PPCMaking That Leap From Search to Display

Making That Leap From Search to Display

Display is growing more quickly than search, but search is still growing and is a larger segment than display. Search and display marketers must start to work more closely together to survive in the same ecosystem.

Search marketers are ideally placed to lead the way as the lines between search, social, and display media fade. After all, search and display have been complementary in many ways for years.

Making the transition from search to display should be easy, right?

  • Recent research from Bizo in the U.S. showed that nearly half (48.8 percent) of marketers surveyed will allocate more of their marketing budget to display advertising.
  • Recent figures from the IAB and PwC in the UK stated that in 2010 display grew by 27 percent and search by 8 percent.

The rise of DSPs (demand-side platforms) and RTB (real-time bidding) have helped fuel this display growth. These developments have made the performance optimization of display much more similar to that of paid search. Therefore, many people argue that search marketers are ideally suited to manage auction-based display.

In truth, successful performance-based display optimization requires a skill set that crosses search and display. A knowledge gap needs to be bridged.

Let’s take a step back before we make the big leap.

What Can Display Learn From Search?


Purchasing Display Media via DSP’s and utilizing RTB can be similar to paid search from a tactical point of view:

  • They can be auction-based.
  • They involve quantitative optimization.
  • Both leverage technology/automation.
  • Both are objective and accountable.
  • They can be viewed as direct response.

How Does This Work?

This works through auction and RTB-based exchanges leveraged by DSPs. A DSP is a technology that allows marketers/agencies (the demand side) to have more control and over their display media plans by providing:

  • Access to and visibility into inventory (the supply side).
  • Access to and visibility into data.
  • Universal frequency capping.
  • Centralized reporting.
  • Pricing efficiency.

What Does This Mean to Search and Display Marketers?

In a nutshell, the transparency, efficiency, and accountability long associated with paid search is now moving into performance-based display.

  • DSPs provide a single interface to manage search and display that connects to the numerous ad exchanges and publishers. This is one key difference between search and display — in search there are only two or three “publishers” in any market where in display there are thousands.
  • DSPs include real-time bidding and portfolio optimization to build upon automated bid management capabilities.
  • They help you control and manage budgets across all media types and “connect the dots” across all media channels.
  • They enable real insight into behavior and allow the retargeting of users across a multitude of platforms.
  • As the relationship between PPC and display is becoming increasingly important, advertisers can use PPC data to conduct forecasting and make display purchasing decisions in a single platform

Where Should You Start?

Understanding cross-channel user behavior through digital attribution is a great place to start.

  1. How you attribute display’s role in the purchase cycle and allocate credit to multiple touch points is critical.
  2. It’s just as important to understand and attribute value to the display data that you have. Understand the consumer journey on and offsite and assign value to different segments of data. If you don’t do that, then why use RTB?

Knowledge Sharing

It’s great that search marketers can help display and exchange specialists under the concepts of auction-based media. However, search people still have a lot to learn about dynamic creative and understanding of networks and exchanges.

It takes a lot of time and experience to understand audience buying, multiple exchanges, and how each network works. Search marketers shouldn’t underestimate the added complexity.

While auction-based display carries a lot of search similarities in bidding and real-time performance monitoring, they are vastly different in user-based optimization, creative management, and publisher relationships.


While display growth is outpacing search growth, search is still growing and is a larger segment than display. However, paid search is transforming, morphing, and aligning with display marketing in many ways. For search and display marketers to survive in the same ecosystem, they must start to work more closely together.


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