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Why Your Display Ads Aren’t Driving Any Worthwhile Traffic

Why Your Display Ads Aren’t Driving Any Worthwhile Traffic

Display ads are among the most fundamental pieces of many digital marketing strategies. The majority of customers now interact with brands online, whether it be on social media, websites, or through apps.

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Display ads have long been one of the best ways to build recognition and drive traffic to your site. However, lots of brands totally miss the mark when it comes to display ad creation, execution, and analysis. Remember, users these days are inundated with more digital and physical advertisements than ever before. It is estimated that we are exposed to anywhere between 4,000 to 10,000 marketing messages every single day!

If you have noticed that your traffic or conversion numbers tied to your display ads have dwindled or have gone stagnant, chances are that you are making one or more of these common mistakes.

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Let’s dive in.

#1. They are simply too boring


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This sounds rather trite, but a boring or overly simple design could be the main reason why you aren’t driving in meaningful traffic. Customers are seeing thousands of digital ads a day as they browse online. It’s going to take a lot to grab their attention.

Kenny Katzgrau, the CEO of publisher ad platform Broadstreet Ads, put it best:

“When was the last time you clicked on a display ad – either mobile or desktop? We’re guessing just often enough that the following statistic will come as no surprise: The average click-through rate of all display formats is an abysmal .05%… even though the vast majority of marketers invest in display ads. The reality is that display isn’t dead. Most of it is just excruciatingly boring.”

Now, it is understandable why most display ads end up being bland or generic. Google has implemented numerous restrictions and guidelines for display ads, such as:

  • Rigid sizing specifications
  • Copy limits
  • Static images only
  • No buttons

Essentially, there is no artistry allowed and little room for creativity.

This is why you need to utilize persuasive copywriting techniques and eye-catching graphic designs to capture attention.

Focus on the details that are going to matter the most to your target audience, like a discount or sale price, an emotional message, or simply a captivating image.

Don’t forget about building trust. The reason why over half of customers do not click on a display ad is that they don’t trust the brand itself. Include something that will back up your claim, whether it is a star rating, satisfaction guarantee, or a testimonial from a customer.

#2. You’re missing out on context

Another reason why your display ads may not be performing as well as you’d hoped is that you are not utilizing contextual displays. You need to reach your customer at the exact right time/place. This can feel like you are just shooting in the dark unless you have rich data to back up your decisions.

Thankfully, Google’s Display Network can help to bridge the gap and make it a bit easier to time your ads. This system allows you to integrate contextual keywords that will trigger your ad to display with a certain audience when they enter a search phrase.


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For instance, say your business sells athletic clothing designed for high-intensity workouts. You may want your display ads to appear when people are searching for related activities, such as HIIT workout plans, CrossFit gyms, or home workout equipment – in addition to searches specifically for workout outfits.

With Google Display Network, you can set up your display campaign to target based on your specific audience, rather than just content. This means that Google will show your ads to people who have visited webpages or viewed videos related to your targeted keywords – not just people who have searched with those words specifically.

#3. They are not retargeting

The vast majority of your customers are not going to convert the first time they see your ad. All marketers know that you have to interact with customers multiple times before they remember your brand name or recognize the product.

Display ad click-through-rates are extremely low for first-time exposures, but they are more effective when a customer is seeing them for a second, third, or fourth time. According to a report from Kenshoo, retargeted display ads have up to 400% higher engagement/click rates and 50-60% higher conversion rates. Therefore, you should be more focused on retargeting with display ads.


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But you need to make sure that you are retargeting the right kinds of customers. Try to narrow down your retargeted audience with specific URL visits, visit frequency, and time spent on a specific page or site. You can do this through both Google Ads and Facebook Ads by creating customized audiences with set criteria like past interactions or visits on set pages.

For instance, if a customer visits a product page but exits within a few seconds, chances are they may not be interested. But if they have visited a product page for an extended period, clicked on the link multiple times, or explored additional pages, this qualifies them for retargeting.

#4. You’ve got the wrong intent

You need to remember that display ads are not the same as search ads, social ads, or PPC. Oftentimes, a display ad is not going to convince a customer to buy from you at that very moment (unless they are being retargeted or you capture them at the right time).

The real purpose of display ads is to deliver general brand messaging that introduces or reminds the customer about your business. If your ads are perceived as being “too pushy” or sales-focused, it could cause customers to ignore them – or even block them out entirely.

You may also be focusing too heavily on the wrong metrics when it comes to display ad performance. Remember, these ads are not always influencing conversions directly – but they can help to support other important factors, like traffic, time spent on your site, and overall brand recognition.

Consider shifting the metrics and focusing on other aspects that display ads can support to give yourself a better idea of how well your campaigns are going.


For instance, this display ad encourages new customers to give their gym a try by claiming a free class. This is far more effective for driving in new leads than simply advertising membership options right off the bat – but it will still generate lots of viable leads.


Display ads are tricky these days – I won’t sugarcoat it.

Competition is fiercer than it’s ever been – and customers are seeing more advertisements than ever before. You need to be extremely vigilant and strategic with your ad campaigns to see substantial results. Making some of these common mistakes can hold you back from getting the most out of your display ad funding.

So, take a step back and re-evaluate your approach. Have you made any of these fundamental mistakes? What steps can you take to fix them?

Guest author: Manish Dudharejia is the President and Founder of E2M Solutions Inc, a San Diego Based Digital Agency that specializes in Website Design & Development and eCommerce SEO. With over 10 years of experience in the Technology and Digital Marketing industry, Manish is passionate about helping online businesses to take their branding to the next level.

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