Digisemestr #4 (2019-03-16) – Display Ads

What’s Digisemestr? Why do I blog about it? You can find out here. As always, please if you find any mistakes or errors, please let me know (comment, send email, message on LinkedIn, etc).

The fourth Saturday was mostly about display ads. There were a bunch of speakers this time.

Martin J – Display ads and RTB

Martin from Adform woke us up with some clapping and talked about display ads in general and real-time bidding. There is a high demand for RTB specialists right now, your career can skyrocket. A real car displayed in a shopping center is the same thing as a banner ad, sort of. Do you remember the STDC framework? You know, the phases of a customer journey? Display ad can target them all! A video ad is a display ad. Native ads (those sneaky ads pretending to be articles or real content) are also display ads. Native ads are effective because people have “banner blindness” and just filter out regular ads.

Guess what was CTR for the first banner ad ever?

Come on, pick a number!

Do you have a number?

It was forty-four percent!

You can find out more about it here.

“The ad was a smashing success. By some accounts, after the initial excitement, the click-through rate settled at around 44%, which as a percentage is an astonishing figure. Of course, there were only about 14 million people online at that point.”

Two bits probably interesting just for Czech:

  • Stats about internet advertising in the Czech Republic.
  • Seznam.cz charges CPT (per 1000 impressions) instead of CPC.

There are 2 basic ways how to buy display ads: Guaranteed and programmatic. Programmatic includes RTB and PPC platforms. With guaranteed, you buy a fixed amount of impressions for a specific time period.

Some basic terms:

  • Inventory – what is publisher offering
  • Yield manager – they are optimizing what is publisher offering and for how much
  • Media planner – these guys have the money and are spending it on campaigns


  • Websites with a relevant audience (eg. online magazines for men about computer hardware)
  • By IP address
  • Using data (like the one from CRM), your ad server sends ads based on the data it receives, it’s a good idea for the embedded script to also measure and not just rely on publisher metrics

Guaranteed purchasing is usually done with buying space on relevant websites, whereas RTB with IP and data.

What are the components of RTB?

On the publishers’ side, there are SSP (supplier side platforms) and platforms for ad purchase are DSP (demand side platforms).

How does it work?

First, there is a bid request when someone visits a website. Bid request includes information about the user, frequency, banner size, etc. This bid request is sent from the website to its SSP.

Second, SSP communicates with a lot of DSPs and tells them about this bid request. DSPs are in touch with advertisers. “Hey, guys, do you want to take advantage of this offer?” “I got 2 banners and 1 video of this and this size available.”

Third, auction.

And lastly, the winner(s) ad is/are send back and shown on the website. This entire process takes less than a second.

Viewable and Unviewable impression

This one is easy. Was an ad visible on a screen? It might have been below the fold and user didn’t scroll so it was unviewable. There are rules for it. Eg. at least 50% of the surface area of the ad was on the screen for at least 1 second.

Btw there is Google Marketing Platform (formerly called DoubleClick).

Toyota case study

They had a really nice marketing campaign. There were several ad formats like interactive configurator for a car, interactive cockpit viewer, simple email registration form and complex form. The goal (at the top of the pyramid) was to get people to fill the form. The ultimate goal was to sell a bunch of cars. With all these activities they targeted people in different stages and levels of interest. Once someone configured their car, a banner with their custom car was shown to them to get them to the next level of engagement. It was really well done, they followed the customer journey. In the end, they were able to sell those cars. Thumbs up, guys!

What do you need to start a campaign?

The cornerstone is to have a brief, KPIs and solution draft. Then it’s pretty easy. Just set up site tracking, create your ads, select inventory and targeting. That’s it! And imagine, people get paid to do this?

Site tracking is done with a tracking pixel. Thanks to a cross-device tracking we can target the same user on both mobile and desktop.

Martin Pilat – Facebook ads

His first name is the same as our first speaker. However, Martin Pilar talked about Facebook ads. Facebook knows a lot about us, thanks to its tracking pixel: what are we shopping for, what are we browsing, location, friends…

What type of people are we targeting?

  • Cold – a shot in the dark, we’re hoping they’ll bite
  • Warm – we already have the data (pixel) and act accordingly

I like Lookalike Audiences feature. It will pick people who are similar to those who already bought from you. So there is a better chance they will too! You can also pair emails with accounts and create custom audiences…

Optimizing campaigns

At the beginning of creating a campaign, you choose a target. For example, you want to increase traffic (people will click your ad and come to your site).

The approval process for new campaigns is complex. Robot checks your ads. Then Facebook tests them by showing it to 100 people. It creates “QS” based on the number of clicks and negative/positive reactions. If you get zero clicks, it’s not good. After this, it shows your ad to more people (based on those who previously clicked) and tests/optimizes further.

There are rules for ad placement and formats. Pick the one according to your goals, however, don’t be afraid to try out different formats. Always test. Check how different format looks. Automatic placement will eat up your budget fast.


Don’t respond to a-holes and trolls, it’s not worth it. Feel free to delete negative comments from your ad posts. You pay to show yourself in the best light. Long posts explaining everything (every possible benefit and piece of information) are worse than a simple post with just a single benefit and price. Always tell them the absolute minimum they really need to know. If you write everything, there might be something specific which will immediately discourage them and they will choose right away to ignore your ads from now on.

Discounts, limited supply, and countdowns still work. Use them!

Ads in time

Work with your audience in time. What does it mean? Let’s give an example. People didn’t believe pricy MBA course is worth it. Instead of trying to sell it to them right away, they educated their potential customers with articles why MBA is good and collected emails from people who got interested. Then, they invited people to try MBA for 1 day for free. There was a large fall off, however, plenty of people signed up at the end.

Educate then sell.

Tips and tricks

Ads on Facebook work just like everywhere else – it’s an auction. Don’t be afraid to try different things. Even risky things. Set up a small portion of your budget for these (like 10%). It’s just like with investing in risky assets such as your aunt’s baking startup or crypto. You don’t put all your money there, do you? No? You don’t love your auntie? Don’t be a “dataholic” (data alcoholic). And lastly, don’t’ be afraid to tell your client or boss they are wrong.

Dominik – Google Ads – Display/Youtube

There was a ton of information about Google and Youtube display ads from Dominik, I’ll summarize it as best as I can.

With GDN it’s possible to target even premium websites and ads within apps. What surprised me is that banners can be even HTML, responsive and smart ads. Smart ads are using the power of Machine Learning (ML) to try different combinations of ads based on various assets you upload.


  • Audience
  • Ad group – an intersection of interests and topics

Placement – both whitelists and blacklists are an option. Keywords will be surpassed by custom intent (basically targeting people based on what are they actually looking for). Affinity (interests) stick with users for a long time and might be outdated / no longer relevant. Affinity for shopping (in-market) is better and more recent. Similar audiences are a thing.


Belongs to the Do phase. Dynamic remarketing is suitable for e-shops as it shows an ad for a particular product customer was just recently looking at. Standard remarketing (or non-dynamic? I guess) is good for events and for collecting contacts.

Always check the benefit of remarketing. Watch the percentage of sales it influences. The general rule of thumb is to put up to 20% of the budget into remarketing. How many sales will lose after turning off your remarketing ads?

Strategy for remarketing is to guide the user through a shopping funnel. Start with a general banner, then an article and lead them down the rabbit hole.


This is the opposite of remarketing. It targets people who didn’t visit us yet. Building your brand is an expensive process and it will pay out dividends eventually. However, it might kill you in the short term to invest heavily in the brand.

The interesting bit was that for specific cases, alternatives (such as Czech sklik.cz) might be better than Google or Facebook ads. They found out by testing each in a different region. In my humble opinion, there might be bias for a particular platform in a region. So A/B testing could’ve been better, more scientific way?

Don’t forget to create a landing page for your ads! And have you planned what are people supposed to do after they visit it? Do you want them to read it? Subscribe to a newsletter? Chat with a chatbot? Customer journey-fy it!

Optimizing content network

Automatic targeting is risky. Why? It might suddenly stop working (or start working) and you will not be able to tell why. You can check it in the interface (“where ads showed”). Exclude ads in most of the mobile apps, carefully watch it.

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You can have a combo of both a banner and video ad. It has a low CPC. You get a large reach for cheap. It’s possible to cleverly (read: sneakily) target a specific video.

Video ads in-stream

  • Skippable TrueView (you only pay after they click or view the video)
  • Unskippable 15-30s
  • 6s unskippable Bumper Ads

Accompanying banners and cards are a great option to make an ad more attractive. For example, sync cards with what is happening in the video.


Suggestion, in search, promo for your video. Pay attention to the thumbnail. It needs to be really good. Out-stream is paid for the click. The goal might be to get video views or new channel subscribers. Ad for video on partner websites – it might be muted, add subtitles!

Ad sequencing

At first, cheap bumper with a large reach, then a long video. If they watched the video show ‘em TrueView next. If they didn’t show em’ another bumper. You can visualize it as a tree. It’s like a sequence of rules to map the customer journey.

Targeting life events such as wedding and similar is possible too.

Measuring and evaluating

Set KPIs for reach, frequency, views, and other stats. Btw user polls are great, people click those. With the brand lift, you can observe an incremental impact of your efforts. The cumulative effect – it takes a while to ramp up (took a week in their case).

Planning a video campaign

  1. Goals, budgets, target audience.
  2. Setting up accounts and sync.
  3. How you gonna evaluate it (stats, brand lift?) -> Campaign structure and targeting.
  4. Preparing the landing page.
  5. Creating creative assets takes a lot of time, tweak video cuts (brand should show up within 5s), branding, optimize with A/B, decide on public or unlisted video.
  6. Check your Youtube channel. If people watch your video and go to your channel, what are they going to see? Unlist poor quality videos. Is your video suitable for accompanying banners, cards and end screens? What about video comments. Don’t let the competition show their ads on your videos.
  7. Campaign strategy.

The most common mistake? Having a limited budget while setting high bids. Ads should be showing the whole day, you don’t want to run out of budget before noon.

Marek – Display ads on Seznam.cz

Marek’s presentation was about the Czech internet portal Seznam.cz and how advertising works on Sklik.cz.

For many citizens of our beautiful country Seznam is their homepage. They often read all the different websites which belong to the Seznam network. If you’re planning to advertise and target Czech folk you shouldn’t ignore it. With Seznam, you can reach 95% of the Czech internet users.

There are many ad formats to choose from. You can target by location (where are they), so keywords, topics, and region. Or you can target by the user (who are they), so interests, shopping intent and retargeting.

CPT is good for brand awareness, you don’t want people to actually click your ads.

Targeting by category and keywords in articles – you can set your own target audience and there is a good CPC price. Watch out for general keywords and where they show up. Your ad might get matched with an irrelevant article (Eg. Ad for industrial wheels showing with the article about movies).

Petr – Target audiences

Petr talked about bubbles we live in. On average, 2500 ads reach you every day. Your target audience should never be like this “women 18-49 yo”. Two people with the same demographics are totally different people. Marketers in the UK live in the bubble. Most of them (80%) are based in London. However, only 13% of the UK population live in London.

So don’t make ads for yourself. You’re probably not your target audience. What can you do about it? I’ll tell you in a bit.

We watched this ad:


The great thing about is that it targets both target audiences at the same time (both Apple and Samsung users).

Timing is also important. Don’t show them ads for your amazing hotel 14 days after their vacation!

So what can you do to market properly to a target audience? Even the simplest research can be tremendously helpful. Talk to people, read user reviews, find out and infiltrate places where early adopters hang out. Drafting persona of your typical customer (who they are, what they need) is a good exercise.

Think about the phases of the customer journey. Selling comes after persuasion. People are unpredictable, different sequences work for different people. After selling, there is one more step many forget about: care. Petr showed us an example with how-to videos. With it, you show your customers it doesn’t end for you when they pay you.

Aaaaaannnnd, that’s it for today. Have a great day!


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