Over the past year, I’ve reviewed dozens of Google AdWords campaigns. And in the process, I’ve noticed people making the same mistakes over and over again. In today’s article, I want to highlight one VERY common AdWords mistake that can cost you a ton of money if you’re not careful…

When you think about Google AdWords, then you probably think about the ads shown in the image below.

Those are ads on the Google AdWords Search Network. The benefits of advertising on the Search Network are the same as ranking naturally using search engine optimization (SEO).  You can show your business information at the precise moment your prospects are searching for your product or service.

But did you know the Search Network is only HALF of Google AdWords?

The other half is the Display Network.

And this leads us to the common mistake many advertisers make…

If you’re already advertising in the AdWords Search network, then it’s possible you’re ALSO advertising on the Display Network — without even realizing it.

How is this possible? Well, the truth is, Google is a little tricky with new advertisers and by default they opt you into BOTH networks.  So unless you (or your ad management company) explicitly opted out of the Display Network, then you’re unknowingly advertising outside of Google Search!

And if you’re advertising on the Display Network by accident, you’re probably draining your budget — big time.

Now, don’t get me wrong — the Display Network is NOT a bad thing at all… It’s actually a great opportunity. But it’s very important to make sure you’re actually using the Display Network on purpose, rather than by accident!

The Display Network includes millions of websites that allow advertisers to place text, banner, Flash, and video ads on their pages.  And according to DoubleClick Ad Planner, the Display Network reaches over 83% of the unique internet users around the world!  So, the Display Network is a huge opportunity to reach your target customers.

But you need to treat Display differently than Search…

Instead of showing ads to prospects searching in Google.com, you can show ads to prospects surfing on other websites.  That may seem like an insignificant difference (searching vs. surfing) since both actions are taking place online.  But it’s not the action that’s important, it’s the mindset of the prospect.

On the Search Network, your prospect is requesting information, so your ad is perceived as a helpful piece of research.  On the Display Network, your prospect is reading, listening, or watching a video on a webpage, so your ad is always an interruption.  No matter how relevant your ad is to the content on the webpage, your ad is interrupting your prospect’s behavior.  And that’s why it’s almost impossible to optimize a campaign on both Search and Display using the same ads.

Want to get started with Google’s Display Network?

Here are the steps I recommend you take…

3 Steps to Get Started with Google Display

First, if you’re already advertising in AdWords, then go to your Settings tab and check to see if your ads are targeting BOTH Search and Display.  If they are, then switch your campaign Settings to Search Network ONLY.  That will ensure your ads are only displayed for prospects searching in Google and Google’s partner search engines.

Second, if you want to test the Display Network, then set up a completely new campaign with the targeting set to Display Network only.  This new campaign will only display ads on Google’s Display Network websites.  So remember, you’re ads will be interrupting your prospects in this campaign.

Finally, the third step is to put yourself in your prospects shoes in order to create the most compelling ads and landing pages.  For the Search campaign, your prospect is requesting information about your products or services.  Use that information to your advantage to improve your offer.  For the Display campaign, your prospect is NOT directly requesting information.  Again, use that information and don’t assume the same ad that works well on Search will attract your prospect on the Display Network.  Typically you’ll need to create two completely different campaigns in order to take full advantage of both AdWords Search and Display.