How Do Search Marketers Overcome The Creative Challenge In Graphical, Display Advertising?

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Display Creative and SearchIt is well-chronicled that the "creative" element among the optimization triad of audience, context and creative remains the biggest wildcard when driving a campaign's performance. And for search marketers moving into display, addressing "creative" isn't just about text ads anymore as they must deal with the nuance and complexity of creating compelling graphical display ad units.

So, AdExchanger.com asked a group of industry experts from the search side of the ad ecosystem the following question:

"How do search marketers overcome the creative challenge in graphical display advertising?"

Click below or scroll down for more to read the answers:

Kirstin Peters, Director, Performance Innovation, Performics (Publicis)

"The creative elements to graphical display advertising are definitely more of an opportunity than a challenge for search marketers. Search marketers thrive in testing and optimization environments, so moving from limited character text to larger ad units in multiple sizes and formats means more components within the ad to test/optimize and add unique value.

Dynamic creative optimization tools will be key in enabling marketers to do this efficiently and without an army of designers and traffickers. Headlines, images, products, and calls-to -action can be tested individually and/or as part of a composite ad unit, giving search marketers a high potential for optimization over CTR. Dynamic creative units can also be optimized against specific audience segments, providing even more optimization opportunity.

Ultimately, marketers taking a search-like approach to biddable display (via DSPs) should be able to integrate dynamic creative optimization with audience buying and real time bid decisioning, which offers search marketers unprecedented potential to impact conversion/ROI via display."

Josh Shatkin-Margolis, CEO, Magnetic

"While creating compelling graphical ads may seem like a foreign concept for the science-minded search marketers out there, the truth is that SEM's are well-suited to drive and test these creatives in the new merging ecosystem of search and display. Building creatives really has two parts—art, which may be the scary part of the process for SEM's, and science, which is well within their wheel house. A good creative is about having a targeted message and the right call to action (something SEM's know well) and it is about testing lots of variations (another thing SEM's know well). The more search and display cross paths (we are already seeing this with the adoption of cross channel mediums and search retargeting), the more likely we are to see search marketers gravitate towards the science behind display advertising."

Alex Funk, Senior Manager for Paid Media, Covario

"There are three major hurdles faced by SEM agencies for creating compelling, successful display ad units.

The first is a matter of breaking down the preconceived notions that only creative shops can deliver solid creative. A SEM agency output is traditionally defined by the keyword lists and text ads so it’s important to socialize the broader offering of today’s digital agency.

The second is just a matter of talent. SEM agencies who want to start developing creative ad units need to recruit the 'creative chops' needed to get the job done. At first this can be an issue due to not having enough creative work to support a full time hire or a creative team and the agency may choose to go the outsource route until enough of their client roster is on board with a search agency to support.

The third hurdle is linked to the second, but has more to do with time. Speed to development and implementation of ad units for display are more time consuming than PPC text ads meaning turnaround time for a display campaign will take inherently longer than search. With SEM you can swap out ads or execute a mass find and replace - in seconds and while dynamic display ads are evolving they still don’t have that flexible nature - yet."

Erica Barth, VP, Products & Partnerships, Resolution Media (Omnicom)

"As Google and Bing expand their paid ad formats to be richer (Sitelinks, Locations, Products, Offers, etc.) and new platforms continue to emerge such as Facebook Marketplace and Search Retargeting Networks, the need for search marketers to develop creative executions beyond just text ads is quickly increasing. While these new formats and platforms certainly allow for more creativity with the addition of images and other graphical display units, it doesn't change a search marketer's fundamental approach.

At the heart of any effective and compelling creative is understanding your audience, having a strong call-to-action and conducting iterative testing. However, long gone are the days of having just three elements to test in search - Headline, Description and Display URL - now the combinations are even more robust. Marketers still need to identify the ideal mix of creative elements in relation to keywords, audience targets, sites, placements, etc. to deliver the best performance possible. No one is better equipped to process this amount of data in real-time than a search marketer. It is simply applying our expertise with testing and optimizations against new ad formats."

Dax Hamman, CRO, Chango

"Search marketers are in more of a position of strength than they realize with regards to getting creative right. They have had to learn from SEM that even the best creative is short lived, it should be frequently refreshed, that testing is critical and the closer the message is to what the user searched for, the higher the chance of success - there are many display marketers that are yet to learn those fundamental rules in their own trade!

So the problem they face is actually how to apply what they do every day to something that is graphical. Using a low cost freelancer to create some simple templates is useful and a commonly used route. And if the units you make can then be utilized in a dynamic creative technology, you have an unlimited number of ad units to play with.

Search marketers – when you start to produce display units, don’t think you should do it like display marketers, apply what you already know and you are on to a winner."

Frost Prioleau, CEO, Simpli.fi

"Most search marketers have easy access to display creatives as they are already running some sort of site retargeting or contextual campaign. If they don't have creatives already available, there are lots of excellent options for both static and dynamic creative that can quickly and inexpensively produce excellent banners."

Shivan Durbal, Senior Search Strategy Director, Reprise Media (IPG)

"In a changing media landscape, search marketers must understand that they need to address creative challenges in display advertising. The difference, however, need not be insurmountable. Search marketing, like display media, is highly measurable. The ways we view posticlick intent on our advertisers websites, for example, mirror the approaches of display advertisers. Search marketers can also bring new approaches to the display space, like offering variations on creative copy that are focused on individuals expressing intent rather than simply assuming that the consumer is in acceptance of a message. Search marketers can also plan effectively against external factors such as seasonality and news, and measure cross-channel assist activities to converting ad placements."

By John Ebbert

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2 Responses to “How Do Search Marketers Overcome The Creative Challenge In Graphical, Display Advertising?”


  1. Dax Hamman says:

    Interesting we all took a very similar stance to say search marketers are in a great position.

    Alex - particularly agree with the comment that its not just creative shops that can deliver good creative!

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