Display advertising

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Display advertising is a type of advertising that is located on websites. It can be seen in a wide range of different formats and contains items such as texts, images, flash, video and audio.[1] The main purpose is to deliver general advertisements and brand messages to the plus 40 million people connected to the Internet each month.[2]


Since the early 90’s the advent of the Internet has completely changed the way in which people relate to advertisements. Computers’ prices moved downward and the access to the online world became accessible to everyone.[3] This change has modified the way in which people tend to be informed, and the way in which they are exposed to media and advertising by creating different online channels through which advertisements can reach users.[4]

The first type of relationship between a website and an advertiser was a straightforward, direct partnership. The advertiser who was promoting a product or service pays the website, also known as a publisher, directly for ad impressions. As time went on, publishers began creating thousands of websites, leading to millions of pages with unsold ad space. This gave rise to a new set of companies called Ad Networks.[5] The ad network acted as a broker, buying unsold ad space from multiple publishers and packaged them into audiences to be sold to advertisers. This second wave of advertiser-publisher relationships rapidly gained popularity as it was useful to buyers who found themselves often paying a lower price yet receiving enhanced targeting capabilities through ad networks.

The third and most recent major development that shaped the advertiser-publisher ecosystem started occurring in the late 2000s when widespread adoption of RTB (real time bidding) technology took place. Also referred to as programmatic bidding, RTB allowed companies representing buyers and sellers to bid on the price to show an ad to a user every time a banner ad is loading. When a page loads during a user visit, there are thousands of bids occurring from advertisers to serve an ad to that user, based on each company's individual algorithms. With this most recent change in the industry, more and more ads are being sold a single impression at a time, as opposed to in bulk purchases.

First online advertisement[edit]

The birthday of the first banner display is on the 27th October 1994. It appeared on HotWired, the first commercial web magazine.[6]

Importance of formats of display ads[edit]

Two students of the "Amsterdam school of Communication Research ASCor" have run studies about the audience reactions in relation to different display advertising formats. In particular they took into consideration two different types of format (sponsored content and banner advertising) to demonstrate that people react and perceive formats in different ways, positive and negative.[7] For this reason it is important to choose the right format because it will help to make the most of the medium. It is also possible to add:

  • Video
  • Rich Media Ads (Expandables): flash files that may expand when the user interacts on mouseover (polite), or auto- initiated (non-polite);
  • Overlays: ads that appear and that it is possible to remove clicking a close button;
  • Interstitials: Ads that are displayed on webpages before expected content.
  • Sponsorship: including a logo or adding a brand to the design of a web site.[8]

To help to better selecting the right format for type of ad, Interactive Advertising Bureau has realized a Display Standard Ad Unit Portfolio that works as guideline that can be followed by the creatives.[9]

Standard size[edit]

IAB has also created a universal standard for display ad sizes Page text.[10] There are four dimensions that have been decided as universal and are respectively:

  • Banner 728 x 90
  • Big box 300 x 250
  • Skyscraper 160 x 600
  • Square 250 x 250
Typical web banner, sized 468×60 pixels.


Who works behind display ads[edit]


The role of the creatives is to give a shape to an ad. They have to find the idea and the most efficient way to push the customer to buy a product or a service. Imagination and innovation are required to develop and to present an advertisement.[11]

Digital strategist planner[edit]

People who have to test in which way the user experiences all the information of a data visualisation. For this reason they have to study the users' response to sounds, image and motion. They have to be aware about everything that is digitally consumed, to know all the newest technologies and media solutions, and to help all the other departments to find the best way to reach the object's campaign.

Ad server[edit]

The ad server helps manage display advertisements. It is an advertising technology (adtech) tool that, throughout a platform, administrates the ads and their distribution. It is basically a service or technology for a company that takes care of all the ad campaign programs and by receiving the ad files it is able to allocate them in different websites.[12] The ad server is responsible of things as: the dates by which the campaign has to run on a website; the rapidity in which an ad as to be spread and where (geographic location targeting, language targeting.. ); controlling that an ad is not overseen by an user by limiting the number of visualisations; proposing an ad on past behaviour targeting.

There are different types of ad servers. There is an ad server for publishers that helps them to launch a new ad on a website by listing the highest ads' price on its and to follow the ad's growth by registering how many users it has reached. There is an ad server for advertisers that helps them by sending the ads in form of html codes to each publishers. In this way it is possible to open the ad in every moment and make changes of frequency for example, at all times. Lastly, there is an ad server for ad networks that provides informations as in which network the publisher is registering an income and which is the daily revenue.


  1. ^ "Display Advertising". Marketing Land. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  2. ^ "Display advertising - Guide". Internet Advertising Bureau. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "Display advertising - Guide". Internet Advertising Bureau. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  4. ^ Azimi, Javad; Zhang, Ruofei; Zhou, Yang; Navalpakkam, Vidhya; Mao, Jianchang; Fern, Xiaoli. "The Impact of Visual Appearance on User Response in Online Display Advertising". Cornell University Library. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "IAB Evolution Of Display Advertising". Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
  6. ^ D'Angelo, Frank. "Happy Birthday, Digital Advertising!". Advertising Age. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  7. ^ Tutaj, Karolina; Van Reijmersdal, Eva. "Effects of online advertising format and persuasion knowledge on audience reactions". Taylor & Francis Online. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  8. ^ "Display advertising - Guide". Internet Advertising Bureau. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "IAB Display Advertising Guidelines". IAB. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  10. ^ "Web banner". Wikipedia. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "Display advertising - Guide". Internet Advertising Bureau. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  12. ^ "Display advertising - Guide". Internet Advertising Bureau. Retrieved 25 October 2014.