We’ve come a long way since 1994 when the first online advertisement appeared and marked the start of digital advertising. Nowadays, display ad campaigns are 21.3% of the total global ad spend.

In fact, ad placement and audience targeting are the top optimisation tactics used by advertisers today.

With this in mind, if you are not already leveraging the unlimited potential of display advertising, then you are missing out. The possibilities are endless, and the ever-improving strategies only make this digital advertising method even more impressive.

We are going to take you through a complete step by step guide on how to run your own digital ad campaigns, but first, let’s explore what B2B display advertising is and the different ways that you can utilise this type of digital marketing.

How to design a B2B display advertising campaign?

To design a B2B display advertising campaign, you first need to get clear on your goals so that you know exactly what you want to achieve; you will use this metric to measure the effectiveness of your campaign. Begin conducting research to familiarise yourself with what your competitors are doing, identify which publishing platforms are most suitable for you and your audience and specify your targeting options.

Once you are clear on this, you can choose what type of display advertising campaign you want to conduct, design an appropriate advert and then run the ad to see if it lands nicely with your audience and achieves your goal.

We dive deeper into this exact process below, but first, let’s take a closer look at display advertising.

What is display advertising?

Display advertising is a marketing method that intends to attract a website user to leave the website they are viewing by clicking on a carefully curated advert displayed on the page.

Generally, display advertising refers to banners, text and images that are placed on various websites. The advert is distinct for the host websites content and will take the user directly to a landing page, web page, call to action or something similar.

Depending on your goals and objectives, the function of the display advert will be different. Quite often, they are used for retargeting purposes or to take a specific action. Display advertising is the perfect way to gently nudge someone along to take action. Whether that is to download an e-book, sign up to your mailing list, or complete a checkout process.

Despite commonly getting mistaken, display advertising is not the same as Search Engine Marketing (SEM) nor social media advertising. SEM are the adverts displayed on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), such as Google or Bing. They are usually displayed as the top results (but not always) and have “Ads” written adjacent to them.

Social media advertising is often misinterpreted as a type of display advertising because the advert is displayed within the users’ social media feeds. However, social media advertising is limited in its targeting outreach as it can only reach those using that platform. In contrast, display advertising reflects user preferences and browsing behaviours across the web.

Display advertising is not considered organic marketing as it is paid for. Generally speaking, most display advertising is charged at Cost Per Click (CPC) or Pay Per Click (PPC), so the advertiser is only charged when a user clicks on their advert. Alternatively, it may be based on Cost Per Action or Acquisition (CPA), in which case the advertiser does not pay until an action has been taken. For example, the user might click on the ad, realise it’s irrelevant, and leave the page. With CPA, the advertiser is not charged until the user has taken action, for example, signing up to the email list.

The amount you are charged depends on your bidding strategy and the budget you have set aside for paid advertising. Similarly to SEM and social media advertising, this is a paid advertising method in which you bid on keywords to get your ad displayed on different platforms. You are then charged when the user clicks on your ad or takes action.

Benefits of display advertising for B2B

Display advertising is often dismissed in B2B marketing strategy. But this should not be the case. Display advertising can support your marketing efforts and drive long-term results when you have an effective strategy.

Display advertising goes beyond increasing brand awareness and brand recall. It can help you foster loyalty with your clients. With B2B, the sales cycle is generally a lot longer than B2C; with this in mind, display advertising can play an integral role in your marketing strategy. Not only can a carefully curated display ad campaign speed up the sales cycle through faster conversion rates, but it can also build brand awareness to capture the eye of potential clients and foster long term customer loyalty.

Types of display advertising for B2B

There are five main types of display advertising for B2B. Native ads, banner ads, video ads, interstitial ads and GIF ads. There is a time and a place for each of these types of display advertising. Depending on your target audience and the objective of your display ads, how you present your ad will look different. Let’s explore these options in a little more detail.

Native ads

Native ads are adverts that appear as part of the content. They mirror the look, feel and function of the web page they are displayed on and often don’t look like ads at all. This form of paid advertising is commonly presented as ‘recommended’ content on a website and reflects users’ interests.

It is the perfect blend of form and function that is both subtle and effective. In fact, Native ads receive 52% more views than standard display ads, so they are worth considering.

Banner ads

Banner ads are much more recognisable than Native ads. You will have undoubtedly seen them down either side of a webpage that you have visited in the past. As the name suggests, it is presented as a banner display. They can be displayed on third party websites with high traffic and are designed to attract users to visit a specific landing page or company website.

Over the past few years, banner ads have become widely used and as such, your potential audience might choose to ignore it and perhaps consider it spam. With this in mind, your banner ads must have a creative and eye-catching design to entice your audience to click through.

Video ads

If you don’t already know, the future is video. This form of display advertising is available across multiple platforms and is leading the way in digital marketing. There are various ways that you can utilise video advertising.

Outstream videos, also known as ‘in-read’ or ‘native videos’, are a type of autoplay video ads. They are called outstream as the advert is distinct from the other online video content. Sometimes these are referred to as instream videos and are the ads played before (pre-roll), during (mid-roll) or after (post-roll) other video content. In addition to this, there are different ways to utilise video display ads, such as interactive videos and web page videos.

Remember that with video advertisements, it is crucial that they are optimised for the screen and device on which viewers will play them.

Interstitial ads

Interstitial ads are the adverts that pop up whilst browsing a webpage. They dominate the entire screen and can be easily selected or closed. Interstitial ads are particularly popular for mobile devices because of the display time and size. But they are effective across all devices. Unlike some other forms of display ads, the user cannot just ‘miss’ the ad, it will pop up whilst the user is browsing the webpage and has to be either closed or clicked on.

GIF ads

GIF ads are typically videos of animated images or text. They are contained by the display size, platform and design and will often run on a loop. They run for a maximum of 30 seconds, even if they are looped.

Designing a display advertising campaign

If you are keen to dive into your own display advertising campaigns, then we have got you covered. We are going to run through the complete step by step process of creating and running your own display advertising campaigns.

Set campaign goals

First things first, as with any marketing campaign, you need to get clear on the purpose of your campaign. What is your goal?

Your goal needs to align with your target audience or persona to help curate the perfect personalised strategy. Everyone in the marketing team needs to know and be clear on the goal so that you can all work in synergy to achieve it.

By setting clear goals, you can select the right expectations and measure the right metrics. It is essential that when you come to reflect on the success of your campaign, you measure the results against these goals.

With display advertising, there are many things that you can do, so ask yourself what you need it to do. Here are some examples of typical display advertising goals:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Generate new leads
  • Nurture leads through the buying process
  • Increase conversions
  • Attract abandoned users/customers with retargeting

Remember that your campaign goal will depend on your overall business goals and what you want to achieve. You can use the above examples as a guide, but it will be personal to your business needs.

Conduct research

Once you are clear on the purpose and goal of your display advertisements, it’s time to start researching what your competitors are doing to learn how they are approaching display advertising. Building this familiarity enables you to grasp what is already working in your industry or market.

Tools such as Adbeat and Adclarity are a great way to get the inside scoop on how competitors are running their display advertising campaigns. You can see your competitors traffic sources, publishers/partners and their campaign messages.

You also want to start noticing any platforms that would resonate with your audience to consider publishing your own display advertisements.

Identify publishers

Using your research, you can start identifying the best platforms to publish your display ads. There are two approaches to choosing your publishers.

First, you might choose to allocate your budget to advertise on big websites within your respective industry. Some of the favourites are Forbes and Entrepreneur. This is a great way to strengthen your overall market presence, which will win audience trust as they are likely to consume content on these platforms already. The problem is that you will need a large display ad budget to get your ads featured on these hugely recognised websites. Whilst they are attractive, they might not be suitable yet.

The second approach is to find platforms that are more specific to your niche. This allows you to locate publishing platforms that will align with your bidding budget and your audience. If you are clear on your niche, then it is likely that your target audience will be on these platforms as well.

Choose targeting option

If you’re utilising display networks such as Google Display Network or Microsoft Audience Network, it is worth considering your targeting options to help expand your reach.

The top targeting traits include:

  • Demographic
  • Geographic
  • Remarketing
  • Custom audience targetting

Both the Google Display Network and Microsoft Audience Network offer unique targeting options as well.

With the Google Display Network, you can use interest-based targeting. This enables targeting traits like topics, websites and keywords. You can also target users that visit certain websites.

Similarly, with the Microsoft Audience Network, you can target specific LinkedIn profiles based on industry, company or job.

You want to utilise these networks, the Google Display Network reaches 90% of Internet users worldwide alone, which is a valuable asset to your display advertising campaign.

Choose the type of display advertising

Next, you need to select the type of display advertising that will be most suitable for you, your objectives and your audience. Use the list above to help navigate the variety of different approaches to display advertising.

  • Native ads
  • Banner ads
  • Video ads
  • Interstitial ads
  • GIF ads

Design display ad

Once you have chosen what type of display advertising is the most appropriate for your ideal audience and to help achieve your goals, you can start designing the advert.

It is essential to design appealing ads. Consider what will resonate with your audience, what will catch their attention and what will convey your message or call to action in the most effective way.

Remember that design strategies will differ depending on the type of advert that you are creating. For example, Native ads need to have a subtle design that fits perfectly with the platform on which you present them. Banner ads, on the other hand, need to have an eye-catching and attractive design to speak directly to your audience and entice them to click through to your call to action. If you have solid brand recognition, perhaps include your company logo here.

Run display ads

When you are ready with your designs, it is time to push the green button and get your display ads out into the world. Once you have made your bids on the related keywords, you can get your ad visible. As part of your strategy, you want to set specific time limits to your display ads to track and measure how well they work. We look into this in a little more detail below.

The beauty of this type of digital marketing is that you really can test and try different techniques to find what works. Perhaps you utilise various types of display ads, maybe you vary the platforms that you publish on, or maybe tweak your design. Either way, you can take the ad down with a click of a button, and you can be confident that you will not be charged if the ad is not live.

Measure your display advertising efforts

An effective display advertising campaign has to be measured and amended to achieve the best results. You must measure the effectiveness of your campaign against your goals. As we identified above, this is one of the most critical steps in designing display ad campaigns.

This means that success must be measured against your goals. So how do you do this? Well, you need to decide how you want to measure the data that you gather. These Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) can show how successful your campaign has been. Let’s have a look at some examples:

Conversion metric – Does your display ad link directly to a CTA? Such as signing up to an email list, providing email for free content such as an e-book, pdf or trial. Or is the CTA to complete a purchase? How many people have completed the CTA?

Engagement – What type of engagement has your ad received? Engagement metrics can tell you if a user has hovered over your ad, if they clicked, watched the full video or completed your CTA. Engagement metrics will also show the bounce rate to help you identify if the content aligns with the display ad.

Usability – How is your display advertisement viewed? How does it look on the screen, what is the size, is it clear? Check if there is competitor separation that will prevent your ad from running on the same page as competitors or if there are any ad blockers.


So there we have it. Hopefully, you now feel confident that you could complete your own display advertising campaign. It is the way forward in digital advertising and is not slowing down any time soon.