The Google Display Network offers a way for advertisers to place ads directly on a great number of websites that have content related to what they are promoting. Although many people make the mistake of looking at it in the same light as they do their ads in the search engine results page, using it effectively requires its own special strategy.
Understanding the Google Content Network – What is it anyway?
The Google Display Network (GDN) is basically a group of websites that have partnered with Google to display Adwords ads relevant to their site’s content. By using the content network as your advertising medium, you are bidding to show your ads on websites with related content rather than the search results. There are two ways by which you pay for ad placement on these sites – on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis or on a cost-per-impression (CPM) basis.
Among the benefits that can be achieved by using the display network includes the following:
- Extensive reach: The content network allows you to reach new customers and capture their interest. According to DoubleClick Ad Partner, the content network has the ability to reach 83% unique users worldwide.
- Decide where your ads will appear: The network gives you the flexibility to choose the geographic location you want your ads to appear and the freedom to choose who will see your ads. In addition, the display network also gives you the tool to determine which sites are converting well so you can effectively remove the non-performing sites from your list.
- Choose your ad format: It doesn’t matter whether you want to display a text, image, rich media or video ad. With GDN, you can choose whatever ad format you like.
- Lower ad costs: Text ads are about 50% to 80% cheaper on the display network.
- Split test ads: The network allows you to split test your ads so you can run ads alongside each other to determine which brings in the highest ROI.
Setting up campaigns in the Google Display Network
The follow is a step-by-step guide on how you can get started in exploring the GDN:
- Download the Google Adwords Editor: You may not be aware of it but using the desktop version can actually help you manage your campaigns a lot easier.
- Set up Google Analytics to track your conversions: You can also use other third-party tools if you want to.
- Import existing Adwords campaign or create one: Keep in mind that the GDN requires a different strategy than regular PPC advertising. For example, what should be negative keywords in PPC may not be appropriate on the GDN. Start by setting targeting to anywhere on the network and use the strategies described later in the article to fine tune your campaign.
- Set your daily budget: Start small and increase bids as you gain more experience.
- Measure results: GDN users can measure the effectiveness of their campaigns by reviewing the detailed reports provided by the system. These reports will show you exactly where your ads ran, the number of clicks for each ad which sites generated the highest conversion rates. This importance of constantly measuring results, and adjusting campaigns accordingly, cannot be overstated.
Using the Google Display Network – Some effective strategies
Poor performance the Google Content Network can often be attributed to poorly targeted ads. Most people just take the ads from their existing search campaigns and use the very same ads in the display network. They do not realize that the display network requires a very different strategy than that of the search network. To help you get the most from using the display network, here are some useful tips and strategies that you may want to consider:
- Run separate campaigns: Avoid the common mistake of using the same campaign for both the Google content and the search networks as what works for one will not be good for the other.
- Create tightly themed ad groups: With ad groups of 20 keywords or less, the ads will be better focused for the keywords and much more effective. As Google matches the theme of your ad groups with the theme of the particular website page where it will be shown, a tightly focused ad group will also increase your chances of getting good placements.
- Match keywords with landing pages and ads: For better targeting, make sure that the keywords match both the landing pages and the ads.
- Aim to distract: When using the content network, you should aim to distract your target market from their main activity of reading content. The audience must be distracted from what they are reading and directed to your ads instead. You can do this by experimenting on your ad copy, format and size.
- Focus on conversions: The initial click is just the first step. While a low click through ratio will hurt an ad’s quality score on the search network, it does not in the GDN. Therefore, there are no benefits and only costs if the ad does not convert. In addition, keep in mind that the CTR is going to be lower in the GDN as ads appear much more often in it.
- Look for sites that perform well/badly: When sites with good conversions are located, adjust ad placement bids to try to rank higher on them. As should be done whenever bids are increased, monitor the higher bids to see if they really increase performance. Sites that perform badly can be taken off with the Exclusion Tool.
- Be creative. Try offering free stuff or coupons and don’t hesitate to use all the marketing hooks you can think of. Remember, you are trying to create and drive demand from people who are not actively searching for what you have to offer. Your creative needs to be bold and strong to get the attention of your target market.
- Use image ads: Images are often a good way to distract people’s attention from the page they are on and can help create brand awareness. Experiment with text and image ads and try rotating them. In addition, remember to try different ad sizes, colors and anything else you can think of.
- Cast a wider net: Instead of hand-picking the sites where you want your ads to appear, let Google do the job in the beginning. Once you have sufficient data to work with, take the non-performing sites from your list
- Forego the search mentality: Using the principles of search marketing in running your GDN campaigns can lead to costly mistakes. Negative keywords demonstrate this best. For example, while someone selling a product will not want to pay for searches using the word “free,” on a page that is reviewing the product, it would be appropriate and a good place to display your ad.
- Try the Placement Tool: For some really targeted advertising, consider using the Google Placement Tool to find just the sites you think will be best.
Different targeting methods
A nifty feature of the Google Display Network is the way ads can be targeted to specific audiences. The main targeting types are as follows:
- Contextual Targeting: Basically keyword targeting
- Placement Targeting: Targeting specific websites, videos, etc.
- Remarking: Displaying your ads to those who have visited your website when they go to other pages
- Interest Categories: Targeting by interests shown in online behavior
- Topic Targeting: Similar to interest categories but based on sites
- Geographic and Language Targeting: By location and language used by searcher
Learn more about these targeting methods here.
The lowdown in using the Google Display Network
There are some flaws in the GDN that need to be taken into account. Here are some of them:
- Ads appearing in non-contextually related websites and pages: Google sometimes shows your ads on non-related sites what offer few conversions.
- Ads in MFA sites and parked domains: While there are millions of good-quality sites in the network, there are also a lot of made for Adsense or MFA sites and parked domains, which many contain very little useful content or value to the advertiser.
In such cases, take the time to use the exclusion tool to block those sites from showing your ads.
The final verdict
The Google Display Network holds a tremendous promise, but it needs to be used properly. Start out slowly while collecting data and trying new things. It can be a good alternative to search advertising, but it must be done differently.