Are you curious about what the Google Display Network is and how it works?

Let me explain with a quick analogy…

Say you’re thinking about buying a new car. You search Google to find the year’s top-rated models, and you read a few reviews from reputable auto publicans. Suddenly, whether you’re on YouTube or your favorite news site, ads for new cars start popping up everywhere. Normally, you might ignore these ads, but now they’re super relevant to your needs. These automotive brands may creep into your mind – even if you don’t click, they’ve done their jobs.

Google Display Network

Welcome to the Google Adwords Display Network. The Display Network is a vast collection of sites that includes roughly 94 percent of websites in the United States. Google properties such as YouTube, Gmail and Google Finance are part of the Display Network, as are unaffiliated sites, blogs and mobile apps. While advertising on Google’s Search Network is based primarily on targeting people’s search queries, advertising on the Display Network is more about targeting people’s interests and needs. You’ll connect with potential customers where they go online to chat, shop, be entertained or get informed.

Types of Ads on the Display Network

Advertising on the Display Network allows for more than just simple text ads – although those haven’t gone anywhere. That said, the more visual types of display ads allow business owners to communicate messages with consumers and really build their brands. A text-based Search Network ad is only really successful when clicked. Meanwhile, the benefits of a well-crafted display ad go beyond driving traffic to your website.

Here’s a rundown of display ads in your arsenal:

Text ads: The simplest of ads; a headline, a destination URL and a couple lines of text.

Image ads: Colorful banner ads are the most popular image ads.

Video ads: A well-crafted video ad can build brand recognition and awareness.

Product listing ads: These text-style ads get right to the point, showing products that are relevant to your customers’ interests.

Dynamic search ads: These text ads populate with content taken straight from your landing pages.

Rich media ads: These ads contain animations or other types of motion.

How to Target Display Network Ad Placements

Ads on the Display Network don’t just appear randomly. Through various targeting options, business owners set the criteria for where their ads are placed. Most of the time, advertisers allow their ads to be shown on all kinds of websites, blogs and apps that appeal to people’s specific interests. However, advertisers can also limit their ad placements to specific online properties. Display Network advertising offers a ton of flexibility and a lot of room to optimize performance going forward.

There are three primary options for targeting Display Network ads: contextual targeting, audience targeting and managed placement targeting. Next, we’ll review the basics of each option.

Contextual Targeting

Contextual targeting is all about matching your ads with relevant content. For example, if you set your display ads to appear on sites with content about cars, then there’s a good chance your placements will be seen by car shoppers and auto enthusiasts.

You have two options for contextual targeting:

Keywords: Similar to Search Network advertising, you designate various words and phrases that are relevant to your business and your landing pages. AdWords analyzes these keywords and finds Display Network websites that appear to be good matches.

Topics: Choose from a large list of predetermined categories that cover the key topics of your business and landing pages. AdWords then places your display ads on sites it has identified as relevant to those topics.

Audience Targeting

This is where display advertising gets more personal. Rather than matching ads with words on a Web page, audience targeting lets you point your ads at specific segments of people. Show your ads to people based on their hobbies, shopping habits or favorite sports teams. Or you can hone in on people based on their ages, genders and other factors. Audience targeting is a powerful tool that can dramatically expand the reach of your business.

Here are the options for this type of targeting:

Audiences: Do you want to market your business to sports fans, outdoor enthusiasts, chefs and other broad groups of people? If so, then selecting affinity audiences will do the trick. Or you can target more narrow audiences – think New York Knicks fans, free climbers and pit barbecue experts – by setting custom affinity audiences. You can also designate in-market audiences to target people who are actively researching goods and services that are relevant to your business.

Interest categories: Set your display ads to appear on websites, blogs and aps that might appeal to the interests of your customers. Designating interest categories can show your ad to people who share those interests regardless of the content on the pages they’re viewing.

Remarketing: Want to reconnect with customers who’ve already visited your website or used your mobile apps? If so, then remarketing is the way to go. This option shows your ads to people who’ve already seen your online properties. There are tremendous benefits to reaching out to potential customers who have already expressed interest in your business. With dynamic remarketing ads, you can tailor these second-pass ads to show goods and services people viewed on your website, or you might recapture a shopper’s attention as she prepares to make a purchase. Remarketing is great for both driving sales and building your brand.

Demographics: Direct your ads toward people of specific ages, genders and parental statuses with demographic targeting. This simple method of audience targeting is helpful when your business clearly accommodates a specific group of people.

Managed Placement Targeting… and YouTube

This method of targeting is used when manually choosing which apps and websites can show your Display Network ads. Most business owners don’t start off by using managed placements. Over time, though, the analytics data from your display ads might indicate that a large portion of your customers tend to frequent certain online properties. You can use this information to set more effective managed placements.

However, there’s one managed placement option that has grown in popularity:

Showing ads on Youtube: This highly useful (and addictive) website is a great place for display ads. All types of display ads can be shown here, and advertisers can choose for their ads to appear on specific categories of videos. Ads on YouTube can connect with consumers on deeply personal levels. However, advertisers must often use campaign exclusions to focus their ads on content with better conversions.

In Conclusion

Advertising on the Google Display Network doesn’t have to be complicated. Business owners can use the same text ads they’d use on the Search Network. While click-through rates on display ads are often lower, the costs per click are often cheaper, which means businesses can still get positive results with little additional effort.

That said, business owners who fully leverage the Display Network can connect with consumers on more personal levels. This may require some market research, or you might need help from graphic artists and marketing experts who can help you craft succinct, remarkable ads. Whether you want to bring visitors to your website or help consumers learn about your brand, a firm grasp of the Google Display Network can help in ways not possible with standard Search Network advertising.

Learn more: Google Ads Search Network vs Display Network – Which Is Right for Your Business?