So you’re interested in the world of Google Advertising. But questions crowd your mind. Will my ads show up on Google itself or on other websites? What types of ads would be most useful for my business? Should I use image ads or text ads?
Happily, the answers are very simple. And they are all related to one fundamental AdWords distinction: the difference between display and search advertising. The world of Google Advertising has just two continents: one continent is Display and the other is Search. Each continent has entirely different species of ads that look very different.
Display advertising are the lovely and friendly creatures that roam the continent. They are the image, animated, and text ads that you see on various websites across the internet. And they also are the video ads you see sometimes playing before or during content on YouTube.
So what is the purpose of the Display Network? Display ads generally reach people earlier in the sales funnel, before they are actually searching for that particular product or service. Thus, these ads are seeking to build awareness, create branding, and stay on the top of people’s minds.
The Display Network’s biggest strength is that you can target specific audiences, demographics, websites, and topics to find the people who would most likely be interested in your service or product. Then later when they are deeper down in the sales funnel and ready to purchase, they will be more likely to search for or recognize your business when they’re searching Google for a product or service.
For example, suppose you own a business that offers guided hiking trips through the Colorado Rockies. You could create display ads to only show up only on webpages geared towards Colorado tourism, hiking and outdoor sports, hiking gear, or national parks.
You can also choose specific websites you want to show up on, called “placements”, say a website about things to do in Colorado.
Not only that, but you can target particular demographics & locations. Say you own a female clothing boutique in New York City for women aged 16-35. You could target females of a similar age range in New York City so that your ads only show up to female users in the desired age range and in that location.
Another targeting method is remarketing. This is when a user visits your website without making a purchase. Then when they are browsing other sites, they see an ad for your website. You can remind the remarketing audience of the products they viewed on your site, and encourage them to go back and finish their purchase.
These targeting methods are only the tip of the iceberg of various ways you can reach your specific audience and maximize the likelihood of finding customers. By tailoring your ads to a specific audience, you maximize relevance. And relevant ads are always more likely to be clicked on and bring in quality traffic.
Search Advertising, on the other hand, includes ads of much less flashy plumage. They are bit shyer as well – they only show themselves when you go looking for them. These are ads that ONLY include text, and they do not show up on sidebars of websites. Rather, these ads only show up in Google’s search results when someone searches for a product or service in Google. They are the first few results on the list of search results, above the organic search results.
The strengths of Search Network include a strong focus on people searching for an immediate service. Unlike a television commercial or radio ad, which is unwanted and unlooked for, an ad on the Google Search Network only shows up if its content matches what the user searched for and wants. This greatly increases the likelihood of getting clicks and conversions, a.k.a. valuable actions on your website.
One of the search network’s strengths is that traditional, local, small businesses with 9-5 hours often thrive. Because they often offer services that respond to immediate needs, they are able to target their Search ads to only show up during business hours, maximizing the likelihood of getting those valuable clicks.
For example, when someone’s air conditioning breaks, most people immediately take to Google and search for someone who can immediately fix their problem. So ads on the Search network are immediately meeting a need. Thus, they are often more likely to get a click, because if it’s my air conditioning, gosh darn it, you’d better bet I won’t stop searching for a business until it’s fixed that day.
Just like on the Display Network, advertisers have many targeting options on the Search Network. For instance, you can limit your ads to only show in a particular geographical area. You can also block your ads from showing up on searches that are not relevant to your business.
How The Search And Display Networks Work Together
When I invite a bunch of friends over for a pizza party, I need to find local pizza that delivers. So I take to Google to find a good local pizza place. Among a mix of several ads at the top of the search results, I notice that one of the results is the same business as the pizza video ad I saw on YouTube while I was studying last night that made me laugh. Excited, I click on the Search Network ad and soon pizza is purchased and delivered. I have pizza, the pizza company has a new customer, and everyone is happy.
Another example: say a guy searches “engagement rings” and browses several jewelry websites for an hour, including yours. The next day, as he browses ESPN, he is surprised to see a display ad for your company in an article about his favorite baseball team and a picture of the ring he particularly liked. He can’t remember the names of the other sites he browsed but he now remembers yours, making a purchase more likely.
Which Do You Pick?
Which advertising network you choose depends entirely on the needs and goals of your business. When you set up your Adwords account, you will be prompted to choose which network you want to advertise on: Search, Display, or a hybrid of both – Search with Display Select.
Your choice all depends on what you need. And you can set up different campaigns for different parts of your business. Some businesses need greater awareness, other want to drive clicks and conversions from search traffic, and still others need both. What’s important is that Google has multiple advertising options to ensure that your campaigns become a success.