and search habits. This knowledge informs keyword selection, ad copywriting, and targeting strategies, ensuring your ads resonate with the right people.

Track ROI Like a Hawk

ROI is your campaign’s lifeblood. Monitor key metrics like clicks, conversions, and CPA. Analyze this data regularly to identify areas for improvement and optimize your campaign for maximum profitability.

Master the Match Game

Keyword match types are crucial for targeting. Here’s a breakdown of three common options:

  • Broad Match: This casts a wide net. Your ad can appear for searches containing any variation of your keywords, even if the order changes. Broad match is great for reaching a broad audience but can lead to irrelevant clicks.
  • Phrase Match: This offers more control. Your ad appears for searches that include your exact phrase or close variations with additional words before or after. This provides a good balance between reach and relevance.
  • Exact Match: Ads will only be shown when someone searches for that exact keyword or term or a close variance. 

Advertisers should also consider negative keywords when planning their paid search campaigns. Negative keywords are applied to block your ads from showing up in any search queries that include them, which can help to improve relevance, reduce costs, achieve a higher quality score, increase CTR, and deliver stronger overall ROI.

Don’t Set It and Forget It

Paid search is a dynamic landscape. Don’t set up your campaign and walk away. Regularly monitor performance, test different ad variations, and adjust your targeting based on insights. Remember, a data-driven approach is key to continuous improvement.

Digilant is the paid search partner behind some of the highest-performing paid search campaigns in the CPG, B2B, travel, and wellness industries. Our goal is to help you outperform your competitors—every time. Our team of specialists analyzes search signals, keyword intent, and data to understand where, when, and how consumers are searching across the Google and Microsoft ecosystems.

Are you ready to unlock the full power of paid search advertising for your brand? We’re here to help. Let’s talk about what Digilant can do for you.

The New Era of Digital Advertising: Unpacking Identity Solutions

In the previous episode of our Countdown to the Cookieless Future series, we delved deep into the realms of First-Party and Zero-Party Data, uncovering how these essential data types can be leveraged by advertisers to ensure privacy compliance while effectively engaging consumers. Next up, we’re exploring another vital component of the post-third-party cookie landscape: alternative identity solutions. Join Victoria de Leon, Director of Marketing, as she reconnects with Kyle Malone, Director of Solutions Engineering, and Otniel Calderon, Manager of Solutions Engineering. Together, they’ll break down what identity solutions are, how they operate, and discuss the challenges, benefits, and their pivotal role in a cookieless world.

Ready for a deep dive? Hit play on the video below to learn more or keep scrolling for an in-depth recap of what was discussed.

 

Identity Solutions Demystified: How They Work and Why They Matter

To level understanding throughout the conversation, de Leon kicks off the discussion by asking:

What are identity solutions?

Malone takes the lead, explaining that identity solutions are technologies developed by data companies to track users across various channels, platforms, and devices without relying on third-party cookies. These solutions utilize authenticated traffic and opt-in mechanisms to provide a persistent, non-PII (Personally Identifiable Information) ID for each user, maintaining privacy while allowing targeted advertising.

Diving deeper, de Leon probes into the mechanics of identity solutions, specifically without the use of third-party cookies by asking:

Short on time? Listen to or download the content of this episode on Spotify.

Without third-party cookies, how do ID solutions track the entire customer journey?

Calderon elaborates that these systems primarily leverage first-party data collected directly from users. By allowing users to opt in and out, these solutions create a persistent identifier that works across all advertising channels, respecting user privacy and compliance requirements.

With a better understanding of how these solutions enable targeted advertising, de Leon moved the conversation forward, asking:

What are some of the benefits advertisers gain when using ID solutions?

Malone highlights the main advantages of utilizing identity solutions, such as unified user profiles, improved attribution modeling, and personalized messaging. These benefits contribute to a better customer experience by enabling more relevant and targeted advertising without invading privacy.

Safeguarding Privacy: The Backbone of Identity Solutions

Understanding that privacy is a paramount concern, de Leon inquires:

What are some elements that make ID solutions privacy-compliant?

Calderon explains that these ID solutions have three primary fundamentals to ensure privacy compliance: transparency, control, and the opt-in/opt-out mechanism. These pillars allow users to understand how their data is used and give them the power to control their participation.

Overcoming Identity Solution Challenges

Because so many advertisers have long relied on Google’s third-party cookies, de Leon prompted Malone and Calderon to address any potential challenges advertisers may face as they transition away from beloved cookies to different data sources, such as alternative IDs. She asks:

What challenges do you foresee advertisers facing as they switch from third-party cookies to ID solutions?

Malone notes that integration across the advertising ecosystem is a significant hurdle. Moreover, relying on opt-in data could potentially limit scale, particularly for smaller publishers. Ensuring interoperability and getting buy-in from all parties involved are crucial steps toward overcoming these challenges.

Key Players and Choosing ID Solutions Wisely

As the conversation shifts to the current identity solutions available, de Leon asks:

What are some ID solutions on the market right now?

Calderon and Malone outline several key players making strides in the market, such as UID 2.0 and LiveRamp ID. They stress the importance of each solution’s unique advantages and limitations, highlighting the open-source nature of UID 2.0 as a beneficial feature for industry-wide collaboration and development.

Choosing the right identity solution requires careful consideration. de Leon closes the conversation by asking:

What should advertisers think about when evaluating an ID solution for their campaign?

Malone advises focusing on reach, KPIs, and the specific parts of the funnel an advertiser aims to target. It’s about finding the right mix of solutions that offer the optimal balance between reach, accuracy, and addressability.

Key Takeaways on Identity Solutions and Next Steps

As we wrap up this discussion on identity solutions, it’s clear that navigating the cookieless future requires a deep understanding of these technologies and their implications for digital advertising. Their discussion illuminates a path toward a more secure, efficient, and user-friendly digital advertising future, encouraging us to welcome these new challenges as opportunities for growth and improvement.

As we wrap up our discussion on identity solutions, it’s evident that understanding and integrating these technologies are crucial for thriving in the evolving digital advertising landscape. Join us for our next episode, where we delve into the intricacies of campaign planning and execution in a cookieless world. Victoria de Leon will be joined by our VP of Campaign Solutions, Ariel Howard, and Manager of Planning & Insights, Addy Osborne, to guide you through these essential strategies. Don’t miss this valuable opportunity to further your knowledge and prepare for the future of digital marketing. Check out episode four here.

Display Advertising: What You Need to Know

Few tools of the digital age date as far back as display ads, with perhaps the exception of the internet itself. But that’s not to say that the state of display ads, and even the ads themselves, haven’t continued to evolve right alongside the rest of the online and mobile ecosystems. Today, in 2024, display advertising remains a dynamic discipline and an important overall piece of the digital advertising puzzle.

With this explainer, you’ll get a complete overview of the current state of display advertising — what it is, its benefits, how it’s evolved, and how brands and agencies can make the most of this essential tool within their larger omnichannel strategies

 

Table of Contents

 

What Is Display Advertising?

Display advertising is a form of online advertising that uses visual elements — whether that’s images, videos, graphics, or animations — to convey a marketing message or promote a product or service. These visual ads are typically displayed on websites, social media platforms, and mobile apps in various formats and sizes. The goal of display advertising is to attract the attention of the audience and drive them to take a specific action, such as clicking on the ad to visit a website, making a purchase, or signing up for a newsletter.

 

Does Display Advertising Still Work?

Display advertising, despite having come into existence in the mid-1990s, is still an effective and important part of the digital marketing toolbox. In 2023, advertisers in the United States were projected to spend more than $149 billion on programmatic digital display advertising. In 2024, that spending is expected to increase to more than $168 billion. Part of this growth is fueled by the impressive rise of retail media networks, which leverage display ads as a part of promoting products within e-commerce environments. 

Although many within our industry point to low click-through rates on display ads as evidence that they do not “work,” this is an oversimplification of where display advertising can and should fit within the broader advertising ecosystem. Reasons display ads continue to be effective for brands and agencies include the following:

  • Brand Awareness: Display ads are highly scalable and can reach a broad audience, increasing brand visibility and recognition, even among users who might not immediately convert.
  • Targeting Capabilities: Modern display advertising platforms offer advanced targeting options, allowing advertisers to reach people based on specific demographics, interests, and behaviors — and even to retarget users who have previously interacted with their websites or apps. 
  • Cost-Efficiency: Display advertising can be cost-effective, especially when compared to traditional advertising channels like TV or print. Advertisers can control their budgets, set bidding strategies, and allocate resources to campaigns that generate the best returns.
  • Complementing Other Marketing Channels: Display advertising can work in concert with other marketing channels, such as search advertising, social media marketing, and content marketing. When integrated into a holistic digital marketing strategy, display ads reinforce messaging and improve overall campaign performance.

While the effectiveness of display advertising can vary based on campaign strategy and industry, its adaptability, targeting capabilities, and potential for brand building continue to make it a valuable component of modern marketing efforts. 

 

Examples of Display Ads

Skyscraper Ad

Example of a skyscraper display ad.

Here is an example of a 160×600 ad unit, also known as a skyscraper or super skyscraper ad. This unit appears on the side of a web page or content piece. Advertisers can use this ad size to engage audiences as they scroll down a page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banner Ad

Example of a banner display ad.

This ad unit is 728 pixels wide and 90 pixels tall (728×90) and is one of the most common banner ads because of its usual placement. It is typically found at the top of a web page or content, enabling advertisers to immediately capture audience attention.

 

Medium Rectangle

Example of a medium rectangle display ad.

The medium rectangle, which is 300 pixels wide and 250 pixels tall (300×2500, is arguably the most popular ad unit as it can be leveraged across desktops and mobile devices. Because of its size and shape, the medium rectangle can be embedded within content, allowing advertisers to drive impressions while audiences are actively engaged with content.

Mobile Standard

Example of a mobile standard display ad.

This ad banner is a 320×50 and is known as a mobile standard ad unit.

 

What Are the Main Types of Display Ads?

Having been in existence for nearly 30 years now, you might imagine that display ads have evolved quite a bit since they first hit the scene in 1994. These days, display ads take many forms, with organizations like IAB working hard to keep pace by establishing standards for these ad units. Let’s take a look at some of the main types of display ads, how users experience them, and the benefits of each. 

Banner Ads

Banner ads are a ubiquitous presence in the digital landscape — and perhaps what advertisers most commonly think of when they hear the phrase “display ads.” These ads often appear at the top, bottom, or sides of web pages, demanding attention—and sometimes hindering the user experience. However, it’s important to acknowledge that not all banner ads are created equal.

While banner ads are often held up as the quintessential example of intrusive online advertising, they can be both informative and engaging, especially when the content is relevant to a user’s interests. For instance, a person shopping for a new laptop might appreciate a well-targeted banner ad showcasing the latest models and deals. In this way, banner ads can serve as a helpful tool for discovering products, services, or information that align with a user’s needs and preferences.

Despite their mixed reputation, banner ads offer a range of benefits for advertisers. For one, they provide a cost-effective way to reach a broad online audience and build brand awareness. With data-driven targeting strategies, marketers can ensure their ads are seen by the right audience, maximizing the return on investment. Banner ads also allow for creative flexibility, enabling marketers to convey their brand message through visuals, text, and multimedia elements. Furthermore, they facilitate tracking and measurement of ad performance, providing valuable insights into user engagement and conversion rates. 

Retargeting Display Ads

Retargeting display ads, often referred to as remarketing ads, is a type of online advertising that targets users who have previously interacted with a website or online content but did not complete a desired action, such as making a purchase or filling out a form. These are the ads that famously “follow” people around the internet based on their activity. For this reason, they represent a bit of a polarizing topic. On one hand, retargeting ads can serve as helpful reminders, gently nudging users towards completing a purchase they may have abandoned or prompting them to revisit a site they’ve previously shown interest in. However, for some, this constant presence of retargeting ads can feel invasive and even creepy, as it can give the impression that their online activities are being closely monitored. Striking the right balance between reminding users of their interests and respecting their privacy is crucial for the success of retargeting campaigns.

Despite mixed perceptions of retargeting ads, they do offer substantial benefits for advertisers. As display ads go, they are particularly effective in converting prospects into actual customers, as they target individuals who have already shown an interest in a product or service. By focusing resources on a warm audience that is more likely to convert, they deliver a higher return on investment than traditional display ads. 

Native Ads

Native display ads provide a distinct and often more seamless experience for users compared to banner ads and other traditional display ads, which typically appear around the content a user is seeking. Native display ads are designed to blend in with the content and style of the website or platform on which they appear, making them less obtrusive. 

By seamlessly integrating with the surrounding content, native ads can enhance user engagement and generate higher click-through rates. They also have the potential to improve brand perception, as they are typically more informative than traditional display ads. Additionally, native advertising can provide valuable storytelling opportunities, allowing brands to communicate their message in a contextually relevant and engaging way. 

Social Ads

Social display ads, as the name suggests, are integrated into the user experience on social media platforms. They might appear around a user’s social feed, or even directly in it. These ads are typically targeted based on a user’s interests, demographics, and online behavior, which means users are more likely to see content that aligns with their preferences. 

These ads provide an effective way to reach a highly targeted audience, leveraging the extensive user data and demographic information available on social media platforms. Additionally, social display ads often offer interactive elements, such as “Shop Now” buttons or forms for lead generation, which can drive direct conversions. 

Video Ads

Video advertising can take many shapes, including within the context of a display ad. Banner-style ads that contain video are eye-catching and enable brands to enhance their storytelling and get greater mileage out of their branded video assets. In general, video is a highly engaging medium that can convey complex information and evoke emotions effectively. In the context of a display ad, however, it must be used wisely, given the limited attention users are often willing to give to display ads appearing outside the content they’re consuming. 

Discovery Ads

Discovery Ads are a form of display advertising that enables brands to reach a wide audience across Google-owned properties and partner platforms like Google Discover, YouTube, and Gmail. These ads leverage machine learning and user data to provide personalized content recommendations, making them highly relevant to individual users based on their interests and online behavior. 

 

What Are the Key Components of Display Ads?

While display ads can take many forms and appear in many different places, they typically contain three core elements: 

1. Visuals

The goal of a display ad is to capture a user’s attention, even though they’ve come to a web page with a separate purpose in mind. Thus, compelling visuals are key. That said, standard display ad sizes, as defined by the IAB, vary greatly, meaning advertisers must be discerning in terms of how much they try to accomplish within the space they have. Core concepts to keep in mind include: 

  • High-Quality Imagery: Use high-resolution images or graphics that are clear, sharp, and visually appealing. Blurry or pixelated visuals can make your ad appear unprofessional.
  • Relevance: Ensure that the visuals directly relate to your product, service, or message. The imagery should immediately convey what the ad is about and capture the viewer’s attention.
  • Consistency: Maintain a consistent visual style and branding across all your ad creatives. This helps build brand recognition and trust.
  • Simplicity: Keep the design clean and uncluttered. Too many elements or a busy layout can confuse viewers and detract from the message.

2. Copy

While visuals get noticed first, copy represents the meat of the ad. If you’re lucky enough to have a user notice your ad, make sure the copy is compelling, adheres to your brand promise, and effectively guides them to your call to action. 

3. Call to Action (CTA)

A strong call to action (CTA) in a display ad is essential for encouraging user engagement and achieving your campaign objectives. Here are some examples of effective CTAs for display ads:

  • Shop Now: This CTA is commonly used in ecommerce ads and encourages users to make a purchase.
  • Learn More: Use this CTA when you want to provide additional information about a product, service, or offer.
  • Get Started: This CTA is effective for ads promoting sign-ups, free trials, or onboarding processes.
  • Book Now: This CTA is commonly used in the travel and hospitality industry to prompt users to make reservations.
  • Contact Us: This CTA is suitable for businesses that want users to reach out for inquiries or support.
  • Claim Your Reward: This CTA is effective for loyalty programs, rewards, or promotions.
  • Get Your Deal: Also useful for e-commerce promotions, this CTA is used to highlight special offers or discounts.

 

What are the Benefits of Display Ads?

The display ad market can be competitive — but for good reason. Here are some of the key benefits provided by strong display ads: 

 

They’re Targeted

To ensure your marketing dollars are being used efficiently, you need to make sure you’re marketing to the right audience. With display ads, you can pinpoint exactly the audience you want to reach, down to even the most specific niche.

They’re Personal

Given the targeting potential behind display ads, these campaigns let you cater to your audience with personalized creative that maximizes your chance of scoring a conversion.

They Drive Brand Awareness

As marketers well know, consumers must encounter a brand’s message multiple times before it starts to sink in and move them toward conversion. Even if a user doesn’t click through to your website, display ads can put your company’s visual identity in front of enough people to have a brand-boosting impact. 

They Can Be Effectively Tracked

There’s no shortage of insight to be gleaned from a display ad campaign. If you’re running multiple campaigns, you can easily see which has been viewed the most and which has performed the best — all in real time. Such insights are invaluable to optimizing efforts not just on display ads, but also throughout an omnichannel campaign. 

 

How to Create a Successful Display Ad Campaign

Display ads represent a foundation of digital advertising efforts, and the best results are seen when marketers put in time and effort on developing a thoughtful strategy. It takes multiple steps and ongoing optimization to help a display campaign reach its full potential. To lay the right foundation, be sure these key steps are given proper attention: 

 

Define Your Target Audience — as Specifically as Possible

Defining your target audience for a display ad campaign is a crucial first step. Start by analyzing your existing customer data and market research to identify demographics, interests, behaviors, and pain points. Create detailed buyer personas representing your ideal customers, taking into account factors like age, gender, location, income, preferences, and online habits. Consider your product or service’s unique selling points and tailor your messaging to address the specific needs and aspirations of your target audience. 

Outline Your Campaign’s Goals and Budget

When planning your display ad campaign, setting clear goals and budget parameters is essential. Begin by defining your campaign objectives, whether it’s increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, boosting sales, or achieving a specific conversion rate. Once your goals are established, allocate a budget that aligns with your objectives and the expected costs of reaching your target audience effectively. Consider factors such as ad spend, creative production costs, and any associated expenses. By regularly monitoring your campaign’s performance against these goals and budget, you can make necessary adjustments and optimize your ad spend in real time for the best results.

Craft Compelling Creative

Crafting compelling creative for a display ad campaign is essential for capturing audience attention. Start by creating visually striking imagery or graphics that align with your brand identity and campaign objectives. Use concise, persuasive copy that communicates a clear and enticing message, and be sure to highlight unique selling points, offers, or benefits to grab viewers’ interest quickly. Incorporate a strong CTA that guides users on what action to take next, and ensure that the creative elements are responsive to different screen sizes and devices to guarantee a seamless user experience. By then A/B testing various ad creatives, you can identify which visuals and messaging resonate most effectively with your target audience.

 

Display Advertising: A Valuable Approach to Driving Consumer Engagement

A lot of work goes into a strong display advertising program. Anything less will result in not only poor performance but also wasted ad spend. But now that you understand how to best leverage your display assets to capture attention and drive engagement, you’re ready to launch a winning campaign. 

Check back with Digilant regularly for additional content and insights that can help you make the most of your budget and creative assets.

Future-Proofing Digital Advertising: Mastering First-Party and Zero-Party Data

Welcome back to our journey through the evolving digital advertising landscape as we venture towards a cookieless future. Following our initial exploration into the background and the impending shift away from third-party cookies, which you can revisit here, our second episode, “Mastering First-Party and Zero-Party Data” delves into practical strategies and solutions advertisers can start leveraging as the digital ecosystem undergoes this monumental transition.

Join Victoria de Leon, Director of Marketing at Digilant, along with Welsey Farris, VP of Partnerships and Sales Engineering, and Otniel Calderon, Solutions Engineer at Digitalent, as they navigate through the realms of first and zero-party data, shedding light on these pivotal assets in maintaining privacy compliance and effective consumer reach.

 

First and Zero-Party Data: The New Gold Standard

To set the stage for the remainder of the conversation,  de Leon level set everyone’s understanding of the topic with the question:

What is a basic understanding of first-party data?

As described by Farris, first-party data has emerged as the cornerstone of future digital marketing strategies. It encompasses data directly collected from customers by a brand or advertiser, including authenticated identifiers like emails or phone numbers, purchase data, and web behavior insights collected through a brand’s digital properties. First-party data stands out for its direct collection method, offering brands a comprehensive, owned dataset for personalized marketing initiatives.


Zero-party data has emerged in conversations alongside first-party data, prompting de Leon to ask:

How does zero-party data differ from first-party data?

Calderon introduces us to zero-party data, a subset of first-party data characterized by the voluntary nature of its collection. This data type is proactively provided by users through interactions like surveys or questionnaires, revealing their preferences, interests, and purchase intentions. Zero-party data represents a deeper level of engagement and consent from consumers, enabling even more tailored and relevant marketing efforts.

Short on time? Tune into our podcast and master the art of first and zero-party data on-the-go, paving your way in a cookieless future.


With everyone aligned on how first and zero-party data are defined, de Leon addresses a common misconception with these data types, asking:

Do first-party and zero-party data have to adhere to the same privacy regulations as third-party cookies?

Farris clarifies that these data types still fall under the jurisdiction of laws like CCPA and GDPR. The key distinction lies in the direct relationship between the user and the brand, offering clearer consent and data usage pathways compared to third-party cookies. Advertisers must ensure transparent data collection practices, providing users with opt-out options and respecting their privacy choices.


For advertisers who haven’t focused on building their first-party footprint, de Leon prompted the panelists to provide tangible actions with the question:

How can advertisers focus on building their first-party data footprint?

For advertisers lacking a substantial first-party data footprint, the path forward involves engaging content creation and value exchanges. Both panelists emphasized the importance of offering users valuable content or incentives in exchange for their data, such as access to exclusive content, discounts, or membership perks. This strategy not only enriches the user experience but also paves the way for expanding an advertiser’s first-party data reservoir.


Once the advertisers have built the footprint, de Leon questioned how that data can then be implemented with two questions: 

How is first-party data leveraged in campaigns to target consumers? What do advertisers need to be careful about when leveraging first-party data?

Transitioning into the practical application of first and zero-party data, Farris emphasizes its transformative potential across advertising platforms. He notes the crucial advantage of first-party data in enabling direct, accurate targeting and personalization, thereby ensuring a cohesive and engaging consumer journey. However, Farris also cautions advertisers about the paramount importance of adhering to privacy regulations and maintaining transparent practices with consumers. The handling of first-party data requires careful consideration to not only optimize campaign performance but also to uphold the trust and privacy of the consumer base.


T0 addresses a main concern that advertisers have in the face of third-party cookie deprecation, the panelists were asked:

Are there any tactics advertisers can take to mitigate loss in scale?

Farris emphasizes that while the transition away from third-party cookies may lead to a decrease in scale, there are several tactics advertisers can employ to counterbalance this effect. He suggests that first and zero-party data, due to their accuracy and reliability, can actually enhance campaign performance. Advertisers are encouraged to leverage these data types for more targeted and personalized marketing efforts. Furthermore, he highlights the importance of lookalike modeling as a viable strategy. By creating models based on existing first-party data, advertisers can identify new prospects that resemble their current customers, potentially mitigating the loss in scale.

Calderon adds to the conversation by underscoring the necessity of upper funnel strategies such as contextual targeting and lookalike modeling to augment first-party data pools. He points out that for sustained growth in first-party data, advertisers need to continually attract new users through effective prospecting tactics. The solvency of first-party data growth hinges on these upper funnel activities, ensuring a steady influx of new users to the site and expanding the overall reach of campaigns.


To continue to address some of the top concerns for many advertisers, de Leon offered the panelists and opportunity to shed light on the topic with the question:

Considering the fragmented digital ecosystem, how can advertisers ensure they create a cohesive experience with their brand by leveraging first-party and zero-party data?

Both panelists acknowledged the challenges and opportunities in creating a cohesive brand experience in a fragmented digital ecosystem. With consumers interacting with brands across multiple devices and platforms, leveraging first and zero-party data becomes crucial for advertisers aiming to maintain a unified brand presence. The focus here is on utilizing these data types to deliver personalized and relevant content that resonates with consumers, regardless of the touchpoint. This approach not only enhances the consumer journey but also strengthens the overall brand experience.

The conversation also touches on the integration of first and zero-party data across different advertising channels, including digital out-of-home and connected TV. While some channels may present challenges in personalization due to the nature of their delivery, the advancement in connected TV and other digital platforms offers new avenues for leveraging first-party data to achieve a more personalized and engaging consumer experience.


To summarize an insightful conversation, de Leon offered both panelists the opportunity to summarize thier thoughts on first-party and zero-party data with the following prompt: 

How do you think the shift to first-party and zero-party data will transform advertisers and consumer relationships? What are the top benefits of these data types?

Farris articulates that the primary benefit of shifting towards first and zero-party data lies in its future-proof nature. Regardless of the evolving digital landscape, these data types offer a consistent and reliable basis for targeting, personalization, and measurement. He posits that this shift not only ensures advertisers can continue to reach their audience effectively but also fosters a more sustainable and ethical marketing environment.

Calderson then highlights the dual benefits of this shift for both advertisers and consumers. From the consumer’s perspective, the use of first and zero-party data enables more personalized and relevant advertising, improving the overall experience with the brand. This personalization can lead to increased brand loyalty and engagement, creating a positive feedback loop that benefits both parties. Moreover, he suggests that a well-implemented strategy based on these data types can lead to a more enjoyable and meaningful interaction between consumers and brands, underscoring the value of tailored content and offers.

Embracing the Future with First and Zero-Party Data

As we conclude Episode 2 of our Countdown to the Cookieless Future, it’s clear that first and zero-party data are not just alternatives to third-party cookies; they are the foundation of a more privacy-conscious, efficient, and engaging digital advertising future.

Join us for our next episode, where we’ll explore ID solutions and how these technologies and strategies will shape our journey into a cookieless landscape. Featuring our stellar team of sales engineers, this episode covers what identity solutions are, top options currently on the market, and how they function to provide targeted media buying. Check out the full episode, Everything You Need to Know about Alterative ID Solutions, here.

Walmart’s Vizio Acquisition and Navigating the ACR Data Evolution

In a landmark move, Walmart recently unveiled its agreement to acquire Vizio Holding Corp, the smart TV and software manufacturer, for $2.3 billion. This pivotal step aims to bolster the growth of Walmart Connect through Vizio’s SmartCast Operating System, signaling Walmart’s intent to deepen its engagement within the digital advertising and advanced TV ecosystem. Leveraging Vizio’s extensive reach, advanced capabilities, and valuable data Walmart will significantly enhance its advertising platform.

What Vizio’s Acquisition Means For the Advertising Landscape

This move highlights the growing importance of advanced TV platforms in the digital advertising ecosystem. As Walmart integrates Vizio’s capabilities with Walmart Connect, we can anticipate enhanced advertising solutions that leverage advanced TV’s direct engagement with consumers. This integration promises to deliver more personalized and effective advertising experiences, benefiting advertisers and consumers alike.  

However, it also prompts a larger discussion about the historical and widespread use of Vizio’s valuable Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) data. ACR technology, which allows smart TVs to identify and analyze content viewers are watching, has become a cornerstone technology for targeted advertising and content recommendations. Vizio, via its Inscape entity, has played a central role in the ACR data ecosystem as one of the primary providers of this crucial technology (alongside Samba and others).

The ubiquity of this ACR data in the market is noteworthy; virtually every Demand-Side Platform (DSP) has easy access to its data and inventory. This accessibility enables advertisers to fine-tune their campaigns with precision, reaching the right audience at the right time. However, Walmart’s recent acquisition of Vizio may prompt changes to the accessibility of ACR data for the broader digital advertising industry. 

There is a conceivable scenario where Walmart could restrict access to Vizio’s ACR data, opting to bring the valuable asset in-house. Such a move would not only reshape the competitive landscape of ACR data providers but would also pose challenges for advertisers who have relied on this data for targeted advertising—all ahead of third-party cookie deprecation, no less. 

Furthermore, Vizio’s scale has helped power existing measurement solutions in market. These entities rely on ACR data to provide advertisers with insights into the effectiveness of their campaigns, and any restriction on access could necessitate a reevaluation of their methodologies.

For digital advertisers, the evolving dynamics underscore the need for agility and adaptability. The potential exclusivity of Vizio’s ACR data under Walmart could prompt a shift in strategy, with a heightened emphasis on partnerships with other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Advertisers must stay ahead of these changes, exploring diverse data sources ,technologies, and partners to maintain the effectiveness of their campaigns. 

Samsung: A Beacon in the Evolving ACR Landscape

While Walmart may call “lights out” on Vizio data for the rest of the industry, Samsung Ads shines brightly as a powerful alternative. As the largest TV manufacturer by market share, coupled with its ACR data, Samsung Ads stands out as a viable and potent source. Consider for instance that Samsung has more than 60 million opted-in smart TV viewers across 45 million households in the U.S.—this reach is a clear differentiator that keeps Samsung as a top provider for advanced tv and data solutions.

As walled gardens continue to grow and the industry shifts, it’s critical that advertisers work with partners that empower them with access to the inventory and data they need to reach audiences across all their favorite platforms and devices. As a Samsung partner, Digilant can continue to provide agencies access to premium ACR data and premium advanced TV inventory, enabling targeting and measurement, even in light of tremendous industry change.

Navigating the Future with Strategic Partnerships 

This acquisition marks a significant pivot in the digital advertising landscape. It solidifies the strategic positioning of advanced TV in advertising while also presenting potential ramifications for ACR data. For digital advertisers, this development demands a proactive approach, seeking innovative solutions and partnerships to navigate the shifting terrain. As the landscape evolves, the ability to adapt and leverage new opportunities will be paramount to sustained success.

Digilant Announces Relationship with Microsoft, Expanding Digital Media Access for Advertisers

BOSTON, MARCH 05, 2024–(Business Wire)–Today, Digilant, the digital media partner of choice for mid-market advertisers, announced its collaboration with Microsoft, adding its DSP, Invest, and its deal curation platform, Curate, to its tech stack. This approach offers Digilant’s clients greater access to premium advertising inventory and advanced audience targeting solutions.

“Our clients are a diverse group of advertisers that need to maximize their buying power to stay competitive and have an opportunity to become the next big thing. By working with Microsoft, Digilant reiterates its commitment to enabling advertisers with access to technology and media in a cookieless world,” said Raquel Rosenthal, CEO at Digilant. “We are thrilled to harness Microsoft Invest and Microsoft Curate’s capabilities to meet the dynamic needs of our clients and stay ahead in the ever-evolving digital advertising landscape.”

Microsoft’s premium inventory and first-party data make it a preferred choice to deliver seamless and highly relevant omnichannel experiences in a cookieless world. Digilant’s clients will have access to Microsoft’s robust portfolio of owned and operated publications and platforms—MSN, Microsoft Start, Microsoft 365, Outlook, Microsoft Casual Games, Xbox, and LinkedIn—and more than 1500 premium publishers. Moreover, Microsoft’s exclusive access to connected TV inventory on Netflix will enable Digilant to reach audiences on one of the world’s most popular entertainment services.

Sarah Harms, Senior Director of Sales at Microsoft, commented on the collaboration: “We are pleased to unite with Digilant, bringing together our distinct strengths to support small and mid-market agencies. This collaboration is all about empowering diverse organizations with access to the world’s largest and most premium advertising marketplace.”

Sign up for our newsletter to learn more about Digilant.