ReTargeter Blog

Why Online Display Can Work for Branding

Though largely considered a domain for direct response advertising, the digital ad space has become a friendlier place for large scale branding campaigns. Paving the way are brands like Kellogg who have sung the praises of online advertising for brand marketing.

Brands’ hesitancy to invest in online ads typically stems from a few primary concerns. Can online ads drive action online or off? When it comes to real-time bidding, could inventory that hasn’t been hand-selected negatively affect brand image?

These concerns, among others, are not quite so dire as they might seem. Online display advertising can work for branding, and here’s why:

Online Ads Drive Action

A frequent complaint of the direct response crowd is that online display advertising doesn’t drive clicks at the same rate as paid search advertising. But that doesn’t matter, particularly for brand marketers interested in increasing awareness and establishing market share. Display can be a highly effective and measurable channel.

Retargeted ads, even if they aren’t clicked, can provide brand lift. In one comScore study, retargeted ads led to a 1046% increase in branded search, a clear sign of heightened brand awareness and recall.

A recent experiment conducted by analytics firm RapidBlue found that online ads actually contributed to sales in brick and mortar retail stores. Notably, the experiment involved paid search ads, which lack the branding power and reach of display. It’’s possible, if not likely, that a display campaign would contribute even more to offline sales.

Reaching the Right Audience

Online display advertising creates a unique opportunity for brands to focus on their ideal audience. Using demographic, geographic, interest, or intent data as well as behavioral targeting, brands can build their ideal audiences and tailor messages to individual segments. Focus and tailoring maximize relevancy and can improve both recall and engagement.

Depending on the size of your ideal audience, targeted advertising can still be done on a relatively large scale. While some tools, such as site retargeting, are limited by those who have previously engaged with your brand, others are not so restrictive.

When it comes to behavioral advertising, search retargeting is one of the best branding tools available, as it doesn’t require any prior interaction with your brand. Search retargeting allows you to serve display ads to people based on their search behavior, and targeting parameters are limited only by your imagination. Because search retargeting is based on intent data, it also can reach a highly relevant audience.

CRM retargeting, which allows you to serve ads with nothing but an email or mailing address, is another powerful targeting tool that can be effective for branding. With CRM retargeting, you can bring offline data online, or couple display purchases with catalog mailings to amplify your message across channels.

Brand Safety and RTB

Most forms of behavioral targeting rely on real-time bidding, an automated form of media buying where ad space is programmatically purchased in real time. Real-time bidding often scares away big brands, who are anxious about appearing any site not on their shortlist of premium publishers. However, limitations on ad inventory will do more to hinder a campaign than any limitations created by targeting.

With the exception of truly unsafe sites, brands have nothing to fear by appearing on smaller sites. With any form of retargeting, you know you have your audience, and you know you’re appearing on sites that they visit. These sites may not be the New York Times or ESPN, but you know it’s a site that’s relevant to your audience, and that’s powerful.


People are spending ever increasing amounts of time online. To stay in front of their audiences, brands will inevitably have to devote more of their budgets to digital. And digital can work for brands. In particular, online display can be a phenomenal vehicle for brand advertising, allowing companies to reach the right people and stay in front of them.



Case Study – Watters

Watters Logo | ReTargeter

Watters is the brainchild of designer Vatana Watters. For over 30 years, it has been the leader in offering luxurious designer bridal gowns, innovative bridesmaids dresses, classic special occasion dresses for mothers of the wedding, and adorable dresses for flower girls and junior bridesmaids around the world. Selling primarily at trunk shows and in third-party […]

Read more