When you think of Google Ads, then where do you picture the ads?  My guess is you immediately think of the ads on Google.com.  Do a search in Google and you’ll typically see 3-4 ads at the top of the page that look strikingly similar to the organic results, except for the small “Ad” text to the left of the URL.

Did you know those ads are only a fraction of your options with Google Ads? Since its birth in 2000, the Google Ads “universe” has expanded well beyond Google.com to now include additional search engines, shopping sites, and more than a million websites, videos, and apps.

Needless to say, navigating the whole Google Ads ecosystem has become complicated, even for the experts!  That’s why I thought it would be helpful to put together this quick guide to The Google Ads Universe.

We’ll start with the most popular networks first and work our way down through the lesser-known networks that you can use to promote your products and services.

The Search Network

Most people know about the Google Ads Search Network.  As I mentioned above, these are the ads on Google.com.  Plus, if you target the Search Partners, then you’ll also show your ads on Ask.com, AOL.com, Amazon, and other partners of Google.

Generally, this is where I recommend most businesses get started with online advertising.  Every day your prospects are searching for your product or service and the Search network gives you the opportunity to show your offer at exactly the right time and place.  It’s similar to the old Yellow Pages book.  Remember that thing?

When I was growing up, I would dust off the Yellow Pages whenever I needed to find a place to order pizza on the weekend.  Now people turn to Google, but the idea is the same.  Get in front of your prospects when they are looking for you rather than blasting ads into space and praying that your prospect needs what you’re offering at that exact moment.

The Display Network

I’ve reviewed hundreds of Google Ads accounts so I know for a fact that many businesses are not aware of the Display Network.  By default, Google will opt your ads into both the Search and Display networks.  So unless you took the time to change that particular setting, your ads are on the Display Network.  This can come as a nasty surprise when all along you thought your budget was all spent on Google.com!

Now, I’m not saying the Display Network is bad.  I actually love the Display network.  But you need to be aware of some key differences.

For one, your ads are not showing on Google.com.  Your ads are going to be displayed across more than a million blogs, news sites, articles, videos, etc.  Basically, the Display Network allows you to target your ads on any websites that display Google Ads.  About.com is an example of a very large site that you could target.

The second key difference with the Search Network is that on the Display Network you’re targeting prospects who are not necessarily searching for your product or service.  That’s why display advertising is sometimes called “interruption marketing,” because you’re interrupting your prospect as she’s surfing around online.  For that reason, you typically need to use different ads and different landing pages for the Display Network.

The third key difference is that you have the option to use banner ads in addition to the traditional Google Ads text ad.  Banner ads give you more room for compelling copy, design, and even animation to capture more attention.

The Shopping Network

If you’re running an e-commerce business, then you should take a look at Google’s Shopping network.  Do a search in Google for “barefoot running shoes” and you’ll see the shopping results.  (On a side note – did you have any idea there was such a thing as barefoot running shoes? Sounds ridiculous but it’s a very popular trend in the running industry).

Think of the Shopping network as a catalog.  You know your prospect is picking up the catalog to buy.  It’s just a matter of which store.

The same is true for many searches that trigger the Shopping results.  So use your product image, name, and price wisely.  That’s all you get to use for your ads.  There’s no headline or ad description like the traditional Google Ads text ad.

The Video Network

Google purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion way back in 2006. And ever since they’ve been scheming away trying to monetize that behemoth video-sharing site.

Eventually, they struck gold with what they call the TrueView ad format.  If you’ve ever clicked a YouTube video and saw a pre-roll video ad, then you’ve seen what I’m talking about.  TrueView ads are pre-roll videos similar to commercials.

But here’s the key difference from commercials: you only pay for actual views of your ad!  Every ad has a “Skip” button and if the viewer clicks skip, then you (the advertiser) do not pay a penny.  Pretty cool right?

Well, it gets even better.  If your prospect watches a TV commercial, then she has to either pick up the phone to call or load up a browser to go visit your website.  Not super convenient.  With TrueView ads, your prospect can literally click on the video to go visit your website to learn more, make a purchase, complete a form, or get contact information.

The App Network

The final network to discuss is for targeting mobile apps.  This is a good fit for businesses targeting the younger generation while they are on their mobile devices.  Also, if you want to promote your own app, then the App network is a great option.

With that said, for most of our clients, the App network is not a good fit.  But by default, Google will show your ads on the App network if you’re targeting the Display network.  So if you’re advertising on the Display Network, chances are your ads are showing up in the App network without your approval.

If you would like to block the App network in a regular Display campaign, then exclude the placement for “adsenseformobileapps.com.”  That’ll block your ads from showing on the App network.

Where Should You Start?

Again, if you’re just getting started, I recommend you create an ad campaign exclusively on the Search Network.  Steer clear of the other networks until you have a campaign working on Search.  Then expand to the other networks one at a time.

Remember, each network will likely require a different strategy, along with different ads and landing pages.  Don’t try to test them all at once with the same ads!

Need Help With Google Ads?

Click here to request a quote for Google Ads services