Display Advertising in Hong Kong: A Complete Guide

display advertising in Hong Kong

Display advertising is a marketing strategy in which you place text or graphic banner ads on designated areas of a website, an app, or social media platforms. Adverts can take various forms, such as videos, images, and rich media, and so on, but the primary objective is to sell a product or an idea to a defined target audience.

The display advertising industry is growing throughout the world, particularly in recent years. In Hong Kong, the market has size has increased from HK$0.5 billion in 2012 to HK$1.1 billion in 2019. The figure is expected to reach HK$1.3 billion by 2021.

The graph below shows the development of the display advertising market in Hong Kong between 2012 and 2021.

advertising expenditure in Hong Kong

Source: Statista

How Display Advertising Works

The majority of display advertising campaigns operate on a cost-per-click basis. This means that you pay a specified amount every time a user clicks on your ad listing.

Displays ads are also useful in retargeting, where you serve adverts to people who visited your website but failed to convert.  The objective of retargeting is to convince users to revisit your site and complete the desired action they were unable to perform on their previous visit.

How to Get Started with Display Advertising in Hong Kong

As mentioned above, display advertising is a domain of paid search in that you pay to increase the visibility of your posts. However, display ads differ from standard paid search ads in that they only appear at the top or on the side of a search result page, while the former can appear on top or at the bottom.

Since people prefer visual content over text, marketers are increasingly embracing display ads as part of their digital marketing strategies. This means that you have to implement smart strategies to ensure that your promotional messages reach your target audience at the right time.

The following are the steps that you need to follow to ensure that you succeed in your display advertising in Hong Kong.

Think “Programmatically”

In the past, advertisers had to agree with publishers over before releasing an advert to the public. This meant that it was impossible to adjust an advertising campaign, even if it was not performing as originally intended.

By employing programmatic buying methods in your display ads campaign, you can leverage features such as targeting, which allow you to reach out to specific audiences.  You can also adjust your campaign at any time if it is not generating the results you intended. For instance, you could segment your audience based on demographics such as age, location, and level of income, and so on.

The advantage of using programmatic methods when advertising is that you make your campaigns cost-effective. This is because your ads reach people who are likely to show interest in your brand, which increases the potential conversion rate significantly.

Conduct Early Prospecting

Prospecting is a targeting strategy that focuses on expanding the reach to the masses. It is also known as geo-targeting, mostly because it focuses on people living in a particular location.

This tactic is useful for segmenting your audience. It enables you to know the people that are engaging with your ads, and how you can target them throughout the campaign. The best way of ensuring that your prospecting ads are effective is by using a friendly tone in your call-to-action statements. By using a welcoming tone, you can collect more data from your target audience.

Make Use of Data Targeting

If you are running on a limited budget, data targeting is a cost-effective method of conducting a display ads campaign. This strategy uses data to ensure that your ads reach a defined audience that is more likely to engage with your brand. It also allows you to choose the audience segments that are responsive to your offline marketing campaigns and the people who interacted with your brand during the prospecting phase.

Ideally, you should focus your efforts on the audience segment that frequently engages with your brand. You could also use the data used for targeting for cross-channel marketing. For instance, if people are responding positively to your digital display marketing, you can target them on social media.

Retarget Strategically

Retargeting is a marketing strategy that aims to serve ads to people who visited your website landing page without completing the desired action. The action might be submitting a form, purchasing a product, and so forth.

The best way of retargeting is by using a more compelling call-to-action in your subsequent display ads. For instance, if your first offer was a downloadable resource, add a discount on the second. By doing this, you give the target audience an incentive to take the action they failed to complete at the previous visit to your site.

Optimize for Mobile

As seen earlier, display advertising in Hong Kong is growing steadily. The same applies to the global market, as the Google Display Network currently has a 90% reach on the internet. Since most people access the internet using mobile devices, optimizing for mobile presents an exciting opportunity for marketers invested in display ads.

The most significant concern with mobiles is that most people use them for browsing instead of converting. According to research, smartphone users convert at a lower rate than desktop users. That said, you should not fail to make your banner ads responsive to smaller screens, as well as their corresponding landing pages.

Pair it with Offline Advertising

Omni-channel marketing has several known advantages, which is why it is advisable to pair your display ads campaign with offline marketing campaigns.

For example, you can use the data from the research on your online ads campaign to create a marketing strategy for television, billboards and other offline display ads.

The Top Three Display Advertising Networks

A display advertising network is a platform that allows marketers to serve their display ads to their audiences. Without it, it is impossible to convey your promotional message to prospective clients.

The top three display advertising networks are the Google Display Network, the Facebook Audience Network, and the Twitter Audience Platform.

The table below shows the market share of the leading display advertising networks in the world.

Platform Percentage of market share
Google 30.6%
Facebook 15.6%
Others 50.8%

Source: Convertize


Google Display Network

The Google Display Network is the number one and most popular display ads network in the world. Since Google generates its income from serving ads, this platform has the best features to ensure that you generate a positive ROI.

Facebook Audience Network

The Facebook Audience Network is second to Google in terms of popularity. It is also as rich in features, with the standout ones being the targeting functionality and tool used for designing display ads.

Twitter Audience Platform

The Twitter Audience Platform is another useful network that can enhance your display advertising in Hong Kong. It can help you serve your ads across various channels, such as the internet and mobile apps.

How to Measure the Performance of Your Display Advertising in Hong Kong

Similar to other advertising strategies, it is essential to measure the performance of your digital display marketing. When you employ a proactive approach to campaign monitoring, you can significantly improve the impact of your display advertising campaign.

The following are the metrics that you need to track when running a display advertising campaign.


Impressions is a particularly useful metric because it shows you the number of people who have seen your ad. The number of impressions shows you the size of your audience and the click-through rate of your banner ads. An increased number of impressions is an indicator that your campaign is productive.

Click-through Rate

Most marketers keep a close eye on the click-through rate on their ad listings, as it shows the percentage of people who have clicked on your ad. It is calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the number of impressions. In most industries, the click-through rate does not exceed 5%. You should look at the averages for your sector and look to match them.


Conversions are perhaps the most critical metric for a display ad campaign, as it shows the number of people who have completed a particular desired action. The objective of your campaign defines the intended action – for instance, it can be a click on the ad, submission of a form, or completion of a purchase.

Types of Display Ads Campaigns to Increase Leads and Sales

The primary reason why people invest in display advertising in Hong Kong is that search might be highly competitive or reach its ceiling. The following are five different types of display ads campaigns that you can start to increase brand awareness and grow your revenue.


The most popular type of display advertising is remarketing. Also known as retargeting, it is a strategy that allows you to reconnect with people who saw your ads without taking the desired action.

Here the steps you need to follow to create a remarketing display ads campaign.

  • Add a snippet of code on all pages of your website.
  • Create a remarketing list containing the people you want to serve ads to. For example, you can make a list of visitors who visited a specific page on your site.
  • Design ads and launch your retargeting campaign.

In retargeting, Google decides the ‘best sites’ to show your display ads.

Target by Website Placement

Targeting by website placement is the most effective targeting option because it allows you to choose where to show your ads. For example, if you sell software, it would be best if you placed your display ads on technology websites.

That said, you can still configure the display networks to serve ads automatically. The advantage of this option is that it spares you of the effort needed to find relevant sites. It also allows you to exclude sites that are not related to your company.

Target by Interest

This allows you to target users based on the two interest categories on Google – affinity audiences and in-market audiences.

Affinity audiences are users who are browsing without an urgency to buy. As a result, Google analyses their profile, overall preferences, lifestyle and passions and places them in the long-term interest category. An example of this is a person who reads a blog on virtual currencies regularly. In this case, Google would regard them as a cryptocurrency hobbyist.

In-marketing audiences are users who are browsing with an urgency to purchase a product or a service. Google analyses the search history and social activity of its users and determines if they have an intention to buy. An example of such users are people who are reading review sites, searching for nearby stores, and comparing different prices. These are all indicators that the user is ready to purchase.

Contextual Targeting

Contextual targeting is a type of display advertising that analyses keywords and finds the most suitable website for your adverts.  The advantage of using keywords in a display campaign instead of inside banner ads is that they are indexed by Google and ranked according to relevance.

Topic Targeting

Topic targeting allows you to specify the topics of websites where you will show your display ads. After this, Google chooses the best sites that match the topics you provided.

For instance, if you sell electronics, you could choose topics such as televisions and sound systems. If you want to be more precise, you can select specific electronic brands.

An Overview of the Popular Forms of Display Ads

Here are the different forms of display ads used for digital display marketing in Hong Kong.

Expandable Banners

These are banner ads that expand either automatically or after the user clicks on a button on the screen.  The most significant advantage of expandable banners is that they increase the visibility of the advert. On the downside, auto-expanding banner ads can appear intrusive to some users.

360o Display Ads

360o display ads transform flat content into a spherical shape.  By doing this, they capture the attention of the user as they browse a website without hampering the overall experience. The only challenge is that most people are unaware of this type of display ads because it is still new to the market.

Rich Media

Rich media refers to advanced forms of display ads that have features such as animated graphics, flash games, and GIFs, and so on. The benefit of using rich media is that brands are not constrained a file type or format. On the downside, rich media ads require extensive customization, which means they take longer to develop.

Interstitial Display Ads

Interstitial ads show on the entire screen of the user’s device. Since Google users view 54% of all ads, using the interstitial format guarantees more viewership. However, the intrusive nature of such ads means that users are likely to close it without reading the message because they want to continue navigating the website.

Overlay Ads

Overlay ads are similar to interstitial ads in that they pop up, although they have a slightly transparent background.  They are less intrusive than interstitial ads because the user can still read the website. However, many people still consider popup ads as interruptive, meaning that they close them without reading the message.

3D Display Ads

3D displays ads differ from standard banner ads in that they contained an animated 3D object that shows a realistic impression of your products and enhances interactivity.

When a user scrolls over or hovers the mouse pointer over a 3D display ad, it starts playing. The user can control the ad as they would with a video clip. The most significant challenge is the number of resources required for 3D modelling.

The following is a graphical presentation of the impact of the various forms of display ads.

impact of different display ads

Source: ominvirt.com

As a marketer, it is advisable to use the formats in the upper right quadrant. This is because they are not intrusive, meaning that audiences are more likely to respond positively and interact with them.

How to Create Standout Display Ads

Here are some of the elements that you need to consider if you want to create standout display ads that will boost your click-through rates and increase conversions.

Make Use of Video

People prefer video over other types of content – the average CTR of video content is 7.5 times higher as compared to other formats. With the rising popularity of video ads, you need to invest in them or risk falling behind your competitors. Make sure that the videos are short and concise because people have short attention spans.

Leverage Native Advertising

Native ads get more viewership than conventional display ads, mostly because they are not a direct piece of marketing at first glance. A typical native ad resembles the context of the platform in which the ad is placed. For example, a native ad can appear within a social media feed or appear as a link to a useful resource.

Serve Dynamic and Personalized Ads

An ad is considered dynamic if it adapts to the viewer and delivers a specific message that meets the needs of the user. For instance, geolocation and weather data can be useful in creating ads for people living in a particular region. You can also customize ads to adapt to browsing history, upselling and cross-selling and retargeting customers who did not complete a specific action.

Explore New Advertising Methods

New display advertising methods come to the fray, and you should hesitate to try them out. For instance, Instagram Stories gets 400 million viewers daily. Capitalizing on such new opportunities that you always stay ahead of your competitors.

Create Compelling and Customized Call-to-action

The style and design of your display ad should reflect the final call-to-action. For instance, you can integrate your CTA with Google Maps to give customers directions to your brick-and-mortar store.


Challenges Facing Display Advertising in Hong Kong

Despite its usefulness to business, the digital display marketing sectors has several challenges. Marketers must know these problems, and more importantly, how to solve them.

The following are the most significant challenges facing display advertising in Hong Kong.

Rapid Growth

The digital landscape is proliferating, as indicated by the ever-increasing number of websites. Choosing the right site to show your display ads requires extensive research and resources. Moreover, other emerging platforms, such as wearable technology and digital assistants, are gaining popularity. This means that marketers have to formulate strategies to reach out to users on these new channels.

Ad Blockers

Ad blockers are software used to prevent adverts from appearing on a web browser as a user navigates through various websites. These tools effectively make it impossible for brands to reach their target audiences. The Asia-Pacific region leads the way for mobile ad blocking, with 94% of global mobile ad blockers being used in the area.

The following graph shows the top ten countries with the highest number of mobile ad-block users.

top countries with the highest mobile ad blockers

Source: Ad Push Up

The solution to this problem is using native adverts since they are not as conspicuous and intrusive as banner ads.

Reduced Exposure

In the past, social media provided a free platform for reaching out to customers. This is no longer the case, as the networks are now implementing measures to force marketers into using their paid ad platforms. For instance, Facebook has significantly reduced the exposure for posts unless the publisher pays for them. Given the popularity of Facebook, this is a significant blow to marketers.

Increasing Costs

The cost of display advertising is always increasing, mostly because of the growing competition among marketers.  Display networks know that more businesses are investing in display ads, and are charging more as a result of the increased demand.

The solution to this problem is finding smarter ways to spend your display advertising budget. This means spending more time on research so that you create cost-effective strategies driven by data collected from your target audience. When you serve ads on the right platform at the right time, you are likely to get more conversions. This, in turn, means that you generate higher profits.

Elusive Audiences

The hectic nature of modern lives means that people have shorter attention spans. A person might see your ad but fail to read its message due to limited time.

Audience segmentation is the best way of ensuring that your display ads reach people that are likely to show interest. You can also make use of targeting tools provided by the display networks.

Mistakes to Avoid in Display Advertising in Hong Kong

If you practice digital display marketing, the worst thing you can do is make avoidable mistakes. The following are some of the blunders that are costing marketers in Hong Kong and how to avoid them.

Misleading Copy

The quickest way to lose the trust of your audience is by using misleading copy in your display ad. The text in your advert must correspond to the content in your landing page. Keep in mind that conversions matter more than clicks, which is why your call-to-action must always be honest.

Prioritizing Click-through Rate over Conversions

The average click-through rate for display ads is below 1%, a figure that an outsider can consider disappointing. However, you can generate a positive ROI without having a high CTR, provided you focus on conversions.

The table below shows the average CTR for popular social media networks.

Social Network Average CTR
Facebook 0.72%
Twitter 2.00%
Instagram 0.94%
LinkedIn 0.006%

Source: CXL

By investing in research and targeting, you deliver ads to the right people. This increases the chances of getting conversions significantly.

Neglecting A/B Testing

A/B testing works by contrasting various strategies in a marketing campaign to gauge productivity. By identifying what is working, you save the money that you would have otherwise spent on unproductive ideas. On the contrary, neglecting these tests increase the costs of a marketing campaign without generating positive returns.

Overlooking Social Media Display Ads

As mentioned earlier, Facebook and Twitter offer the best display advertising networks after Google. It makes no sense to fail to make use of these powerful platforms since they increase the reach of your ads.

Moreover, HootSuite discovered that ads on Facebook get a click-through rate up to nine times higher than advertisements on regular websites. This further highlights the importance of including social networks as part of your display advertising in Hong Kong.

Using Non-responsive Ads

The global display advertising industry is shifting towards mobile devices, mostly because the majority of people access the internet using smartphones and other handheld gadgets. By 2020, the total spends on mobile display ads in the Asia-Pacific region will be $3.6 billion.

The graph below the increasing spends on mobile display ads between 2012 and 2020.

increase in spending on display ads

Source: Marketing Land

Advertising on the Wrong Sites

While targeting a specific audience for every display ad campaign seems challenging, you should make an effort to do it. Posting you advert on the wrong site reduced the likelihood of getting clicks and conversions. As a result, the money you pay for the display advertising network goes to waste.

Recycling Ads

Nobody can get convinced by the same thing twice. If you want to be successful in display advertising in Hong Kong, make sure that you update your ad copy regularly. Keep in mind that new information encourages your target audience to click on the adverts.

Using Sloppy Ads

It is vital to ensure that your ads look professional before publishing them on display networks. Make sure that the dimensions are right, the wording is accurate, the copy is brief, and the CTA is relevant to your target audience. Making sloppy errors such as misspelt words creates an impression that you are not thorough, which discourages users from clicking the ads.

Here is a detailed guide on the various ad sizes on the Google Display Network. Below is a table of the top-performers in this category.

Ad size Description Text ads Display ads Mobile text and display ads
300*250 Also called the medium rectangle, this performs well when embedded inside textual content or the end of articles. Yes Yes Yes
336*280 Also called a large rectangle, it performs well when placed in-between text or at the end of articles. Yes Yes
728*90 Also known as a leaderboard, it is useful when placed above the main content in a page. Yes Yes
300*600 Also known as half-page, it is useful for marketers who want a huge space for their ads. Yes Yes
320*100 Also known as large mobile banner, it is designed for mobile display advertising. Yes


Source: Google Support

New Trends That Will Shape Display Advertising in Hong Kong in 2020

The display advertising industry is constantly changing, and these are the trends that will define the sector in 2020 and beyond.

The Rise of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Following the introduction of 5G technology, augmented reality and virtual reality are starting to explode. According to Statista, the value of the AR market will be worth $198.17 billion in 2025.

The graph below shows the projected value of the augmented reality market in 2025.

value of argumented reality by 2025

Source: Statista

Marketers are expected to capitalize on these technological advancements to increase the effectiveness of their display advertising campaigns.

Smart Display Advertising Powered by Artificial Intelligence

There is an increased exploration of machine learning and artificial intelligence to see if they can improve ad creation and ad buying. The technology is currently being used to analyze voluminous content and dynamically create ads that are ideal for that context.

Programmatic Ad Buying

Programmatic ad buying is another trend that is promoting increased use of automation in display advertising. The advantage of this approach is that it depends on AI-driven algorithms to purchase display ads, eliminating the burden of tedious and repetitive marketing tasks.

Automated Ad Creation

Businesses are increasingly using image and video automation tools to create display ads quickly. By using advanced software, you can create adverts that are more effective and generate positive returns.


Investing in display advertising in Hong Kong is the best decision you could make as a marketer. However, you need to be smart to ensure that your investment does not go to waste. Make sure that you follow the tips mentioned in the article, and you will be on your way to success.

Get in touch with us for professional display advertising services in Hong Kong.