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Display advertising is one of the most effective forms of advertising in the world, making up more than half of global digital ad spend. While they typically generate a much lower click rate on average than search or other forms of advertising, display ads cannot be beaten for cost-effective, targeted brand awareness.
When choosing an ad network for display ads, many marketers default to the Google Display Network without much consideration for other platforms. Google is a titan in many arenas and can undoubtedly provide adequate service, but there are several other networks worth investigating if you’re in the market for unique targeting and specific types of display advertising. Choosing a specialized ad network can improve the results of your campaigns.
It’s also important to note that many display networks contain fraudulent traffic (e.g. bot traffic) to help boost their network’s reach and sales potential. While Google Ads attempts to combat this problem by providing “invalid” click data in their campaign reports, most others in the space do not. As a result, some advertisers choose to use third-party click fraud prevention software to help mitigate any bot traffic and improve their campaign performance. Ultimately, advertisers just need to be aware of the issue and take precautions in the display ad space.
ZeroPark started years ago with a focus on domain redirects, a ground-breaking idea at the time. This is where advertisers access parked domain names that have existing traffic, such as URL misspellings, and redirect them to their own websites. Since then they’ve expanded into push notifications, keyword-based pop-ups and pop-unders and more. Due to the nature and affordable cost of their platform, it’s more suited for performance advertisers than brand-focused ones.
Propel Media, formerly TrafficVance and futureads, is a unique platform that targets sites with a high-conversion audience with contextual and display advertising powered by proprietary, intent-based technology. That means consumers receive messages at a stage in their customer journey that indicates a likelihood to respond.
Propel offers a self-serve platform where buyers can edit and optimize campaigns without the need for a representative. However, like many other alternative display platforms, there is often very little transparency with where your ads are running and sites are often obfuscated with an ID-based system.
AdRoll is one of the more popular networks on this list, however, it’s often overlooked and has many features advertisers forget.
They focus on re-marketing, a process where consumers visit an advertiser’s website and then leave without making a purchase. From there, AdRoll’s engine and expansive network target users across the web, social media, in dedicated emails, and more.
AdRoll was originally designed for publishers and buyers who don’t have access to infinite resources and advertising budgets, giving them a reliable and effective network through which to compete with household brands.
Now it’s grown to one of the biggest networks with the best reputations as their site claims its customers make over $165 billion in sales every year.
Adblade largely focuses on native ads, but they’ve expanded their services recently.
Native ads are ads that promote an advertiser’s articles and other pieces of content. However, they toe the line with traditional content as it is, in fact, “sponsored” content. You typically see them at the bottom of articles on news sites labeled as “Articles you may also like.”
Adblade is a much smaller network, only supporting about 1,000 current customers, but they admittedly focus on quality over quantity of ads. They also offer their proprietary NewsBullets units that claim to achieve three times the engagement rate of traditional display ads thanks to their format and placement. Adblade does have a minimum traffic requirement for publishers of 500,000 monthly impressions.
LiveIntent is a unique ad network in that it operates primarily by placing an advertiser’s banner ads inside the emails of its clients. Typically this requires a large amount of coordination but LiveIntent manages to provide a self-serve platform that offers scale and speed.
Email is one of the most powerful marketing methods due to its personalization capability, high user stickiness, large ad space, and largely uninvasive approach. Open rates are much higher than traditional display ads too (around 25%) so LiveIntent is worth testing for any advertiser.
Reddit is an often overlooked platform since it’s not as flashy as new social media channels, so their ads channel can be highly affordable relative to those newer ones.
Reddit Ads allows advertisers to share their message with a laser-targeted audience that is actively immersed in relevant content. Many Redditors consult Reddit while investigating a problem or researching solutions, so it can be an opportune time for ad buyers to present a satisfactory answer to their questions.
Reddit Ads can also generate conversation around a specified talking point, which can be excellent for brand awareness and recognition. A centralized dashboard displays metrics for real-time campaign performance optimization.
To this day, many people forget about Yahoo. Their ad platform was bought out by Verizon Media and it’s now largely focused on native ad offerings. Their platform has very robust targeting capabilities since they have access to Verizon’s database and, similar to other platforms on this list, their lack of popularity keeps prices relatively low compared to big players such as Google, Amazon and Bing.
Many people have forgotten about Media.net over the years, but their ad platform still remains a powerful force with big partnerships with Forbes, WebMD, CNN, Better Homes & Gardens, USA Today and others. They use advanced advertising technology, like contextual ads, their Market Place, and programmatic display ads, to boost monetization. Users have exclusive access to Bing search demand and cross-format header bidding on a server-side enabled platform.
Types of ad space listed on Media.net include contextual ads related to the surrounding content, display ads that deliver promotional information and brand awareness, and native ads that leverage the authority and credibility of the host. There is no minimum traffic requirement to publish with Media.net.
Lastly, we have Infolinks. Infolinks creates an overlay that converts standard text on a user’s computer into clickable links. Advertisers simply buy keywords they want to target and Infolinks then adds the overlays throughout a user’s online surfing experience. These advanced ads create less of an intrusive feeling so that the ads can be more readily accepted. However, it’s important to note that users need to install a script on their computer in order for Infolinks to serve these types of ads on their computer. How they convince the users to do so can be controversial so I’ll leave that for another discussion. What’s important is that the text links appear organically on the user’s computer and can be extremely effective and affordable for advertisers.
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