Online Marketing: Creative Display Ads on the Web

By Alexander Hiam

Online marketing should include e-mail, ads, and a hub website, as well as social media presence. To make your hub and satellite websites visible to anyone searching for them, you need to spend some advertising dollars. In fact, most marketers have to turn to web advertising at some point. If you’re one of them, the sections that follow can set you off on the right foot.

As with all advertising, start small with your web campaign, look for profitable returns, and scale up only when you’re fairly sure you have a winning ad that won’t lose money for you.

The best online advertising campaigns integrate multiple forms of advertising, including

  • Buttons: Very small, clickable ads.

  • Half-banners: Half-sized banner ads that provide significant cost savings.

  • Square pop-up ads: These open on top of the active web page in their own small browser windows.

  • Pop-under ads: These open as larger windows beneath the current web page.

  • Skyscrapers: These are tall, thin ads that look like vertical banner ads.

In addition, web ad agencies offer lots of creative options, including interactive ads such as widgets, which are banners with an overlay of a pop-up interactive box that usually asks for an e-mail address in exchange for a chance to win some contest or prize.

You can also animate a pop-up or regular display ad or include video in it. Or you can use one of the skyscraper formats to create something that looks like an old-fashioned printed coupon, with the addition of a live form for entering an e-mail address and linking to a landing page where the offer’s details are provided and the deal is sealed.

Then there’s the interactive, a web display ad that invites the viewer to try his hand at something entertaining or useful. For example, a kitchen design company may run an interactive display ad on websites whose content is aimed at homeowners and remodelers. The copy may say something like “Click here to use our kitchen design software for free.”

The trick with interactive web ads is to quickly send people to a landing page where they fill in a short registration form, allowing you to capture their information before you give them access to the free tool or toy.

If your initial experiments with web advertising (pay-per-click ads, banner ads, and other display ads) are at all encouraging, consider hiring a web design and advertising firm to develop a more extensive program that includes a wide variety of web display ads.

Search for a firm in your area so you can sit down face to face and make sure you like and trust the personnel involved. Then set very specific objectives and budgets so the campaign doesn’t get out of control.

Of course, if you really want to manage your own web marketing campaign, you can, but it takes time and a willingness to roll up your sleeves and learn how to do it yourself. Try using display ad templates unless you want to spend all of your days programming in HTML rather than running your marketing campaign.

As for where to place your web display ads, follow the same general criteria that you would for placing web banner ads (see the preceding section): Target high-traffic sites that are a good fit with your brand and offer competitive ad prices.