Should Your Small Business Use AdWords Display Ads?

adwords display ads3

Recently, Google announced a new flavor of campaign called “Search Network with Display Select.” This new campaign type is a slight modification of the old “Search & Display Networks” campaign type.

Here is Google’s pitch:

“Search Network with Display Select uses improved signals and methods of predicting when and where your ads are likely to perform best, and sets a higher bar for when to show them.

That means your ads are more likely to be shown to a smaller number of prospective customers, who are more likely to be interested in your offerings.

Compared to the old campaign type, initial tests show that advertisers, on average, could see a 35% higher click-through-rate, and a 35% lower cost-per-customer purchase on the display portion of their Search Network with Display Select campaigns.”

use adwords display ads

In summary, it seems to me that they’re being slightly more selective with the display network placements and the timing. But I don’t see a huge difference. That, of course, elicits the usual question. . .

Should You Use AdWords Display Ads?

My short answer is yes, small businesses should use the Google Display Network (GDN). But with a couple important caveats:

  • Conversion tracking is set up & working properly.
  • You know the value of a conversion to your business.

I’ve written about the GDN or PPC “black hole” as I called it, before. My opinion is the same – you’ve got to control it.

Controlling the Google Display Network

First, you need to remember that targeting on the display network is very different from search. For display advertising, Google is looking for websites/pages that are contextually relevant to your keywords and then deciding to place ads.

Therefore, display campaigns need far fewer keywords and they can be much more broad than search campaigns.

Second, your ads need to stand out much more because you’re trying to steal someone’s attention from the blog post they’re reading or the image they’re looking at. That is a much different proposition than search ads, where you know what they’re looking for and can include their exact search query in your ad copy.

Lastly, Google will always put your ads on domains that you don’t like. You need to regularly review your placement reports and exclude poor websites so your ads stop showing there.

Final Verdict

Don’t use the new “Search Network with Display Select” campaign type (pictured above). Use separate campaigns for search and display so you can control and optimize each area in an appropriate manner.

You can get great results from the GDN, but only if you set it up right, measure, optimize and improve.

Images: Google


Robert Brady Robert Brady is Senior Manager: Software, SMB, Strategy at Clix Marketing, a Google AdWord Certified Partner. Robert helps small business owners and large companies just getting started with Pay-Per-Click (PPC) get better results from their PPC advertising.

5 Reactions
  1. This is actually a good idea if it will expose your ad to the right people. It is better to get your ad displayed to the right people than for it to be shown in places where you don’t need it. I have not really used the display feature. Let’s see how this goes.

  2. I’m in! I think this idea is revolutionary and it could change the face of small business forever. I’m getting in on it early with a couple of my sites to give it a try and see what kind of results I can get.

  3. I would also stay away from this: this is one of the features that takes away control from the end user and gives it to Google. Most people want to show up when someone searches for them (search network) and they will pay more for this traffic.

    Now Google is saying its Search network but… let us also choose when to show you on the display network and this will increase your exposure. Adwords is complicated enough and not all their features are home-runs.

    If you want to target the display network then bid low and then bid to ROI. If you want to get more aggressive then use Remarketing. At this time I wouldn’t mix apples and oranges.