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What Is In-Email Display? Benefits, How To Buy (2024)

New updates from the AdTech industry.

Katie Swalm
What Is In-Email Display? Benefits, How To Buy (2024)

What Is In-Email Display? Benefits, How To Buy (2024)

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What Is In-Email Display? Benefits, How To Buy (2024)
In-email display ads are a personal way to build a positive brand impression with audiences.

Welcome back to CHANNELS, the series where we cover some of the best programmatic formats available today to help you determine if they should be part of your marketing strategy.

Last time, we talked about Native Display. If you haven’t read it yet, catch up here!

This week, we are discussing In-Email Display, its benefits, and how to buy. Read on to learn all about this channel and how it can add to your marketing efforts!


Programmatic advertising + email is a match made in heaven. Most Americans spend a lot of time (5 hours and 52 minutes on average) reading both their work and personal emails each day.

Combine this with the targeting options of programmatic advertising, which helps you reach the best impression, at the right time, at the right price, and you get an effective way to reach existing and new audiences.

Programmatic in-email display ads are a cost-effective way to add another touchpoint in your sales funnel, giving a positive impression of your brand through exposure in a personal medium.

You set the budget for each impression, and programmatic platforms find the perfect match for your ad.

What is in-email display?

In-email display ads are visual ads that appear within emails, usually on the top, bottom, or sides, but sometimes within the content as well. These ads are often static for better performance and include text and images.

Display ads appear with the design that the advertiser has created, rather than mimicking the look and feel of the content that they live in. 

What is programmatic advertising?

Programmatic advertising automates the buying of advertisements, using powerful, data-driven platforms. Advertisers set a price that they’d like to pay per impression, and then software tools called Demand-Side Platforms (DSP) run an auction when a user loads a webpage for that impression.

DSPs use billions of user signals and data points, including first-party, third-party, retargeting, contextual, and behavioral signals, to find the best audience for your advertisements.

DSPs provide several benefits over traditional buying:

  • Ongoing analytics: DSPs provide up to date analytics, so you can adjust spend or creative based on what works, and what doesn’t.
  • In-depth, post-campaign reporting: Receive in-depth reporting after the campaign, including AI driven insights to help determine future spend and campaigns based on the results of this one.
  • Targeting options: There are hundreds of combinations of targeting options, and intelligent algorithms can help you pick which combination will provide the best results. 
A graphic illustration of an in-email display ad. The ad is for ORION and says  "The future of ad tech is here."

What are the benefits of in-email display?

In the modern era, consumers require between 8-56 touchpoints in order to reach the point where they want to make a sale. Marketing to Gen Z and Millennials, increasingly the largest consumer groups, requires communicating your brand’s values and building trust with them, which can happen through repeated exposure to a consistent brand appearance.

While display ads tend to have lower click-through rates than other types of ads, in-email display ads exist in the funnel as a great way to reach your audience and people who aren’t in your audience—yet. They add another touchpoint to convey your brand’s values and aesthetics, showcase a special offer, or direct the user to another channel.

Consenting audience

In-email display gets your brand in front of a consenting and targeted audience. What do we mean by consenting? In order to receive the email at all, the customer had to enter their email to sign up for the newsletter.

While this sometimes includes automatic opt-in emails during a purchase, customers do have the option to not receive emails from a company. Oftentimes, companies will put a double opt-in, where the customer has to confirm their email after entering it.

Additionally, no-spam laws ensure that the customer has an easy opt-out that is honored promptly—so if someone is reading that email, they’ve done so consensually.

Future resistant

Emails are first-party signifiers, so they are naturally resistant to cookie degradation. This means that the advertising company owns and has collected this data themselves. 

In-email display ads are often served on contextual advertising as well, meaning to users who have taken similar actions as the initial audience. Contextual advertising is also more future resistant because it doesn’t require the use of cookies.

Appear in relevant content to to the user

Contextual advertising lets you serve ads inside emails that contain similar content to your existing audience’s interests. 

Programmatic advertising helps you find similar impressions to your first party data. 

What are the KPIs of in-email display?

  • Impressions: How many total times was the ad served (including to multiple people)
  • Click-Through Rate: How many times the ad was clicked
  • Cost Per Thousand (CPM): Cost per 1,000 views the ad received
  • Reach: The number of unique viewers reached
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): Amount spent on the campaign versus the revenue generated
  • Conversions: How many people completed the intended action of campaign
  • Cost Per Acquisition (CPA): Divide the total revenue generated by number of conversions

What should I consider when designing an in-email display ad?

These rules apply to display ads in general. You want to think of them as signposts: clear, direct, easy to understand and follow, and a great representation of your brand. Designing an effective display ad requires understanding what your audience wants and what will make them tick. 

  1. Clear call-to-action

Make sure the desired action the viewer should take is obvious and easy, whether that is visit your site or social media, take advantage of a sale, or sign up for an email. 

  1. Well-written copy

Using minimal, striking text helps guide the viewer toward your goal and gives them a positive impression of your ad. Doing research on your target audience helps you understand what language they resonate with and use, and therefore, what will drive results. 

  1. Consistent visual aesthetic

Ensure that your brand colors, images, and font are exactly aligned with the rest of your brand. Even small inconsistencies can affect brand perception. 

How do I buy in-email display ads?

You can use a DSP to purchase in-email display ads. The top market-leading DSPs include The Trade Desk, Amazon Ads DSP, Google’s DV360, Zeta, Basis, and Quantcast. They let you automate the ad buying process for better results.

However, these platforms often charge a high minimum spend that can be out of reach to all but the largest companies, and if you use just one, you don’t get to take advantage of each DSP’s strengths.

Through Version2’s ORION

We created ORION, the all-in-one platform that lets you access the top market leading DSPs with no minimum spend, to provide this service to companies of all sizes. In-email display is just one of the marketing channels we support. 

Our platform lets you create and run campaigns across multiple DSPs, while providing unified analytics, optimization throughout the campaign, and always-on support (including creative consulting). Want to see unprecedented results, with your brand reaching across the open internet? Schedule a demo with our sales team to see what’s possible.

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