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Display Ads vs. Targeted Display - What’s The Difference?

Written by Michelle Toivonen Director of Strategic Marketing

Targeted Display Ads are a new tool available in the Display Ad space.  They look and act like traditional, search-based, PPC (pay per click) ads in many ways, but there are a few key differences; such as they don’t require a search to appear, and no cookies are used for tracking. So there’s no way to get bot traffic or ad fraud. While you can set your own budget (like PPC), instead of buying ad clicks, you buy ad serves for specific homes or individuals. So, you’re serving ads only to individuals you want to target online. While targeted ad campaigns are smaller than most traditional display campaigns, they are more precise, generally yielding a better ROI.

Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing

Display ads are generally considered paid media and part of the inbound strategy. Traditional display ads are served after the audience completes a triggered event, such as searching on the right keyword. Retargeting with traditional display ads takes place when your targeted demographic arrives on a website/app with content that is relevant to your ad. Display ads are served to anyone who triggers the contextual appearance of your ads. The target is then “inbound” when they click on the ad, call the number provided, etc.  Although things have improved dramatically over the last couple of years with contextual search, there is still much room for improvement concerning ad fraud and bot traffic. Until recently, these ads were “the only game in town” when you wanted to get in front of an online audience without email. Now there’s a new version of display advertising we call Targeted Display Advertising and it qualifies as outbound marketing.

Outbound Targeted Display Ads  

Targeted display ads are outbound because you serve them to whomever you want, whenever you want and for as long as you want. You’re in charge. Here’s how this works: you start with a defined audience created in one of two ways -- a list of individuals with home addresses, or a location full of folks you’d like to get a hold of online.

Let’s start with the home address group. We match (with 98% certainty) the home address to the IP address and then serve online ads desktops, tablets and phones when anyone at the address hits a site accepting ads. The key difference is only your targeted audience will see the ad and only when you want them to see it. Once the ad has been served to a device at the IP address, the ads will continue to serve for your designated time period on any device from the home, including mobile where ever they go.

While we agree search-based advertising is great, so is brand awareness.  If you’re working on a brand launch or you want to create demand for your product, this is a great tool.  After all, that’s exactly what Steve Jobs did when he introduced the iPod to a public that had no idea such a product existed. We’ll never know, but I think if he could have, he would have used outbound display advertising to create demand much like Apple does today with new product launches.

Paid Media: With A Twist!

Targeted display ads are purchased differently than traditional display ads. With traditional display, you set your budget, keywords and pay for clicks you get. With targeted display, you purchase an ad inventory with the guarantee that your entire inventory will be served. You do not pay for clicks. Here’s how that works: You set your budget, your time of launch and end of the campaign. We then set the serve pace. When your targeted audience visits a site with ad space (banner, display, video, native), we serve your ads.  In general, we recommend you serve approximately 2 ads/day for a minimum of 15 days to each target on your list. So, you work the budgeting like this:

Your amount of targets x 2 ads per day x 15(or more) days = Required Ad Inventory

Use Our Tracking Codes to Retarget Online and in the Mail!

Traditional retargeting ads are triggered when a visitor hits your site, then based on your business rules, they will receive retargeting ads on all devices for a period of time. When you are retargeting your site visitors with our targeted display ads, it works in the same way, but with one critical difference: our retargeting can add a second touchpoint with print. Your target will receive online display ads and can receive a printed,  mailed, offer delivered within 48 hours of online engagement to the home address. This is a significant enhancement that has proven to lift retargeting rates significantly.

Ramp up your display advertising campaigns with Targeted Display Ads today! Contact us at

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