Classic online display advertising in the form of banners is being viewed more and more critically. Sometimes it is also declared dead. But ultimately this misinterpretation of banners is based on some misunderstandings. So what should display advertising do and what can it do in 2018? And what ad formats and channels are actually included?

Recently I (again) stumbled across a blog article that declared online banners dead per se. In general, it is a big hobby, especially for marketing agencies, to give the gravedigger for various marketing measures and channels. Mostly this is connected with the fact that one wants to make sales with services around a new trend topic. A short list of what the scene has buried alive so far and when:

any kind of printed advertising (since 1995 the first central ad server went online)
Display advertising (in the wake of the advent of inbound marketing and social media since the early 2000s)
Social Media Marketing (when Facebook cut and monetized the organic reach, about 2014)
E-mail marketing (in principle with every new digital channel)

Accordingly, if anyone declares any marketing story dead, be careful. And why this applies in particular to online banners and display advertising, we now want to shed light on.

Definition of online banner: What is display advertising?

But first of all: What are we actually talking about? Display advertising (hereinafter referred to as display advertising for the sake of readability with various synonymous composites of display, advertising, banner and advertisement) includes everything that is marketed on the Internet with the help of a graphically designed advertising space. Due to the increased bandwidths, banners nowadays also contain moving image and audio elements. In addition to direct marketing, e.g. via e-mail (more information about our associated product), search engine marketing, social media and affiliate marketing, display ads form the fifth major pillar of online marketing.

Display ads are one of five pillars in online marketing.

There are some classic banner formats, but they are increasingly losing importance:

Leaderboard
Billboard
Skyscraper
Content Ad etc.

The loss of importance has on the one hand to do with the fact that the old formats no longer fit very well to the regularly changing structure of websites. They are also completely unsuitable for smartphones. On the other hand, the advertising industry is trying to increase user attention with new display formats, e.g. through scroll ads or exit-intent-layers.

Differentiation: display advertising vs. native advertising

Native advertising as a “disguised” answer to the banner blindness of the user already distinguishes itself per se from any form of display advertising. We have examined this in more detail in the article “What Native Advertising is and who should use it”. The native advertising format Advertorial is also presented in more detail in this article.

Differentiation: display advertising vs. social media marketing

It’s going to be difficult here. There was a time on Facebook when there were little or no ads. In those days, social media marketing was understood as the organic development of a large following by using the dialogue and recommendation dynamics of the networks. And that should still be understood today.

However, to this day only very few companies have really successfully carried out social media marketing in this sense. A sponsored post is nothing more than display marketing.

So one was all the happier when one could suddenly buy the reach on Facebook. But a sponsored post is nothing more than display marketing, because ultimately it is a purchased, graphically designed, clickable advertising space. The fact that such an ad can be commented on and clicked is a nice side effect, but not significant – especially since many marketers are still afraid of open customer dialogue.

So followers are out, clicks the hard currency again. Accordingly, it sounds like fancy to call its Facebook and Twitter ads social media marketing.

The big misunderstanding about online banners

Let’s not beat about the bush for long. The advertising equation “clickable + measurable = performance marketing” is neither mandatory nor logical. According to this “logic”, no digital advertising media would be suitable for brand building. It is well known that this is not measured in clicks, but in image and awareness surveys in the right target group.

Why online banners are not necessarily performance advertising media?

Let’s go back a few years. When the first advertising banner went online in 1994 (read an exciting interview here), it was nothing more than the digitization of the printed advertising space. With one difference: You can interact with these advertising spaces. And indeed: click rates of 25 to 50 % were not uncommon in the beginning.

But under the condition that the format and not the channel are the most significant, it is and remains simple display advertising. You would never call banners in the Google Display Network search engine marketing, would you?

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