The Ins and Outs of Google Display Network

Formerly known simply as the content network, the Google Display Network uses AdWords to place pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on Google and partner websites and apps. This can be an effective PPC strategy for the right products or services. However your campaigns have to be designed and managed carefully because Google Display Network is not directly search-based like other inbound marketing.

On the Search Network, ads appear based on a searcher’s actual query, so you know they’re looking in what you have to offer. Google Display Network places ads on websites whose content matches your keywords and ad theme, so the “match” is less direct. User mind-set is different, too. They not likely to be shopping, so you have to overtly distract them to capture their attention.

Here are some key strategies to generate success on the Google Display Network:

Develop ad groups around a narrow theme.

An ad group is simply a series of ads and keywords focusing on a single theme, such as a product. Each campaign consists of multiple ad groups. Your ad theme and keywords must be highly specific and entirely consistent to drive the most-accurately-targeted placements. If you’re vague, placements will be more random and far less productive. This is not the environment for general company advertising.

And if you plan to advertise more than one product or special promotion, you’ll want to create separate campaigns for each one.

Select closely related keywords.

They should relate to each other as well as your overall ad. Don’t pick too many, because tight targeting is essential here, and they all come into play to determine ad placement. Specific targeting is your strongest strategy to achieve top placements to reach your audience.

Google Display Network will automatically place your ads next to content that seems to most closely relate to your keyword themes. Or you can manually select specific websites or pages or other targeting details.

Design your ads with scrupulous clarity.

Ads can use straight-forward text or incorporate even more powerful images or video. Here are some tips:

  • You can use the display ad builder to create video ads for any campaign, even if other ads within the campaign do not include video.
  • Regardless of format, nowhere is clear, compelling ad copy more important than with Google Display Network ads. You have to consider the fact that your audience isn’t looking for you, so your ad has to make a simple offer that’s obvious to them. You have to be explicit and on-point, otherwise you’ll be paying for poorly-targeted clicks.
  • Use your call-to-action to tell the reader what to do. Emphasize special pricing or a specific feature.
  • Remember, they aren’t going to glance your way unless something about your ad really reaches out and grabs them.
  • Landing page design has to be right-on, too, so everyone who clicks on your ad knows what to do next.

You may need to re-think your bidding strategy.

Taking these steps can help manage costs and keep your ROI at a respectable level:

  • Because Google Display Network functions differently than the Search Network, you may want to budget different maximum cost-per-click amounts for each one.
  • You can allow the system to automatically use whatever amount you set for each keyword, or you can set a different specific bid amount.
  • Control your budget and avoid wasting money by using negative keywords. This can also help improve your overall ROI, by largely eliminating unwanted ad placements and clicks.
  • You can also exclude specific sites by URL or certain page types or topics.
  • You need a high Quality Score as well as the right bid to get the best placements. So make sure your ads are perfectly-crafted, and adjust your bidding as necessary to be more competitive.

Monitoring and measuring make it all pay off.

Arm yourself with detailed data and analyze it carefully, to monitor performance of your Google Display Network ads. Google Analytics and conversion tracking tools are both free and extremely useful. You can make real-time changes to boost ad performance, and if your ROI is good you may want to raise your bid to increase it even more.

Test multiple content variations, too — copy, formats including images or video — to see what elements and combinations work best in this environment.

Advertising on Google Display Network is likely to generate lower CTRs because placements are more loosely targeted and therefore easier to ignore. Nonetheless this can still be a valuable tool for your business and products. You can dip your toe in these marketing waters by conducting an experimental campaign with limited budget. Be sure to give your campaign the best chance at success, by following these best practices and tips for ad creation, bidding and placement.

Browse through our blog! Check out “Stupid Analytics Tricks: Picking Display Ad Placements Based on Numbers.”

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