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What is the definition of display advertising?

Companies use different forms of print advertising, including direct mail brochures, magazine and newspaper ads. Display ads are the ads that can appear on any page throughout a publication, unlike classified ads, which have their own section. Display ads are also used in the Yellow Pages and online by various Internet companies to attract customers.


Unlike classified ads, display ads are usually delineated with thin or thick lines that frame the ads. Consequently, a display ad often looks like a business card or postcard in a magazine or newspaper. Display ads can come in a variety of sizes, including half- and full-page ads. Most publications charge more for the larger display ads. Display ads often contain pictures or diagrams along with the copy. Display ads can also contain color to attract attention.


The headline is usually the most important part of a display ad. Five times as many people read the headline of a display ad vs. other parts of the ad, according to advertising expert Ernest W. Nicastro’s article titlted “9 Effective Headlines And Why They Were So Profitable” at A display ad heading must be targeted toward a specific audience. For example, if you are targeting people who need to diet, you may write a headline like: “Lose Up To 30 Pounds This Month Drinking Shakes.” Display ad headlines can also be written in question form to attract the attention of certain people. For example, the headline “Is Your Medical Insurance Too High” would attract the many people who feel they are paying too much for health insurance.


Besides the headline, other features of a display ad include the body or ad copy and the contact information. Some companies may also highlight certain benefits or features in bullet points. The body of the display describes a company’s products and services. A company will usually try to convince the reader why she should purchase its products in the body of the display ad. Contact information can include a phone number, address or website. For example, mail order companies often invite readers to write for a free catalog. However, a company with a strong customer service team may instruct display ad readers to call an 800 number.


The function of the display ad is to pull leads or orders. A company will not usually ask for money in a smaller display ads. A small display ad does not contain enough information to convince a reader to send money. However, mail order companies will sometimes ask for money in a full-page display as many words have been used to describe the product. Display ads usually follow the AIDA — attention, interest, desire, action — principle. The headline or picture attracts the readers attention. Subsequently, the ad copy increases the reader’s interest and compels her to take action and buy the product.


Many companies will key a display ad to test its effectiveness. A key is a series of numbers or letters that is usually inserted within a company’s address. For example, a catalog company may use the key “BOJ” to indicate that the display ad ran in the January issue of “Business Opportunities” magazine. That way the catalog company can track all responses from that ad and determine its profitability.

by Rick Suttle
source: Chron