The Best Way to Increase Conversions and Simplify Your Display Marketing

Display marketing started in October, 1994 with the first banner ad being placed on an online magazine called hotwired.com. Companies weren’t sure what to make of a graphical web and didn’t know if they even wanted to market to this new “online” population, which was barely two million.

Now, 20 years later, it’s estimated that online ad spend for 2016 will be around 67.4 billion US dollars, that’s billion…with a “B”. And yet, when it comes to how those dollars are spent, many companies have no idea, and rely on automated systems to decide what ads get shown where and how often. Google rakes in 33% of all online ad revenue (the next biggest player is FaceBook with 5%), and 95% of all of Google’s revenue comes from advertising. Google has created an ad network that dominates all others. They also tie their own ad server, DoubleClick, in and convince people that its the only ad server they need.

So why am I bringing this up? After all, you’re here to learn about increasing conversions, right? You bet you are, but if you’re like the majority of performance marketers, you know (deep down inside) that there is a better way to manage campaigns.

There are a lot of articles on forums, blogs, and other social sites that talk about about how to succeed in affiliate marketing, but everyone knows that the most effective ad campaigns have quality traffic, a good offer, and a unique angle. A lot of articles say basically the same thing in the same way. However, they rarely tell you anything new or useful.

The purpose of this article is to share with you information on one particular tool, the ad server, that can help you make better choices. An ad server gives you the ability to test multiple banners, offers, and angles from the same vertical through your traffic sources (and/or publishers), and see real time impression, click, and conversion stats. You can also use multiple subids to pass grouping info into the ad server to get a more granular view of how your offer(s) are doing by traffic source, or ad, or landing page. A good ad server will help you identify which angles are converting well with each offer and traffic source that you’re running.

We’ll use AVID Ad Server as our ad server, but the principles could be applied to any ad server with the right features.

(You can find a link to sign up for an AVID Ad Server account at the bottom of the page if you want to jump right to it).

What Is an Ad Server?

Display marketing is a way for website publisers to sell ad space on their websites to monetize the audiences that visit their site. Advertisers pay the publishers to display their ads on the publisher’s website. For a more detailed explanation you can view this video.

Here’s the interesting thing: both publishers and advertisers are using ad servers to do this.

At this point many affiliate marketers think: “If the publisher (or network like Google DoubleClick) has an ad server, why do I need my own ad server?”

Here are a few reasons why advertisers who know what they’re doing use their own ad server.

Not All Affiliate Ad Servers Are Created Equal

Notice I said “Affiliate” ad servers. That’s because, while there are many ad servers out there, only a few were created specifically with the affiliate marketer in mind.

Having your own ad server also helps to keep the ad networks and affiliate networks accountable. Tracking your own campaign statistics is probably the most important reason to use you own ad server.

That means that stats in your ad server should match what you’re seeing in your traffic source, ad network, and affiliate network. While small discrepencies (think, 1-6%) is inevitable, a larger discrepency is cause for concern.

When DFP Isn’t Your Best Option

Granted, most of this applies to advertisers who are doing direct media buys or buying traffic through ad exchanges. What about advertisers only running on ADX, isn’t DFP the best option? Wrong!

Most of us are becoming savvy advertisers who know the click patterns of our target audience. Words like “native-advertising” and “content marketing” are words we look for that mean higher click through and conversion rates.

DFP is great for running native-advertising on Google related properties, but what if you’re running on other traffic sources? What if you’re doing direct media buys? Do you use DFP for some things and a third party for other sources?

That seems like a waste of time, and if you’re wasting time, then you’re wasting money. Why not use an ad server like AVID that can run on all Google properties (because its a certified third party ad server) as well as direct media buys and other ad exchanges.

That brings us to…

What to Look For in an Ad Server

Here’s a list of basic features you should look for when researching an ad server:

  • Stores and organizes ads (asset management)
  • Displays different sized ads, and has the ability to create custom ad sizes
  • Rotates multiple ads in one space for split testing
  • Displays/Rotates ads using multiple targeting criteria:
    • Geography
    • Browser
    • Device Type
    • IP Address
    • Custom variables
  • Provides impressions and performance tracking
  • Permits ad suppression
  • Allows multiple ads and links in one ad space (container ads)
  • Allows for custom designed ads for native advertising
  • Allows for multiple users with customizable permissions settings
  • Separate login and dashboard to allow publisher access

Many ad servers offer some combination of these features, but AVID Ad Server has them all. AVID is also continually optimizing existing features and creating new features to help clients both save time and make more money.

In addition to features, you want to make sure the ad server is designed to be stable and fast. Nothing kills conversions as much as lag.

If the ad doesn’t load at the same time as the rest of the page, that’s a click lost. If a click doesn’t redirect to a landing page within a couple seconds, that’s a sale that won’t happen.

The last thing you should consider is price. Sometimes that’s the first thing people look at. They get the cheapest solution because they downplay the importance of a good ad server. They’re willing to sacrifice speed and features to save a few dollars. In this case, the saying “You get what you pay for” holds true.

For many people, a higher price is a turn off, but remember that the features and speed that come with a higher priced tool are designed specifically to increase click through and conversion rates. Isn’t it worth paying an extra 1-2 cents CPM to get an extra 5-10% in conversions and revenue?

Try AVID Now!

There are a lot of ad servers out there and finding a good one can be hard sometimes. AVID Ad Server has all the features listed above and more. Whether you’re publisher looking to get more control of the ad content on your website, or an brand marketer wanting more insight and control into how your creatives are performing across multiple traffic sources, AVID has you covered.

Click here, or visit avidadserver.com to check it out. Mention this blog post and get 250,000 impressions for free to try out the AVID platform.

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