Many advertisers have tried their hand at the Google Display Network (formerly known as the the content network) and concluded that just like a black hole sucks up all matter and light, the Display Network sucked up their money and left them with nothing. While I can sympathize because I too have seen many a budget go into the Display Network and never come back, harnessing this tool can be a very effective strategy to improve your pay-per-click (PPC) results. The key is how you approach it.
When you’re advertising on search results, you know at least some of the user intent based on the search query. If someone typed “organic lettuce in Dallas” you have a good idea of what they want. However, in the Display Network, you’re trying to get clicks from users who are occupied with something else. They might be reading an article about how to build a treehouse. They might be playing an online game. Your ads need to pull them away from what they’re currently doing to get a click.
For example, let’s say you sell widgets. Your widgets are unique because they are yellow and 100 percent stainless steel. For search, your ad might read something like this:
“Premium Yellow Widgets. 100% Stainless Steel + Free Shipping!”
That would be great if someone searched “yellow widgets.” But what if you customer is a college basketball fanatic?
Right now he’s wrapped up in March Madness and isn’t searching for widgets, even though he wants one. How do you get this guy’s interest? What about an ad that reads:
“March Madness Special. Get your widget in time for the Tournament! Free shipping.”
This will relate to your potential customer and draw his attention.
Location, Location, Location!
Just like in real estate, the location of your ads is vital to success. There are two ways to target your ads in the Google Display Network:
- Keywords - Similar to search, but you need to think more about the content your ad will appear next to. For our sports guy, you’ll want to choose keywords like “college basketball,” “March Madness” or “bracketology.” These words don’t describe your product at all, but content talking about these keywords is where you want your ads to show up.
- Placements - These come in two flavors: automatic and managed. Automatic refers to the sites that Google feels are relevant. Managed placements are specific URLs you choose, like a specific forum or blog (running AdSense, of course) that you know potential customers read.
In a Nutshell
Black holes seem scary, but physicists theorize that if you properly harness the power of a black hole, you can travel into the future. The Display Network is similarly scary, but potentially powerful. To succeed you need a different approach than regular search. You need to distract the user so they’ll pay attention to your ad, and you need to put your ad on pages that attract potential customers. Do this and you may find a very attractive future ahead of you.