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Display Ads

Display advertising is a form of PPC that allows advertisers to use images or banner ads to communicate their message and spread brand awareness. In terms of digital marketing, display ads are the closest strategy to traditional advertising techniques like flyering. It is used on websites, apps and social media sites using banners or other formats that include text, images, flash, audio and now video.

Advertising networks such as the GDN (Google Display Network) can be used to run the display ads and according to Google, their network reaches 92% of internet users across 2 million sites.

How to Use Display Ads

The Display Network is becoming increasingly advanced and marketers have many opportunities to reach customers and target ads to specific audiences based on the content of a website or the behaviour of users.

Display ads can be used to bring back previous visitors that may not have completed conversions or other desired actions. This is known as a remarketing strategy and can be used cross-device as well as cross-network. This means a user may visit your site on their mobile phone but will later see your display ad on Facebook when using their desktop device.

Another way to use display ads is to upsell to current customers. Advertisers can encourage customers to upgrade their product and service. It can also be used to keep your customers up-to-date with your website and remind them of your brand. This is crucial for creating and retaining repeat customers.

How to Make the Most of Display Ads

In order to implement an effective display advertising campaign, you need a solid strategy to target users who are share interests or similar demographic information with your current customers. To make the most of Display ads you should create ad groups. Targeting methods should be set up in multiple, separate ad groups so you are able to modify/ However, if your aim may be to reach as many potential customers as possible then you may not focus as much on targeting as it could reduce the overall potential reach. Here are some combinations to consider using with GDN.


Age + Gender + Affinity Audience

Affinity targeting matches your ads with users who visit similar sites concerned with the same topic of interest.  


Managed Placements

This means controlling the websites your ads are seen on and is the most direct way to target websites that are relevant to your target audience.


Topics + Affinity Audience + Placements

Topic targeting targets sites that match a particular topic. It allows you to reach a wider audience than managed placements but they may not be as relevant than if you chose them yourself.


Custom Affinity Audiences

This method is a more refined version of affinity targeting using a range of criteria including different interests, URLs, places or apps.

How to Measure the Success of a Display Ads Campaign

A Display Advertising Campaign isn’t likely to result in direct conversions and therefore needs to be measured in a different way. It is best practice to regularly check Google Analytics and Search Console in order to monitor increases in organic or direct traffic and organic branded search volume. The performance metrics you should pay attention to include:


Brand Awareness

Metrics like ‘new site visitors’ can be used to judge how successful the campaign has been at increasing brand awareness and general traffic. Other things to consider are the impressions made and the reach and frequency metrics will show how many people have seen your ads and how frequently throughout the campaign.



Engagement refers to the amount of interaction with your display advertisements. Engagements occur whenever a user clicks or expands your display ad. You can also gage an idea of the effectiveness of the campaign by seeing how many clicks went through to your website landing pages.


Direct Response

Direct response concerns the number of desired conversion actions taken whenever you display ads have been placed. You can track the contribution from display ads on conversions where the user has seen a display ad and gone on to convert through another channel. You can also track the contribution on overall conversions where users have clicked through to your site and then later converted via another channel.

What Kind of Results Can You Expect?

There are plenty of opportunities to use display ads, especially now with the huge increase in mobile advertising, and this means they can achieve 3 or 4 times the impressions of a Search Network ad. It is important to use the goals of the campaign as a basis for your expectation. To assist with establishing your goals and benchmarks, you can use Google’s benchmark tool as a foundation as results will vary from industry to industry as well as the location of the display ads and the format.


Google has introduced a type of ad called responsive display ads (RDA) to be the new default ad type for the GDN. You are able to upload up to 15 images, 5 headlines, 5 descriptions, and 5 logos and Google will then use machine learning to test different combinations before displaying the ads that suit and work the best. The ads will also automatically adjust size, appearance and format in order to fit the available ad space targeted. In 2019, Google introduced three new features for responsive display ads that aim to improve the functionality and reporting capabilities.



Video assets can now be added to responsive display ads. You can now select up to 5 videos from your YouTube Channel to be used in a display ad.


Combinations Report

The new combinations report gives insight into the performance of different asset combinations. It shows the best performing asset combinations that are being generated in your responsive display ads. The combinations are based on images, text, dynamic feeds, and videos.


Ad Strength Scorecard

The new scorecard will measure how well your responsive display ads are set up before going live. Google Ads can check for the best number of original headlines, images and descriptions.


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