Personalizing Ads Piece by Piece to Get More Clicks

    December 3, 2008
    Chris Crum

Display advertising is making a comeback. Ok, it never really left, but the targeting capabilities of newer services like MySpace’s MyAds, or even Google’s display ads for AdWords have made the advertising medium more appealing because they utilize the personalization and targeting strategies that made search engine advertising so attractive to advertisers since the dawn of the AdWords revolution.

Google AdWords Display Ad Builder

Create AdWords Display Ads

But display ads have often been criticized for not getting the clicks that search ads do. But are clicks all you’re after? Allow me to borrow a snippet of an article I wrote earlier this year for SmallBusinessNewz:

Of course, clicks and conversions aren’t the only important factors in banner advertising. The branding that banner ads can provide can be much more valuable than an immediate conversion. And if you advertise in the right place, it can build your reputation in the subconscious of potential customers. "Advertising in a reputable network can be of great advantage to a small company. This leads to building credibility which will lead to sales in the long run," says Coppersmith. "You’re often perceived to be as good as the company you keep."

Even if they ignore your ad as a result of "banner blindness", that doesn’t mean that your company isn’t leaving an impression in the back of their mind. Perhaps they don’t have a need for you right then anyway. But should the need for what you provide arise in the future, they just might recall seeing your logo somewhere and associate you with that very need. Isn’t that priceless?

But ideally, your ad should deliver both branding and clicks right? Really all we can do to improve clickthrough rates is test and test some more. Sometimes they just happen for some ads, and you will not be able to figure out why. There’s no concrete formula to get more clicks from an ad. If there were, every advertiser would be using it and getting a maximum amount of clicks all the time. In reality, this is just not the case.

But what if you knew exactly what elements of an ad attracted each viewer, and could deliver your ads on a personalized basis right to each one? In theory, this could lead to a higher clickthough rate, because each person would be seeing something that they were most likely interested in. 

A fascinating article by Stephanie Clifford at International Herald Tribune looks at the practices of two California-based companies with two similar, but different methods of breaking down ads by their elements and seeing what specific elements attract consumers on a personalized basis.

One of these companies, ADISN, has built a database of words that it uses to hone in on the content of a website, and place ad elements accordingly. "If a visitor views pages about beaches, weather and Hawaii, it might suggest that the visitor is interested in Hawaiian travel," explains Clifford. Well, that doesn’t sound all that different than search ads, but ADISN then inserts different elements such as background, image, and text into the ad accordingly.


The other company, called Tumri, starts with a template for ads with attributes for message, color, image, etc, but lets the clients themselves choose what sites to advertise on and they use whatever targeting approach that the client is already using, then an ad is put together "on the fly."

Tumri AdPod

"It’s reporting back to the advertiser and agency saying, ‘Guess what? The soccer mom in Indiana likes background three, which was pink, likes image four, which was the SUV, and likes marketing message 12, about room, safety and comfort," Tumri CEO Calvin Lui says.

If nothing else, these types of strategies can just be a potentially effective way to test ads. It’s just good to see that there are still innovations being made in the industry, further strengthening online advertising’s place as a viable medium in rough economic times.