A complete guide to advertising with Google AdWords Part 4: Search Network vs Display Network

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Now that we’re done with the basics of Google Adwords, let’s discuss some of its more technical facets. The decision between Search Network and Display Network can prove to be a rather difficult one for internet marketers, so without further ado let’s address this. 

As an internet marketer, what is the worst possible thing you can do while setting up campaigns for your PPC account? Setting up campaigns on search AND Display Network simultaneously. But, why? Why is setting up campaigns on both these networks such a bad idea? Because each of these networks target a different user base and add to that the fact that measuring a combination of both of their metrics can prove to be a rather arduous task, you’ve got yourself a perfect recipe for disaster.  So instead of targeting both the networks simultaneously, opt for one that suits your marketing plan better or setup two campaigns: one for the Search Network and the other for the Display Netwrok. And this is where this post comes in – let’s learn the difference between Search Network and Display Network and decide which one’s better suited to your cause.

Search Network:
Running ads on the Search Network is one of the most common practices in the world of PPC advertising. It basically allows your ad to appear on Google SERP (search engine results page), and if you’re even more ambitious you can opt for the “search partners” option, which will target a group of search engines that include AOL, etc.
Why is it one of the most commonly opted for networks? Because it targets searchers that are actively looking for something.
google adwords, display network, search network
Let’s explain this concept through an example. The searcher in the above screenshot is searching for mechanics in New York. Now, once he enters his query and clicks search, he is presented with both paid advertisements (the ones in green) and organic listings. While the mechanics could have relied on their organic listings, the chances of them getting noticed are more if they’ve opted for paid ads. Why? Because it’s right there, under your nose, waiting to be clicked on. Along with a strategic location, Google also allows you to add a few extra details such as links to different, more targeted pages, phone numbers, addresses; this further encourages searchers to click on your paid ad instead of the vague organic listings. Due to these very active searchers, the Search Network drives a lot more conversions than Display Network.
So when will Search Network work for you? If,

  • You’re restricted to a not-so-huge budget – It is preferable for newbies and business owners with a limited budget to start off their PPC advertising with search campaigns as it’s an easier way of directing conversions.
  • You’re selling ‘urgent’ services or products – If you’re a mechanic, plumber or offer a similar service, then you should opt for search campaigns. This is because your ad needs to be available to the searcher when he needs it.


Display Network:
Google Display Network, or GDN as it is commonly known as, allows advertisers to place their ads on a plethora of websites all across the internet. Google Display Network consists of a variety of websites which include YouTube, news sites, blog sites, etc. Google Display Network consists of over 2 million websites which are displayed to over 90% internet users across the globe, according to Google. It’s more suited to advertisers who are looking to increase their brand exposure and online presence. While this may seem like a pretty awesome benefit of GDN, you need to remember that users that are being targeted by this campaign type are not actively looking for something. They’re going about their business, and in order for your ad to reel those users in, it needs to be pretty enticing and powerful. That alone is one of the biggest problems that advertisers using the GDN face. Nonetheless, it is a pretty powerful way of getting your business’s name out there, if you can come up with a creative enough concept.
So when will Google Display Network work for you? If,

  • You have a product that instantly appeals to people – Since the main problem that advertisers face while using GDN is not being able to entice users, if you have a product that in itself is very appealing and would instantly reel users in then Google Display Network is your wingman.
  • You want to broaden your horizons and reach maximum people – Like I mentioned before, one of the easiest ways of getting your brand out there is by getting it on maximum sites. And who does this better than Google Display Network? Yup, you guessed it right – no one.


How to find out where Google is showing your ads?
Once you’ve got your ad up and running, the next step is figuring out where Google has been displaying your ads – that is your ad position. There are 3 ways of finding out.

  • Using the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool (http://adwords.google.com/d/AdPreview/?__u=1000000000&__c=1000000000)

google adwords, display network, search network

You can easily find out the position of your ads through this tool without incurring Google’s wrath by accumulating impressions.

  • Checking the statistics table in your accounts tab

The statistics table in the accounts tab has an average position column which allows you to find out the position of your ad.

  • Using Google.com to check position

Using Google.com to check your ad position may be tempting, but it has serious repercussions. It can lower your click-through rate, as you’ll be collecting impressions without clicking on it.  So try to avoid using Google.com to find out your ad position.

How to check which websites have been displaying your ads?

In order to see a list of websites where your ad is being displayed, go to the “Display Network” tab and click “Placements”. This tab will show you a list of websites that have received clicks and impressions. However, sometimes your ad may not appear instantly, so you need to show a bit of patience and refresh the page multiple times until an example of your ad is displayed.
Managed placements will show you the ad position on websites which you targeted specifically.  Automatic placements will show you ad positions on websites based on other targeting methods. In order to check the URLs of those websites, click the “See Details” option.


Measuring ad performance on your chosen campaign type:
Now the next step is determining your ad’s performance on your selected campaign type.

  • Visit Google Adwords, and sign in to your Adwords account.
  • Click on the Campaigns tab to select your elected campaign type.
  • In order to check the ad performance, click Ads tab. It will display the performance statistics for your ads.


In order to identify which targeting methods are getting the best results, click any of the sub-tabs under the Display Network tab. It will help you determine which targeting methods are reaping the most reward and displaying your ads on the best possible placements.

Preventing ads from being displayed on sites that do not convert:
The last thing you need is having your ads on web pages that do not convert. Why waste so many of your hard-earned dollars on web pages that are not converting and bringing in leads?
So, what are some of the most effective ways of preventing your ads from being displayed on non-converting sites?

  • Contextual Targeting – Google matches web pages with content that matches the keywords that you want to target.
  • Remove targeting methods from your Display Network tab that are not converting.
  • Use ‘Add Adgroup Exclusion’ or ‘Add Campaign Exclusion’ – under the Display tab – to exclude pages that aren’t converting.
  • Add negative keywords to your campaign. You can do so by adding certain terms as negative keywords if your campaign type is "Search Network only," "Search Network with Display Select," and "Search & Display Networks", or you can use the keyword exclusion option if you’ve selected the “Display Network Only” campaign type. This will ensure that your ad is only displayed to people who are searching for those keywords or terms, and thus will possibly convert.


Automatic placements:
There are several different types of GDN targeting. One of them is ‘Automatic Placements’. So what exactly is Automatic Placements? Automatic placement is when you leave your ads in Google’s capable hands; you’re basically allowing Google to decide where your ad should be displayed. In order to retain some kind of control while opting for Automatic placements, you should use contextual targeting. Contextual targeting allows you to narrow down where you want your ad to be displayed. All you need to do is choose a theme (add keywords andor topics to your ad groups), which Google will then try to match with the content available on a web page. Keyword targeting can easily be done on a low budget, but topic targeting requires a larger budget to work with.


So add up all this information to your Adwords arsenal, and start making conversions.

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