Digital Marketing for Small Businesses: Display Advertising 101


As part of our brand new Digital Marketing for Small Businesses series, True Local will go beyond the industry jargon to explain key concepts of digital marketing for you, the small business owners of Australia. In the first part of this series, we’ll cover the practice of Display Advertising – what it is, the different types of display ads you may consider, as well as throwing in a few tips to help your business get its name out there using this exciting, visual medium!

What is Display Advertising?

In the simplest terms, Display Advertising (also known as Display Marketing) refers to any advert which appears on a website in any of the common digital forms – including text, images, flash displays, video, audio or a combination of all the above. A display ad is generally discernible from the main body of a webpage as it sits in a box as a traditional banner ad or larger text billboard along the top of the webpage, running down the right-hand side column or embedded in between paragraphs of copy (written text).

Another tell-tale sign of a display ad is a clear CTA (Call-to-Action) which aims to elicit a specific response from viewers of the ad. Whilst the internet is flooded with visual clutter, an effective display ad appearing on a website relevant to your business (such as a local reviews and lifestyle website) can still prove an effective digital marketing medium, especially for small businesses targeting their ads to geographically specific websites.

What are the different types of Display ads?

Display ads come in a variety of forms, with their highly visual nature giving advertisers (I.e. small businesses like your own) a degree of creative freedom in how they present their brand to the eyeballs of potential customers online. We’ve listed a few of the most common forms below with standard sizes from the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau):

  • Banner Ads (468×60):

Banner ads are image-based, rectangular in shape and are the most common form of display advertising. They typically appear as a traditional printed banner would, running either across the top (header), bottom (footer) or up the side column of a webpage (vertical banner ads are usually located in the right-hand column).

  • Billboard Ads (970×250):

Billboard display ads are larger, slightly squarer in shape and resemble the online version of traditional billboard ads you may see beside a highway or busy road. Due to their larger size, billboard ads may also contain video and are particularly effective for gaining the attention of web users through the use of bold colours and text.

  • Interstitial Ads:

Interstitial (“between”) ads are full-screen display ads that pop up in between common web activity, such as when a user clicks from one page to another. This format may contain video, audio content or a combination of both.

  • Native Ads:

Whilst not strictly a form of display advertising as they’re far less obvious, native ads are nonetheless online ads that are attempting to elicit a specific response or conversion from web users. For this reason, native ads can be highly effective as they often seamlessly blend into the existing content of a webpage by using the same ‘native’ colour scheme, fonts and overall branding of that page.

  • Overlay Ads:

As the name suggests, overlay ads (also known as ‘floater’ ads) are transparent and appear over the content of a particular webpage. They vary in size but are generally horizontal and rectangular in shape, appearing towards the top (header) of the webpage in question.


How to make Display ads work for your business: A few handy tips

As we mentioned earlier, the web is a visually cluttered place these days, with the typical web user likely exposed to countless ads on any given day. For this reason, the key to running effective display ads for your small business is to keep it simple enough to cut through this clutter whilst creating a sense of urgency through your CTA (Call-to-Action) that compels web users to click on your ad without hesitation.

  • Target your audience carefully

Make sure you’re targeting the right websites, i.e. the one’s your target audience visit on a regular basis and has a credible connection to your brand. For example, if you’re a local used car dealer, you’d be targeting visitors on sites like,, or even the local news website.

  • Keep your Display ads simple

Simple ads with a simple design featuring powerful brand elements like colour, logo and an image tend to be more easily identifiable by web users and therefore build trust which ultimately drives clicks. Don’t add to existing online clutter!

  • Create a sense of urgency through your CTA

A simple CTA with a simple message that aims to establish some sort of emotional connection with web users tend to do better than those ads without a clear CTA or worse, no CTA at all. Crafting effective CTA’s can be as simple as highlighting a benefit or value users will gain from your product or service or by creating a sense of urgency – by making your offer sound ‘exclusive’ and time-limited.

  • Retarget users who click on your ads

Retargeting users who click on your display ad can lead to 70% more conversions, according to a report from the Digital Information World, making this method a handy way to boost the power of your display ads.

  • Optimise Your Landing Page:

Finally, having put in the effort to craft simple yet powerful display ads for your small business with a compelling CTA, you want the users who actually do click on your ads to be rewarded with an engaging and informative landing page that meets their needs. To do this, having a responsive website in the first place (link to ‘The Benefits of Having a Responsive Website’ article) and an optimised landing page matching the look and feel of your ad is crucial.

Does Display Advertising sound good to you but not sure where to start? Check out our True Local Online Promoter Digital Powerpack. We can get your brand out there to potential customers through impactful, visually pleasing ads which you can create using our super simple online ad builder.

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