Google Display Network: A Primer

Everyone is familiar with Google Ads, the paid advertisements that appear in search results on If you are using PPC advertising with Google Ads on the Google Search Network, it’s an effective way of being found by online searches.  The ads are limited to Google’s search engine only.

To expand your reach Google also offers Display Ads that appear on the Google Display Network (GDN). The Display Network is a collection of over 2 million websites and over 650,000 apps not owned by Google, but have partnered with Google and agreed to serve Google ads. It also includes websites owned by Google like YouTube, Gmail, and Blogger that show ads.

When managed correctly, Display Network campaigns allow you to reach a much larger audience. They give you the ability to reach people much earlier in the sales process, those who aren’t yet in the sales funnel. Combining this with campaigns that target visitors later in the sales cycle makes for a more powerful marketing effort.

Google ads in the Search Network are text-only ads. The Google Display Network allows for many other types that can have images and videos, which makes them much better for branding and attracting attention. These ad types include:

  • App promotion ads
  • Extension ads
  • Image ads
  • Remarketing ads
  • Responsive ads
  • Rich media ads
  • Video ads
  • Remarketing ads
  • Banner ads

All these ad types can be targeted individually with optimization options such as keywords, demographics, location, and remarketing.

Targeting Options for the GDN

Unlike Search Network campaigns, which are based entirely on keywords and search engine results, the Display Network campaign has many options for targeting your audience. These thousands of targeting options can be put into two categories:

1. Website-based targets: that show ads to all the users on websites or pages based on different conditions.

2. User-based targets: that show ads to all the websites on the GDN that are a certain type of user they may visit.

There are numerous targeting options for advertisers on the Google Display Network. It can take some time to learn how to choose the right targets for a display campaign. But when you get it down, the GDN is a powerful way to find new customers.

When creating campaigns on the Display Network, it’s essential to separate these targeted campaigns from campaigns on the Search Network. This allows you to organize your accounts and manage settings separately-and to track results better.

Are Display Ads effective?

The Google Display Network reaches 90% of global internet users including 94% of all US internet users, of which 64% are reached every day. Add to that 89% of US smartphone users and it seems like a no-brainer that Display ads can be effective.

Advertising on the Display Network requires separate strategies and goals, by using different GDN techniques you can get more traffic.

The GDN is your opportunity to reach potential customers that are browsing sites within Google’s Display Network, rather than searching on a search term. Take the time to understand the various targeting options and then be creative by combing various methods to refine your targeting.

However, because the Display Network doesn’t reach an audience that is actively searching, it’s important to position your bids and ads with this in mind. Image and video ads are useful for making your ads stand out. Use the data available in both the AdWords and Google Analytics to fine-tune your display campaigns.

Optimization, manually or through automated tools, is the key to success on the Google Display Network. To get the most out of your digital investment, actively manage your display campaigns just as you would in search campaigns.

Before starting a campaign on the Display Network, as with all your marketing campaigns, you should think about what you want to accomplish with your Display Network campaign.

The Display Network is a great place to expand the number of people entering the sales funnel and to increase the reach of your brand.

When judging success, remember that the Display Network behaves much differently than the Search Network. Success on the Display Network requires careful testing and optimization. There are several places to define your goals on the Display Network. 

Here are a few pointers for measuring success on the Display Network.

  • Use multi-channel tracking: Google Analytics gives you the ability to track visitors at various touchpoints along the conversion path. Display advertising often increases conversions.
  • Track conversions: The GDN increases your number of ad impressions, so expect to see a decreased CTR (Click Through Rate) and a lower conversion rate than on the Search Network.
  • Decide on a bidding model: When bidding on a CPC (Cost Per Click) model, use descriptive ads to help weed out unqualified traffic.
  • Increase brand awareness: One way of understanding how to increase brand awareness is by tracking your branded searches in Google Analytics.


If you’re just starting to use the Display Network, remarketing is a good place to start.    

Remarketing allows you to target visitors that previously visited your website. As visitors browse your site’s pages, Google tags them with a cookie. Later, as they browse other sites on the Display Network, your ads will appear.

Remarketing can have the lowest cost-per-conversion and highest conversion rate because you’re targeting a well-qualified audience. However, the number of visitors to your site limits the reach of remarketing campaigns.

OptimizeX can help

If you are currently running a Google Ads campaign and would like to expand your reach from Google search to the Google Display Network, contact us now. Or if you need to start a whole new PPC campaign with Ads on the search network, we are experts at this.

Learning to do PPC right and make it an effective marketing tool for your business requires considerable experience. The additional features of images and videos have a lot of variations in formats required by Google. Knowing these details is critical.

Moreover, the levels and options for targeting and optimization are in the thousands. Optimizing a Google Ads campaign is a continual process that requires experience to make effective and result in a good ROI.

We didn’t name our company “OptimizeX” for nothing!  Contact us now and take your brand to new levels.

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