Advantages and Best Practices for Display Network Advertising


Over the years, Display Advertising has gotten a bad reputation for under-performing. But the truth is in most cases it is an untapped resource that online marketers have not done correctly, or in some cases, not done at all. Display advertising (sometimes called banner advertising) can help increase brand recognition, drive traffic to your site, generate conversations, and improve your bottom line.

Did you know:  Google’s Display Network reaches 92% of all internet users across over 2 million websites and gives marketers the opportunity to reach prospects at every stage of the sales funnel?

Display Ads Play Point Guard on the Paid Search Team

In order to yield the highest ROI from your paid search campaigns, a combination of search AND display ads should be implemented rather than one or the other. Display advertising is very effective at driving assisted conversions to other campaigns rather than generating its own conversions. Think of it as an assist in basketball – the point guard did so well dissecting the defense that his teammate gains the reward of an easy dunk. Goal Achieved! But not without the point guard getting the ball through the traffic and close to the basket.

Custom Imagery Provides Brand Lift

The use of custom imagery in display ads can provide a lift in brand searches, search engine click-thru rates, direct visits and online/offline purchasing. Think about this: 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual and 40% of people respond better to visual information than plain text. Combine that with the multiple touch points within the display network and you’ve got a recipe for increased brand recognition – which often equals more traffic and more sales!

google display network

[Image Credit: think with Google]

Display Advertising Offers Multiple Targeting Options

As far as the multiple touch points that display advertising offers, there are many ways to target your perfect customer based on your goals and objectives. Here is an overview of the different targeting options available with Google’s Display Network campaigns.

  1. Keyword/Contextual Targeting: Contextual targeted is based on matching appropriate sites that participate in the display network to keywords that you have chosen to bid on, based on the products or services you provide. Contextual targeting is the grandfather of Google’s display ad product and in my opinion, the reason for display’s bad rep.
  2. Demographics: Depending on the product or service you sell, targeting your ads based on Demographics is can very helpful. Within the GDN (Google Display Network) you are able to target based on Gender, Age, and Parental Status.display demographics
  3. Topics: Topic targeting is a great way to expand your reach and find NEW customers. Topic targeting allows your ads to show on other sites that are related to your product or service. These are preset sites that Google has compiled and put in to categories for easy targeting. From arts & entertainment to travel, there is likely a topic group that aligns with your business.
  4. Interests: Unlike Topic targeting, Interest categories are based on users’ usage. These users have shown Interest in a product or service closely related to yours. Whether they are pet lovers or interested in purchasing a car, there is likely an Interest category that aligns with your goals. Google also shows the demographic data associated with these users for additional insight and granularity.display interests
  5. Placements: In the Placements tab you can choose specific sites that you know you want to add to your display campaigns. An effective technique for Placement targeting is to add sites that have proven to be and effective within your other targeting efforts. If you’re just starting out with Placement targeting, Google allows you to search for placement ideas and provides information on the available ad formats and number of impressions the site receives each week.
  6. Remarketing: Finally there is Remarketing – arguably the most effective targeting option on the GDN. Remarketing is a great way to ‘remind’ users that have visited your site to come back and enjoy your products or services. Think of Remarketing as the low-hanging fruit of display. And as a best practice we recommend setting up remarketing in every account we work with. Even if you don’t launch your Remarketing campaigns right away, create your Remarketing lists as early as possible to begin building your list of users that have visited your site. Along with targeting cookied users that have been to your site, Google also offers the ability to target “Similar Users” to your actual visitors.
  • Similar Users: With Similar Users, Google creates a profile of the users that visit your site, based on their browsing behavior, interests, demographics and other factors and then finds other users that fit this profile. They then show your ads to users that fit that profile, even though they have never visited your site. In our experience, we’ve seen multiple cases where this type of remarketing converts 3 times better that a regular remarketing campaign. But as always, results may vary.

Targeting Separately vs. Layering Targeting

All of the different targeting options covered above can be executed as stand-alone campaigns or they can be layered on top of each other to fine tune your perfect audience. Done separately you can see how your market reacts to the different types of targeting, while working together they can narrow your target audience to be very particular. But keep in mind, too much focus can leave the target audience so small that you will not receive any impressions for your ads.

display overlap

Cost Advantages of Display Advertising

In most cases, CPC’s (cost per click) on the display network are about half the cost of CPC’s in a standard Search campaign, allowing you to generate more impressions, more clicks and (hopefully) more sales for less money. Sounds like a win-win!  Also, keep in mind that there are two types of bidding strategies for most display campaigns.

  1. Cost per Click bidding (CPC) is the most widely used and means you’ll be charged for each click on your ads. CPC’s are determined by setting a maximum bid or “Max CPC” as the highest amount you are willing to pay for placement of your ad. That bid will then be discounted in the real-time auction to determine your actual CPC.
  2. Cost per thousand impressions bidding (CPM) means you will be charged based on the number of impressions your ads receive on the display network. When determining your bidding strategy, keep in mind that there is a change coming in the CPM’s to Viewable CPM (vCPM).

So What Should My Display Advertising Strategy Be?

Since each business’s needs, goals and objectives are unique, we can’t give you a one-size-fits-all answer to creating a successful display strategy. But we can leave you with this checklist and best practices. Addressing each of these points will get you on your way to taking advantage of the many opportunities Google’s Display Network offers. And if you still need help, drop us a line.

Display Campaign Strategy Checklist

  1. Identify your goals and anticipated out comes.
  2. Establish a target audience.
  3. Establish a budget – 15%-25% of total advertising budget is suggested.
  4. Design custom ads.
  5. Measure, adjust and optimize.

Best practices:

  1. Establish a clear message and offering.
  2. Create clean visual call to action.
  3. ALWAYS include promotions.
  4. Experiment with different colors when available.
  5. Make ads easy to read and balanced with visuals.
  6. Include your Brand Name and URL within ad creative.
  7. Use all available sizes/shapes, including text ads.
  8. Always include mobile ad sizes.
  9. Measure and optimize.