Published: 11 August 2016

Online media websites now boast a plethora of ad formats, which can potentially prove confusing to brands and advertisers.

The situation has come about due to the convergence between media owners wanting to monetise their audiences online combined with continual advances in advertising technology, or adtech, providing new ways to serve and target brand messages online.

But how are these ad formats delivered and managed, and what is the best way to utilise them to achieve your digital marketing objectives and progress your audience through online user journey across devices?

Let’s dissect an example of a content page from the Independent, as seen on a smartphone:

Display Advertising

One of the more traditional forms of online advertising, this a straightforward display advert used to raise awareness. Typically attracting low click through rates, the role of display is early in the funnel or user journey to raise or reinforce brand awareness and key messages, as something of a broadcast tool. However you would expect to see uplifts in brand PPC or SEO activity further down the funnel as display stimulates search.

Display can be further targeted of course, if the media platform allows demographic targeting or contextually based on surrounding content usually at section level. 

In addition, whilst this example of a creative may not be the most exciting in terms of design and subject matter, there are opportunities to better leverage display advertising with more engaging content such as Cinemagraphs, as we did recently for our award nominated online health awareness campaign.


Native Advertising

This is a great example of one my favourite new digital advertising channels, where the brand is actually promoting a piece of custom content rather than a product or service. The ad is native as it adopts the look and feel of each site on which it appears, within the main news feed often in context based on the surrounding content. As a piece of content with greater perceived value than a display ad, Native can perform well in progressing users from awareness to interest and even potential desire in a product or service.

This example for Austria Tourism Board is from a campaign run by our native advertising partners at Adyoulike, and leads the user to a bespoke piece of content providing inspirational ideas and suggestions for a summer walking holiday in Austria.



Campaigns such as this have quickly become a staple of ecommerce digital marketing. In this case a dynamic display advert is served to me as individual user based on recent products I have viewed on the Clark’s website, namely a new pair of desert boots. In this case the ad is served via the Criteo network but the same principle can also be applied to Facebook Dynamic Products Ads for example.


The main aim of this form of ad is to introduce the user back into the online journey or funnel much closer to the point of conversion, having previously dropped out of the funnel at the point of adding to basket.

So in summary, one news page on a website illustrates three different forms of online media campaign each with very different aims, integrated with different stages of the online user journey.

Josh Whiten

Digital Marketing Director


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