Display advertising (also known as banner advertising) is one of two major advertising methods of online marketing, the other being paid search. These two methods are engaged in a perennial battle for ad space and eyeballs. Traditionally paid search a la Google has taken more of the marketing pie, because of the greater ease in measuring conversion rates, but with the dramatic surge in popularity of social media sites, like Facebook, display is making advances. Google might be the world's most trafficked site, but Facebook takes the award for longest time spent by users. Hence, any viable online marketing campaign must utilize both strategies for optimal performance.
So what exactly makes a display ad a display ad? Text, graphics, and logos make up display ads, which appear on web pages in a variety of formats and sizes. Common formats are rich, static, and expandable, and common sizes are leaderboard, skyscraper, or big box. Rich formats are also known as flash or dynamic formats. Premium ads consist of higher quality graphics and videos and should look more like content than traditional ads. A good example of this is the Adcast format, which is a non-scrolling, time-controlled advertising tool patented by online marketer Adblade.com. Adcasts, as the name implies, are stylistically like television broadcasts with video, sound, or rich media.
The marketing message will dictate the format and size of the creative elements of the advertising. When designers develop the creative elements of a campaign, they must remember to keep file sizes within acceptable parameters of the publishing site. Many networks have established maximums in order to keep up loading speed of the site—a problem that occurs with a lot of rich media. Rich media may look flashy and impressive, but if it can't load properly and quickly enough, it will ultimately be an annoyance. Ads with overruns in file sizes may be penalized with additional charges or rejected altogether.
Different ad networks of publishers offer different choices for site distribution. Some networks focus on budget-advertising spend, while others focus on premium sites only. These networks secure web real estate on various sites and then supply the creative content to fill it. Thus an advertiser can reach many different sites with many different eyeballs through one media play. Popular in this space, because of its competitive pricing model and easy user interface, Google allows demographic targeting for banner ads coupled with search. There are many different pay models from cost-per-acquisition (CPA) to cost-per-click (CPC) to cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) to cost as a percentage of fan base, which was just unrolled via Facebook's Reach Generator tool. Networks allow tracking of click-through rates and other analytic measures in order to optimize the messaging of any particular ad campaign.