Imagine this: A customer watches a fitness video on YouTube. Suddenly, an ad promoting running as a workout interrupts, shows a well-produced video for 15 seconds or so, and offers to help find the most comfortable sports shoes. At first, the viewer was focused on the video but then, the ad took her to a landing page promoting a popular brand’s latest model of cross-trainers. 

Ads like this, better known as display advertising, use graphics and visuals to speak to a highly specific audience, thus, making it well-suited for e-commerce marketing. Here’s everything you need to know about display advertising and how it can benefit your store and boost your sales.

Types of Display Advertising

Online sellers are often torn between search and display advertising, undecided on where to invest their ad budgets. But why even choose between the two? Instead, retailers should look at both options, understand what advantages they offer, and decide how one or the other – or both! – can be used to advantage, within their available spending limits.

Display advertising can take a number of forms, each present its own set of benefits for e-commerce businesses:

Banner ads are displayed on websites, combining still images, animated graphics, or even videos in some cases.

Rich media includes interactive advertisements with clickable buttons and other elements to make them more interesting.

Interstitial ads open up in certain web pages before online users are directed to the page they sought to visit. Thus, these ads may tend to disrupt the user experience, but are still quite effective in driving sales.

Video ads are displayed briefly. These can act as a stand-alone advertising or interrupt another video and appear as a skippable or non-skippable ad.

Display Advertising 101

Overall, pundits predict a 7.2% year on year increase in ad and marketing spends this year or a total of $389.5 billion. Budgets for addressable TV ads alone will amount to $2.9 billion, up from $2 billion in 2019  – that’s an impressive 44% increase year on year. Meanwhile, traditional media like magazines, newspapers, and so on are on the decline. 

What types of display ads will suit you best? Here are a few things to consider:

Creating ad copy

When creating your ad copy, remember that it must be both comprehensive but also easy to understand. Before seeing your ad, your audience has probably interacted with hundreds of other ads, so you must do everything to make yours stand out. 

Look at your user demographics, psychographics, past purchases, and so on, and write copy that is as hyper-relevant as possible, but still useful and relatable.

Choosing design elements

Once you’ve figured out what exactly you want to say to your users, decide how exactly you are going to say it. While you are limited to using only visuals, studies have proven that there are often psychological links between design and human behaviour

With the right combination, you can create a highly effective composition. As a general rule, your ad must be brand-specific, clutter-free, with visible textual content. From the colours and fonts to your logos and copy, everything that goes into your ad must reflect your brand message.

Designing ads for mobile

By the end of 2020, the global mobile ad spend is expected to hit $247.4 billion, with a good portion of the traffic coming in from smartphone users. Thus, if you fail to design for mobile, you are bound to lose out.

Mobile display ads are expected to be both sophisticated and optimised for most screen types. Besides optimising your website for mobile use, but make sure your banners and ads show exactly as planned, regardless of the device specifications. And don’t forget, mobile versus desktop users have a much shorter attention span. Therefore, ads must be highly targeted but still concise, clear, and consistent.

One might be tempted to mix and match different formats in order to create the perfect copy, but it’s too easy to go overboard. Understand your target audience well and keep in mind that when it comes to display ads, less is always more.

What’s Next in Display Advertising

Brands are expected to invest in high-impact channels such as video, native ads, over-the-top (OTT) media, audio, and digital out-of-home (DOOH) displays. At the same time, we will start to see more environments with no access to third-party cookies, which will forever change the face of privacy-compliant targeting and optimisation.

As for hyper-relevant targeting, connected TV (CTV) will be an area of interest, but also a risk for advertisers, as a robust standardisation model has yet to be developed, to enable collaboration among broadcasters.


Display advertising is the next big thing. It will combine the latest technologies and age-old copy and design rules to engage digital-savvy audiences. Are you ready to embrace this new marketing model? Let’s have a chat about how you can use display ads to promote your products and maximise your e-commerce revenues.

Contact us

Share page: