What is the Google Display Network? and why use it?

You are most likely using Facebook Ads at the moment (or have done in the past) and you might also have have used Google Ads in the past - but what about Google Display Ads?

The Google Display Network is designed to help you find the right audience.

Just like with Facebook, using the Google Display Network, means that you can target people with specific interests, retarget your past website visitors, find people that look like them and you can do this by creating ads that display across websites either in your niche or websites that you know your ideal clients are likely to be browsing.

Google estimates that their display network provides coverage to over 90 percent of all internet users, which is a pretty good reason for you to start thinking about using this platform.

However, it’s not just the reach of the network that makes it so impressive, it’s the ability to segment and target users in a variety of ways that makes the Google Display Network such a potentially lucrative platform for advertisers.


Different Types of Display Adverts

Often people think that the Google Display Network only provides you with the option of displaying image ads. In fact, the Google Display Network allows you to advertise in a variety of formats and sizes with text ads, static and animated image ads, rich media and video ads.

  • Responsive Display Ads— Are a mix of images, text and your logo. They resize to suit the location in which they are place and Google will optimise them to show the best performing ads to improve performance, just like Facebook does. This also reduces the need for you to create multiple versions of image ads that you may have had to do in the past. Responsive ads also look more native to the page and less like ads, potentially aiding conversion.

  • Image Ads — a static image that would fill the entire ad block on the website it appears upon. You can custom your imagery, layouts and background colours on image ads. You can see some examples below. The arrows are pointing to the little icon on the corner of the Ad that lets you know where the ad is coming from.


  • Video Ads — these are becoming more popular since YouTube is included on the Display Network. You can now utilise Google AdWords Display Advertising to place your ads next to YouTube videos.

Display Advert Sizes

There are more than 20 different ad block sizes within the Google Display Network. Each site that signs up to display Google ads (known as Google AdSense) will choose the ad block that fits their website layout best, so if you want your ads to be able to shown on a variety of websites irrelevant of ad block size, then it is best practice in create display ads in different sizes. Using the Responsive Ad format inside the Google Display Network makes this even easier to do.

Advertisers are able to upload both animated and non-animated image ads on the Google Display network as well as HTML5 ads in a wide variety of sizes with the most common being:

  • 250 x 250 - Square.

  • 200 x 200 – Small Square.

  • 468 x 60 – Banner.

  • 728 x 90 – Leaderboard.

  • 300 x 250 – Inline Rectangle.

  • 336 x 280 – Large Rectangle.

  • 120 x 600 – Skyscraper.

  • 160 x 600 – Wide Skyscraper.

Targeting on the Google Display Network

You can target audiences on the display network to narrow your reach to people more likely to be interested in your products or services. This means that you can be both targeting people when they are ready to buy, as well as introducing your brand to people earlier in the buying cycle.

There are several kinds of targeting available to you - where you can target people ( age, location, people who have visited your site, or people in the market for your services) or you can target people based around the content/context of your product or service ( ie people interested in finance services for interest, or women’s clothing)

Placement Targeting

Placement targeting refers to the option of choosing which websites you want to appear on, thus giving you the most control over where you’re going to appear on the Google Display Network. This is effective for targeting a specific demographic, and provides advertisers with an opportunity to look for websites geared towards special interests that closely match their target audience.

So if there are any industry specific websites and forums that you feel are relevant to your business, and that you think people would be likely to visit were they interested in your services, then you should advertise on them.

I would recommend selecting between 5 to 10 key sites that your ideal clients are likely to visit in the area that you are targeting, they don’t necessarily have to be related to the product or service that you are operating in. So think carefully about your ideal customer - ask them what they read online regularly.

Contextual Targeting

This is the most common targeting type, since it utilises the keywords related to the products and services you offer. So prepare a list of 5–20 words or short phrases that are very closely related to the subject of your Ads.

Topic Targeting

Topic targeting allows you to choose from an existing list of page topics, meaning that your ads will only display on pages about that topic.

Some potential areas are listed here


/Business Services


/Business Services/Advertising & Marketing Services


/Business Services/Advertising & Marketing Services/SEO & SEM Services


/Business Services/Business Financial Services


/Business Services/Business Printing & Document Services


/Business Services/Business Technology


/Business Services/Business Technology/Enterprise Software


/Business Services/Business Technology/Enterprise Software/CRM Solutions


/Business Services/Business Technology/Enterprise Software/Collaboration & Conferencing Tools


/Business Services/Business Technology/Enterprise Software/ERP Solutions


/Business Services/Business Technology/Enterprise Software/Helpdesk & Customer Support Solutions


/Business Services/Business Technology/Network Systems & Services


/Business Services/Business Technology/Network Systems & Services/Hosted Data & Cloud Storage


/Business Services/Business Technology/Network Systems & Services/Network & Enterprise Security


/Business Services/Business Technology/Network Systems & Services/Network Equipment & Virtualization


/Business Services/Business Technology/Network Systems & Services/Network Management


/Business Services/Business Technology/Web Services


/Business Services/Business Technology/Web Services/Domain Registration


/Business Services/Business Technology/Web Services/Web Design & Development


/Business Services/Business Technology/Web Services/Web Hosting


/Business Services/Corporate Event Planning


/Business Services/Office Supplies


/Business Services/Office Supplies/Office Furniture


/Business Services/Payment Processing & Merchant Services


/Business Services/Payroll Services


/Business Services/Staffing & Recruitment Services


/Financial Services


/Financial Services/Banking Services


/Financial Services/Banking Services/Debit & Checking Services


/Financial Services/Banking Services/Savings Accounts


/Financial Services/Credit & Lending


/Financial Services/Credit & Lending/Auto Loans


/Financial Services/Credit & Lending/Business Loans


/Financial Services/Credit & Lending/Credit Cards


/Financial Services/Credit & Lending/Credit Reports & Monitoring Services


/Financial Services/Credit & Lending/Mortgage


/Financial Services/Credit & Lending/Mortgage/Home Equity Loans


/Financial Services/Credit & Lending/Mortgage/Home Purchase Loans


/Financial Services/Credit & Lending/Mortgage/Mortgage Refinancing


/Financial Services/Credit & Lending/Personal Loans


/Financial Services/Credit & Lending/Student Loans


/Financial Services/Financial Planning


/Financial Services/Financial Planning/Estate Planning


/Financial Services/Financial Planning/Retirement Planning


/Financial Services/Insurance


/Financial Services/Insurance/Auto Insurance


/Financial Services/Insurance/Health Insurance


/Financial Services/Insurance/Home Insurance


/Financial Services/Insurance/Life Insurance


/Financial Services/Insurance/Travel Insurance


/Financial Services/Investment Services


/Financial Services/Tax Services

Interest Targeting

The list of interest categories available to advertisers is similar to the list of topics, but this targeting method is very different from targeting by topic. Interest targeting permits advertisers to target the user, not the page content, meaning that the user might be looking at anything when your ad appears (provided they’re on a site within the Google Display Network).

Google are able to store cookies on users computers every time they visit a page within their advertising network. These are referred to as DoubleClick cookies. Google won’t save information around who these visitors are, and advertisers won’t be able to view data at a single user level.

However, if people are regularly browsing pages about a specific category (Interest) then they will be added to the list of people who Google deem are ‘interested’ in that category.


Just like with Facebook, remarketing your product and service to past visitors should be your most profitable form of online advertising, as it seeks to connect you with your warmest audiences.

Remarketing allows you to deposit a cookie on the computers of visitors who visit your website pages. Google will then display ads specifically to those people whenever they visit sites on the Google Display Network.

Remarketing targeting ranges from the very basic, meaning you’d be able to show ads to anybody who has visited your site, to much more complex targeting. For example, Google will allow you to target your ads purely to people who have viewed a video on your homepage, or remained on your website for a certain period of time. The more remarketing lists you’re able to set up, the more strategic you can be when targeting your audience using the display network.

You will need to make sure that Google Analytics has been set up correctly and that remarketing is enabled and audiences selected ( all site visitors, visitors to a particular page or pages etc)

Combining Different Targeting Methods

Google AdWords display advertising is most effective when you utilise a combination of targeting methods. If an advertiser applies more than one targeting method to an ad group, their ads will only display to people who match both targeting criteria.

Combining one or more targeting methods will reduce the potential impressions of your ads, but will leave you with extremely well targeted ad groups. If you create enough of these kind of ad groups, you’ll be able to mimic your high traffic ad groups, but with more effective targeting.

For example, you could combine topics and interest targeting. If a user visits a site within the topic an advertiser selects, and they’re in a matching interest category too, then it’s evident that the user consistently reads that material. This combination improves the advertisers chances of getting the right type of visitor compared to either topics or interest categories alone.

Which Business Sectors Should Consider Google AdWords Display Advertising?

All of them!

Google AdWords display advertising can be used to boost paid performance for most businesses. In many industries the search network (traditional Google Adwords) can be so competitive that the display network presents the best opportunity for smaller businesses to gain paid online visibility. Plus, even if people don’t click on your Ads, your business will have significant brand exposure in key demographics, so your branding opportunity is huge.

The average click-through rate (CTR) in Google AdWords across all industries is 1.91% for search and 0.35% for display ads. Although a lower CTR, display ads do have a lower cost — $0.58 cost-per-click (CPC) compared to $2.32.

With the search network, people are actively searching for the goods or services that you are serving them an ad for. For example, the search network would allow a company to target people searching for “digital marketing Melbourne.”

The Display Network is not so aggressive, in the sense that people are casually browsing websites and will be served your ads. This is where the display network usually receives criticism: it’s not as targeted as the search network.

But it is a great branding exercise that you are not actually paying for and with all the targeting options available today the display network is a great option for advertisers who have been priced out of advertising using search ads.

Worth a look?

Have a chat to me about getting started with Google Display Ads