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5 Simple Ways to Optimize Display Ad Performance and Drive Conversions

December 2, 2012 By Marc Poirier
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Display ads have taken off in recent years, after they had fallen out of favor for quite a while due to inefficiencies in reaching marketers' target markets. The whole display advertising game has changed dramatically, and channels like the Google Display Network (GDN) are raking in profits for those who are able to find and convert their target audiences.

There is a lot more to it than just throwing together a few ads and adding them to the network, however. There are at least five critical areas that need to be closely monitored and given daily care and attention to develop and maintain a successful GDN strategy. This is a very competitive marketplace, and these tactics all must work in concert to have a fighting chance at success. In order to keep up with them, put your much energy these five areas of advertising on the Google Display Network:

1. Keyword Lists
Your keywords direct the GDN to sites where your ads will be shown. You will, obviously, want to target relevance to your product or service, so building the keyword list is quite important.

And as important as building that list is testing it. Take series of 10 to 20 keywords and test them against each other to see which ones perform at the highest level. When you divide them into groups, you can assess them at that level and test their efficiency. Eliminate groups that don't perform well, create new ones and constantly test keyword them to find the best spots for your ads.

2. Ad Placement
Keywords will help with placement, but look deeper into where you ads garner good clickthrough rates (CTR) in conjunction with low cost per acquisition (CPA). This is key to success on display networks. Network algorithms are imperfect and may determine a page to be relevant when it's not. Irrelevant pages suck up impressions and, even worse, could end up generating clicks that convert poorly.

Eliminate poorly performing URLs and keep those pages that are performing well. By eliminating the chaff, you garner quality impressions and will continue to improve your performance with each swipe of your virtual swathe.

Seasoned PPC veterans already know the importance of testing ads; this space is no different than search advertising in that respect.

It should be noted that good creative plays a big part in display advertising. Speaking directly to your audience, as well as having creative that stands out and can be seen, is vital to garnering the clicks you want. Testing creatives against each other to find the one that works best is par for the course. It just needs to be done. And it needs to be done continually, despite the fact you feel you may have found the winning formula.

Again: Your creative needs to not only be seen and clicked, but it also has to speak to the target audience. The way to speak to that audience will be defined by how they react to your ads.

3. Bid Pricing
Keeping the above two elements in check, you'll be able to go about your bid management with a much cleaner slate, and with more information on the potential of your ads.

Bid prices fluctuate constantly. Bid prices should be adjusted relevant to current performance, as well as the current volume of searches for your topics. Because impressions can increase dramatically at certain times of year, you'll need to keep on top of trends. Incredibly, bid prices can be dropped significantly when a topic is more popular, allowing you to get a greater impression share for less money.

As everyday maintenance, you should address your bid prices and test the waters to make sure you're still getting the impressions you want. With proper maintenance of keywords, ads and placement, you develop a higher Quality Score, giving you the ability to lower bids and get more for less.

4. Ad Selection
Like any other good PPC campaign, you need to be constantly testing your ads to find the most effective ones. Creative here is much of the battle, and finding image and copy creative that works together to generate good traffic is a huge part of winning the war. Your ads need to be attractive, and they need to be attractive to the right audience. Make sure you deliver what you promise, and that you are constantly striving to find a better ad.

5. Daily Budget
It is last on our list, but certainly not the least of these elements. It's as important as any of the others, and, again, should be closely monitored on a daily basis.

You are bound to have campaigns that do not perform as well as others missteps that cause you to spend budget unnecessarily. If you're not looking into performance every single day, they can get away from you before you even know what's happening. Vigilance on daily budgets related to specific campaigns must be a part of your display strategy.

Pay close attention to your daily campaign budgets, and you'll be able to cut out the ones that aren't giving you the performance you need and allocate more resources to campaigns that are performing at a higher level.

The name of the game is performance, and in display advertising, performance means high conversions and low CPA. While we know that display advertising is a great strategy that can do a lot to enhance your search marketing efforts, there is no reason it should not stand on its own and give you the same kind of performance that search does.

What is required is a lot of work to make sure that you are on top of each of these aspects of your campaigns and have them all working in conjunction with each other. Letting, for example, a daily budget slip away too far can mean disaster for other aspects of your campaigns. Dedicating full-time hours to keep watch over all of these things helps keep your campaigns running at optimum levels, increases your conversions and lowers your CPA.

Marc Poirier is co-founder and CMO of Quebec-based advertising platform provider Acquisio. Reach him at mpoirier@acquisio.com and on Twitter at @marcpoirier.


 

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