Display vs search ads: everything you need to know

Want lớn master the Google Display Network? Follow these 7 tips và you"ll be well on your way. 

What Is the Google Display Network?

Google AdWords is split into lớn two networks, the Search Network và the Display Network. When advertising on the Search Network, businesses place text ads in the tìm kiếm engine results. On the Display Network, businesses instead place display ads on a huge network of sites across the mạng internet.

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What is a display ad?


An example of display advertising.

So how does the Google Display Network work? Display ads are the visual banner ads you see on advertising-supported sites everywhere, like the highlighted ads above or the examples in this post, or this other display ad examples post.

According to lớn Google, the Display Network reaches over 90% of global mạng internet users expanding across 2 million sites!

For those of you unfamiliar with the difference between display & search, let me give you a quick recap. Google’s Search Network targets users typing directly into Google’s search engine or Google partner tìm kiếm sites, if you opt lớn expvà lớn Google Search Partners (like AOL). In contrast, think of the display network as a more passive sầu form of advertising. You’ve sầu likely already seen many display ads today, for example while perusing the Huffington Post or skimming your favorite blogs. You may or may not have noticed GDoanh Nghiệp banners or small boxes promoting a hàng hóa or service, above sầu và to the side of the articles you were reading – those are display ads.

Want a quichồng audit of your PPC display campaigns? Get a không tính tiền performance report in one minute or less!

segala.info’s Erin Sagin states, “When users are on the GDN, they may not necessarily be in ‘shopping mode.’ Instead, they are going about their daily internet activities—catching up on news, reading blog posts, watching video clips, etc.” You may be thinking, if they’re not in shopping mode, then what’s the point?

Hesitation to lớn jump on the display network bandwagon is not uncommon, but as Paid Search Strategist Sergey Rusak explains, “Look at how much you spent in one month & how many impressions you received. You might be able khổng lồ get the same amount of impressions in a local newspaper or a billboard on a highway, but you’ll end up spending hundreds upon thousands of dollars. With Display, you promote your br& & don’t even pay for these impressions.”

To get a clear picture of what works and what doesn’t work on the Google Display Network, I spoke with a few of segala.info’s top-notch PPC experts. What are they seeing when they"re running Google Ads tài khoản audits, or when they"re just making account optimizations on a daily basis?

All four of the people I interviewed work on our sale services team, where they are fully emerged in Google AdWords accounts every day. Our team operates similar to lớn an agency, managing AdWords accounts for clients & helping them achieve sầu their business goals. Essentially, the experts on the team spend 40+ hours a week working directly in Google AdWords across the tìm kiếm and display networks, helping clients from a variety of industries. So yeah, they know a lot!

Here are seven bits of display network wisdom I learned from these experts, plus three display network mistakes khổng lồ avoid.

Display Network Tip #1: Start with Remarketing

All experts unanimously agreed that resale is the place to lớn start when it comes lớn the display network. Paid Search Strategist Mark Irvine says, “If you’re ever going khổng lồ see any kind of return on the display network you’re going to see it from resale first.” 

For those of you unfamiliar with resale, it is essentially when you cookie your past site visitors to follow them around with ads on various sites they browse. It might sound a bit creepy, but it works – because the people you’re remarketing khổng lồ have already expressed a genuine interest in your business (because they visited your site, duh).


Resale is used to lớn keep your past visitors engaged, “completing the whole circle of engagement,” says Paid Search Strategist Caleb Hutchings. The majority of those reading this post have sầu likely been successfully remarketed to. Just the other day I was shopping for a pair of fall boots when a few days later that stylish high-kneed suede pair of blaông chồng boots would not leave sầu me alone. They kept appearing on multiple sites that I was on at various points during the week, until I finally gave in và took the plunge. If I wasn’t remarketed khổng lồ, would I still have bought the boots? Probably, because I actually needed fall boots, BUT the chances of me getting that pair from that domain name would have dropped significantly if remarketing was not in place. This is just one example of the power of rekinh doanh, which has been seen to work across a variety of industries.

“Resale is always a good idea. Your CPA’s are generally much lower, you’re keeping people engaged. It’s essentially không tính tiền advertising,” Caleb states. Rekinh doanh is the best way to optimize your Google display ads. 

Note: As of June 20đôi mươi, Google Ads has extended Customer Match lớn the Display Network! This allows advertisers to lớn create rekinh doanh lists based on email addresses.

Display Network Tip #2: Utilize Managed Placements

Managed placements is the only targeting method that gives the advertiser granular control over where their ads are being placed. If you use methods like interests or topic targeting, Google is basically doing the decision-making for you & guessing which sites are relevant. Managed placements allows you to lớn pichồng và choose exactly the sites that you want your ads lớn be displayed on, which is why it’s a safe bet when branching out into lớn display. According khổng lồ Caleb, “It’s the best way lớn have sầu control because the people you’re targeting và conversions are consistent, so it tends to cost less.”

segala.info Paid Search Strategist Mike Griffith explains the process he uses with clients new to the Display Network: “We start as granular as possible, identifying 5-10 domains that are very applicable lớn the product or service & start serving up ads on those specific placements first. If the volume is limited, then we exp& to lớn other related sites.” But how vì chưng you know which sites are relevant? If you’re struggling to make that decision, Griffith advises digging inlớn your top referral sites in Google Analytics.


Display Network Tip #3: Let Your Budget Guide You

“Since display is such a large space (reaching over 90% of the U.S. daily!) you need khổng lồ be extremely careful when it comes lớn setting your budget,” Mark Irvine explains. He recommends starting out small with an amount that you are comfortable testing with.

Caleb explains how setting up a new display campaign is all about budgets. For example if you have a great menu of managed placements, allocate more of your budget towards that chiến dịch, and separate the different placements inkhổng lồ their own ad groups so you can feed more money inlớn the ad groups that contain the placement providing the best return.

Once you get a chiến dịch or ad group running successfully and providing remarkable returns, the next step is to lớn feed more money inlớn it. Mark told me about one client who took their remarketing chiến dịch from $1,000/month to lớn $50,000/month và still saw great ROI! Another client in the travel industry was seeing such great return that they stopped running their search campaigns và reallocated that money khổng lồ further grow their reach on display. “Remarketing và display are wonderful because once you hit it right you can just give sầu it more money và get even more return. Your reach is pretty much unlimited,” Mark says.

Display Network Tip #4: Create Ads in Every Format Available 

I know what you’re thinking … isn’t it a waste of time and resources khổng lồ create an ad in EVERY format? Why should I create a text ad if image ads statistically outperkhung this format?

I underst& these concerns, but the majority of segala.infoers agree: having an ad in every format is critical due to the fact that some websites will only tư vấn one format.

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“Some people feel strongly that you shouldn’t include text ads. I’d say include them và make that decision later. Some placements are only going khổng lồ tư vấn text ads and it could be a junk site or it could be Pandora, so just bởi vì it,” says Mark. “If you’re the only advertiser with a specific format, you’re going khổng lồ get more exposure at a discount.”

Caleb recommends utilizing both image and text ads, but splitting them inlớn different ad groups. “Text ads are displayed so often, but people prefer image ads because it resonates with them và tells more of a story.”

Display Network Tip #5: Create Ads That Are Simple and Visual

This tip seems obvious & yawn-worthy. That’s what I thought as well until I found out that 67.5% of ads on the display network are plain text ads! This is shocking, due to lớn the fact that text ads have sầu much lower click-through rates than image ads. Just kiểm tra out this table from segala.info founder Larry Kim’s recent study.


This brings me to my next point: as important as it to include text ads in your display campaigns, image ads are a necessity! Sergey says “Ads need to be simple, visual, and easy lớn read.” Sergey goes on khổng lồ explain how image ads perform best for visual industries that are naturally appealing, such as travel, where the destination can essentially sell itself. But even B2B companies see success with image ads. For one of Sergey’s clients, he tested out a banner ad with a “Download Now” image that linked right to a hàng hóa page. This visual format far outperformed the text ads running and helped the company generate more leads.

Want to lớn create designer-quality display ads in minutes? Try our không lấy phí Smart Ads Creator.

Display Network Tip #6: Give sầu Your Display Campaigns the Same Love sầu You Give Search

For those of your running successful tìm kiếm campaigns, you have sầu likely learned that continuously monitoring & adjusting your tài khoản is critical to lớn continue knocking it out of the park. You can’t just rest on your laurels. You likely spover time each week evaluating your trương mục, scraping through search query data, adjusting từ khoá bids, setting new negatives, restructuring campaigns, tweaking under-performing ads, và the menu goes on. This should be no different with display!

“Look at last week and ask, how did it perform? Similar to how you want to lớn add negative sầu từ khóa with search, you might want to exclude placements with Display,” says Mark. “Display is a slightly different animal, but needs the same love.”

To see where your display ads are being placed, navigate lớn the “Display Network” tab in AdWords, making sure your Display campaign is selected on the chiến dịch tree, và then select “Placements.” If you want khổng lồ exclude a certain site, select the site and use the dropdown khổng lồ change it to lớn “Excluded” (see image below).


Sergey explains why monitoring this report and making sure your settings are correct is critical: “The majority of your impressions could come from weather.com, where people go for 3 seconds before work – they don’t have time to check out your hàng hóa. Make sure you"re getting the right placements. You don’t want to lớn be selling life insurance to lớn 18 year olds or serving banners for college lớn people who are 60+.”

In addition to lớn investigating these placements, monitoring và tracking your chiến dịch to lớn the best of your ability is essential lớn making changes và improving your return. “Tracking needs to lớn be consistent. Google isn’t consistent with their algorithm so you could be showing on one site for a long period of time và then suddenly thua thảm that placement due lớn an algorithm update,” says Sergey. “The metrics lớn focus on depends on your goals. For branding purposes, focus on impressions và clicks, và for sales-oriented goals focus on view-through conversions.”

Caleb recommends looking for conversions, but also looping in analytics to lớn see metrics lượt thích time-on-site. Take a look at the top conversion paths lớn see how these different channels impact your overall conversions. “If you see display is helping organic or even paid tìm kiếm, it’s making an impact by introducing your brand,” he states. “This starts painting the picture of how display is working.” He goes on to explain that tracking is so critical because with Display, “you’re trusting Google to define your audience, but they’re not telling you how they define that, which can be tricky.”

Display Network Tip #7: Set Aside Some Budget for Testing

Another thing that stands out during PPC audits: laông xã of testing! As I’ve started time & time again, the Display Network is HUGE, which means your reach is pretty much endless. Google also continues khổng lồ release new features & targeting methods khổng lồ reach people, so if you’re not testing some of these options, you could be missing out on a plethora of potential customers.

“Once you’ve hit your main goal, use the leftover budget for testing,” Mike Griffith says. He explains that if your Display campaigns are performing well, then YouTube will probably work as well. Mike recommending setting 10-20% of your budget aside for testing.

Sergey likes to lớn start testing right off the bat by creating separate ad groups for contextual targeting, topics, interests, & managed placements. Why? Interests could work great và topical targeting could be a budget-eater with no return. “Normally we don’t know what’s going to lớn work & what’s not, so we need khổng lồ figure this out,” Sergey says.

Mark makes a valid point as well: “Google Display is SO big and no advertiser can completely own it all. It’s all about finding your nibịt and using existing data from smaller campaigns to lớn build your next larger campaign.” In order to vị so you need lớn experiment!

3 Google Display Network Mistakes to lớn Avoid

Now that we’ve gone over the best strategies to lớn get the most out of your Google Display campaigns, let’s đánh giá what not to lớn vì. The experts here at segala.info have sầu hit many bumps in the road while setting up & managing display network campaigns. So avoid these three display faux-pas and DON’T vày the following:

1. DON’T Utilize Display Select

If you’ve been doing paid tìm kiếm you likely (or hopefully) know that combining tìm kiếm và display campaigns is a big no-no. I’ve sầu caught clients who are confused as to lớn why their click-through rates are so low và their budgets are being eaten up, but they’re not getting any conversions, and typically this is due to lớn the mistake of advertising on both networks simultaneously.

In November of 2013, Google released a solution khổng lồ combat these issues called Search Network with Display Select. Display Select essentially tells Google to lớn use the majority of your budget on search & then the leftover advertising on display. They may have marketed it as a great solution, but it turns out Display Select isn’t all it turns out khổng lồ be.

According to lớn Mark, “Display Select is essentially letting Google figure out ‘what is good for you,’ which is never a good idea.”

Mike agrees: “Display Select blends your search ads into the Display Network và since it’s blended, I almost never see good performance with these campaigns.”

Google even discourages it themselves: “If you currently run Search và Display campaigns separately, we recommover you keep them separate for greater bidding, budgeting, & targeting flexibility.”

Moral of the story? Always keep Search & Display campaigns separate!

2. DON’T Over-Layer

As we’ve sầu discussed, there are many ways to lớn trang chính in on your target audience within the vast sea of display; due to lớn the massive sầu form size và diverse audience of the network it is necessary and critical to lớn target appropriately. With so many options khổng lồ choose from, some advertisers decide to lớn layer methods on top of each other – for example placements, keyword, topics, interests, etc. – believing this will reduce unqualified impressions and clicks.

In reality, over-layering can cause a lot of problems. Mark explains that this is one the biggest issues he finds in client accounts: “When someone creates a new campaign and they go after so many different types of targeting at once, layering upon layering, they typically bởi not underst& how this targeting works when layers are added on top of each other. If you want lớn do all of these options, kiểm tra them out in different campaigns.” Over-layering can significantly reduce reach, negatively impact results, and lead khổng lồ trouble tracking which methods are working or not.

3. DON’T Let sản phẩm điện thoại Games Eat Up Your Budget

Did you ever think that kids could be the reason you are wasting a huge chunk of change on AdWords? Well, they could be! Toddlers are stealing their parents’ smartphones lớn play ứng dụng games where unfortunately your ads are being displayed through the Display Network.

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This is an issue that has appeared time & time again. The most common culprits are the Flashlight App, Flashcards for Babies, Photo Frame Editors, Doodling Apps, và Random Games. Sergey is all too familiar with this problem. “Within all those games the kids are moving their thumbs as fast as possible, clicking your ads by accident. This can cost you a lot! For example if you run a very expensive sầu competitive sầu banner (i.e. personal injury, rehab, law, etc.) each clichồng can cost you a lot; a thousvà impressions could transfer lớn around a thousand clicks on these apps.”

Cheông chồng out Caleb’s recent blog post where he outlines how khổng lồ exclude these điện thoại games so you’re not wasting your budget on toddlers. “A lot of people see they’re getting clicks và therefore don’t exclude these placements, not realizing these clicks are worthless. This in turn will botch all of the statistics you’re looking at it,” he says.

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