The Evolution of Display Advertising

Digital Display advertising refers to the promotion of products or services through display ads on digital platforms such as websites or mobile apps.  Over the past two decades, digital display advertising has revolutionized the way businesses reach their target audiences and has become a cornerstone of modern marketing.

The history of digital display advertising dates back to the early days of the internet, when banner ads were introduced in 1994 by Wired Magazine’s digital arm, known as “HotWired.”   There were 12 different brands that participated in this new program including AT&T, Volvo, Sprint, and Zima, just to name a few.  As display ads have evolved through the years, they now go across all devices, appearing on websites or apps, using different targeting strategies.

Display Ads, or Banner Ads as they are sometimes referred to, are the some of the most easily identifiable ads out there.  Here is a look at the traditional Display Ad Sizes:

Some people say that these ads aren’t bought anymore.  However, the truth of the matter is that 84% of marketers are still investing in banner display ads.  Part of the reason why is probably due to the targeting capabilities.

Behavioral Targeting with Display Ads targets people based on their previous behaviors and what they’ve shown interest in online.   Keep in mind that these ads get served across all devices (laptop, desktops, smartphones, tablets, and even gaming devices).  As consumers online, we leave a trail of breadcrumbs on what our interests are by where we go online, what we search for, what we buy, the apps we use, etc.  All of that data is collected and puts us into different behavioral buckets that businesses can then select to target.

For example, here are some (just a fraction of the 100,000+) general targeting categories available:

Currently, 76% of marketers are failing to use Behavioral Targeting data for their online targeting.   This is a huge opportunity for you to educate your clients how important it is.


The next targeting strategy available is Keyword Targeting.  With Keyword Targeting, we are showing your ads on webpages and apps that contain keywords related to your business.  Here, we aren’t showing your ads on Google, we’re showing them to potential customers on websites that people click to that contain your keywords. Our keyword campaigns have the capacity to utilize up to 500 keywords.


You may have heard the phrase A.I., or Artificial Intelligence.  This is a targeting strategy that Display campaigns can use to take advantage of the machine learning that’s available to them.  With this strategy, as the campaign is executed, data is constantly collected (every minute) and analyzed about who is engaging with your ad: clicks, conversions, browser type, device, ad size, and more.  Once the data is analyzed, the machine learning then starts to serve your ad to more people like the ones who have engaged with it.  The longer the campaign, the smarter the A.I. gets, and the more targeted the ads become.


A foundation in digital marketing is Retargeting.  With Retargeting, we are taking advantage of traffic that comes to your website.  As traffic comes to your website and leaves, we are following them and showing them your Social Mirror Ad on other apps and websites that they go to (still across all devices).   With the function of all digital ads driving traffic to your website, our goal is to stay top of mind by adding Retargeting to most ad campaigns.


Lastly, we introduce Custom Audience Matching and Lookalike.   One of the newest strategies employed by Display, it’s become a huge success.   Think about all of the data you collect about your customers.  You may collect their emails, their addresses, and/or their phone numbers.  We can take that data and find those customers when they go online.  Then, we show them your Display Ad when they are browsing across apps and websites.  This is a perfect way to stay in front of previous customers, current customers, or even prospects whose information you’ve collected.  As I mentioned, we also can create a Lookalike Audience to those on your list as well, and then serve ads to that new audience.

With all of the types of digital ads out there, why do marketers keep coming back to your standard Display Ads?

Targeting – as mentioned above, marketers can target by demographics, locations, interests, and behaviors to find the right audience.
Measurable – the ability to track these campaigns and look at impressions, clicks, and conversions, as well as being able to use this info to optimize their campaign.
Cost-effective – Standard Display Ads are generally found on the lower end of CPMs out there.
Flexibility – Ad creative can easily be created or modified.


If your company is looking for a great way to brand yourself, as well as create eye catching graphics that can draw your potential customers, Display Ads could be your answer.

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Are You Advertising During The Super Bowl?

I grew up in Syracuse, New York which is known for two things: snow and Syracuse University sports. While most people are familiar with the longtime Syracuse basketball head coach, Jim Boeheim, but my favorite thing about Syracuse University is football. It is the home of the legendary number 44 for Jim Brown, Floyd Little, and Ernie Davis. Growing up, my parents had season tickets to the football games, so I grew up around football and developed a love for it at a young age. I also developed dislike for it because I also grew up, and continue to be, a Buffalo Bills fan.

This weekend is hands down the biggest weekend for people tuning in to watch live TV. Notice I said live TV, and not just TV. That’s because the way that people watch TV content has drastically shifted over the last ten years or so. People are now watching what they want, when they want; it’s no longer appointment television and the programming isn’t dictating when you can watch a show because you are able to stream that content whenever you want. When it comes to the Super Bowl, 100 million people are expected to tune into not only the game, but also the commercials. From an advertising standpoint, The Super Bowl of advertising, is the Super Bowl.

Every year, the Super Bowl provides an unparalleled opportunity for businesses to reach a massive audience through advertising. It is not unheard of for a company to spend $6.5 million on a :30 ad. Now, chances are likely that you don’t have as deep of pockets as Budweiser, Doritos, or Pepsi, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of advertising around the Super Bowl with digital ads on a local level.

When it comes to social media, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are essential for businesses looking to reach a large audience during the Super Bowl. These platforms can allow brands and businesses to launch targeted ads before, during, and after the game, run contests, or engage their followers with fun and interactive content related to the event. For example, Doritos could run a contest asking users to share their favorite Super Bowl snack recipes and offer a prize to the best one. Also, while people are watching the big screen, they tend to have their little screen in their hand, so as they are watching the game, chances are likely that they are also scrolling through social media to see what other people are saying about the game or are even live tweeting during the game. For example, when I was watching the Bills vs. Bengals game and Damar Hamlin went down, I immediately hopped on social media to see what was being said.

When looking at running a Facebook and/or Instagram campaign, you can reach people through Behavioral Targeting and/or Custom Audience Matching. With Behavioral Targeting, some of the available categories that would be geared towards the Super Bowl are:

Super Bowl Sunday
Super Bowl
Super Bowl XLV
Super Bowl XLIX
Super Bowl LII
Super Bowl LI
Philadelphia Eagles
Kansas City Chiefs
American Football
National Football League

Another form of advertising that brands and companies are now using is Influencer Marketing. Influencer Marketing is an effective way to reach an engaged audience because brands can partner with popular celebrities or influencers to promote their products or services. This year, for example, Ozzy Osbourne is appearing in an ad for Best Buy, Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are appearing in a PopCorners ad, and Ben Stiller and Steve Martin are in a commercial for Pepsi. Influencer Marketing can take many forms, including sponsored posts, product reviews, and giveaways. By partnering with the right influencer, businesses can tap into their engaged following and also reach new audiences.

With one billion monthly active users, TikTok in particular is a great product to utilize for Influencer Marketing because it can improve brand awareness and engagement from users by delivering high quality content that is native to the TikTok app. They can also increase conversion rates, strengthen brand messaging, and deliver content with higher viewability rates.

To piggyback off of Influencer Marketing, another product that will allow you to take advantage of those posts from various social media platforms, like TikTok and Facebook, are Social Mirror ads. These types of ads look like a social media display or video posts, but instead appear on thousands of other websites and apps and run across all devices, using various targeting strategies:

Behavioral Targeting
Keyword Targeting
Artificial Intelligence
Custom Audience Matching/Custom Audience Lookalike

This is a great way to utilize those social media posts and reach people while they are off the actual social media platforms that we can mirror from which are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. This allows you to extend your reach beyond the social media platforms because when you post to these platforms, you are only reaching people that have those social media accounts.

Video is also a powerful tool for to take advantage of around the Super Bowl because the ads that run during the Super Bowl are video ads. Brands could create video content related to the event and target people using the following strategies:

Behavioral Targeting
Keywords Targeting
Artificial Intelligence
Custom Audience Matching/Custom Audience Lookalike

Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it on video, compared to 10% when reading it in a text. All of the social media platforms listed above can run video ads, and Social Mirror ads also can be placed in an Over the Top (OTT) format. These ads allow for a business to take content from a video social post and turn it into an OTT ad that runs on connected TVs. These ads can be horizontal or vertical, any length from :10-:60, and they can also include a QR code that allows the viewer to interact with the ad from their phone and land on their website. This is another great example of how to captivate that audience and reach them in two places at once; while they are watching the big screen, and also on their little screen.

Something else you want to make sure you are keeping up with is good Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is what is done behind the scenes of a website in order to get it to rank higher in various search engines, but primarily Google. When it comes to the way that consumers search, 76% of Google searchers clicked on one of the first three organic listings, so it is important to be on that first page as high up as possible. When people type in keywords related to your business, or the business name specifically, you want to be sure that you are one of the first that pops up. Imagine seeing an ad for a service you’re interested in and then wanting to check it out later, so you go to Google, type in the name of the business or the brand, and they are nowhere to be found on that first page. That is a recipe for disaster because two things can happen; 1) your competitor could be found over you and 2) now you don’t look like a reputable legit business.

The Super Bowl is something that most people look forward to, especially to us here in Syracuse, New York because there is nothing else to do in the beginning of February. Since this Bills won’t be playing, I hope it’s a good game, there are some commercials that make you laugh, and the most importantly, you get to enjoy lots of delicious food like this “snacknasium” my friend made from a Super Bowl a few years ago. Again, not a lot to do in Syracuse in the beginning of “Febrrrrrruary”.



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