Getting your ads on a major website might seem like a difficult and expensive task, but with the Google Display Network, it’s more simple than you’d think.

In the following blog post we break down the basic fundamentals of the Google Display Network including ad locations and targeting.

What is the Google Display Network?

A powerful system that reaches more than 2 million websites and 90 percent of internet users, the Google Display Network can get your ads in front of targeted audiences across the globe.

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Reach them when they’re viewing a news video, playing a game on their phone or even as they check their email. Most importantly? Reach them early on in the buying cycle—when they’re still researching, weighing their options or, possibly, even unaware they need your services.

Google Display Network vs. Search Network

Google has two different advertising networks: Search and Display.

The Search Network allows you to place ads on Google’s tried-and-true search engine, where you can reach users while they’re searching for specific keywords and phrases. These show up within Google’s organic search results.

The Display Network, on the other hand, is a little more passive. It integrates your ads into carefully chosen websites, where it can reach users while they shop, browse or read.

It also allows visual and rich media ads instead of just plain text ones—and considering that an estimated 90 percent of all information processed by the brain is visual, that alone can be a pretty big game-changer.

google display ads

Google Display Network Ad Locations

I mentioned before that the Google Display Network spans more than 2 million websites—but that doesn’t mean your ads are going to go live on every single one of them. The network is made up of a few different tiers of websites.

There are Google’s own sites, like YouTube, Blogger, etc.; AdSense publisher sites, which website managers can sign up to participate in; and sites that participate in the DoubleClick Ad Exchange, an online ad marketplace.

While you could run your Google Display Network ads across any and all of these groups, that’s not going to deliver the highest ROI in the end. For the best results, you’ll want to be a little more selective about which Google Display Network sites your ads run on.

To do this, you can:

1) Hand-pick your domains

Called “managed placements,” this feature allows you to designate the specific websites, games, videos, feeds and mobile sites on which your ads will appear.

This is a great idea if you’re really honed into your audience’s habits and activities, and it also allows you to only spend money on exactly the placements you know will deliver.

Know your potential customers read a certain trade magazine or use a certain product? Run your ads on those sites and ensure you’re seen by the right people.

google display network

2) Let Google pick placements for you

While not as hands-on, you can also allow Google to pick and choose placements on your behalf.

To do this, you simply designate certain keywords and topics that relate to your ad, and then Google chooses the sites most relevant to those.

Be careful though; going this route requires a lot more oversight. You’ll want to constantly tweak your targeting if you want the best results.

Ultimately, while your placements are important, they aren’t the only option you have when creating your Google Display Network ads. You can also choose who sees your ads by targeting certain demos, geographic locations and more.

Google Display Network Targeting

Exactly who do you want to reach with your Google Display Network ads?

Through the network’s detailed targeting options, you can find the right audience for your exact messaging and campaign goals.

Here are just a few of the ways you can build targeted Google Display Network audiences:

By interest – Build what Google dubs an “affinity” audience, by targeting users who have shown interest in brands, sites, products or services that are similar to yours. Just choose the specific interests/topics that are relevant—including anything from fashion and travel to pets and cars—and let Google determine who’s best to show your ads to.

By demo – Choose age, gender, marital status, geographic location, device and even whether the user is a parent or not. Select as many attributes as you like, and really hone in on the audience that will be most effective for your brand.

By activity – Thanks to cookies, the Display Network can tell when users browse certain pages, fill out a form, purchase a product, abandon their shopping cart or complete some other action on your site.

With a strategy called “remarketing,” you can then reach back to these past visitors—ones you know have a genuine interest in your brand—with targeted message that draws them back in. It’s one of the oldest and most successful online ad strategies in the book.

The Google Display Network also has built-in analytics and reporting tools, so you can constantly measure how your campaigns are faring—and tweak them accordingly. Make sure to monitor your ad performance regularly, and stay abreast of who your ads are resonating with.

The more you analyze and adjust, the most successful your campaigns will be in the long run.

Final Takeaways

Remember even if an immediate click doesn’t occur –  display ads on the GDN, or video ads on YouTube, can attract consumers with an interest in your product or brand and have a significant impact on your growth.

Historically, it has been difficult to track and credit the impact of these marketing efforts.

Traditionally, the separation of impressions or “view throughs” from clicks, has created an attribution gap – leaving out valuable data on the impact of display advertising.

Through the integration of the Google Display Network (GDN) and Google Analytics, Assisted Impression Reporting can break down the separation between clicks and impressions and give a more complete view of the customer journey.

For example, when a user views display ads on the GDN, or video ads on YouTube, and later visits your website and converts, these interactions with a brand can now be tracked in Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnels reporting.

By enabling GDN Impression Reporting in Google Analytics, brands and retailers can learn how their display impressions assist their conversions.

For more on the Google Display Network, email tara@cpcstrategy.com

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About the AuthorTara graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. in Journalism / Business. Her passion for creative publishing and quality reporting landed her work opportunities at several companies in Massachusetts, New York and California. She is a leading voice behind CPC Strategy’s Blog. See all posts by this author here.