Display Advertising is a type of paid online advertising that combines text, images, and a URL that leads to a site where customers can learn more about or buy the company's products. Media-based display advertising is common on websites, mobile apps, and social networks.

display ads

Targeted display ads use banners (static images, videos, and HTML5). Banner ads can come in various sizes and are needed to display advertising on millions of websites and apps while users browse the web. Media advertising can be shown on both desktop and mobile devices.

Targeted display advertising is a type of digital marketing that targets potential customers based on a broad set of variables such as demographics, online habits, and interests.

Unlike other types of digital advertising, targeted advertising is most often paid on a CPM (cost per mill) model, which allows advertisers to pay for a large number of impressions at once.

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What is Targeted Display Advertising?

Targeting is a marketing tool that allows selecting a target audience by specific criteria (e.g., age, location, gender) from all users on the Internet and targeting your product to achieve the best advertising effect.

Therefore, display advertising can greatly depend on which type of targeting the advertiser uses.

Types of targeting

  • Thematic — showing display advertising messages on those sites that match a certain theme;
  • Contextual — displaying messages to the target audience based on their interests;
  • Geographical (geo-targeting) — displaying advertising to a group of people who are confined to a certain geographical region;
  • Targeting by time — displaying advertising at a certain time of day or days of the week, according to the preferences of the target audience;
  • Socio-demographic targeting — focusing on gender, age, and social status of the target group of users;
  • Behavioral targeting is a mechanism for collecting information about all of the user's actions on the Internet, their places of visit, views, and purchases.

Targeted Display Advertising Tactics

Targeted display advertisements can be used in different situations to achieve various goals. Therefore, marketers can use many targeting methods when setting up targeted display advertising campaigns. Let's take a look at some of them.

Retargeting Ads

This tactic targets users who have already visited your site but, for whatever reason, have not made a purchase or other targeted action. Using retargeting is very important because conversion rates from those already interested in your product or brand are often much higher than usual.

how to use site retargeting

Search Retargeting Ads

This tactic is somewhat similar to the previous one, but the difference is that your display advertising will be shown to people who have used keywords related to your product or brand in their search queries.

Whitelisting and Blacklisting

This tactic allows you to determine which resources your ads will be displayed on. You can whitelist sites that you want to see your display ads on, and that fit your brand's mission. And the blacklist includes sites where your ads will not be displayed.

Category Contextual Targeting

This type of targeting allows multiple sites to show your ads, including themed sites and blogs that touch on similar topics. This kind of targeting allows brands to reach new categories and get more potential customers into their marketing funnel.

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Keyword Contextual

This type of targeting may seem similar to search retargeting, but it is not. This type of targeting is more akin to Category Contextual in that it relies on keywords found in the content of the sites the user was browsing.


This tactic allows you to target people located in a specific area of your desired geo-location. Such targeting can be configured for various locations: competitors' stores, shopping centers, and locations of certain events.

geo fencing example


This tactic aims to show display ads in a specific geographical region of the map. It can be a city, a country, or a state. This tactic cannot be hyper-targeted, so it is better to use it for display campaigns that require large coverage.

geofencing and geotargeting

All of the tactics described can be used and also combined. Each banner ad campaign is unique to optimize your budget and deliver the best results fully. The key is knowing your target audience and how to communicate with them.

Places of Launching Targeted Display Advertising

The main type of targeting in display advertising is keyword search ads on Google.

Google is the largest search engine and targeting platform; the GDN (Google Display Network) provides great opportunities for product promotion. The network has over two million websites, including YouTube, Gmail, and Google Play, which allows for reaching a wider audience. Google Display Network covers about 92% of sites.

Google AdWords (RLSA) is the most sophisticated remarketing tool, which allows you to set up targeting so that customers only view your Google ads on your remarketing list and who are currently looking for your exact product type.

Don't forget about the possibility of showing display advertising on YouTube, where you can use the targeting options to set your target audience and save on the cost of display advertising. If a user has watched the video till the end, you pay for display advertising; if they skipped it, the display ads are free for you.

It's very easy to set up targeting in popular social media like Facebook or Instagram. In general, Meta provides a fairly extensive toolkit for setting up very accurate targeting. The main thing is to deal with it.

Besides, you can set up targeted display ads on DSP platforms like SmartyAds. These are different and have the advantage of covering a lot of affiliate sites, not only services from one provider or services made on one platform, like Google. And such services are usually easier to set up.

How are Results Measured?

Digital marketing gets more complex every year. New display advertising and targeting technologies are created, which means there are opportunities to measure their impact on users. Therefore, analytics tools are becoming more complex and are not just about CTR.

It is important to note that targeted display data is not only easy to track, but it is also extremely important because banner ads are very precisely targeted based on consumer location, demographic information (age, gender, education level, household income, etc.) and online behavioral interests and patterns.

Here are some of the opportunities that targeted display advertisements offer when it comes to tracking ROI.

Transparent ad placement

A report on this metric will allow you to see where and when your display ads were shown.


This is a basic metric; it's always important to know how many users who saw your display advertising decided to click on it and go to the site.


This metric helps you know how many users have viewed your display advertising but have not otherwise interacted with it. Views usually count as showing banner ads for at least one second.


This indicator shows the number of people who clicked on your ad page or interacted with it somehow without taking the next step and going to your site.

Foot traffic attribution

This metric only works in high foot traffic scenarios. It analyzes and measures specific store visits based on ad impressions set up with Geo-Fencing.

The lines above describe the basic analytics metrics available on most platforms where you can run targeted ads. Some platforms have more precise metrics, and you can also request them from vendors.

Also, when choosing a platform, pay attention to how often analytics data is updated. For example, on SmartyAds programmatic DSP platform, all campaign data is updated in real time. And all campaign settings can be adjusted in real time, too.

Bottom Line

Targeted display advertising is a tool that no marketer can ignore. All modern digital advertising is built on targeting, so it's critical to understand what it is and how it works. In the future, display advertising with targeting and targeting itself will only evolve and give us new tools to attract potential customers.

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