Display ads are an appealing and highly favored digital ad tactic. The projection for U.S. spending in this category in 2022 is nearly $95 billion. Based on our internal data from the third-party advertising platforms we provide, display ads hold the top tactic spot. As far as the options, there are two categories — brand awareness and promotional display ads.

Both have a place in integrated digital campaigns. What you recommend will depend on the advertiser’s goals and targeting requirements.

Let’s break down these types of display ads and when to use them to align with the customer journey.

Display Ads: Many Formats, Channels and Options

Display ads can appear in many formats, such as banners or native ads. They can be static images or videos. You can also place them in multiple channels, including desktop and mobile. Additionally, you can deploy them with advanced parameters using geofencing and retargeting.

Because display ads are so versatile, they are almost always part of a digital ad proposal. The main difference in how you suggest their use is if they are brand awareness or promotional display ads.


What Are Brand Awareness Display Ads?

A brand awareness display ad describes an ad unit that relays brand messaging to improve brand visibility and recall. In most situations, this display ad tactic is top of the funnel. That means these ads engage customers as they become aware of a problem or need and look for brand fits for solutions.


Brand Awareness Examples

So, what types of brand awareness display ads make sense for local advertisers?

  • Ads to commemorate: Brands often like to show their respect and support for a national day, cause or event. They may be part of a commemoration (i.e., sponsoring). Still, the goal is to bring awareness to the event or day, not necessarily the business.
  • Ads to celebrate: Your local advertisers often have announcements about new openings, anniversaries or other brand news. Getting this message out informs customers about these changes.
  • Ads to expand reach: Companies will often begin to target a new audience, either by location or demographic. If so, those new customer types need first to be cognizant that the company exists and has solutions for them.
  • Ads to educate: The last category consists of ads that provide educational and informational content. A better-informed customer is more likely to choose the business that educated them. These ads set up a brand as a thought leader and trusted resource.


What Should Be a CTA for Brand Awareness Display Ads?

Display ads always include a CTA (call to action). As a brand awareness display ad is not specific to a product, service or promotion, its CTA is different than one for a specific product or service. However, it’s still important to have one! For each of the segments, here are some CTA suggestions:



  • “Learn about organization ABC”
  • “Find an event near you”
  • “Support cause or national day”


  • “Explore our brand story”
  • “Hear from our customers”
  • “Meet our leaders”


  • “Now available for/in…”
  • “Now serving XYZ”
  • “Explore business name”


  • “Learn more about ABC”
  • “Discover ideas, tips, etc.”
  • “Read about XYZ”

What Are Promotional Display Ads?

Promotional display ads do just that: promote. Typically, it’s in reference to a specific product or service. The ad can introduce it, offer a discount or provide other relevant messages. These ads have a defined goal to convert a person to a customer. In most cases, there is urgency around the promotion, as it’s time-limited.

The CTAs for promotional display ads use these terms:

  • Buy
  • Order
  • Get promo code
  • Book your appointment
  • Receive a free estimate
  • Attend event

A note on events: Events can be brand awareness and promotional. It depends on the event. If the advertiser is promoting a commemoration or community event, it’s not promotional. A promotional event would be one where the company is actively selling, like a product launch event.

These are action-focused and represent a user making a purchase or moving further down the sales funnel. Those who convert on this either become customers or highly qualified leads. 

Brand Awareness vs. Promotional Display Ads

Since these two marketing categories have different messaging and goals, you will likely recommend one or the other for a campaign. Some may be long-term projects. You begin with awareness information and then retarget those who engaged with it using promotional ads.

For example, let’s look at the options for a local landscaping company.

Brand Awareness

Ads to fit this segment could include ads around Earth Day and the importance of conserving water. Another option would be educational content on what types of plants grow best in the climate.


Landscaping companies will run promotional spots for spring or fall specials. They may want to spotlight specific high-margin services like sprinkler installations.

Brand Awareness + Promotional

Users click on ads with educational content and read the content on the website. You can retarget those people with discounts on items listed within that content.

Display Ads: An Excellent Tactic for Branding and Promotions 

With so many ways to target and serve display ads, they are the bedrock to any digital advertising campaign. It’s essential to explain to advertisers the many use cases and when to use each type of display ad. They benefit from your valuable advice and can see better results with a strategy!

Get more great tips and ideas on display ads from Aspire.