If our Paid Search Horror Stories didn’t send you screaming into the night, you might be ready for Display Horror Stories: It’s So Much Worse with Pictures! This month, we’ll look at some of the most horrifying results we’ve seen in display advertising, and tell you how to avoid them.

Programmatic display advertising can be a good investment; the real-time bidding algorithms can save money by responding instantly to fluctuations on various ad exchanges and by reducing management costs. But there are at least two dangers to programmatic, both caused by relying too much on the tools.

The Skin-Crawling Suspicion That You’re Surrounded by Remarketing Display Ads

It’s one thing to accept the reality that remarketing ads follow you after you’ve visited a website and pop up as you proceed in your online travels. It’s quite another to see a screen full of the same display ad in different sizes, looking like a computer screen from a dimension where there is only one company, one product, one ad to rule them all.

It’s even worse when the images are of people… or just part of them, as this image, dubbed “peekaboo headhunter” by the Refuel4 blog, amply illustrates:

We’ve probably all encountered this chilling beast. But while it’s unnerving for users, it’s positively appalling for advertisers, because it reduces conversions and revenue. Excessive ad placements on the same page can cost you in several ways:

  • Best case scenario: It hastens the onset of ad fatigue. There are only so many times a user can see your ad without tuning it out completely. Presenting it more than once on a page eats through that number of impressions quickly, rendering your ad obsolete faster than ever.
  • It lowers your click-through rate (CTR). CTR is a simple ratio: clicks divided by impressions. With multiple impressions, that denominator gets larger, so even with a healthy number of clicks, the percentage itself will get smaller and smaller.
  • Worst-case scenario: It does all that, and you’re paying extra for it. If you’re using a cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) model for any campaigns, multiple placements on the same page waste spend for no additional return. The main reason to use a CPM model is to ensure delivery of your ads to a guaranteed audience size. But if there’s more than one ad per page, you’re not even getting the benefit of using this model.

Spare Your Customers from the Skin-Crawling Suspicion That They’re Surrounded by Remarketing Display Ads

  • Know how many impressions your ads will have. When determining how many impressions to show per day, don’t forget to include all the ad exchanges that are placing your ads; they can multiply impressions significantly, weakening your ads’ impact significantly, too.
  • Harness multiple placements to showcase your inventory. Just as every so often the creepy school janitor who mumbles to himself and drools is just a sweet old guy with hearing problems and ill-fitting dentures, there’s one situation in which same-page placements can actually work in your favor. If you’re an ecommerce company with a substantial inventory, you can use dynamic shopping and display ads that feature a different product in each ad. Not only does this reduce the ad-fatigue effect, it gives you an extra data point to see how your products compare with each other regarding clicks or conversions.

Because human intelligence and high-touch management are central to who we are, 360Partners conducts regular reviews and evaluations of programmatic display vendors to keep our clients from overwhelming users with too many of the same ads on one page. If you’re not sure you’re getting the most out of your paid search efforts, contact us for an audit to determine if excessive impressions are the cause.