Full Screen

Display Advertising

More Free Lessons in

Display and Video Advertising View All →

Get cutting-edge digital marketing skills, know-how and strategy

This micro lesson is from one of our globally recognized digital marketing courses.

Start a FREE Course Preview Start a FREE Course Preview
Global Authority

The Global Authority

12 years delivering excellence


245,000+ Members

Join a global community


Associate Certification

Globally recognised


Membership Included

Toolkits, content & more

Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

What is it

Digital display advertising is an outbound display advertising format where you target predefined audiences with images or banners. There’s also native ads and text ads in the mix in there. You target them on different websites, on social media platforms, and on mobile apps.

Note that outbound advertising is a concept where the advertiser targets the audience and sends their message out to them as opposed to something like inbound, which would be search where the audience comes to you. So, there’s a key difference between the type of marketing that display is. It’s an outbound advertising format.

Display versus search

It’s very important to distinguish between display advertising, which is what we call a push channel, and search, which is more of a pull channel. A pull channel captures existing demand, and a push channel sends out messaging from a brand to generate that awareness, ultimately to begin the journey of that demand.

Another common distinction between display and search is that we target audiences with display, whereas with search the audience essentially comes to you and targets you. Search serves ads through to people who are actively looking for your product, and they will show what’s called consumer intent. So essentially, they’re coming to you with a need or a want that needs to be fulfilled, whereas with display you’re going,” Maybe you would like to be interested in this product”.


Awareness and interest

When we visualize a funnel, it’s quite clear to see where display fits in the consumer intent journey. We begin with awareness and interest. This is where display fits in. We’re sending our message out there to people, to audiences who may potentially be interested in the product.

Consideration and conversion

As we move down the funnel, as they get more and more aware, as they align it to their needs, we start moving into the consideration and conversion areas. So, consideration and conversion can be with around channels like remarketing, and shopping, as well as search as well.


With a retention piece, the remarketing fits back in there too, because if you think about remarketing, we’re sending ads out to pre-existing customers or people who’ve been in that site before. So, if we want to retain these people as repeat customers, it makes sense to kind of remarket out to them with special offers for people who have been on the site before.


Here are some benefits of display.

  • Increase brand awareness: The top benefits of display is where we increase our brand awareness. The thing about brand awareness and product awareness is that consumers aren’t going to actively know they need your product until they know about your products, so driving that awareness is key.
  • Drive product consideration: When they’re in that kind of decision-making process, it helps improve the consideration set and brings that product into what’s called the top of mind. And once you’re in that zone, then you can start pushing a little bit forward, and maybe bring in some social or bring in some search to just convert them on to the revenue generation piece.
  • Create purchase intent: We must begin with awareness and then driving our consideration, because when we want to create that purchase intent, it has to start somewhere, and ultimately this is what our display marketing does.
  • Increase reach: Because searchers, for example, know about your product and they actively seek it, they represent a small slice of the overall market, whereas what display does is it branches out to many different audiences, and ultimately increases your reach.
  • Re-engage with customers: Because the reach is so broad, and targeting with different methods like retargeting, we can re-engage with our existing customers.
  • Multiple types of ad formats available: The other great thing about display that really trumps search is the fact that display advertising formats are a lot more engaging. They’re visual, they can move, they can change shape, you can enter details, and they’re a lot more engaging. And when it comes to social display or video, we’re bringing in audio and moving pictures. We’re also bringing in the ability to comment, like, or share. So, the engagement levels go right up. Our ad formats are very effective in that regard.
  • Cost effective: The other thing is, comparative to traditional ad formats, TV, radio, print, or any of the other outbound traditional formats, digital display is a lot more cost effective in the fact that you don’t have to make TV ads or print big billboards, and if you do need to change something, it’s relatively cheap and inexpensive to do. You don’t need to go to printers and get them put up again or anything like that, so you can see the efficiencies being driven by digital display.


There are some challenges certainly around digital display.

  • Ad blockers: You find that in recent years, the rise of ad blockers, the extension in Chrome, or any of the other browsers that prevent ads from being shown. So even though you’re trying to serve your ads, there is a preventative measure in the person’s browser that stops it from being seen by your audience. Finding new ways to engage with the audience or sidestep ad blockers is a key challenge.
  • Ineffective creative: Like with every kind of ad format, ineffective creative means that your message won’t get across as effectively as you’d like, and can just lead to poor results.
  • Poor audience targeting: If you don’t know who you’re targeting, your message won’t be received or as understood as well as targeting the correct audience.
  • Lack of cut through: Lack of cut through represents an ongoing problem across all ad formats.
  • Banner blindness: We refer to it as banner blindness, when there’s so much out there, when there’s so many ads out there, it’s difficult to actually cut through that mix and get your ad seen by the right audience, at the right time.
Back to Top
Cathal Melinn

Cathal Melinn is a well-known digital marketing director, commercial analyst, and ecommerce specialist with over 15 years’ experience.

Cathal is a respected international conference speaker, course lecturer, and digital trainer. He specialises in driving complete understanding from students across a number of digital marketing disciplines including: paid and organic search (PPC and SEO), analytics, strategy and planning, social media, reporting, and optimisition.  Cathal works with digital professionals in over 80 countries and teaches at all levels of experience from beginner to advanced.

Alongside his training and course work, Cathal runs his own digital marketing agency and is considered an analytics and revenue generating guru - at enterprise level. He has extensive local and international experience working with top B2B and B2C brands across multiple industries.

Over his career, Cathal has worked client-Side, in digital marketing agencies and media owners with brands including HSBC, Amazon, Apple, Red Bull, Dell, Vodafone, Compare the Market, Aer Lingus, and Expedia.

He can be reached on LinkedIn here.

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

You will not be assessed on this content in your final exam.


    Display Advertising
    Cathal Melinn
    Skills Expert

    This module introduces the key concepts involved in display advertising. It covers the advantages of different types of display platforms and demonstrates how to set up a display advertising campaign. It also explores the key considerations for targeting and bidding in a display advertising campaign, and how to report on and optimize campaign performance.