Within Google Ads, you have the option to extend your advertising to the sprawling Google Display Network (GDN). Where the Google text ads are reliant on linking campaigns, ad groups & keywords to search queries, and therefore reliant on the “demand” on chosen keywords, GDN allows you to break free from those restraints. 

Google text ads are also referred to as part of the “pull” channels (i.e. dependent on existing demand), GDN is considered a “push” channel (i.e. not limited and able to reach new audiences). GDN ads are perfect to complement text ads and broadens the advertiser’s marketing toolset. For more on Google Display Network, Advanced Setup, watch the video below.

How Display Ads Fit in Your Marketing Mix

“Why use display ads?” or “display ads don’t perform well” is often heard in discussions, especially when comparing performance to text ads. As display ads offer a richer visual experience than text ads, it’s easy for advertisers to spend disproportionate time on creating and perfecting visual assets, only to be let down by the performance. It’s important to view GDN ads as an addition to performance/conversion-focused ads such as text ads or Shopping ads. In other words, GDN ads on their own will perform lacklustre, and display ads should only be considered when text ads have hit a limit or when the advertiser has reached maturity.

When to Consider the Google Display Network

An advertiser should consider to set up display ads when:

  • The advertiser has reached a point of diminishing returns on text/shopping ads.
  • The advertiser is willing to lower ROAS (Return On Advertising Spend) in exchange for impressions/views/brand awareness.
  • The advertiser has built up substantial data, in particular, sizeable audience lists.

When Google Text Ads Show Diminishing Returns

The point of diminishing returns is usually the point where branded traffic (keywords that are related to your brand name) have been maxed out, and the portion of generic traffic (keywords not containing your brand name) starts to outsize the account. In pursuing more sales and therefore, more traffic, the ROAS will suffer. Improving ROAS will require further optimisation of the Google Ads account (lower CPC & cut out non-converting traffic) and/or generating more brand traffic. The latter requires investing in “push” channels and reflects a more traditional approach to marketing.

Display Ads As Branding Tool & Making Use Of Advertiser Data

Display ads, especially the ones part of the GDN, can play a role in multiple phases of the marketing funnel. In the higher parts of the funnel where traditionally, brand awareness is a key factor display ads are the de facto choice. The bonus of GDN ads versus display ads you might find on other platforms is that it can make use of the many signals the Google network has. By making smart use of these signals, GDN ads can move further down the funnel, closer to the part where the conversion takes place. This is why well planned GDN campaigns can become essential in ad campaigns.

Here are a few tips on how to set up display ads:

Using First-Party Data on the Google Display Network

The most powerful way to run your display ads is using your own first-party data. This could be a list of emails customers allowed you to use for marketing purposes. Past customers are easier to pull back in as they know the advertiser. Sizeable email lists can be segmented into parts that focus on interests or last purchase date to make more succinct groups. First-party data can also be based on recency of website visit or category of products visited. Someone who just recently visited the advertiser’s website (and has not made a purchase) might be more interesting than someone who last visited 90 days ago. Or if a user can be identified as interested in men’s swimming gear, it would be prudent to show that person display ads in the same category.

Relying on Google’s Second Party Data

The chances are that first-party data needs more time to build. If so, Google offers plenty of data to use out-of-the-box. This is so-called second-party data. On GDN, Google offers the use of topics (that users are interested in) and affinity groups. Depending on the country you are advertising in, Google will also offer demographics and income groups. It’s worth experimenting with the topic and affinity targeting, especially in combination with “observation” lists. This is a setting that allows you to gain insight on broadly targeted campaigns without having to create separate “target only” campaigns.

Reliable Keyword Targeting & Things To Avoid

Where first and second-party data targeting are the newest addition to GDN, one of the original methods of keyword targeting can still pack a powerful punch. As GDN ads appear alongside blog and news articles online, using basic keywords can work quite well. I.e. if an article mentions “sneakers” a shoe webshop would do well to use this targeting. What is important to consider is that advertisers will want to avoid a negative context. For example, if the context is “sneakers are bad for your feet”, the same shoe webshop will want to avoid being placed here.

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About Uzair Kharawala
Uzair Kharawala is the Co-Founder at SF Digital. He is a Certified Google Partner, is a Cricket fanatic and loves Photography.
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