What the Heck is The Display Network?

What the Heck is the Google Adwords Display Network?

Do you know?

Ever run a Google Adwords campaign? If so, you may have noticed Google “recommends” for new users to run their ads on both the Google Search and Google Display Networks.

Search – that’s easy enough to understand, those are the ads we’re all used to seeing next to and above our search results when we look for things via Google. People plop in your campaign keywords into the search box, and your ad is displayed (depending on this equation).

Easy enough.

But Display? Is that like banner advertising? or Google Adsense? Just WHERE exactly are my ads appearing when I use the recommended Adwords campaign setting default?

The answer is a few places:

  • Gmail (ever see an ad at the top of your inbox? yep. those.)
  • YouTube (those overlay ads on your favorite funny clip or music video? yep.)
  • Google Maps
  • Other Google sites (Blogger, Finance, etc.)
  • Mobile apps (ever accidentally click on an ad in Angry Birds? yep. those.)
  • Blogs & other sites that use Adsense
  • Other partner sites (like these)

You can narrow down the list of sites your ads appear on by handpicking (what Google calls “managed placement”) or selecting audience interest categories or topics.

Is it really just all boring text ads?

Nope, one of the advantages to the Display Network is that your campaign can deliver more than just the common boring text ad found on the Search Network.

Ad types include:

  • Text ads
  • Image ads (now that’s more like it…)
  • Rich media ads (this includes those animated Flash ads seen commonly on sites like weather.com)
  • Video ads (love or hate ‘em – certainly has the potential to grab your attention!)

Note that the KEY difference between the Display and Search Networks is that the people who see your ad in the Display Network aren’t actively looking for your product/service/solution the way they are in the Search Network.

The Display Network generally means higher impressions but lower click-through-rates. For a budget-conscious small business just starting out on Adwords, I generally (depending on the client’s goals) recommend turning off the suggested default from Google and just focusing on the Search Network.

However, the Display Network can be a great match for branding campaigns or even a remarketing campaign (those stalker-like ads that follow you around the web with messages like “Remember Us?” or “Come Back for This Special Offer!”). I recently saw Joanna Lord of SEOmoz deliver a remarketing presentation at SEER’s Search Church – she does a great introductory write-up on this topic here.

So what about you? Ever use the Display Network in an Adwords campaign? Love it? Hate it? Did you find this post useful? Let me know in the comments!

Want more on Adwords? Check out How to Create Your First Google Adwords Campaignor 7 Deadly Google Adwords Sins

photo credit: opensourceway via photo pin cc

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