What Are Google Display Ads?

Sam Rose - Head of Content

Sam Alexandra Rose

18th November 2021

When you’re just starting with PPC, there can be a lot to get to grips with. This article is an introduction to Google Display ads - we’ll explain what they are, why they are useful and how you can implement them.


What are Google display ads?

Have you ever been browsing a website and noticed a banner or small box advert on the page? It may have been within the text, at the side, or it may have been “stuck” to the top or bottom of the screen and followed you down the page. Those are display ads at work, and they are image or video ads shown on websites within the Google Display Network.


What is the Google Display Network?

The Google Display Network is made up of over two million websites, and collectively they reach over 90% of internet users worldwide. When you use Google Ads, you have the option of showing display ads on this network - and the benefits can be great.


What is the difference between Google Ads search ads and display ads?

While search ads are text ads that appear on the search results page when a user types in their search query, display ads are not found on search pages but on other websites within the Google Display Network. Search ads work based on the keywords users search for - if the user searches for a keyword you’ve set your campaign to target, your ad may appear. However, since they don’t appear on search results pages, you need to use different targeting to decide where your display ad is shown.


How do display ads work?

You can set your ad to appear in front of users who match the features you identify, such as personal interests, age or gender. Your ad may then be shown to users who match the audience you’ve set, or they may appear on websites related to your business. This means that even if someone isn’t specifically looking for your product or service at that moment, they are still likely to be within the audience you’d like to target, and they are more likely to be interested in your business and click on your advert.


Why use Google display ads

Because your ads can appear in so many different places and in front of people who match the target criteria or demographics you set, display ads can help you to reach a whole new audience. Consider how powerful your advertising could be if you were not only using search ads to target people who are specifically looking for your product, but also using display ads to reach people who may not have considered your product before but could still be very interested in what you do. Plus, by using images or video instead of text, you can create eye-catching ads that get the attention you need and could increase your click-through rates.


How to set up Google display ads

You can set up targeted display ads by logging into your Google Ads account, clicking on “Campaigns” and then clicking “New Campaign”. Select Display Network Only as your campaign type and begin choosing the types of targeting you would like to use.


What targeting is available for Google display ads?

One way to use display ads is to target customers based on their interests. To do this, you can use affinity audiences, custom affinity audiences, or in-market audiences.

Affinity audiences include 80 different groups based on interests or hobbies, and you can choose to show your ads to one or more of these pre-defined groups.

With custom affinity audiences, you can create your own custom audiences using keywords. Your adverts will then appear on websites that include those keywords in their copy. You can also target specific URLs. 

Finally, in-market audiences target customers who are actively looking at products or services like yours - perhaps they have a product in their shopping basket already on another website, or they are looking at similar products on other sites.

You can target demographic groups by stating an age group, gender, or parental status you’d like to show your ads to. Using a combination of these targeting methods can help you to narrow down your audience to the niche you really want to target - providing you with more valuable, quality leads and better ROI. However, remember that the more specific you are, the fewer people will see your ads. It may take a little tweaking to get the perfect balance of finding the specific people you really want to target, without reducing your opportunities too heavily.


What other ad types are there for Google display ads?

With Google display ads, you also have the option to run the following ad types:


  • Responsive display ads: With responsive ads, Google takes the ad text and images and logo you provide, and combines them to create an optimised ad for improved performance. These native ads blend in well with the websites they appear on, to create a great user experience.
  • Uploaded image ads: You can upload your own ads as images in various sizes or using HTML5.
  • Engagement ads: These can be image or video ads, which run on YouTube and within the Google Display Network.
  • Gmail ads: Run expandable ads that appear on the top tabs of Gmail users’ inboxes.
  • Remarketing ads: Remarketing or retargeting ads are based on your remarketing audience. These are people who have interacted with your business in some way already, for example by visiting your website or putting something in their basket. Showing display ads to these people can have great results, as they have already visited your website and may still be engaged in a decision-making process - they just need a little reminder to be nudged back towards purchasing from you.


This is just the tip of the display advertising iceberg. Find out more about Google display ads in the Google Ads help centre. If you would like help with any aspect of your PPC advertising, get in touch with SilverDisc.

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