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It´s time to get personal. Display, you’re next

So, display advertising. It’s a channel that many people deemed to be dead some years ago due to huge declines in CTR and conversion rates, but today online display advertising is hotter than ever.

The changing technology landscape has completely re-energised the whole display advertising space.

Not only are display-ad revenues growing faster than ever before, but how we use this channel in the overall marketing mix is being redefined, thanks to a lot of brave venture firms and Google. 

Four things have set display on fire again:

1. A shift from offline to online

Marketing spend is shifting from offline to online marketing. The reason behind this is digitalization; people are increasingly spending time online, whether using a computer, tablet, smartphone or any other connected device.

Display is benefitting greatly from this shift.

2. Innovation

Innovation drives growth; that’s a fact. Features like retargeting, RTB, DSP, DMP, SSP and DCO are finally becoming real.

Many of them have been oversold for some years but we are now finally seeing traction, especially in retargeting. 

3. Inventory, inventory, inventory

When people turn their heads away from print and other offline channels to online a lot of new media will be born in the online world.

A number of new, really small, niche long tail sites which never would have been able to survive in the offline world due to high production and distribution cost.

More people online create more publishers, which in return generates more inventory for display.

4. Rich media, video and mobile

Rich media, video and mobile offer brand marketers a fantastic base for brands to engage with their audience with unlimited creativity and deep linkage with social media platforms.

There is great distance between branding and engagement in the outside world, in the online world these two elements are placed in real time right alongside each other

Digital display + dialogue = success

The growth of the display marketing arena does not necessarily mean that we can´t improve upon it. We need to improve to maintain the display advertising’s growth for years to come. 

Unfortunately at the moment, advertisers really don´t take full advantage of data intelligence and the awesome technologies available to them to create better display campaigns – on the whole, we still tend to opt for the easy A/B testing as the only optimization trick.

It is quite the opposite for people who work with dialogue marketing; they are used to working with tons of CRM data and a pretty advanced, data rich platform. 

As display marketers, it is time to take the next step in terms of making display even more effective. This goes for both brand and direct response.

The next step is called “please use all of the interesting data you have to make more personal display campaigns”. Okay, maybe that’s a long name but it’s better than yet another 3 to 4 letter acronym that only experts can remember. The new buzzword is personalization.


Some of you may now think: “Come on, we have been doing that for a long time, we do retargeting.” Retargeting is a good starting point but it´s not personal and has nothing to do with dialogue. 

Retargeting is the sales person we really don´t like. You know the type, the sales person who calls you every week with the same message or the one down in the store who can´t remember you the next time you show up. 

I must admit, though, retargeting is a big reason for growth within display. So although retargeting is a fantastic targeting instrument we just need to take it a step further and combine tech and targeting with all of the awesome data about customers and prospects engaging with you online.

So what are personalised ads? Well they’re dynamic messages based on data in real time, also called dynamic creative optimization. Let´s take an example.

You are in the market for a new pair of jeans. 

Let´s say you end up window-shopping at Levi’s online store, but don’t find what you are looking for. With normal retargeting you might then be presented with basic branding banners, but unfortunately these could be for a pair of women’s jeans even if you were looking for a pair of men’s. 

By implementing personalised ads to campaigns, real time data can be used to both predict product/topic interest and show exactly what is the most relevant product/message to the visitor based on their history and behaviour.

All elements of the creative are now updated dynamically and bought in real time on an impression-by-impression level. This is not just relevant for performance but just as much for brand marketers

Adding dialogue into display campaigns is new territory for both agencies and advertisers. Media agencies’ key skills have always been to negotiate and buy inventory as effectively as possible based on the advertiser’s objective.

Agencies now need to buy audiences instead of media space, but also enable relevant dialogue workflow to the campaign, which is based on the advertiser’s current CRM strategy.

Advertisers, please take the lead

It´s time to turn away from old school thinking of people working in silos doing tactical work by channel only. With the consumer shift from offline to online, we are inherently sourcing more and more data about our customers.

This insight should be treated as gold dust and used effectively. The way to achieve this is to remove the walls between the display and dialogue team; the person with responsibility for the dialogue needs to work with the person who does display.

Before long, we will start to see that all campaigns are suddenly cross-channel. If you don´t adopt this approach, it’s only a matter of time until your competitors do. 

So, dear advertiser, please take the lead. If you start to view personalization as a natural part of your display campaign then the agency will need to listen and act upon your demand. 

The better we are at using data, the more personal our display will be and the more rewarding it will be for both advertiser and agency due to higher relevance for the consumer.

Yes, some advertisers have started to use personalisation but it´s simply too few. So please be personal, It´s really not that difficult and the reward is a pot of gold by the end of the rainbow.

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