5 Reasons Online Display Advertising Is Simpler Than Ever

A good glass of wine is one of life’s simple pleasures. However, industry “experts” often make it sound complicated. This is the case with online display advertising today. But marketers need to know that display advertising today is a lot simpler than many of them believe.

Complexity: Old News

Time and again, we are told about how complicated the world of online display advertising has become. We see complicated charts showing hundreds of companies occupying the space, with each supposedly doing something different.

We hear of administration costs of 20% for executing online advertising placements compared to 3% for executing television campaigns. And agencies struggle to figure out the differences between the latest and greatest technology platforms.

It’s no wonder advertisers feel like they have no other option but to pay lots of middlemen just to get their banner ads served.

But is online display advertising really that complex today? Hardly. The truth is that the image of complexity that surrounds online display advertising today is based on an old industry model. Unfortunately, this outdated image deters marketers from giving display a try and capitalizing on the channel.

The Reality: Complexity Is Confined 

The complex element to online display advertising today is on the back-end, with the technologists building the “plumbing.”

This is because today’s systems need to review more than 100,000 bid requests each second, decide which ads to place when, determine how much to bid on them, and do all of that in about 30 milliseconds for each request.

Good News For Marketers: No Blueprint Necessary

Thankfully, good technological advances simplify our lives; we don’t have to know how they’re built in order to make use of them.

For example, we don’t need to know about the complex systems that make our cars work in order to drive them down the street.

In the same way, marketers don’t need to worry about the complex back-end in online display advertising today.

The Truth: Display Is Simpler Than Ever

The truth is, online display advertising has gotten remarkably simple over the past few years, especially for advertisers who want to target audiences across a massive scale. Below are five reasons it’s easier today than ever before:

  1. Scale. Just a few years ago, advertisers would typically need to work with multiple networks and/or publishers to attain the scale and targeting options they desired. No one publisher or network had the scale of current DSPs, and advertisers would often go to one network that specialized in behavioral targeting, another for contextual targeting, and yet another for site retargeting. Today’s advances in display allow marketers to obtain tremendous reach through single platforms.
  1. Effectiveness. In the past, advertisers had to buy display impressions in bulk, often diluting the effectiveness of a campaign by blending good impressions with bad ones. With the advent of real-time bidding, advertisers can bid on only the impressions that perform, lifting the effectiveness of campaigns. Another boost to effectiveness comes from universal frequency caps that have become reality through DSP buys. These advances are among many that have boosted the effectiveness of today’s display campaigns.
  1. Flexibility. With the rapid rise of exchange traded inventory, real-time bidding and DSPs, it has become remarkably simple to execute large campaigns with multiple targeting strategies. Today’s marketers can tap into multiple targeting options on single platforms against identical inventory for true apples-to-apples comparisons.
  1. Convenience. Online display advertising today fully leverages automation. Automated optimization enables advertisers to let algorithms do the work of learning which types of impressions are most effective so they can alter bids on individual impressions as necessary.
  1. Transparency. Lack of transparency was one of the biggest frustrations marketers had with display in the past.  But thanks to the evolution of the display ecosystem, advertisers can now see exactly how many impressions have served on which sites, and the cost/effectiveness of each site.

Much like a good glass of wine, online display advertising today can be a marketer’s simple pleasure, and there’s no reason to make it seem so complicated. For the capabilities, scale, transparency and effectiveness that it provides, it is actually remarkably simple.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Display | Search & Display


About The Author: is a seasoned online advertising executive, specializing in targeting, optimization, and technology. Frost is CEO and co-founder of Simpli.fi. You can follow him on Twitter @phrossed.

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  • Greg

    Would you please elaborate on your topic?

    You say, “But thanks to the evolution of the display ecosystem, advertisers can now see exactly how many impressions have served on which sites, and the cost/effectiveness of each site.”

    Really? I’m currently looking for display ad networks that will do a great job of getting our message out, and will give me the transparency I’d like, and the options for optimization of campaigns I’d like.

    Would you please drop a few names? I’m not asking you to endorse one company. I’m just saying…. Could you name a few ad networks you think are currently doing a good job at providing transparency and optimization options? Hey thanks.

    I don’t like this article because as it stands it’s only valuable to people who are already “in the know.” I request that you elaborate so that someone who is actually looking for great ad networks for display advertising can learn something because you professionally offer a few specific ad networks you recommend we should investigate because in your expert opinion they are the market leaders regarding the topic of your article. Thanks.

  • http://www.simpli.fi Frost Prioleau

    Hi Greg,

    Most Demand Side Platforms (aka DSPs), including Simpli.fi (where I am founder and CEO), provide site level transparency as well as multiple optimization options. A good list of DSPs can be found on AdExchanger.com here: http://www.adexchanger.com/ecosystem-links/

    Recommending one or two specific DSPs that might best be best for you is difficult without knowing more about your advertising needs. For example, various DSPs have different capabilities with brand versus direct response advertising, different targeting capabilities, different geographical focus, different minimum spend levels, etc.

    If you want to contact me directly I’d be happy to help out.



  • http://www.beepautomotive.com Jay Friedman

    Frost, you are DEAD ON. Thank you for posting this. The people complaining about complexity are not only missing the obvious simplicity, but also hurting our (and their own!) space while they’re at it.


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