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Digital advertising makes up over half the total ad spend in the United States, with advertising technology budgets continually increasing year after year. Remaining competitive requires an effective and diversified digital marketing strategy, including display advertising.

Advertisers place display ads on various websites to visually capture consumer attention and link them to a webpage with more information about the advertised product or service. Effective display ads drive awareness to your brand by targeting relevant demographics, making them especially appealing to businesses looking to engage potential customers. Increase your own brand awareness by learning how to use Microsoft Advertising to create engaging display ads.

A man works on a laptop. The screen reads “Advertising”.

What is display advertising?

Even if you aren’t already familiar with display ads, you’ve likely stumbled across them at some point. Display advertisements appear on third-party websites, apps, and social media, often combining video, images, and creative copy to boost brand awareness or direct viewers to a page.

Display ads typically appear at the top, bottom, or side of a webpage and can remain static or move as the user scrolls down the page. Most display ads are rectangular or square, with content that aligns with the website it appears on or the desired audience demographics. Internet users view this common form of digital advertising on a daily basis, whether they’re browsing an online newspaper, scrolling their feeds, or playing a free mobile game, making them a popular and effective form of digital marketing.

A hand holds a phone. On top of it, an illustration of network connections between different technological devices and features.

How does display advertising work?

Display ads have existed for many years, but more recent advancements allow marketers to use technology to target specific audiences. By tailoring your business’s display ads to an explicit demographic, you ensure the ad reaches people who are most likely to be interested in your product or services.

Display ads, like many forms of digital advertising, rely on cost-per-click advertising. An advertiser pays for display ads based on the number of clicks from potential customers that each ad receives.

Types of display ads

When creating display ads, consider your business and its unique advertising goals. Choose from these various display ad options to introduce a powerful addition to your digital marketing strategy.

  • Banner ads: As one of the most common and oldest forms of digital advertising, banner ads appear at the top, bottom, or sides of a webpage in a banner format, typically reaching from one side of the screen to the other. Strong banner ads include clear branding or logos, high-quality visuals, and relevant keywords to grab the attention of the viewer.
  • Interactive ads: These ads include elements like video, audio, buttons, and other clickable items. Typically, interactive ads have higher performance rates and can even increase brand recall. They range from animated visual ads to playable game formats or surveys.
Different blocks of color create a mockup of website content displayed on a cellphone and tablet vector.
Different blocks of color create a mockup of website content displayed on a desktop and laptop vector.
  • Interstitial ads: Unlike other types of display ads, interstitial ads appear to website visitors before they view the page they clicked on. They typically appear in front of the webpage content or in between at natural breaking points. Although other types of display ads may be showcased on mobile, interstitial ads are the most compatible option across devices.
  • Video ads: Consider incorporating video marketing in your display ads to grab the attention of your audience. Like interactive display ads, adding video elements to your display ad can improve engagement and recall.

Get started on display ads with Microsoft Advertising


They provide a cost-effective solution for marketers looking to increase brand awareness. When paired with best practices and creative approaches, Microsoft Advertising can help your business create effective display ads. Enhance your advertising strategy by learning more about display ads for online marketing.