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In an environment that is increasingly mobile-first, being present with your message to the right person at the right time as they use their mobile devices is extremely important. This includes ensuring that your GDN (Google Display Network) ads on mobile display where and when you would like for your marketing aims.

While GDN ads can be a great addition to your digital advertising campaign, they need to be carefully managed to avoid burning through budget and undermining your ROI.


The Good:

Google is introducing Responsive Display Ads, which will be able to change their dimensions and appearance in order to fit into any ad space available. It is, in part, Google’s first entry to the Native ads space but also means that your text ads may deliver in more websites on mobile devices.

Additionally, you now target mobile users demographically. This extra layer of targeting that Search Ads on AdWords are only now starting to introduce gives you a valuable extra lever to pull.

If you have an app, you can also advertise App Install ads on the GDN. This is a great way to get front and centre of retail shoppers on other apps or on a retail-related site (or a site that appeals to user in your market) and publicize your app beyond the marketplaces. You only pay for installs so fraud is relatively low compared your average display ad.

To get the maximum value of out the GDN, you will want to utilize all the ad types that make sense to you: keyword (contextual) targeting, placement targeting, remarketing, Customer Match and dynamic remarketing.

The latter 2 options represent the tightest targeting options and the rest can be very tight or be essentially as broad as you like.

Another interesting development rolling out over the next few months is that remarketing ads will have full access to the entire DoubleClick universe of ad exchanges and networks, which will give your GDN remarketing much greater reach to nearly all of the internet.


The Bad:

There are many options within the GDN that, by default are turned on and will almost certainly lose you money, so you need to be aware of them. By default your ads will delivery on:

  • Adult/violent/crude sites.
  • Parked domains (dormant and otherwise empty website domains that are normally only seen by the average user when they mistype a proper website URL).
  • Error Pages (404 pages etc.).
  • Forums – who know’s what is on them.
  • Social Networks.
  • In-Game ads.

It’s extremely likely you will not want to be here so do consider excluding them.

Also, your ads will deliver below the fold, and may never be seen, which you can opt out of. However, this may only be necessary if you are not paying per click or if you have a tight budget and don’t want the Impression Share of visible impressions to be affected by lots of below-the-fold impressions.


The Ugly:

GDN ads can and will be able to do a lot of good for digital advertising on mobile, but it’s important to avoid the places where they won’t. For example, banner ads in apps are generally avoided by account managers because of fraud or low-quality placements. One source for the poor traffic on in-app ads is that many apps run on Android, but Android is an open source platform, meaning people can use bots to record fake clicks to raise money. Generally, it’s best to avoid standard GDN advertising in apps by following this step.



The GDN is getting larger in scale and increasing in complexity all the time. This represents both an opportunity but also a challenge – mistakes will cost more than they did but you have more ways to effectively drive sales and complement your other marketing through the GDN than ever before.

If you would like to hear more about the benefits and challenges associated with GDN ads, tweet at us @ESV_Digital_UK or following us on LinkedIn.


5 August 2016