There are more than 2 million websites on the Google Display Network. According to Google, that reaches more than 90% of the entire internet population.
But one of the best aspects of the Google Display Network is that it lets you specifically target your audience based on a whole mess of different criteria.
Otherwise, that reach wouldn’t really be worth much. You’d be blindly throwing spaghetti, hoping something stuck.
Google Ads gives you a leg up in that you have the chance to reach your potential customers super early in their buyer’s journey.
This is particularly true of the Display Network.
So the real question is: how do you use the Google Display Network to catapult your business to the next level?
We’ve got you covered. Let’s dive in.
Have you ever been browsing a website, maybe a travel site or huge news conglomerate, and suddenly you see an ad pop up on the side of your screen for a small local business?
Who knew Al’s Prime Meats had gone global. 😮 Relax. They haven’t. 🙁
They’re actually appearing on your screen through the world’s largest and most personalized display advertising system, the Google Display Network.
So you’re seeing Al’s fine selection of artisan meats pop into your browsing experience because Google’s algorithm realized that it’s something that you like or frequent.
Or at least I do.
But maybe you don’t care about Al or his succulent cuts. Google will show you something else then. Something you actually like.
Because that’s how it works.
What Is the Google Display Network?
Okay, so I sort of gave this one away.
It’s personalized ads from Google. But that’s only the beginning.
To truly conquer it, you need to get into the heart of what the Google Display Network is (and isn’t).
First, it’s an arm of Google Ads. So you get the massive reach of Google’s advertising platform.
The other side of the Google Ads coin is the search network, which lets you place pay-per-click ads throughout Google’s search engine.
These ads typically appear before organic search results.
You select your keywords and place a monetary bid on them, which is pitted against other advertisers.
This determines your placement.
But Google also has video advertising. Which puts your business in front of the YouTube audience.
And there’s app advertising.
So if you have an app, you can promote it across the Google network.
What Sites Are in the Google Display Network?
The display network pops your ads into websites that are carefully chosen, either by you or through Google’s display algorithm.
That means there’s a ton of opportunity to get your ads listed in front of the people who would benefit the most from seeing them.
You can cover a lot of online real estate across 2 million websites.
Google-owned sites are one specific tier of the display network.
This most notably includes YouTube, among others.
Then you have the Adsense sites.
These are the meat, the heart, the very soul of the Google Display Network.
Adsense sites are websites that have signed up to receive ads from Google as part of a system wherein those sites can earn money.
They make up the bulk of the Google Display Network and offer you a wealth of sites to choose from.
What Is the Google Display Network Going to Cost You?
The beauty of a Google Ads campaign is that it can be customized to fit into any budget.
Larger budgets are obviously going to have more success. But smaller campaigns can do pretty well, especially in terms of remarketing and brand awareness.
First, you place a “bid” on specific sites, keywords, interests, or groups.
There are a number of different strategies you can use when bidding on ad placement.
An Enhanced CPC (Cost-Per-Click) is used when you’re dealing with manual CPPC campaigns. Bids are adjusted automatically to try and create more conversions.
Then you’ve got target cost per acquisition bidding.
When engaging in this, machine learning optimizes your bids for you in order to get conversions that won’t exceed the target amount you’ve set.
It’s kind of like when you’re going out with a friend and you tell them not to let you spend more than a set amount of money. Only it’s with robots.
Here’s an example given by the Google overlords to explain the concept:
If you choose a target CPA of $10, Google Ads will automatically set your bids to try to get you as many conversions at $10 on average. To help improve your performance in every ad auction, this strategy adjusts bids using real-time signals like device, browser, location, time of day, remarketing list, and more.”
If you don’t care about an ad cap you could run a target return on ad spend (ROAS), which optimizes your bids to meet a certain ROI level that you’re trying to achieve.
If brand awareness is your ultimate goal, you could run a campaign focusing on impressions, with Viewable CPM.
CPM stands for cost per mile, but don’t worry, you don’t actually have to go anywhere. Cost per mile is an advertising term for cost per thousand impressions.
You can set your bids to maximize on clicks, or set them based on user interactions.
It’s also possible to manually set your maximum cost per click, spelling out exactly what you’re willing to spend for every new set of eyes.
Who Sees This Stuff, Anyway?
Bidding on ads is all well and good, but who is going to see them?
Website domains can be picked specifically for managed placements across the Google Display Network.
So if you really like certain pages and you think that your ads will work there, you can specifically choose those sites.
Google recommends assigning unique bids for specific websites as a way to test the waters.
Then, if the ad performs well, you can start using it more.
Or you can let Google pick where to put your ads, based on what you’re looking to accomplish.
Not into giving up all control to Google?
You can also choose relevant keywords to target, much like you do with the search network.
Use the Keyword Planner and type in your keywords to generate additional ideas. You’ll also get an idea of how steep the competition is.
When you’re targeting keywords, Google Ads will place your ads on the sites which coincide with your selections.
And don’t forget to set a number of negative keywords to exclude from your campaign.
You don’t want to show up in the wrong search like this:
Beyond keywords, though, one of the key benefits of the Google Display Network is how highly targeted it is.
You can specifically target your ads based on demographics with the accuracy of Robocop.
You can use marital status, geographic location, age, gender, and income. (And that’s just a few.)
You can even set your targeting based on what device the prospect is using.
Google also lets you target your ads based on interests. Just make sure that you pick topics relevant to your product or service.
However you choose to target your audience, it’s important to be very specific. Google is smart, but it can’t read your mind.
So you have to let the system know exactly what you’re looking for.
That way you can ensure that you’re keeping the number of irrelevant impressions and clicks down to a minimum.
From there Google determines who to show ads to based on user behavior and monitoring cookies.
OK. Maybe not.
But monitoring web cookies allows Google to specifically target users who have visited certain pages or purchased a specific product. That way Google can gauge interests and tailor an ad experience specifically to each consumer.
The Key to Marketing is Remarketing
Remarketing is one of the best ways to capitalize on warm leads.
It catches those people who have already visited your website and gives them a gentle nudge back in your direction.
By tracking cookies, Google knows they’ve seen your website. But maybe they didn’t do anything there.
Google will show your ad to those specific browsers, putting you back on the prospect’s radar.
This is why you keep seeing that Ninja Blender everywhere you browse online. Or why I keep seeing Al’s Prime Meats.
No, it’s not just a coincidence and it doesn’t mean the NSA is spying on you.
I mean…they could be…but this isn’t an indicator of that.
Remarketing is extremely effective and makes prospects 70% more likely to convert on your site.
It also ensures that visitors from your ads aren’t just random people, but visitors who have already expressed interest. They might’ve just lost focus or continued to shop around.
Conquer the Google Display Network
Now that you understand how the Google Display Network actually works, it’s time to dig into the ad you’re going to create.
After all, Google can only do so much of the work. They can place you in front of your audience but it’s your ad that has to drive them to your site.
The first decision you’ll need to make is whether you want to create an image or go the text ad route.
If you’re just starting out with a new campaign, it’s usually a good idea to create both image and text ads and gauge which one is more effective with A/B testing.
Using A/B testing, you’ll be able to gauge what’s generating more of a return.
Then you can funnel your marketing budget into what’s working, rather than waste money on ads that your audience won’t connect with.
As for the number of ads in your group, go for at least three if not four.
Mix up the messaging on each to see which one resonates the best with your audience.
This is another area where A/B testing comes into play.
And then there are responsive ads.
Responsive ads automatically adjust the ad’s size depending on the device that is being used to view it. It has alterations in place for desktop computers, mobile phones, and tablets.
By using responsive ads you won’t have to spend time and energy creating different versions of your finished advert for different devices.
Next, you’ll want to make sure that your brand’s logo is totally clear and displayed with a 1:1 or 4:1 aspect ratio alongside your brand name.
Keep the main image high-quality and clear. Avoid too much blank space, overlaid text, and collages.
Keep your headlines descriptive and easy to understand. And don’t go over the 80 character limit.
Google recommends avoiding messaging that might seem generic or “click baity” as well as WRITING EVERYTHING IN ALL CAPS (it’s just obnoxious).
Finally, you need to figure out the sizing of your ad. For this, there are many different options to choose from.
Some of the most popular options range from a 250×250 pixel square to a 970×90 pixel leaderboard.
Google display ads must be kept under 150KB, though, so that’s an important factoid to relay to your design staff.
Simple pictures also tend to work better than complex images.
And don’t forget to coordinate the colours and imaging of your ads with your overall brand.
You always want to keep your advertising consistent across all platforms. If a prospect clicks on your ad, you never want to confuse them by suddenly shifting all of the branding to something completely different.
If you’re looking to extend the reach of your brand, the Google Display Network is one of the most effective means of doing so.
But it’s also a very competitive atmosphere, which is why it’s important to enter into any Google Display campaign with a clear strategy in place and a properly outlined budget.
When entered into wisely, the Google Display Network can turn the tide for your business and become an excellent means by which to expand your brand’s outreach.