Planning to launch display ads but have absolutely no idea how to get started?

Well, you’re in the right place, then.

In this guide, we’ll discuss what display advertising is, show you how this advertising strategy works, and help you launch your first campaigns with confidence.

So, without any further ado, let’s take it from the top…

What is display advertising?

I admit that, at first, the term display advertising doesn’t really make sense.

Any ad is designed to be displayed, so technically, the term “display ads” should relate to all advertising, right?

Well, technically. But in reality, that’s actually not the case.

You see - The term display ads doesn’t focus on how those ads are being shown to viewers. Instead, it defines a method of encouraging the audience of a website or social networking platform to perform a specific action (visit another website, buy a product, sign up for a newsletter or webinar, etc.)

The call to action is one such method. It aims to entice a user to perform a specific task on the ad - usually to click.

But for a call to action to be effective, it needs to be combined with other tactics. These actions can include the use of persuasion techniques, such as testimonials, social proof, special discounts, or money-back guarantees to further entice someone into taking action on an ad.

In short, all elements designed to convince viewers of the value of the proposed action and encourage them to take it.

Display ads are composed of text, images, and/or video and are displayed on most pages and platforms sharing free content on the Internet. If you surf the web regularly, you're bound to have come across one.

Different types of display ads

#1. Banner ads

Rectangular in shape, they appear at the top, bottom, or side of a web page and can be either static or animated.

You can recognize them by an insert that reads "Google ad." If you click on them, they take you to another website.

Here’s an example of a banner display ad:

An example of a display banner ad.

#2. Interstitial ads

You'll find this type of advertising on certain social networks in a vertical format. They are inserted between two pieces of organic content and display as you move from one page to another, interrupting your flow.

For that reason, some visitors find them very intrusive. However, they offer the advantage of making sure the user sees the message.

An example of a display ad.

#3. Rich media

These are interactive ads that can contain videos, animations, or even games.

This type of ad offers users a demo of the product, thus increasing the chances of conversion.

#4. Native ads

These ads integrate perfectly with a page's content. They often look like articles, but they are actually sponsored.

If you read a blog post and see an article recommending a product or service, it's probably a native ad.

An example of a native display ad.

#5. Video ads

The name speaks for itself. Video advertising is animated advertising that shows a video sequence with or without sound.

They're often found on social networks, especially YouTube.

How is display advertising different from search advertising and digital advertising?

Digital advertising is an umbrella term for all forms of online advertising. These include display advertising, social network advertising, e-mail advertising and search advertising. As long as an ad requires an internet connection to exist and a click from the user to perform, it is digital advertising.

These ads target users according to their behavior and demographic characteristics.

Search advertising refers to the ads you see on search engines like Google. They are based on keywords and appear at the top or bottom of search results.

They consist exclusively of text and are only displayed for specific queries. It is up to advertisers to specify which queries they want their ad to be displayed on.

How do display ads work?

In most cases, every time someone clicks on a display ad, advertisers pay a certain amount. This is known as CPC (cost-per-click). Other billing methods exist, but CPC is the most widespread.

This economic model benefits a number of stakeholders.

Well, for a start, the advertisers themselves benefit from the exposure these ads give them to attract new customers. The money they spend to display their ads is supposed to earn them much more later on.

Then there are the website owners who host the display ads. Advertisers pay them to display their ads on their website. The ads are a source of revenue for them. In fact, the more traffic they receive on their website, the more they're paid.

Finally, there are advertising networks such as Google AdSense. They act as intermediaries between advertisers and website publishers. They provide the technology to deliver ads to relevant sites and track clicks. In this way, they take a small share of advertisers' spending.

It's a positive ecosystem in which everyone benefits.

Why use display advertising?

Display ads help to increase your sales and reach a large audience. But, if we take a closer look, there are other advantages to using display advertising.

Increasing brand awareness

Display ads.

Display advertising increases a brand's online presence. The more Internet users become accustomed to seeing you, the more your reputation will increase in their eyes.

With display ads and their multiple formats, you'll be "everywhere": at the top, in the middle, on the sides or at the bottom of blog posts, press articles or your target audience's favorite websites.

Connecting with a specific audience

Unlike other ad models, you can decide what type of profile will be exposed to your ad. You can target users according to criteria such as age, geographical area, interests and so on.

This allows you to personalize your campaigns for greater relevance to your audience.

Controlling your budget

You'll be able to control your budget with display ad campaigns. You decide how much you spend each day, and you can adjust this amount according to your results and objectives.

When you're just starting out or want to try out new things, it's a real game changer.

Being more attractive thanks eye-catching content

Unlike certain types of ads, display ads are attractive because they're visual. Images, animations and videos make it easier to grab people's attention and get them interested in what you're offering.

It's far more appealing than text-only content.

Staying competitive thanks to live data feedback

Another example of display advertising campaign.

You'll always have accurate, real-time feedback on the results of your display campaigns. Data such as the click-through rate, number of impressions or conversion rate of your ads will enable you to make decisions to continually optimize your campaigns.

Without this data, you wouldn't be able to identify what works and what doesn't, and it would be impossible to continually evolve.

2 factors that can negatively impact the performance of your display ads

Before launching your first display ad campaigns, I must warn you of two important things about display ads.

Display ads can be affected by banner blindness

This phenomenon mainly affects more experienced users. As they surf the web and are exposed to ads they don't want to see, they ignore them. It's as if their brains make them invisible to them.

This makes it difficult to target digital profiles with this type of ad, as their brains instinctively avoid them.

If geeks are your target audience, you'll need to redouble your efforts.

Many users block display ads with ad blockers

Some alerted users no longer hesitate to install software or extensions to block the display of ads during their browsing. These users thus become inaccessible to advertisers, and this can considerably reduce the effectiveness of your display advertising campaign.

But don't let these minor drawbacks discourage you. Display advertising remains one of the most promising marketing strategies for the future. According to Dentsu, investment in digital advertising is expected to grow by 6.5% in 2024.

If you want to reach new consumers online, there's no doubt about it: you need display ads.

How do I create display ads?

Before getting to the heart of the matter, let me confess a few things. There's no magic formula for creating display ads. There is no single thing that you could do to ensure absolute success with a display ads strategy.

But there are rules and good practices for improving performance without affecting your brand image and your market positioning.

To achieve this, there are a few essential questions to ask yourself before you start designing your ads.

What is the campaign objective?

Display advertising campaign.

Whether it's to generate sales, increase brand awareness, or drive traffic to your website, the answer to this question will give you a guideline for creating your ad.

Who is your target audience?

Understanding your audience will help you create more relevant ads and choose the best delivery channels to reach them.

If you're dealing with a young audience, chances are you'll get better results with fun videos rather than highly corporate content.

Are there any competitors? If so, who are they and how can you stand out from them?

You need to know who your competitors are before embarking on an advertising campaign. This will enable you to differentiate yourself and adopt a different positioning.

To find out, just type the name of your flagship product into Google and you'll see the names of numerous competitors appear. To go even further, you can use sites such as Similarweb or Semrush. These platforms allow you to easily identify competitors and compare your rankings.

Nevertheless, if you haven't yet mastered the right tone of voice and the right approach to communicate on your market, competitors are a real source of inspiration for your ads campaigns.

TIP — Focus on what really differentiates your solution from your competitors.

What's the main message of the campaign, and how do you make it clear and powerful?

Your message needs to be succinct, memorable, and persuasive to capture the audience's attention and inspire them to take action. Later, when designing your advertisement, you'll pay particular attention to the text's legibility.

The text on an ad plays an important part in understanding your offer.

What type of display ad best suits your objective?

There are different display ad formats, such as banners, interstitials, or native ads. Choosing the right formats depends on our objectives and our target audience.

For example, if your objective is to increase brand awareness, and you're targeting a senior audience, it's a good idea to create banner ads in a variety of formats. Seniors, who tend to read press articles and blogs, will have the impression that they're only seeing you.

Conversely, if you're targeting a young audience and want to boost product sales, interstitial ads for social networks will probably be more relevant.

It's almost a malpractice not to go multi-format if you want to reach a large audience.

Opt for a minimum of 3 formats, including :

  • A square format (or almost): 300 x 250 is almost mandatory. It adapts to the structure of most websites.
  • A vertical format: at least 300x600 or 160x600.
  • Horizontal format: 728x90 and/or 900x250.
Different types of display ads.

Don't hesitate to test and analyze which formats work best for you. There's no exact science in display advertising, so experiment, experiment and experiment.

TIP - For a preview of how your display will look on websites, use Figma to simulate the display of your ad on "standard" websites. This will enable you to check the attractiveness and readability of the text.

Which visual components best represent your brand?

The images, logos and colors you choose are very important. They help you stand out from the crowd, attract attention and reinforce your brand's recognition by users.

On this subject, you'll see a lot of recommendations on the Internet explaining that you absolutely must have a title, a subtitle, a call to action and an image for your display ads to perform at their best.

That's just not true. At least, not until you've verified it by testing different structures. Perhaps for your brand, a title and cta alone will be more effective.

What action do you want your target audience to take after seeing our ad? Which call to action (CTA) would be most appealing to this audience?

Remember one thing: the ultimate goal of advertising is to move consumers to action.

To do this, you need to determine what action you want your audience to take. Then you need to create a message that is clear and compelling enough for them to act.

Take time to think about how you want your message to sound. Again, don't be afraid to experiment with new things. What may seem most effective in theory is not necessarily so in practice.

What's your budget and how long do you plan to run your campaign?

Display banner ads.

For the best performance and cost-effectiveness, determine the budget you want to allocate to your display marketing campaign.

This will help you plan your expenditure and evaluate the duration of the campaign according to your objectives and budget.

NB: If you have a small budget, don't hesitate to test your campaigns for a period of less than a month to identify the time slots during which your audience is most active. Then, simply set your ads to display only in these slots to optimize your performance.

Where will you display your ads?

To answer this question, simply ask yourself: which platforms does your target audience use most? This will help you determine the right distribution channels for effective delivery.

If your audience is young, you'll be better off going to social networks like TikTok or Instagram rather than the CNN website, for example.

What key performance indicators (KPIs) will you be focusing on?

If you want to evaluate the performance of your display advertising campaigns, you need to identify which KPIs to take into consideration. This depends on the objective of your campaign.

For example, if the objective is to redirect users to a landing page, then the main KPI is click-through rate. But in other cases, you'll probably focus more on the number of impressions, conversion rate or ROI to assess the success of a campaign.

In any case, these KPIs enable you to assess the relevance of your campaigns. However, be careful not to confuse them with the campaign's main objective.

OK. What's next?

Once you have a clear answer to each of these questions, you can start creating.

It's time to get creative!

What you need to create and launch a display ad campaign

You only need two tools to get started with display advertising.

1) A creative design tool

Abyssale allows you to design your ad from scratch or from ready-made templates. From the builder, you can create templates for static or animated ads and duplicate them in the formats of your choice.

You can add as much text and visual elements as you want. Be sure to choose eye-catching images or videos, clear, concise text and colors that are consistent with each other, respectful of your brand image yet attractive.

TIP - Keep your template visually balanced. Leave empty spaces in your template. Especially around important elements. This will create a balance that's pleasing to the eye.

NB: Don't forget that users will only be looking at your ad for a few seconds. So get to the point and keep the structure as airy as possible. Sometimes, more is less.

Interface of a tool used to create display ads.

Once you've got a coherent structure for your templates, you can duplicate it in a multitude of versions from a simple form, modifying colors, images, videos, texts and CTAs.

Even someone without any graphic skills can create new ads in just a few clicks.

2) A display advertising network

It's important to choose the right ad network for your ads. This network will determine where you show your ads.

Not all ad networks specialize in the same sectors or ad types. Look for an ad network that matches your objectives and target audience. Among the best-known are Google Network Display, Google AdSense, Apple advertising and Taboola.

How do you launch your display ad campaign?

Once you've found the best ad network for your objectives, create an account. Then launch a new campaign by following the steps below:

1) Define your objectives with the ad network (attract traffic, sell, increase brand awareness, etc.).

Google Ads interface to manage display ads.

2) Target your audience (language, geographic area, interests, etc.)

Image of a display ads campaign in the Google Ads interface.

3) Define your budget and plan your billing

Setting up budget for display ads.

4) Upload your ads to your ad account and set them up to play according to your preferences.

5) Monitor the results of your display advertising campaign (click-through rate, conversion rate, ROI, etc.).

DISCLAIMER - I'm talking about general steps here. Depending on the ad network you choose, you may have to rearrange the order of these actions.

Advanced strategies to boost display ad performance

Here are a few points to consider if you hope to get the best possible results from your display ad campaigns.


Segmenting your display ads will enable you to deliver tailor-made ads for each profile of your target audience.

The principle is simple. You divide your target audience into different groups, based on specific criteria such as age, gender, interests or geographic location.

Then, you create ads that are tailored to each of these different groups. Let me give you an example.

Let's say you're a sportswear e-commerce brand. Your catalog includes products for men and women.

A display ads targeting different audiences.

To improve the relevance of your campaign, you segment your target audience into two groups: women on one side and men on the other.

Then you create ads adapted to women, emphasizing the aesthetic aspect of the products. For men, you use the same templates, but change the products presented and focus your message more on product performance.

By adapting your message in this way, you're more likely to convert users into potential customers.

TIP - With Abyssale, you can create hundreds of variations of the same template from a single form. This is 10 times faster than if you had to create each variation one after the other.

One last important point about segmentation: you can adjust your pricing and delivery strategies for each group. In this way, you optimize your advertising spend by targeting a group more likely to buy your products or services.

A/B testing

A/B testing is one of the most game-changing practices in display advertising. Yet many still overlook this practice.

A/B testing enables you to identify the elements and versions of your ads that work best with your audience.

If you're launching a campaign, here's a strategy you can apply. Create four different banners.

A/B testing display ads.
  • Banner 1: It should look like what you think is the best solution for converting your audience.
  • Banner 2: It should look similar to banner 1, but be more in line with what competitors are doing, and have a different message from banner 1.
  • Banner 3: The design should be completely different. Create something counter-intuitive, something you wouldn't do. However, signals in other sectors make you think it could work.
  • Banner 4: You take the design from banner 3 and change the message.

Then divide the budget allocated to distribution to identify the best-performing version.

After 2 weeks to 1 month of results, you'll have significant statistics. Stop broadcasting versions that don't work. Then continue to A/B test the versions that are performing by modifying the elements 1 by 1.

Whatever happens, never stop testing! You'll never be able to say that what you currently have online is the most effective. Apart from the fact that this kind of thinking is extremely presumptuous, it makes you miss out on any opportunity for improvement.

RECOMMANDATION - To simplify the A/B testing of your display ads, use Abyssale. Not only will you be able to quickly create each version to be tested, thanks to creative automation. What's more, you'll be able to analyze and optimize your results directly from your Abyssale dashboard.

The importance of the landing page

Yes, I know: we're going beyond the simple creation of a display ad. However, the landing page to which your display ad redirects has a direct influence on the results of your campaigns.

If a user clicks on your ad and the page they're redirected to doesn't match their expectations, they'll quickly leave that page. This is known as a bounce. This has a direct impact on your conversion rate.

Above all, your display ad will lose points with your ad network. For example, Google Ads rates ads out of 10. The higher your bounce rate, the more points you lose.

If your score is less than 5, your display ads will be given less prominence by Google, and you'll pay more for them. The trend reverses when your score is above 5.

So if your bounce rate is too high, it's best to stop your campaign. The problem may lie with the landing page. It needs to be specific to the message communicated in your ads. Take the time to optimize it or write a new one.

NOTE - If you'd like to know more about bounce rates and what you should expect, you'll find some answers on this forum.

When is a display advertising campaign a success?

The key to determining the success of a campaign lies in achieving the objectives defined when planning the strategy.

If your objective was to increase sales of a particular product, then the success of your campaign depends on this factor. Therefore, even if you observe an above-average click-through rate or a bounce rate close to zero, this does not guarantee the success of your campaign.

Never forget the main objective. KPIs are performance indicators. Under no circumstances should they rank as measures of success.

Success is just the beginning

If a campaign is a success, that doesn't mean you should stop testing and experimenting with new versions of ads. Quite the contrary! The success of a campaign launches the start of a new series of tests to further improve your results.

Not everything can be compared

Two designs for the same display ad.

To evaluate the performance of your campaigns, you may want to compare them. This means looking at your competitors, or even other sectors more or less similar to your own.

But this poses a number of problems. Some business sectors are more attractive than others. So it's not a good idea to compare the results of a beauty brand with a sports brand. Even if they have launched display advertising campaigns using the same methods.

As for your competitors, they're not at the same stage of development as you are. So it's logical to have different results.

The only thing you can compare your campaigns to is your previous campaigns. This gives you a healthy baseline from which to observe your real progress.

The importance of the goal

Yes, I'm coming back to a point I made earlier. The success of a campaign depends on the objective you set yourself. If it was too unrealistic or too ambitious, you may not have achieved it. However, your campaign may well have worked.

In this case, the problem lies not with the execution, but rather with the campaign's expectations. To avoid disappointment, adjust and readjust your campaign objectives so that they are ambitious, but achievable.

And don't forget! Good performance is subjective.

It's up to you!

You now have all the tools you need to launch high-performance display ad campaigns.

All you have to do is get started.

We wish you good luck.