Effective Display Advertising Strategy for Ad Agencies

  • 1
  • April 10, 2014
Ad Agencies & Display Advertising

One of the biggest mistakes made by some advertising agencies that are trying to expand their business with online marketing, is starting a campaign without proper strategy. Basically what some of them do is, select few promising placements, upload couple of well designed banners, and hope for the best. Unfortunately what they are missing here is an angle. In order to have the audience you are targeting respond to your ads effectively, you must have a good angle i.e approach.

In a moment I am going to describe the most common media buying strategies used by experienced ad agencies, and then show you how to take an even more effective approach, and improve on the common media buying practices. Before we get in any more details let examine the two most basic strategies that ad agencies use for their display advertising media buying campaigns.

Niche Based Approach

This approach is pretty straight-forward, you are basically selecting sites which are directly relevant to your niche. In practice if you are promoting an apparel item, you will target fashion related websites, while having fashion related creatives. The main issue with using this approach is that you won’t be able to always find placements which are directly relevant to your niche, especially if the niche is not something conventional.

Demographic Based Approach

Unlike the previous approach where you are targeting websites of a specific niche. With the demographic oriented approach you are going after placements that match your target demographic. So if your target is “Married Women over 30” you would need some research in order to select websites that match your demographic criteria. The problem still persists that even if you target the right demographic, the niche might not interest them.

The main issue with these two strategies is that they are widely used, thus your average visitor is becoming immune to them, which in turn might lead to poor response. Usually you need to take a more unique and out-of-the-box approach in order to get the audience to respond. Such an approach is the interest oriented approach, where you basically build your creatives around the content of the websites you are targeting.


Interest Based Approach to Media Buying

The interest based approach is all about taking advantage of what you know about your audience while building your creatives, and then selecting placements around that knowledge. In practice you would build your campaign only with a specific niche in mind.

As an example let’s say you are doing a promotion for an Airlines company called “Example Airlines”. Hypothetically speaking our primary objective would be to increase the brand awareness, and additional generate leads or sales.

Interests & Common Traits

You could start by defining one or more interests, or common traits that our target group shares. There are numerous common interests which you can find on a website or a group of websites, here are just a few:

  • Particular interest in something, such as a hobby or sport (ex. fishing – on a fishing website),
  • Marital/Dating Status (Widowed, Single Mother…)
  • Ethnicity (ex. sites for African-Americans in the US)
  • Religion (ex. Jewish sites),
  • Sexual orientation/identity (ex. gay, bi, trans),
  • Political (ex. liberal, conservative, democrat, republican…)
  • And many others, you need to be creative…

The more specific your defined interest or common trait is, the better the chance that it will work. Don’t be too broad with it, but instead be specific. Let’s say you’re targeting a bunch of automotive-related sites with a majority of US visitors. If you have an ad like “Airlines for Americans”, it might not be too effective. This is because the trait is too common and doesn’t stand out. Now, if you targeted something you know your audience is very passionate about, a better example for an ad would be “The Airlines company that loves gear-heads” . This would be something that could get the attention of the visitors. While another of our campaigns could be centered around the parenting niche.

Find & Select Placements

What you are looking at below is part of the Bonadza interface, which you would be using in order to find highly relevant placements. Since we’re looking for Parenting and Motherhood related websites, ill go over the appropriate category that is available, and see what matches my target group. There is a “Parenting & Family” category which is perfect for what we are looking for.

Select Placement

Alternative Way to Find & Select Placements

Alternatively to selecting domains that are relevant to the category, you could build your campaign the other way around, with a focus on a single domain. For this approach go over our inventory and choose a domain with high volume, aim for a domain with at least 500.000 impressions per day or more. Visit the domain you’ve chosen, to get familiar with what exactly the page is, and what kind of audience it has.


Proper creatives are crucial for making this work. The creatives must be directly relevant to the niche audience you are targeting, and it shouldn’t be subtle, in fact it should be evident to the audience that the banner is relevant to them.

The basic elements that are required are the following:

  1. A clear and concise headline mentioning the common trait / interest you defined. Example:  “The Baby Friendly Airlines Company”
  2. Company Logo
  3. Picture relevant to the message – optional but recommended

Here are two examples, a creative with a custom message and  a creative without one, since custom messages might not be allowed by the company we are promoting:

Baby Airlines Banner

Baby Airlines Banner Alternative

If permitted, other custom messages should be split tested as well. It is a good idea to do promotional offers that are directly relevant to the targeted niche, for example:

  • “Free flights for children under 3”
  • “Baby food available at no extra cost”
  • “Free diapers on board”

Use the same template to create several ads with different pictures and headlines, and also make sure that you have ads in different dimensions. Some dimensions are far more successful than others depending on the placements you’re targeting, thus, having ads in different dimensions is very important. Be sure to have at least one ad in each of the three primary ad dimensions:

  • 300×250
  • 728×90
  • 160×600

These 3 dimensions attribute for the majority of display traffic. Having creatives in the other supported dimensions is always a plus. When properly done, this approach can consistently yield high CTRs, increase the brand awareness, and generate active audience for the website that might be converted into leads and sales.

Scaling & Optimization

Scaling the interest-based approach is pretty simple. Just find new interests and follow the procedure. Some audience groups might be unresponsive, while others might be very responsive. Make sure and try this approach with  more than one interest group, while split testing the traffic with multiple landing pages, since it is one of the most responsive strategies for display advertising. This approach can be used for literally any niche, so be creative and unique.

If you are interested in promoting the brands you are representing with Bonadza, sign up now and check out our network for free.

Vojdan Vrchakovski

I'm a co-founder and Ad Operations Director of Bonadza, an online advertising network utilizing RTB technology. As an Ad Operations Director, I'm responsible for choosing quality inventory for our advertising platform as well as establishing and maintaining relationships with our advertising partners.

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