Brad Geddes / PPC Geek
Official Google Ads Seminar Leader.
Author of Advanced Google AdWords.
Co-Founder, Adalysis.
(703) 828-5811‬
Brad Geddes's Theories on Marketing Expand Your Marketing Reach with the Google Display Network

Expand Your Marketing Reach with the Google Display Network

Google’s display network is vastly larger than search. Search inherently works, and it’s the place every new advertiser should start. However, after a while you might not be able to expand how much traffic you receive from search. When this happens, it’s time to turn to the Google Display Network.

The display network works much differently than search. With search, someone has to type in a search query in order to see results. With display advertising, there is no search involved. The ads are shows based around keyword themes, topics, user interests, or even based upon previous user behavior on your own site.

Overall, people spend less than 5% of their online time with search results. The majority of the other 95% of time online is spent interacting with content sites. This is where the display network is typically shown. If you are reading an article on the New York Times, looking up a recipe on The Food Network, checking the weather at AccuWeather, or watching videos on YouTube, you are in the display network.

There are several display networks, among them; Google is one of the largest with an amazing reach:

  • 80% Internet User Reach
  • 4.3 Billion Daily Page Views
  • 1 Billion Monthly Visitors
  • Over 1 Million sites

There are several ways you can use the display network, and today we’ll examine the most common methods of targeting within the display network.

Display Keyword Targeting

With the display network, your keywords act much differently than search. In search, you can define exactly how your ads are triggered with a combination of match types and negative keywords. With display, each word does not matter. Google examines your keywords as a whole and determines your theme for an ad group. When a page in the display network matches your theme, then your ad can be displayed. This is the most common method for using Google’s Display Network, but it’s not the best method to start with as you are limited in control over where your ads are shown until you learn all the control mechanisms available.

Managed Placement Targeting

Managed placements are the best place for new advertisers to start when they are first using the display network. With managed placements, you can pick the sites where your ads will appear. There is no guesswork involved in picking keywords and trying to match them with themes.

It is called placement targeting and not site targeting for a reason. Your level of control often extends beyond the site to picking the exact ad slot where your ad will be placed. For instance, you do not have to choose all of the New York Times, you can choose the New York Times business section bottom left ad slot.

However, for large sites, such as the New York Times, the business section has a significant amount of daily visitors. Often your ad will not be appropriate for every page. Therefore, with the display network you can combine managed placements and keyword to create enhanced campaigns.

Enhanced Placement Targeting

With enhanced placements you can define both keywords and placements for your ads. This gives you an unprecedented level of control over your ad serving.

For instance, the New York Times business section is quite large, but it does have excellent inventory so it might be a place you wish to advertise. However, your main goal is to just reach consumers interested in buying stocks, not the general populace who is reading non-stock articles. Therefore, you can tell AdWords to only show your ads to consumers who are in the New York Times business section and the article is about stocks.

The more controls you add to your ad serving, the fewer impressions your ads will receive as fewer people will match all of your criteria. If you want more general reach, you can use topic or interest targeting.

Topic & Interest Targeting

Topic and interest targeting have the largest possible reach across Google’s display network. With these two targeting options, you can pick a user interest or site topic and have that as the only ad serving criteria. This allows for a large reach, but a less targeted one.

Reach versus targeting is one of your first considerations when creating display campaigns. With AdWords you are not limited to one choice. You can make one campaign with a very broad topic reach to display your ads all over the web to increase the awareness of your site, and a second very targeted campaign to increase the numbers of sales to your site – just make sure you are tracking sales.

Very few consumers buy upon their first visit to a site. It is common to see several visits before a conversion occurs. To make sure you are showing ads to those who have previously visited your website, you can use remarketing to show your ads across the display network.


Remarketing is a unique targeting type as you are not targeting keywords or user interest; you are targeting those who were previously on your site. This is a fantastic way of reminding consumers about your product, or even to offer specials only for those who did not convert on your website.

The way remarketing works is that you can put a code on your site, or even a single page. When someone visits that page, a cookie is placed on their browser. Then in AdWords you will define ads for those users. Now, when that visit is somewhere else on the web; you can show an ad to that person.

As with all the display options, you can be very complex with remarketing. You can show a different ad for each product, for those who converted versus did not convert, or even just to those who abandoned your shopping cart. As with keywords, you can have both positive and negative remarketing lists.

All Your Campaign Settings Apply

When you create a campaign in AdWords, you can define your geographic reach, time of day when you want ads to be displayed, budgets, and more. All of these settings apply to display campaigns. Therefore, it is possible to only show an ad to someone who meets these criteria:

  • In on the New York Times
  • In the business section
  • When the article is about stock brokers
  • The user is currently in Los Angeles
  • Using an iPad
  • On a Monday morning
  • Between 6am- 8am

When you define this many different criteria, your ads will rarely be displayed due to how few consumers will meet that scenario. Choosing just a few criteria can help you narrow down where your ads are shown from 4.3 billion page views across the display network to just your target market.

Ad Formats

With search, you are limited to just text ads. That is not true with the display network.

The display network supports image, video, rich media, and yet more ad formats. A picture is worth a thousand words. A text ad can only be 120 characters. When you want to explain your business in a visual or interactive format, the display network can give you those options.


Every new advertiser should start with search. Search fundamentally works and most companies find success with search marketing. With display, it can be more complex in choosing your audience, websites, and defining all of the criteria necessary to ensure that you are finding new customers from display.

However, the display network is so large that it should not be ignored. Once you feel comfortable with search, then try display. If you are new to display advertising, then start with just managed placements.  If you have a long buying cycle, then test out remarketing ads.

The display network can help your business expand your advertising reach significantly. Just make sure to first list your goals, and then pick the display advertising method that will help you reach those goals and grow your business.

No Comments

  1. Gemz
    July 10, 2012 at 9:43 am · Reply

    An excellent analysis as usual, thankyou.

    One point of note is that if you use negative keywords in the display network, a different rule applies than in Adwords. A negative keyword in Display means that if the ARTICLE has one of those negatives, your ad. will not show.

    Negatives should be used sparingly. You have been warned!!

  2. Adrian Bold
    July 11, 2012 at 12:34 am · Reply

    Excellent summary, Brad.

    It’s great to see the way Google are listening to feedback and constantly improving the display network.

  3. zanderjones
    July 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm · Reply

    Just what I needed, Brad – launching campaigns in display this week!

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