Advanced Google Display Network (GDN)

GDN Advanced Setup Part I discussed the rationale behind going into display ads offered in Google Ads. Why use and when the Google Display Network (GDN) would be a logical extension to a marketing mix and how to set up display ads in a way it will bring the most value to an advertiser. Most importantly, first and second-party data was discussed and even keyword targeting. Part II will explore some of the finer points in setting up GDN ads and touch upon critical settings that would improve performance. For more information also watch the video below.

Does First-Party Data Offer Incrementality?

As discussed in Part I, first-party data should be one of the primary attributes of creating successful GDN campaigns. Building first-party data requires planning, time and even development. Some people would even argue that first-party data is less important than trying to find new audiences. In a way, that is correct. First-party data implies that the data an advertiser has is of those users that are already familiar with them (users who have given permission to use their emails and past website users/converters). Strictly speaking, people familiar with the advertiser will have higher conversion rates, holistically speaking one could argue that these users would convert anyway via direct or organic traffic. Incrementality of sales would be debatable.

Reaching New Customers with Similar Audiences

This is where the concept of “similar audiences” comes into play. The Google advertising network offers to build similar audience lists based on the first-party data audience lists being put through the system. In other words, Google will try to match IDs and behaviour across its extensive network and will find users that are or behave similarly to the audience you already know. This is a great way to expand the reach of your marketing campaigns without flying blind completely. In terms of performance, similar audiences will perform worse than retargeted display ads, but significantly better than so-called“prospecting” campaigns (where advertisers target purely on keyword targeting and second-party data).

GDN Automation

Similar audience targeting is a bit of black box, as Google will offer little control on the throughput and an advertiser will only be presented with an output. The same goes for the automation that’s being offered on GDN campaigns. Advertisers have the option to go for automated targeting and bidding. It’s an interesting option for most advertisers, but in most cases require patience and significant spend to make work well. In all cases, it’s usually a short term solution as advertisers refine and optimise their campaigns and move over to using more first-party data. One of the most interesting features of targeted bidding might be the pay for conversions setting. This is not always available but essentially allows advertisers to use GDN ads on a “no cure no pay” option. For advertisers with higher ticket items, this can be a lucrative option.

Responsive Display Ads to Lean Into Automation

Most automated bidding settings will require assets to be set up as Responsive Display Ads. These are display ads that are dynamically built based on the input an advertiser provides. This could be a company logo, background images (and even video) and taglines and call-to-action (CTA). Ideally, with plenty of options. This benefits a display ad campaign two-fold. Firstly, by dynamically being able to create and resize ads, the potential reach increases. Usually, a display ad set is created for a set amount of size formats and therefore potentially limiting where ads can be placed. As ads can be resized and scaled, these limitations disappear. Secondly, as the “machine” can now change out CTAs and images dynamically, it offers Google the option to trial different combinations. It enables advertisers to find the best working creative automatically without having to lift a finger.

Due Diligence of Placement Reports

What’s often overlooked in running GDN campaigns, which used to be the bread and butter of running display campaigns, is the option to investigate the placement report. The placement report will show where the display ads have been shown and offer metrics for optimisation. Obviously, if an advertiser relies on full automation, one should expect those bad performing placements to get excluded, but even in those cases, it would be advisable to scan the placement report once in a while. A great deal of the ad delivery will be going to mobile formats with apps being a good chunk of that. Even if automation is enabled, it would be prudent for advertisers to decide if mobile apps (for example, mobile games) are the right placements for their ads. In most cases, ads in mobile apps interrupt the user’s flow and are seen as an unwelcome intrusion.

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