If you’re a digital display advertiser, you know this can be the worst of times and the best of times – based on what you’re doing. While there are more ways than ever to reach your target audience, there are also currently around 198 million active ad block users worldwide (Source: Ad blocking report). There may be more ways to fail then ever, but there are also even more ways to succeed.

Chances are you’ve had some wins and some losses with your display advertising experiences, but you may not know why some of your ads did better than others. Here are 10 things that you’re probably doing wrong:

The 10 Major Mistakes You’re Making With Your Display Advertising Strategy

#1 – Using a misleading CTA

Claiming that someone can “lose 25 pounds in no time” and then sending them to a landing page to buy shape-wear is a pretty big stretch (pun intended). While you may not be making a mistake as big as that, you should still be cautious. Your banner copy needs to correlate to the landing page, or your audience won’t be visiting for long.

You don’t want to lose the trust of potential customers straight off the bat, do you? Your ultimate goal should be conversions, not click-through rates, which leads me to the next point I’m making.

#2 – Focusing on your CTR instead of your ROI

The average CTR for display advertisements is at about o.09% (Source: Bannersack Blog), so if you go by that number, you're going to think most of your campaigns have failed.

But the good news is, you can get a return on your investment without having a high click-through rate. A recent study by Facebook's Atlas Ad Serving and Analytics Unit studied 12,000 Proactiv purchases and found that 13% of them started with purchasers viewing a display ad that they didn't click on. (​Source: Ad Age)

#3 – Skipping A/B testing

By choosing one variable of each ad and running the variations side-by-side, you can see what works before you use your entire budget. You can switch up the copy, the image, the CTA, the audience targeting and the design to see which combination will work best.

By performing these tests with smaller budgets, you’ll have lessened the chances of spending on an ineffective ad. If you do it right, you can even double your CTR with a scientific AdWords ad copy A/B test! (Source: Search Engine Watch)

#4 – Advertising on the wrong sites

Yes, it’s tough to choose your audience in every case, but you should try to control as much as you can. A poorly placed ad can be more damaging to your brand than no ad at all. Check out these display ad fails.

It’s true that an unforeseen news story can make your ad seem inappropriate in spite of your best intentions, but it’s not likely to happen too often. So that’s no excuse! Be a little cautious.

#5 – Not running social media display ads

Social media is a great platform for display ads – Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

Facebook advertising has been around the longest and has proven to be hugely successful for many brands. Desktop ads on Facebook have 8.1x higher CTRs and Facebook mobile ads have 9.1x higher click-through rates versus web targeting in general (Source: HootSuite). It’s worth devoting some of your display advertising budget to social media – a little experimenting won’t hurt!

Relevant article: How to act like a human in social media

#6 –Running ads that are only desktop-friendly

By 2018, the amount that will be spent on mobile display advertising will account for 72.2% of the total amount spent on digital advertising (Source: eMarketer). So if you don’t act fast, your competitors will get to your customers before you do.

Try shifting at least a portion of your total digital ad spends to mobile-only and see how it works for you. Chances are, you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck.

#7 – Using the same ads, over and over again

You can’t tell people the same things twice without looking a little desperate. Change your messaging, and most importantly, give your potential customers new information to get them to click through.

#8 – Unstoppably showing ads to people who don’t convert

Just because someone clicks through once, it doesn’t mean they will become a customer. If your ads are getting lots of impressions and clicks, and if those people aren’t crossing the finish line, it’s time to readjust your targeting strategy.

#9 – Creating sloppy ads

Looks are everything when it comes to display advertising. Make sure that your display ads are optimized for where they’re going to be shown – it’s got to look professional. Get the dimensions right, ensure your copy isn’t too long, and create a CTA that resonates with your target audience. Here’s Google’s guide to ad sizes, which includes an easy-to-follow chart of top performing ad sizes.

#10 – Winging it

Why make expensive mistakes when you don’t have to? There are tons of great resources out there that can help you improve your display advertising strategy. The fact that you’re reading this blog post is a great first step, but it shouldn’t end here. The world of display advertising is constantly changing and evolving – and you don’t want to miss out on new opportunities to improve your strategy! Consider taking a Display Advertising Certification Training.

Like anything else related to digital marketing, display advertising is an ever evolving area, so the most important lesson to learn is to never stop learning!

Now that you know what you’re doing wrong, it’s time to make it right. I’d love to hear about your display ad successes (and failures). Let’s learn from each other – so comment away!

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