Display Ads

Display advertising is one of the best ways to create awareness about your brand, product, or service. Types of display ads include responsive ads, resale (or remarketing) ads, native ads, and social ads. There are several options for display targeting such as interest targeting, context targeting, and topic targeting.

Before explaining the qualities of each ad type and how they work, let’s go over some basic definitions.

What are display ads?

When someone talks about a display ad, they usually mean an ad that has the following characteristics:

  • It is image or image-based (static or animated).
  • Ad display is served directly or through a display network such as the Google Display Network.
  • Advertising is used to promote a brand, service, product, or offer.
  • This is not a search ad.

Together, these characteristics define the taxonomy of display ads.

Types Of Display Ads

Banners, square images with text, animations – these are all forms of visual advertising you’ve experienced. The world’s first display ad was a banner ad that appeared in 1994. 44% of people who saw it clicked on it! From the first generation of display ads, a convention was developed to use self-contained calls-to-action images in various square and rectangular sizes.

Since that time, display advertising has matured and developed specialized categories, including:

Traditional Display Ads

These are the ads most associated with display advertising with landscape, square, and skyscraper image sizes. These ads are primarily image-based with some text and are primarily placed on websites.

Responsive Display Ads

These are a type of display ad based on multiple text headlines, descriptions, and images, which the ad-platform algorithm uses to place an ad in various combinations, sizes and orientations. The site determines the best performance format for a specific audience.

Retargeting Display Ads

Retargeting (or remarketing) is when a display ad is shown to people who have visited your web property – usually a specific page or set of pages – within a specified time but have not yet completed the desired action. Retargeting display ads are a great vehicle for personalized content.

Native Ads

Native display ads are designed and placed in the same style as content on a website, email, etc. You see native ads as promoted or recommended content on various sites, but they usually don’t appear as ads.

Social Ads

These are the ads you see on social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. Similar to responsive display ads, they are a combination of text and images with a CTA.

Discovery Ads

Discovery ads are a form of native ads that use machine learning to display image assets in the most relevant format to the user. Discovery ads appear in YouTube search results, See Next, Gmail Social and Ads tabs, and Google Discover results.

How to Use Display Ads


When you create display ads, the way you frame your creative asset (i.e. the image itself) should be determined by the channel, campaign type, and location. Things to consider include your call to action or CTA (eg, “Learn more”), value proposition, tagline, business name, and logo. And don’t forget colors and other images and the emotions they can Invoke.


Most common and effective display ads come in several standard sizes. For example, Google’s Display Network lists sizes for mobile and desktop display ads.

Below are the sizes, in pixels, that Oneupweb’s paid media team uses the most:

  • Google Display Network
    • 300 x 250
    • 728 x 90
    • 120 x 60
  • Social Networks
    • 1080 x 1080
    • 1200 x 768

Display Networks

Decide where to place your display ads based on the target audience available, your budget, etc.

  • Google Display Network
  • YouTube
  • Gmail
  • Social Networks


Next, choose who will see your ads. Here are some common types of display targeting:

  • Contextual Targeting

Contextual targeting uses behavioral keywords, topics, or specific URLs to reach a target user. Ad platform algorithms analyze user browsing history and website content to better match your targeting selection with ad display.

  • Interest Targeting

Interest targeting uses pre-defined or custom audiences to reach consumers based on what they typically search for, known as “affinity”, or “in-market”. Ads are placed based on web content that best matches the audience selected for targeting.

  • Remarketing/Retargeting

Remarketing is serving ads to users who interacted with your web property within a specified period but did not complete the desired action. Different types of interactions can be used for backtracking, such as users visiting a specific page (or combination of pages), spending a specific amount of time on the site, or viewing a specific number of pages.



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