The Evolution of Digital Display Advertising

Digital Display Advertising

Digital display advertising has played a key role in the evolution of paid ads. It builds brand awareness, creates a digital footprint and enhances local & national marketing campaigns. Businesses can easily get their brand seen on local, popular websites throughout Swansea.

Display advertising has grown and adapted to the changes in technology over the past decades, originally evolving from the now struggling print industry. Newspapers, magazines directories were all revolutionary during the time of release. But as we know, we are thoroughly in a digital world, therefore it is easy to see why more businesses are opting to create specific and targeted adverts through digital display advertising.

Display advertising is today’s equivalent to newspaper advertisements, magazine and directory advertising rolled into one, however, it packs more benefits.

Benefits such as more impressions, specific targeting, strategic ad placement and the ability to run display ads on mobile phones truly showcase the positive effect that modern display advertising has for businesses. In fact, an article from Banner Flow stated that there was a yearly increase of 15% of ads served to mobile phones!

Evolution of Advertising

The advertising industry has been evolving for decades, and display advertising will continue to grow and develop in the future.

But firstly, what is it?

What Is Display Advertising?

Display advertising refers to the process of advertising a product or service through visuals like images and videos on external sites or networks of publisher websites such as the Google Display Network and Facebook. Every time the ad is displayed on a website, it is counted as a page impression, unlike Google AdWords which works on a Pay Per Click (PPC) basis.

Digital display Ads have been running on the internet for decades, with the first originating from in 1994. Since then, digital display ads have been altered in appearance, functionality and the frequency in which they are shown all to improve relevancy & convenience for customers. They remain vital for businesses in today’s age with a statistic from Instapage showing that an average US user sees around 63 displays per day.

Early Forms Of Digital Display Ads

With the internet taking shape in the early 1990’s advertising was still predominant through the print industry via newspaper, magazines, directories and more. It wasn’t until 1993 when AT&T paid $30,000 to HotWired for a small banner ad that display advertising burst onto the scene. It paid off quickly, as they enjoyed a Click Through Rate (CTR) of 44% for that particular advert.

Google Ad Sense then came into play in 2003 (Not to be confused with Google AdWords)  and this changed display ads permanently. After Google purchased Applied Semantics, the ad server was able to read text on a site and serve relevant ads. This was the first-time display ads had been targeted. Considering factors like the user’s geographic location, age, demographic, and the search made, Google’s AdSense could show ads to relevant impressions. However, when AdSense first came out there was a lot of criticism of it and display ads in general. The logic being that the text on a website wasn’t as indicative of the user’s intention as a Google Search.

Display ads evolved once again when Real Time Bidding was introduced to businesses looking to advertise their businesses online. It enabled advertisers to bid in real time on the impression a user is about to get on this site. An advertisement will then be served and fill up the ad space.

Ads didn’t always change for the better however, as more ads were evolving into aggravating pop-ups and eventually internet users became less inclined to use its services. People began to stop clicking, and content and engagement for businesses dropped off until social & native ads changed the game forever.

Mobile Phones Effect On Digital Advertising

As we all know, we are well and truly in a mobile phone generation. Smartphones have affected our lives permanently, and the same goes for the way in which ads are displayed.

Display ads have evolved on mobile phones too. Original banner ads were common among early smartphone designs. Unmovable, space consuming and therefore annoying – they did not have great success. However social media enabled a new interactive way to display ads.

Mobile Phone Usage

Since then, mobile phones have taken over the advertising industry, with phone applications and social media becoming main channels for modern digital display ads. They often include rich media, such as streaming, video, audio and animation. Unlike to traditional print media ads in which content was very heavy and full of text.

Digital display ads now harness the power of imagery to capture attention to drive sales. The added benefit of the ability to integrate these rich media variations helps drive desired messages home much more effectively than ever before.

Different Types of Modern Display Ads

One of the many benefits to living in such a digital world is the range of possibilities the internet has introduced. Display advertising formats have now got many variations that suit specific industries and businesses:


A leaderboard is the first to load banner ad, at the top of the page & above the content. They are the first advertisement seen when a user visits a page and are a large and highly visible. They offer advertisers a great deal of space in a convenient position without intruding on content.


Banner ads are image-based rather than text-based and are a popular form of online advertising. They refer to the use of a rectangular graphic display that stretches across the bottoms, top or sides of a website.

Banner Ads template

MPU or Mid Page Unit ads is a banner ad that is exactly 300 pixels wide and 250 pixels high. This type of ad usually appears on the left or right of a webpage, and is usually in the middle of the content as the name suggests.


As the name suggests Skyscraper ads are very tall, with heights often ranging from 500 to 800 pixels. The resemble a skyscraper as they are usually narrow and on the side of a webpage.


It is not uncommon in today’s digital world for users to view multiple webpages before making a conversion in order to compare products, prices shipping etc. Remarketing utilises this, as it is the principle of showing ads to people who have previously visited your website, used your mobile app and more.

It enables specific targeting to people who have already visited a website without completing a conversion goal. It uses JavaScript tags to place cookie in a user’s browser that targets them with a display ad at a convenient location. This is to remind users of products they viewed elsewhere.


This is just one of the many display advertising techniques that have evolved over the years, and we know to expect more in the future.

Display Advertising Experts In Swansea

Display Advertising has remained one of the most assured ways of building brand awareness and a digital footprint.  Search4Local carry out thorough display advertising for businesses in Swansea looking to target specific audiences.

Contact one of our consultants on 01792 732159 or for more information into digital display advertising.

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