3 ways publishers and advertisers can optimise display ad strategy

The online display industry is attracting some deserved attention, following figures from Forrester which predict that the marketing investment in this space will increase by 17 per cent year on year in the US until 2017 – closely followed by Europe.

Obviously, marketers want to maximise return on investment on their increased online display investment, while publishers need to maximise the new opportunities presented to them as a result. Against this backdrop, a win-win situation can be engineered for both advertisers and publishers, if the following considerations are taken into account.

1)       Ensure ads are housed in the right environment:

Too often, advertisers often tend to compete for prominent display inventory on premium, large scale sites such as MSN or AOL – on the basis of the number of unique users they attract – however relying on reach alone is not a viable or adequate display campaign tactic.

Instead, advertisers and publishers should pursue campaigns that target end users on those sites that cater to users’ specific interests. Research we recently conducted with YouGov found that 92 per cent of consumers visit sites which are specific to their interests to find the information and content they care about online because they provide reliable, trusted and engaging sources of information. Not only that, 39 per cent of 18-24 year olds revealed they are more responsive to ads if they are relevant to their interests.

In this light, publishers should be thinking about grouping their sites by thematic verticals (e.g. sports pages/beauty sites etc.) and ensure they have enough of the right type of inventory to be commercially attractive to advertisers. This way, advertisers get scale, reach and management assistance with their display campaigns, while publishers gain pricing power, access more ad budgets and offer more value to advertisers.

2)       Make use of new display innovations, but don’t rely on technology alone:

The growth in display spend can in part be attributed to the rise of programmatic buying technologies. These automated technology platforms are enabling advertisers to reach a more targeted segment of a publishers’ audience than could otherwise be achievable through the manual approach.

These technologies, such as real-time bidding, should be utilised by both parties. An obvious benefit for advertisers, for example, is that they ensure they aren’t wasting budget by being present on a host of irrelevant and ineffective publisher sites, while publishers benefit by ensuring their available inventory is fully utilised.

However, while automated technologies have bought some much needed innovation to the display market, use of these platforms should be managed carefully.  If display ads are not proactively managed in advance, but left solely to automation, they can end up on inappropriate sites – therefore risking brand damage. Advertising must also include human judgment, to ensure that promotions have the correct impact on the consumer - something that cannot be achieved simply by algorithms alone.

3)       Work with intermediaries to optimise revenues:

With different advertisers vying for different ad formats and products to help to run better campaigns, publishers can further optimise revenues from premium brands through offering a creative advertising approach. This will include the use of bespoke builds and solutions, which cannot be achieved through the use of automated technology. However, if publishers only stick with one type of standard format, they potentially miss out on revenues from advertisers who will want to use other types of solutions.

As a result, advertisers and publishers can both benefit by working with intermediaries. They will ensure that advertisers are offered the most creative and engaging ad formats on the most relevant sites, while at the same time, publishers are able to optimise the value of their inventory, by hosting bespoke ad solutions (arranged via intermediaries). These formats traditionally attract higher levels of consumer engagement; therefore will be something that advertisers will be looking to exploit.

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