The Power of Display Media For Retail & Non-Retail Businesses (Part 2)

Why Display?

Did you know that 96% of online user activity is spent outside of Google Search? Only 4% of time spent online is attributed to searches, with the remaining 96% of the time being spent watching YouTube, Browsing Social Media, Responding to emails, Reading articles or shopping online.

What we need to keep in mind however is that 9/10 online shoppers, for example, aren’t sure what they are going to buy yet and will remain in a research phase until they find what resonates with them. Unfortunately, less than 50% of brands communicate efficiently enough to convert a user from a research phase into a buying phase.

In recent times, the digital journey users go through has become a lot more complex and the importance of understanding and implementing strategies around each touchpoint throughout a user’s decision making process is crucial.

This is where Display Campaigns become an incredibly valuable tool. You can influence users throughout their decision making process and online journey, on multiple platforms. In terms of statistics, it’s widely understood that through Display Media you can see a 17% increase in website traffic and an 8% increase in conversions on average. Keep in mind that a combination of campaigns would be required to achieve these increases, and display campaigns only cover a certain portion of the required campaign types.

Simplest Strategies

Before diving into strategy options, keep in mind that 1 out of 2 people discover their preferred or favourite brand when searching for a completely different brand. This indicates that you need to create intent and interest through Display Media in order to control the user’s decision making process.

Google Display helps connect with future customers throughout their user journey. What we need to try and accomplish, however, is how to connect with users through multiple channels by using a single marketing portal. The display network allows you to do just that, by connecting you with users through Video, Native, Display and Shopping ad placements.

The options around where you should start are fairly straightforward. Whether you are a retailer or a non-retailer, it’s advised to start with a Smart Display Campaign. This campaign type will look to connect with users across multiple platforms such as YouTube, Premium Websites, and Google Shopping.

The next step would be to build a complimentary campaign, which comes in the form of Discovery Ad Campaigns. Discovery allows you to add additional layers of targeting that’s not accessible through standard campaign types. Discovery feeds on android devices, Gmail and YouTube’s home page. These are places where people spend most of their time online, and previously, these ad placements weren’t accessible.


Where do the standard Display Campaigns fit into the picture? One of the most important campaign types to consider is Remarketing. With remarketing, you can follow users around on the web who have previously engaged with your brand in various or specific ways.

The second option is to take a much more targeted approach by building your own custom audience type through In-Market & Custom intent target or by using Affinities & Custom Affinities. By doing so, you are giving the Google Ad system a much clearer indication around the type of user you are interested in reaching.

Set up Essentials

In order to ensure that you are generating quality leads and sales, it’s important to include a few “must-haves” to maximise your performance potential.

  • Provide High-Quality Data
  • Power Your Ads With a Data Feed
  • Leverage Responsive Display Ads
  • Know Your Audience
  • Optimise Towards The Right Direction


Providing High-Quality Data means you are putting measures in place to filter out spam and low quality leads in general. For non-retailers, one way of doing this is by adding a Recaptcha to your lead forms.

Holistic Measurement

Firstly, it’s important to remember that you cannot measure search and display in the same way. Display ads will always have a larger volume of impressions and a lower click-through rate. That doesn’t necessarily mean that search is the best performer either or that clicks tell you the full story behind your conversions.

As seen in the illustration below, a click on a search ad is only a single step in a range of actions being taken by users before they convert. Initially, users will be in a research phase before moving to make a purchase decision. The shift from doing research into being ready to purchase should involve brand impressions through display media.

It is important to ensure you are accurately measuring the value of each step in your sales cycle. Google allows you to report on what they call “view-through conversions”, meaning the conversion takes place if a user sees your ad, doesn’t click on it, but converts on the website at a later stage by visiting the site through organic means. Unfortunately, Google does not yet attribute Click-Through Conversions. This means that if a user sees a display ad and doesn’t click, then proceeds to make a search and clicks on a search ad, then the conversion will only be attributed to the search click and not the display impression. In terms of reporting on conversions, the exclusion of “click-through conversions” can make it look like display campaigns are not working, but research shows the exact opposite. Search conversions, on average, will improve if you drive a well thought out display campaign. Luckily there is a small bypass where you can view the click-through data on Google Analytics and share the data to your Google Ads account.

Creating a visual representation of your conversion data will allow you to understand how conversions take place across the board. This means that you are viewing conversion data from a Google Ads point of view, as well as direct, organic and referral traffic. By doing this you can see where to place more or less focus to get the most out of your marketing efforts. This will require you to get an understanding of Google Analytics and how it syncs and assists your Google Ads efforts.

In summary, a large share of the full value of Display is not seen in the default reporting in Google Ads. As a result, you will typically observe that when a Display Campaign is stopped, conversions drop across other channels. It is important not to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of Display Campaigns until you’ve consulted results with VTC in Google Ads, or Model Comparison Tool in Google Analytics.

How can we help you?

At Elemental we pride ourselves in supplying clients with top-level ad campaign management and conversion based strategies. Understanding the fundamentals of Paid Media is only the starting point in building a successful marketing campaign and involves various other tricks of the trade. Interested to find out more about Google Ads and the power of Display? Give us a call!

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Having been established in 2005, in Cape Town, South Africa, Elemental is primarily focused on providing web development services and digital marketing campaigns.