In marketing, search and display are a far cry from being mutually exclusive. In fact, they're a perfect pairing of two components that are even better when served together – like pie and ice cream.
To understand how search and display advertising go hand in hand, it helps to consider first how each one works separately – and why one can fuel the other.
Advantages of Display Advertising
In recent years, display advertising has arguably been the most popular strategy for advertisers. A 2016 report from eMarketer showed that display advertising – in the usual form of banner ads, video and content – accounted for 47.9 percent of ad spending ($32.17 billion), with one in five advertising dollars spent in banner ads.
Display ads can be placed anywhere at any time, without the marketer having to bid for keywords or compete for placement. It's an ideal way to garner awareness from either the general public or a specific segment of the public, depending on where the ad is placed.
Display advertising doesn't rely upon user behavior. People don't have to trigger a keyword or enter a search term for an ad to come up – it just appears. Nevertheless, it can still be utilized as a powerful tool in target marketing because the advertiser can choose exactly where the ad should run. For example, using contextual targeting on the Google Display Network a cat food company can place ads on a website or blog page about pet ownership, while a Florida realtor can place rental ads alongside an article about renting vacation homes in the Keys.
Another strength of display advertising is its ability to engender brand awareness and customer loyalty. The best ads use strong visual components, in terms of imagery and color. That's why some brand images – such as Santa Claus drinking a Coca-Cola or the Energizer Bunny ploughing through obstacles – are so iconic and unforgettable.
Nevertheless, there's a hitch, and it has to do with relevance. Studies show that 58 percent of users complain that the banner ads they see aren't relevant enough to their interests, while 54 percent say that they don't trust the banner ads that pop up on their screens. In the end, an effective display ad campaign has to command an element of trust – and that's where search advertising comes in.
Advantages of Search Advertising
With search advertising, you're already one step ahead, because the users who see your ad are already searching for your product. Consider someone who is shopping for a pair of athletic shoes. This shopper could either go to a department store that sells shoes as well as thousands of other items, or go to a shoe store that specializes in athletic shoes. With search advertising, you're the specialty shoe store. If the shopper enters "athletic shoes" in the search bar, your shoe store ad can be displayed.
As the name implies, search advertising is triggered by keywords entered in the search bar. Using a number of adware tools, you can bid on certain keywords relevant to your business, so that your ad will be displayed when these keywords are entered.
Arguably, search advertising is the most highly targeted type of online marketing. Since the user is already looking for your product, you'll get relevant traffic and a higher chance of conversion.
However, as with display advertising, there are hitches. For example, what if your product's keywords don't generate many user searches? There's no value in bidding for (and obtaining) keywords for a prominent search placement if no one's searching for those words.
You can use a number of software tools to determine search volume on your product. If you find, however, that there isn't much volume, then search advertising alone might not be as effective for your brand – and that's where the added value of display advertising comes in.
Another hitch has to do with keyword pricing. Keyword popularity will drive up the cost-per-click (CPC) rate. This means that if your product's keyword is too popular, you'll be compelled to pay a high price if you want an effective search engine placement. Keyword competition is something of an epidemic, with a wealth of research services offering the same keywords (at a premium bid price) to your competitors. As an example, Google AdWords reports that the three most expensive keywords are currently "insurance" ($54.91 CPC), "loans" ($44.28 CPC) and "mortgage" ($47.12 CPC).
Search and Display: A Dynamic Duo
When used in tandem, search and display can create a fully integrated marketing strategy that covers all the bases. The display component will create brand awareness and audience engagement, while the search component will ensure that you're reaching a highly segmented target audience that's looking specifically for your product.
A prime example of using search and display together is remarketing. With remarketing, you're typically reaching out to people who have already searched for your product but haven't yet purchased from you. Through cookies and other trackers, you can identify these previous visitors and reach out to them again with display ads in the form of banners and pre-roll videos. This time, you might be able to induce them to buy.
Search and display advertising work well together because they hit people at different stages of their purchase behavior. For example, search marketing can lead a prospect all the way to the shopping cart – but if that cart is abandoned with items still unpurchased, display can take over and clinch the deal through timely banner ads.
Likewise, the opposite is true as well, with display advertising often motivating a subsequent search. A recent survey found that 50 percent of Internet users will react to a display advertisement by conducting an online search that's directly related to the product in the ad – and even more significantly, 14 percent of those users will subsequently make a purchase as a result of that search. Likewise, another study found that when users are exposed to a display ad, it increases the number of relevant search queries by 5-25 percent.
Display and Search: Stronger Together than Apart
In order to build trust, you have to establish a connection between your brand and your audience – and one of the initial ways to do this is to show that your product is relevant to your target demographic. Toward this end, your advertising campaign will be more powerful if you use both display and search strategies. Display advertising sparks the connection, while search advertising establishes the relevance.
Recent studies have shown that pairing search and display advertising can result in dramatically increased conversions and sales. For example, an integrated display/search campaign for Superpages resulted in a 180 percent increase in click-throughs. Likewise, a comScore study showed that when search ads were paired with display advertising, researchers discovered a 119 percent lift in sales.
When used together, search and display advertising can provide you with a powerhouse marketing engine. Display can spark the ignition that drives search – and if your search strategies are well-planned and well-placed, they can lead to a higher Return on Investment (ROI) in terms of quick conversions and sales.