To get started with the Google Display Network, follow these steps:
- Log into your Google Ads account.
- Launch a new ad campaign.
- Select “Display Network Only”.
This article explains what the Google Display Network is, how to run ads on this platform, and what is its worldwide reach. You will also get pro tips from experts to maximize your campaign’s Return On Investment (ROI).
What is the Google Display Network?
The Google Display Network (GDN) is an online advertising platform managed by Google. It allows businesses to reach their potential clients via contextual ads.
As the name says, GDN ads are visual-centered. They connect audiences through images, banners, and videos published on their network.
The Google Display Network is a good channel to introduce new brands and reach people interested in their products and services.
What is the Digital Coverage of the Google Display Network?
When businesses advertise on the Google Display Network, they publish their ads on Google’s affiliate websites. It includes YouTube, as it has been one of Google’s subsidiaries since the end of 2006.
In this case, we define reach as ad impressions based on targeting settings. According to Google, the GDN’s worldwide reach in 2023 is:
- 90% of global internet users.
- 2 million affiliate websites and smartphone apps.
- 2.5 billion users per month.
- 2+ trillion impressions per month.
The Google Display Network’s coverage varies depending on the country. For instance, it reaches 94% of internet users in the U.S., which is above the world’s average of 90%.
The ad placements also change over time. The list of affiliate websites updates continuously.
Based on this, the impact of GDN ads evolves. To measure it, businesses must follow up on their ad performance, as we explain below in this article.
How to Target Audiences on the Google Display Network?
When running ads on the GDN, businesses must select targeting options. At this stage, buyer personas should be clear. Based on this preliminary research, advertisers will segment their audiences and target them by interests.
Keep in mind that, the more target filters you apply, the narrower the reach will be. This is important for the client segmentation that we mention below.
The basic targeting options include age, gender, and location. The Google Display Network also allows targeting by websites. If you want your banner ads to appear on specific domains, just copy the URLs into the tool.
Besides, there are 4 more advanced targeting settings:
- Affinity audience.
- Custom affinity audience.
- In-market audience.
- Remarketing audience.
With the affinity audience, advertisers can choose interests that relate to the buyer persona. Businesses can select around 80 groups of interest.
The custom affinity audience is more precise. You can directly input keywords into the tool. The ads will show on websites from the Google Display Network that are ranking for those keywords. As explained above, you can also input the URL of those websites. This option is a great way of targeting because online users are more likely to click on the ads.
The in-market audience focuses on people actively looking for products. Google follows up on online users’ behavior thanks to trackers like cookies. Based on this profiling data, the GDN can target people who added similar products to their online shopping cart or users who visited websites close to yours, etc. In-market audiences are calculated from past views, clicks, and conversions.
The GDN has a remarketing feature. It displays ads in front of people who have already visited your website. This is a great conversion tool because online users interacting several times with a brand are more likely to interact. Remarketing ensures a lower Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) and higher Conversion Rate (CR) as it focuses more on the bottom of the sales funnel. It is also possible to target audiences by remarketing lists using email addresses.
Once you complete this step, Google makes reach estimates. Advertisers know what to expect from their campaign before they launch the ads. Of course, those are estimations. Real metrics may differ a little bit.
What are the Google Display Network Ad Formats?
The Google Display Network mostly focuses on visual ads. Here are the main GDN ad formats:
- Gmail ads.
Advertisers can upload custom images directly on Google or let the tool automate responsively. If you have enough banners to do some A/B testing, go for the first option. Otherwise, you can trust Google’s automation feature.
Videos are more difficult to produce than images but usually get better results. They can come from YouTube or any other video platform.
Gmail ads appear in Google users’ inboxes in various locations. For example, it can be an expandable banner at the top tab of the target user’s email.
There are many different banner formats on the Google Display Network. The most performing ad sizes according to Google are:
- Medium rectangle (300×250).
- Large rectangle (336×280).
- Leaderboard (728×90).
- Half page (300×600).
- Large mobile banner (320×100).
We recommend focusing on those formats as a priority. Take note that Google restricts the ad banner file size to 150kB. Make sure your visual creatives are top quality but also “light-weighted.”
What are the Advantages of the Google Display Network?
On Google ads search, people actively look for information, products, or services. They have a minimum knowledge of what they are searching for.
The Google Display Network works differently. Advertisers target audiences that are likely to purchase the product. Those online users do not necessarily know about the brand.
The GDN implies “passive” advertising. The user intent and attention are lower than on Google ads search. This is a top-of-the-sales funnel strategy to raise brand awareness.
In parallel, once the brand has enough data, the GDN can also focus on the bottom of the sales funnel strategy, thanks to the remarketing feature. It means the Google Display Network combines both brand awareness and conversion targets.
There are other benefits of using the Google Display Network. It is low-cost for massive reach ad channels. On the GDN, advertisers do not pay for impressions: they are free. They pay for clicks, which means they are only charged for users who have a minimum of intent.
Businesses can start running ads on GDN with a small budget. On this platform, the targeting options and visual creatives are more important than the bidding itself.
How to Measure Ad Campaign Performance?
Businesses should not measure their Google Display Network ad campaign from direct sales. The conversion rate is rather low on the GDN, but it does not mean it is not worth advertising.
Instead, companies should follow these metrics:
- Ad impressions.
- Website visitors.
- Clicks (or taps for mobile).
In parallel with the Google ads account dashboard, make sure to use your Google Analytics to follow up on your campaign performance. Set up the right Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) tags to track accurately.
Be aware that the remarketing feature works well on Google Display Network thanks to its integration with Google Analytics. Businesses know which pages the online users visit thanks to the GDN ads, which is priceless to optimizing the campaign.
How to Increase Brands’ Reach with the Google Display Network?
The Google Display Network’s online coverage is broad by default. To increase its reach more, consider these hints:
- Segment your audience into small groups.
- Target audiences showing interest.
- Use display exclusion lists.
- Use the responsive display ads feature.
- Optimize from performance follow-up.
- Adjust your bidding.
Test your targeting options filters on small groups. The smaller they are, the better you can identify what works the most efficiently. This allows advertisers to spend their budget wisely, thus expanding their reach.
In-market and remarketing audiences are excellent ways to focus on potential customers who will convert more easily. Online users who visit a competitor’s website, or your website, are more likely to purchase from you than people who have never heard of your products.
By default, Google keeps the display exclusion lists all open. Same as negative keywords on Google ads search, those exclusion lists save your media spending. For example, you should exclude websites or mobile applications for which you are certain that visitors will show no interest in your brand.
The responsive display ads automatically create and test variations of the banners. From experience, we know that it is always better to craft ads manually if you have the time and required graphic skills. If not, you can trust Google’s machine learning which became solid with time.
Keep an eye on your campaign analytics and insights. You must be able to identify what works versus what doesn’t. Same as most ad platforms, the Google Display Network requires continuous improvements.
The more you bid, the broader your reach will be. Now, we strongly recommend you never launch a new campaign with a huge budget. If your ad account is a “fresh” one, you will most likely be blocked by the platform for suspicious activity. Instead, start with a small budget and progressively increase it as you optimize your campaign.
Is Google Display Network Worth It?
It depends on your business objective.
If you are looking for online sales or people subscribing to your newsletter, then the Google Display Network will not help you much.
On the contrary, if you are a new brand entering the market, then the GDN is one of the best options available online to raise your awareness and get noticed by potential customers.
Also, if you have data such as a relevant email list, or enough past traffic on your website, then the remarketing feature of the Google Display Network is a great solution to maximize your conversion rate.
The best way to get started is to ask for experts’ help. Contact Prodima Vietnam’s team if you are looking for strong support to run your Google Display Network ads.