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Most users of AdWords – Account Managers or your in-house PPC person/team – will not only manage search and shopping ads but also Google Display Network (GDN) ads.

In a world of large and complex accounts, it’s a seductively easy approach to simply reuse search ads for the text versions of GDN ads (you can use banners as well but you always need text ads for sites that don’t use banners). But, much like it’s easy to save money by buying a $1 ticket for a Megabus rather than flying from Chicago to New Orleans, the compromise on performance maybe be more than you should go for.

What’s the difference?

During the time that Internet users are browsing the web, they will come across display ads within the sites they use. While a customer may not be actively searching for your product, they may, if the ad is interesting enough, click to check out your company or, at the very least, may hopefully remember your brand after seeing your ad and act on this awareness when they are in the market later.

Display ads in text form are also shown within mobile apps – particularly on Android when it comes to GDN – you may have seen them and been suitably annoyed as they get in the way of your gaming enjoyment! This particular forum for ads, however, is better suited to awareness than driving sales.

Display ads can, unlike search ads, be targeted to certain sites, and certain demographics. Both types of ads, however, can target remarketing audiences specifically (prior visitors to your site).

A Search ad, on the other hand, is very much an answer to an inquiry. So the user is not only expecting to see a relevant ad but is wanting to act on a relevant and compelling result (ad) from the moment they type in their search. Also, search ads are incentivized by Google to include the keyword that has been bid on within the ad copy, and so this can affect how its creative is structured.

In addition, a search ad can have numerous “ad extensions”, which give you much more scope to further your messaging and provide a variety of ways for a user to engage with your ad (call, view a review, click on a deep sitelink etc.) than is possible with a display ad.

Dos and Don’ts


#1 …just copy text wholesale from your search ads to GDN campaigns.

#2 …have only one text ad per ad group – you should A/B test.

#3 …use the same ad copy across the board.

#4 …be overly pushy on telling users to “buy now” unless there is a limited time sale.

#5 …worry about the quality score – there isn’t one!

#6 …target the whole web and hope for the best – for sales, often best to exclude mobile apps and use many of the possible exclusions available in AdWords – also consider using negative keywords so you won’t show on a page mentioning content you don’t want to show with.


#1 …include special offers, sales, or discount prices.

#2 …write headlines designed to catch the eye – “quirky” text or something to initially grab attention before explaining your offering in the description part.

#3 …include a call-to-action – should be explicit and can be softer than “buy now” like “learn more”.

#4…review your ads’ Relative CTR (this is a useful competitive metric and the higher this is, the lower your CPC (Cost per Click) should be).

#5 …customise your message to the audience – geographically, demographically and their known behaviour on the site (customers or not yet customers, what product they last looked at and so on).

#6 …customise the message to the site you are targeting – if targeting a certain site in a campaign.

Hopefully, this will give you pointers to refresh and grow your GDN campaigns efficiently.
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24 May 2016