5 Display Campaign Checks You Can't Forget

May 6, 2013

Yesterday, I was really taking a deep look at a client’s account – I was trying to find out why branded searches and conversions have decreased this year compared to last year. And while there were a number of conclusions that we drew from the data, what interested me most was the difference in display strategy (and placement) comparing the two time periods.


Display Campaign Comparison

I might be making some generalizations, but hey, this was a big difference. It looks like 2011-2012 saw a big display push in the months leading up to their “opening day” (early March), while 2012-2013 saw a drastic reduction in that strategy for the same period of time. This really got me thinking about display ads in general – strategies, banner creative and what you can do right now to assess display performance. I’ve summed up the top five things that I think are priorities when it comes to a wholesome display “check”, though there are certainly more that can be added to the list.

 1. Strategy – As I said above, investigating year over year comparisons revealed to me the big difference in Display strategy and the potential ramifications it could have had on Search campaigns (especially Branded). Your Display strategy (or strategies) should have a clear purpose. Are you campaigns helping raise brand awareness? Are they focused on a certain goal completion? For the most part, Display campaigns support the goals of a Search campaign. If they do, then align your messaging so that there is a clear connection between the ads, leading to a higher click through rate as people recognize the offer you are advertising.

2. Formats – Sounds fairly basic, but this is a good check to perform. Ask yourself if the campaign is covering all possible (relevant) ad formats and sizes. It’s not a surprise to me anymore to investigate accounts that are only running one ad, in one size. This severely limits your reach as many networks will only run a certain size, and if you don’t have that in your arsenal, you are not displaying at all. Is mobile part of your strategy? If so, mobile display could be a good format to work with if you want to, or already are, targeting mobile.

3. Creative check – Again, sounds basic, but stagnant creative can live on unnoticed if you don’t regularly check them and see how they are performing. Ideally, you’ll have a banner test running in display and you’re on top of your game. But if you are new in an account, or are taking over management, display ad “age” could be a factor you don’t consider right away. Check when the ads were uploaded and began displaying and do a week over week performance check to see if there have been any declines. Keep an eye out for the relevancy of the call-to-actions as well. Do they match your current strategy as discussed in point #1?

4. Landing Pages – Even if you are getting the clicks, you still need to get the user to convert, so check your landing pages. But first, make sure you really look again at point #3 and ask yourself what your ad’s purpose really is. Once you answer that question, move on to your landing page and see if it aligns with the messaging in the ad. More importantly, that it matches your brand and the offer or promise that you advertised. As with any landing page, not just for a Display campaign, you should have clear messaging, a strong call to action that matches what you advertised with the Display ad, and pertinent information above the fold of the web page.

5. Audience – Has your audience changed? A few interesting points cropped up in the Display campaigns I was looking at for the client mentioned before. I noticed that the ad placements (outside of Google) had changed drastically from this year compared to last year. Some placements that were in full swing the year before, didn’t run at all this year and vice-versa. That, combined with the different timing of the Display campaigns, indicated to me that there was some sort of effect on Search campaigns with both these factors in play. Their “new” audience might not have been the most targeted one compared to the success seen the year before.

These are only a few Display campaign checks, though they are certainly my favorite. Simple, straight forward questions, however can have some complicated answers. Take some time today, or schedule it soon, to dig into your Display campaigns, compare monthly, quarterly and yearly performance and find out what changed.

What other check points are your favorite for Display campaigns? Share in the comments below!