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The Formula for Display Network Success for Small Businesses

Claudio Dominguez

9 years ago



The Google Display Network is a great way to increase the reach of our marketing. By using it to advertise your business, you will get access to the myriad of websites that are a part of it and consequently reach the users browsing through them.

These websites include a lot of premium content publishers such as The New York Times, CNN,, etc. and Google’s big sites like Youtube, Gmail, Blogger, and so on. The combined reach that all these sites have is at your fingertips when you use Display.

Always Consider Running Display And Search

Running a Search campaign will allow you to target users that are actively searching for your product or service. That has been the age-old benefit of Google AdWords.

The Display Network is different in the way that users might be interested in what you’re offering, but they might not be in a mindset where they are actively looking for your product/service. The Display Network enables you to place your ads in front of an audience that is currently browsing certain parts of the web. The big value from the Display Network is that you can target the exact parts of the web that you believe your potential customers will be visiting.

For example, if you sell tools, then you can target handyman and other DIY websites or articles. The Display Network puts you in front of potentially relevant buyers, but you typically need to work harder for the sale than you need to with regular search campaigns.

What Targeting Should You Use And Why?

Keyword Targeting: Match Your Keywords With Relevant Content

Contextual targeting is where Google uses the keywords that you have in your Display campaign to match the content of websites that are part of the Display Network. When both your keywords and the content of a site match, Google will place your ads. This is a broader type of targeting and it will lead to a high amount of impressions and clicks.

You will still need to define your keyword themes and divide them by using Ad Groups. So if you have a footwear store, you shouldn’t put all keywords for all products in one ad group. Instead, you want to divide those pertaining to shoes in its ad group, sandals in another, boots in a different one, sneakers on its own, and so on.

Coming up with the right keywords is not that hard. You can implement the same strategies that you would use for a regular Search Campaign. There are no match types in Display, so don’t bother thinking of these, all your keywords will run in Broad Match.

Topic Targeting: Choose Topics Based on the Categories Google Has to Offer

You can pick a topic as broad as Air Travel, or a sub-category as specific as Airport Parking and Transportation. Selecting the right categories and sub-categories is extremely important for your ads to show on the right websites.

First of all, you will need to become familiar with the different topics available. You should aim to find the right balance between a specific topic and one that manages to get you the right amount of impressions in the long run.

Pro tip: Use The Display Planner as it allows you to use your website or some terms that you know are relevant to your business to find placement and topic ideas. I have seen advertisers use this tool mostly to find placements (websites) where they can show their ads, but it can very well be used to find the right topics that you want to target. It will even give information in terms of user reach.

Recommended Display Network Targeting: Combine Topic and Keyword Targeting

My recommendation is to combine the best of both worlds and implement Topics alongside Keywords. By doing so, you will ensure a wide reach, but without going so broad that you will end up showing on websites that are not at all relevant to what you are offering.

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By picking the right topic(s) and narrowing down the websites where you will show with the right set of keywords, your ad will be able to appear next to content that completely matches the intent of your products or services.

What you’ll be doing is capturing those placements that are in a sweet spot where you will have sufficient reach with guaranteed relevance.

Other Targeting Methods to Consider

Placements Help You Handpick Where to Show Your Ads

Using managed placements means that you will have to handpick the websites where you want to show your ads. I don’t recommend you start off with this targeting method since it’s a very time-consuming task.

You can use the Display Planner to generate possible placements, but it will require too much of your time to go through all the possible websites you could advertise to make sure you choose the right one.

Remarketing Can Help Bring Visitors Back

Remarketing can bring users that decided to leave your website back for more, in essence, this is great as you get a second chance to convince them that you are what they were looking for.

Remarketing has been known to increase conversion rates substantially, and we recommend it. However to cover it fully we would need a whole other post, and consequently, it requires more time to master for a beginner.

Don’t worry though, if you are looking to tackle it, we have covered it extensively in other posts like The Beginner’s Guide to Remarketing and a post on how to Supercharge Your Existing Campaigns With Remarketing.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Display Network

And that’s about all you need to know to begin your Display Network efforts. In case you are still hesitant, here are a few key takeaways from this post:

  • Use a limited budget to just test things out. You can start with anything between 20% to 50% of your current AdWords budget, this will be just a small increase that shouldn’t throw your numbers out of balance.

  • Use an end date to the campaign so that you can test everything is a set timeframe. This way there won’t be any human errors of “not remembering to check the campaign” or anything of the sort.

  • Start with a combined approach of keywords with topics. Use a small number of ad groups with not too many keywords and a few carefully picked topics to start this test.