On Monday I listed 5 reasons to love Google AdWords Display advertising.  If you’re not sure display (aka banner) advertising is right for your business, then go read that article first.  In it I explain how Google has made some major improvements in their advertising platform that make display advertising both easier and more effective than ever before.

However, there is one big hurdle if you’re considering creating a display ad campaign.  How do you find the best websites to advertise on?  There are over 2 million websites in the Google Display network so how in the world do you narrow down that list so that your ads are only displayed to prospects most likely to buy your product or service?

Don’t worry, in this article I’ll give you 3 tactics you can use to ensure your display campaign is set up to target the best websites.


#1: Placement Research

Google Adwords Display Planner

With display advertising, the term “placement” means the exact webpage where your ads will be displayed.  For example, let’s say you wanted to target people researching their options for a “Wine and Painting class” near Kansas City because you offer those classes.  In this case, one placement to consider is this particular page on About.com: http://kansascity.about.com/od/thearts/fl/Wine-and-Painting-Classes-in-the-Kansas-City-Metro.htm.

Note that targeting About.com is not a good idea because the entire website is not relevant.  So when you’re doing placement research remember that you’re looking for individual pages, not necessarily entire websites, to target.

Luckily, Google provides a free tool, called the Display Planner, to help you with this research.  Simply log into your AdWords account, click on Tools in the top navigation and then click Display Planner to use the tool.

Next, add in some relevant keywords that describe types of webpages you would like to target with your ads.  In my example, I typed in “wine and painting class” and Google found 257 relevant websites.  Not all the websites that Google finds will be appropriate so it’s important to review each one in detail instead of blindly targeting all 257.

As you’ll see, the Display Planner is a good place to start your research, but unfortunately it’s not all inclusive.  That’s why I recommend you also use the next two tactics as well.


#2: Competitor Research

Do you ever wonder where your competitors are advertising?  If you knew certain placements were working for a competitor, then chances are good that you could use a similar ad to drive more leads and sales for your business.

Some of your competitors may have already done the hard work and invested their test budgets to find the top placements.  Why not leverage that data to give your campaign the best chance for success?

There are a few tools available that allow you to spy on your competitors, WhatRunsWhere and AdBeat, but unfortunately they are not cheap.  WhatRunsWhere offers a dollar trial so if you’re just getting started I recommend you sign up for a buck and see if you’re able to uncover some placements your competitors are using.


#3: Campaign Performance Review


The 3rd tactic to find the best placements is to use your own campaign performance data.  Of the 3 tactics described in this article, this one is by far the best because it’s based on real historical performance.

As mentioned above, the Google Display network includes over 2 million websites so it’s just not realistic to think you’ll be able to find all the best placements by doing research alone.  Instead, I recommend using Google’s targeting options like keywords, interests, topics, and remarketing audiences to allow Google to find relevant placements in their network.  Then over time, you’ll be able to see exactly which placements perform the best.

To find the exact placements, you’ll need to run a placement report, which is a bit buried in Google’s interface.  Go to the Display Network tab in your campaign, then click on the Placements button underneath the Display Network tab.  By default the report will display domains, not individual placements!

To see the exact placement you need to take one more step.  Click on the See details button above the table of data and select “All.”  Finally, you’ll see the exact placements, along with their performance over the date range you select.  Use this report to isolate your top performing placements and to block any poor performing or irrelevant placements.


Want More Help With Your Display Campaigns?

On Thursday, November 19th at noon Eastern time, I’m presenting a NEW Google AdWords training called “Introduction to Google AdWords Display Advertising.”

When you attend, you’ll discover how to profitably advertise your business on the Display Network. And I’ll stay on the line to answer all of your questions.

Click here to learn more and register