Mix and Match a Winning Display Advertising Strategy

Display advertising is a singular discipline, but one with a world of decisions. Where should you advertise? How do you get started? How much should you spend? While display advertising may be relatively complex and highly hands-on, the good news is that it’s affordable, scalable, and an agency like Netwave can manage it all for you. Even if you’re leaving it to the pros, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of the different types of display ads and their use cases.


Whether you’re selling a product or service, most people won’t buy during their first visit to your website. They could be exploring their options (aka your competitors), or they simply might not be ready to take the leap quite yet. Even the best online conversion rates are inherently low. To stay in front of prospects after they’ve visited and left your website, we use retargeting—essentially following them around the internet.

We implement this tactic by adding a code to the back end of your website that tracks users’ device IDs and IP addresses (in line with the latest data privacy laws and opt-ins, of course). With this information, we can then serve ads for your brand on other websites where your past visitors go. Retargeting is a cornerstone of just about any and every display ad strategy.


While retargeting serves ads after a user visits your website, geofencing serves ads once they enter a geographic location. It’s the same technology that powers GPS apps and maps, just applied to advertising.

Think of it as an invisible boundary. For example, if we want to advertise to students on a college campus, we’ll geofence the campus and students will see ads when scrolling the internet or using apps on their phones while on campus. Once they’re off campus, they won’t receive your geofenced ads. Most people prefer to have location services turned on for convenience and the user experience (such as receiving local search results automatically), making geofencing an effective means of advertising to the masses in a selected area.

Contextual Targeting

If you know even a little bit about search engine optimization (SEO), you understand that it revolves around being as visible as possible in searches for certain keywords. You might also be aware of the option to bid on keywords and show up at the top of search results, called pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Contextual targeting has hints of each of these tactics but in a more visually appealing way. In contextual targeting, we serve ads on websites, blogs and articles where specified keywords appear, so you get a nicely designed ad rather than just the words you see in a search result or PPC ad. If we’re marketing a luxury oceanfront community in New Jersey, we can serve ads on sites that have keywords like “New Jersey real estate,” “Jersey Shore homes,” and so on. There’s another wrinkle we can add that we’ll get to in a minute.

Publisher Advertising

Oftentimes and especially in business-to-business (B2B), clients like to advertise in printed trade publications. These are magazines that you know your audience is receiving and reading to stay on top of the latest industry news and trends. However, print ads can be a huge pain point because they’re costly and immeasurable. Online publisher advertising is a great way to secure more dynamic ads in the same publications that you currently advertise within print, and possibly discover new opportunities on popular websites that might not print. If we’re confident that we know which sites your audience is visiting for information, publisher advertising is one of the easier display ad strategies to implement.

Audience Data Targeting

Remember contextual targeting, where we mentioned we can take it a step further but left you hanging as to how? The answer is audience data targeting. Aside from serving ads based on a user’s actions, we can also serve ads based on their attributes. Audience data targeting options include age, location, job title, interests and other selections that help us get to your exact ideal audience. Going back to the contextual targeting example of advertising on sites that have the keyword, “New Jersey real estate,” we can layer audience data targeting to narrow it down to people over age 55, working in NYC, making $115k or more per year, who land on a site that has the keyword, “New Jersey real estate.”

Can’t Choose One? That’s the Point!

These are just a few of the possibilities with display advertising, and rarely do we recommend a strategy with just one tactic. The best display advertising strategies put the pieces together in a thoughtful way, with eye-catching design and impactful messaging. And remember, display advertising is still just one piece of your overall advertising strategy. See how we can help with it all.