Performance Marketing Expert

Display and Paid Search: A Digital Marketing Super Duo

Recently, there has been much debate and discussion around paid search and display advertising. Which will be the top performer in 2016? Which will come out ahead in the long run?

For those of you managing search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns, you may have cursed at Search Engine Land’s recent headline, The 5 Reasons Paid Search Will be Second Behind Display Starting Next Year.” Let me assure you that this is not a bad thing, or at least it shouldn’t be. In fact, your display and paid search channels can – and should – work together for the greater good of your brand’s digital marketing efforts.

At Rise, we don’t look at different paid digital media channels as tactics competing against each other, but rather as working together, in a philosophy we call Interactive Investment Management. This approach takes a holistic look at a brand’s marketing budget and shifts it to the areas of greatest opportunity, in near real-time, helping to maximize returns. Marketers who take a similar, multi-faceted approach to their marketing strategies are able to drive a comprehensive customer experience in all stages of the consumer journey.

While all of your digital marketing channels should be working with one another, for the purpose of this piece, we’ll focus specifically on the synergy your display and paid search campaigns can create. Read on to hear from experts on our search and display teams as they explain more about this approach and offer perspective on how these two channels can help your brand achieve success.


A Paid Search Perspective - Ben Kuikman, PPC Expert at Rise

Display’s Push vs. SEM’s Pull

SEM is a pull medium and dependent upon people proactively seeking information. As Search Engine Land points out, while queries are continuing to grow on Google, that growth has slowed noticeably as the majority of people have settled into their searching habits, even with increased smartphone usage. Paid search campaigns by themselves are not effective at generating additional incremental interest in a brand. On the other hand, display ads, which are a push medium, are great at it due to the reach and brand awareness they drive.

A Powerful Combination

However, just serving display ads without targeting is the digital equivalent of paying big money to post a billboard advertising financing for a new boat in the middle of a desert. As programmatic buying and real-time bidding have matured, the ability to target very specific profiles with display ads has become much more efficient. Efficient spend in display advertising is built around personalized messaging, and this is developed through qualified impressions.

Anyone who has run a paid search campaign will tell you that the best performing keywords are branded. Someone entering a branded search query has knowledge of a particular brand and likely has a greater intent to take action. As a result, maximizing the volume driven by branded keywords is a priority because of the greater return associated with them.

Branded search is reliant on the various push channels of marketing (i.e. TV and magazine ads, billboards, display and social ads, etc.) to generate interest for search campaigns to capture. As personalized messages appear in front of qualified individuals, brand awareness increases. And as brand awareness increases, so do branded search queries. The more branded search queries your paid and organic search campaigns can capture, the more successful your digital marketing will be. The two channels work together: display creates interest and search captures and converts that interest.


A Display Perspective - Jessica Leeper, Display Expert at Rise

Because Rise is a full-service digital marketing agency with expertise in all forms of paid media, we are able to seamlessly shift spend from one channel or tactic to another, and we encourage marketers to view different channels as part of one cohesive strategy. Depending on what your goals are – both short- and long-term – a blend of channels, media, and targeting strategies, coupled with transparent and constant optimization, is your recipe for success.

Marketers have choices when they’re thinking about where to invest their digital dollars. Different channels perform different functions to advance your digital marketing strategy. Paid media channels are typically used for more upper-funnel awareness or new customer engagement, while others are often implemented for bottom-of-funnel direct response or customer retention. There are also different strategies and use cases for each paid media channel, as well as sub-tactics that can expand on these traditional executions. For example, within display there is prospecting and remarketing, while in paid search there are branded and non-branded keywords. It’s important for marketers to understand the capabilities of each channel and create a digital marketing mix that is right for their brand.

Cause for Increased Spend in Display

It’s likely that display ad spend will to continue to increase in 2016 and the years following due to many factors, but mainly because of the escalation of programmatic and real-time bidding with greater targeting, efficiency, and transparency. Programmatic display has grown more sophisticated with the prevalence of agency trading desks (like our own Rise Trading Desk). Now that the industry is moving toward a multi-touch attribution model and has a growing appreciation for both upper- and lower-funnel marketing tactics, display will only prove more valuable as a digital media channel.

Will Display Take Over?

While search volume might be stabilizing, it doesn’t mean that display will necessarily take over, as some industry commentary has suggested. Digital media channels face obstacles that could be a threat to spend all the time, such as the display channel’s potential integration of ad blocking. Marketers must accept that each paid media channel will evolve and be flexible in reforming itself to adapt to changes in the industry, rather than assume channels are changing in a negative way.


If you want to learn more about how your search and display efforts can work together to give your brand enhanced results, or for more information on our IIM approach, don’t hesitate to reach out to Rise.

12/15/2015 at 09:22