- AdWords - Display Network Only Campaigns
- What are Display Network Only Campaigns?
- Why Use Display Network Only Campaigns?
- Display Campaign Sub-Types
- Ad Types
- Bidding Strategies
- Targeting Options
- Ad Extensions
This guide is an introduction to Display Network Only Campaigns, how they work, what they are used for and the components specific to them. We do not cover any features or components that are used across all campaigns, such as budget, campaign name, etc.
If you would like to know more about components and settings that apply to all campaign types, please read our guide to AdWords Campaigns. Or you may be interested in the following guides relating to all of the other campaign types available:
- YouTube Video
- Universal App
- Search Network with Display Select
Campaigns of this type use Google’s Display Network on which to advertise. The display network is very different to the Search network and consequently the way in which you bid and target users is also very different. Below is an example of the kinds of sites that Display Network ads could appear on:
The Display Network is a collection of over a million websites that allow ads to be displayed on them, these can range from popular websites such as News.com.au to travel blogs, mobile apps and more. This provides advertisers with the potential to reach upwards of 80% of the worldwide internet users with their ads.
Display ads appear on websites around the internet (see example in the above image) that have AdSense installed, allowing Google to access and show ads to users who visit those webpages. Typically, CTR (Click Through Rate) will be much lower than on the Search network where you may expect to get CTR of 2% or higher… On the Display Network you can expect a CTR of 0.1% or higher.
This low CTR is counterbalanced with much higher volumes of Impressions, your ads can show to thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions or even hundreds of millions of people depending on budget. User from the
Display network are often less qualified than Search Network users just as an intrinsic component of how and when they are clicking ads. That said, the traffic is more often cheaper on the display network creating a greater balance between cost and value.
The vast numbers of people that see Display Network ads means that the Display Network can offer a different type of marketing strategy to Search campaigns. Search Network campaigns are typically ‘direct response’, but Display campaigns can facilitate both this and ‘brand awareness’ marketing.
Whereas on the Search Network you are penalised for poor CTR, on the Display network you can target Impressions instead of clicks, if you want to. This enables you to allow more people to see your ads; and because you can create image or animated ads in addition to many other more advanced and engaging ad formats, you can deliver a much more effective brand awareness campaign.
Display campaigns also allow for some unique targeting methods such as remarketing, which allow you to market to user who have visited your website previously. You can even target similar users to those in your remarketing lists.
Consequently, there are many reasons why you would want to use Display Network Only Campaigns, depending on your business objectives. Getting your ads on popular websites and within relevant sections of those sites can deliver high volumes of cheap traffic and allows for new forms of account expansion.
There are two categories of Display Network Only Campaign Sub-Types available, both of which are described below:
This is a new feature in 2016 that guides advertisers, through a process of selection, to customise the campaign features to their specific needs. There are a lot of options and possibilities with the Display so this was designed to improve the user experience of the advertiser. This should help you to achieve whatever goals it is you have for this campaign, the image below shows how this looks in AdWords:
Selecting the options discussed below will reduce the availability of features in order to make the process easier for those with less experience or knowledge of AdWords. There are three types of marketing objectives, each of which we describe more detail below:
Advertisers that want to improve their brand or product awareness would be suited to this AdWords marketing objective. This campaign sub-type will maximise for exposure and allows ‘Viewable CPM Bidding’ which is explained later in this guide.
This sub-type would be valuable to new businesses or new products for businesses that are expanding into new areas. Brand awareness campaigns can have an impact on CTR of other ad types as users will be more familiar with your brand or product. Thus trying to measure uplift or performance increases in other areas when using this campaign type can allow you attribute greater value to the Display Campaign.
The primary aim of this campaign sub-type is to get as many users as possible to see your ads.
This campaign sub-type allows features that assist potential customers to find product options. A good example of this would be using ‘Affinity Audiences’ and target them with engagement ads or another rich media ad format.
The primary aim of this campaign sub-type is to either get users to engage with your content or visit your website. This sub-type also allows you to:
- Educate potential customers on some component of your product
- Differentiate your business or product from competitors
- More effectively encourage users and potential customers to explore what you have to offer and engage with your ads and content more easily and more often
Using the method, you can also use engagement bidding, whereby you only pay if a user engages with your ad, making this an attractive and cost effective channel.
Using ‘Drive Action’ on a Display Network Only Sub-Type is more direct response, the aim is to get the user to start the purchase process or convert. This also enables you to use the conversion optimiser to improve campaign performance using an automated tool.
These campaigns are typically CPA (Cost per Acquisition), ROI (Return on Investment) or ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) driven. As such you typically will be required to setup conversion tracking and conversion values if you’re not using eCommerce tracking.
This campaign sub-type should be used if you are trying to achieve any of the following marketing objectives:
- Finding customers close to the point of purchase
- Selling a known about product or service
This campaign sub-type ‘does what it says on the tin’… It enables all features available on Display Network Only campaigns. This includes all ad formats, targeting methods, bidding strategies, ad extensions, etc. All of these components are discussed in other parts of this guide.
For experienced users this offers the most flexibility and choice but can be more confusing for advertisers with less experience or knowledge. If you know what you are doing and don’t need Google’s help, choose this sub-type.
Using the ‘ads in mobile apps’ campaign sub-type will mean that your ads in this campaign will show exclusively in mobile and tablet apps to users. It also provides further options for devices, as is shown in the image below:
The default is to target all operating systems, mobile devices and carriers, but you can customise this here if you have specific needs. Apps are a part of the display network and a lot of people use apps every day, so this is a large and targeted channel for advertisers.
You can target apps in a number of different ways such as:
- All available apps – have your ads show on all available apps
- App categories – target specific categories of apps on which to display your ads
- Specific apps – you can search for and locate specific apps that you want your ads to show in
- App ID – If you know the app ID of the apps you would like to target, you can use these to target the apps
You can also narrow targeting down by adding in additional criteria such as age, gender, etc, which will reduce impressions but allow for greater accuracy when reaching you target audience. This campaign sub-type would suite advertisers looking to promote their own app, content, services, and products relevant to apps and the app users.
We have listed all of the ad types available on Display Network campaigns and across all campaign sub-types below.
Texts ads are clickable links that deliver traffic to your website. Ads are the account components that are shown to users / searchers making them unique in that respect. All other account components, such as keywords, campaigns, ad groups, etc. are not things people can see.
For more information on text ads, please follow the link.
Image ads are simply images that you have created to appear on Display Network sites and are clickable links to landing pages on your website.
Image ads are only available on Display campaigns and ads on the Display network differ at a fundamental level in their delivery to ads on the search network. The display network allows you to use text and image ads, but they are built in very different ways.
As well as driving clicks, image ads are also more compelling ads used in branding or brand awareness campaigns. Click the link to find out more about Image Ads.
Lightbox ads are a new ad format, which is part of the rich media group of ads, they are more engaging and utilise existing resources from existing advertising campaigns.
Lightbox ads are interactive rich media ads and help to create a strong brand image for those that engage with them. Lightbox ads work only on the Display network, so you will need to create a Display Network campaign in order to utilise this ad format.
Engagements & Billing
Lightbox ads are billed using engagements, making them an attractive proposition for advertisers who only pay when someone engages with your ads. You will not pay unless someone expands and then engages with the ad.
An ‘Engagement’ can be triggered by someone hovering over an ad for 2 seconds or expanding and clicking on the ad. The aim of this is to reduce unwanted or unintentional engagement from users.
You can use vCPM (Viewable CPM), which is a viewable cost per thousand impressions billing method instead of CPE (Cost Per Engagement).
Rich media ads can be used for Gmail Advertising, Mobile and Tablet advertising and a they have a host of applications on the Display Network. Click a link to find out more about Lightbox Ads, Engagement Ads, or Rich Media Ads.
Video ads are the best way of advertising on YouTube, similar to TV adverts you can get your brand in front of an almost endless audience.
Video ads are also referred to as ‘TrueView Ads’ and ‘YouTube Ads’, primarily because ‘video ads’ of this kind are only available on YouTube. TrueView ads also appear on websites throughout the GDN (Google Display Network) through embedded YouTube videos.
If you have used YouTube, you have likely seen TrueView ads as they are the video ads that appear before some videos play, typically you can skip them ads after 5 seconds if you are not interested. This is one of two formats that TrueView ads come in.
Click the link to find out more about TrueView Video Ads
We describe here only the bid strategies that are available on Display Network Only Campaigns in this section of the guide. Different bidding strategies provide their own advantages and disadvantages but are typically designed to meet specific need of the advertiser, or make it easier for them.
The image below shows how this looks when building a campaign and selecting the bid strategy:
The image below shows the options available for existing campaigns with sufficient historical data:
There is no right or wrong bid strategy, for the most part, rather its which is appropriate or eligible for you to use. Some bid strategies are ‘pre-sets’ that can be selected and applied easily but there is also a range of custom bid strategies that can be, as the name suggests, customised.
Bid strategies can be applied to ad groups, campaigns and keywords. You can learn more about bidding strategies by following the link.
The default here is ‘Manual CPC’ which refers to manually controlled bidding.
Bid strategies can be applied to ad groups or campaigns.
CPC (Cost Per Click) bidding is the default and most basic type of bidding available in AdWords. You manually set bids at ad group or keyword level and Google will use this as an upper limit on what you will pay for a click.
The image below shows how this looks in AdWords when making a new campaign and choosing the bid strategy:
CPC bidding although basic, actually provides the advertiser with the highest degree of control over what they pay than any other bid strategy. Google automated bidding can be unpredictable or inaccurate, especially when dealing with small data. Manual CPC bidding puts all of the control in your hands and thus requires some skill or guiding strategy to be effective.
If you are working with CPA targets or ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) / ROI (Return on Investment) targets, you can use spreadsheets and formulas to determine the CPC’s programmatically. We cover this and more in greater detail in our guide to CPC & eCPC Bidding.
Enhanced CPC enables Google to up your bids during auctions when the algorithm determines that the click is likely to lead to a conversion or a sale. The image below shows how this looks in AdWords when making a new campaign and choosing the bid strategy:
To provide an analogy of this tool; if you were polishing shoes on a stand in a busy high street, you would be more likely to spend time trying to convince someone with shoes that can be polished rather than someone with sandals.
The same is true in AdWords, where Google see’s the user as potentially more likely to convert, it will increase your bids to try and ensure you get that user to your site. This is a form of automation, but the amount of automation is about as small as it can be.
Facts About Enhanced CPC
- Google considers, time of day, device, location and device among other factors when trying to determine whether a user is more or less likely to convert.
- The Mobile bid adjustment is taken into account when raising bids to drive conversions.
- CPCs can be increased up to +30% when using enhanced CPC’s and this is applied after any bid adjustments.
- CPC’s can be reduced by more than 30% when Google does not think the user is likely to convert, ensuring that you pay less for users who are less likely to convert.
- The default conversion metric used is ‘converted clicks’; this can be changed to ‘conversions’ if you prefer that this metric be used instead.
- If your ad rotation settings are set to ‘optimise for clicks’, then you chose to use enhanced CPC, your ad rotation settings will be changed to ‘optimise for conversions’.
This technically falls under the automated bid strategies but since a revamp has been rather confusingly aggregated in with the portfolio bid strategy (previously known as ‘flexible bid strategy’). Now when you select ‘Target CPA’ (Cost per Acquisition) you can choose to use the conversion optimiser version, or apply a portfolio bid strategy to the campaign.
For the sake of ease (and some posterity) we shall refer to ‘Target CPA that isn’t a Portfolio Target CPA’ as Conversion Optimiser… This is an automated bidding strategy that allows Google to control the bidding in order to achieve a target CPA. If for example you have a target CPA of $20 for a product that you sell, Google will adjust bids according to when it thinks users are likely to convert to achieve this target.
The image below shows how this looks in AdWords when making a new campaign and choosing the bid strategy:
The tool is very useful and allows for automated micro control over bids in a way that a human could never do, but it’s not a magic wand that delivers whatever target you set. There are also requirements that need to be met before a campaign can qualify to use Conversion Optimiser.
Read more about Target CPA / Conversion Optimiser by clicking the link.
Google say “Automated bidding takes the heavy lifting and guesswork out of setting bids to meet your performance goals” … We would argue that Google simply shifts the guesswork from you to them! That said, these automated bid strategies can work under certain condition and in certain areas.
Bear in mind that you will need to create your portfolio strategies from the shared library or on the fly when making a campaign. The image below shows where these bid strategies exist within AdWords:
We describe these below briefly but explore each one in much more detail in separate guides linked to from each of the following sections.
We described earlier in this guide how the standard (or non-portfolio) bid strategy version of target CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) works, here we address the portfolio version of this.
You will need to have conversion tracking enabled and setup correctly in order to use this, in addition you will also require reasonable volumes of historical conversion data before using this strategy.
Target CPA strategies allow Google to automate bidding in order to hit the CPA target that you have specified. This can then be applied to campaigns, ad groups, etc and works across all components that it is applied to…
For example, if you apply the same Target CPA bid strategy to three campaigns, each individual campaign could be above or below CPA but the aggregate or collective CPA across all campaigns should be close to the target.
That said, this is not always the case and some time is needed for the tool to learn and then reach optimal performance. This will vary depending on number of factors such as how much data is available to learn from. Read more about target CPA by clicking the link.
ROAS is ‘Return on Ad Spend’ and hence a Target ROAS strategy automates bids to hit a ROAS that you have specified. For example, if you want to get a 150% return on your ad spend you would essentially make $1.50 for every $1 you spend. Thus you would set the ROAS target to 1.5 or 150%.
In addition to the conversion tracking required described in the Target CPA section above, you will also need to set up conversion values or have eCommerce tracking setup. Google needs to know the value of conversions or products to be able to optimise to ROAS.
Again it is worth noting that this is not always accurate, not always relevant or applicable to every campaign (even if it is tracking revenue or conversion values). There is a period of learning that can vary from one to six weeks and optimal performance may not result in hitting the ROAS target.
Read more about target ROAS by clicking the link.
This is a bidding methodology that allows you to bid on impressions rather than Clicks, often used for branding campaigns rather than direct response. This is referred to as CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions) bidding, where the equivalent of your CPC is an amount you pay for every 1,000 impressions you receive.
Viewable Impression bidding allows you to pay per 1,000 viewable impressions rather than per click or using a target CPA. You can set default bids at ad group or targeting level (keyword, placement, etc.) with this bidding method.
Active View viewable impressions are counted only when 50% of the ad (at least half of the ad is viewable) shows for at least one second. Hence the word ‘viewable’ is used, even if a webpage loads with your ad on it, and the ad has to be viewable to be counted here.
Click the link to read more about Viewable Impressions or this link to read more about Viewable CPM Bidding.
Google aims to increase Clicks in all campaigns using this bid strategy, showing your ads and adjusting bids in order to maximise the number of clicks you get.
As the image above shows, there are two settings with which to customise this bid strategy that we describe below.
CPC Bid Limit – As shown in the image above the Max Bid Limit is a maximum CPC bid to limit the Cost Per Click. Google will try and get as many clicks as possible with this maximum CPC and within your daily budget.
Target Spend – This is the total budget to be used across all of the campaigns to which this strategy is applied. In this case budget can be distributed across a lot of ad campaigns and / or ad groups and keywords to maximise spend to achieve the maximum number of clicks.
Read more about maximise clicks by clicking the link.
The display network is characterised both the range of ad formats and also the targeting options available to advertisers, each of which we describe below. Targeting Options are applied at the Ad Group level rather than at campaign level, but these are intrinsic to the Display Network, which is why we cover them briefly here.
For more detailed information on each of these subjects please follow the links provided in the following sections below.
All Targeting Options use placements and as such they do not operate in isolation. The difference between these options is in how you target users. For example, do you target users on a specific domain or group of webpages on a particular website… or do you target users by their interests, or simply target users reading content that matches with your keywords…
Keyword Contextual Targeting matches your chosen keywords (within the campaign) with content from webpages on the Display Network. It is on these matched pages that your ads are eligible to appear and be seen by users. This type of targeting relies on Google’s ability to determine relevance between page content and your keywords, you can curtail this with negative keywords.
This is a great way to identify websites and webpages that you may want to turn into managed placements. Targeting with keywords will be more familiar to advertisers who have had some experience with the Search Network. You can adjust bids at the keyword level, allowing for granular management and, with the exception of engagement bidding (CPE) you can use all other bid strategies.
If you are targeting keywords and placements, your ads will appear only on placements you've chosen, and only on pages within those placements where the content matches your keywords. Read more about Display Network Keywords by clicking the link.
Using topics, you can target websites that contain content on specific or broader topics. You can only do this by selecting from predetermined categories of topics. The image below shows a sample of the categories available under this targeting option:
There are two further options for Topic based targeting:
Target and Bid
The ‘Target and Bid’ option allows your ads to show only on pages about your chosen topics but with the option to bid on them also.
Using the ‘Bid Only’ option you can add your chosen topics so that you can specify bids for them, but still show ads when your other targeting methods match.
All of your ads will be triggered based on the other targeting methods, however if you specify custom bids or bid adjustments for this method, your bid can be used when this targeting method matches an impression. If you have not selected, at the minimum, one method to "Target and bid," your ads will not show.
Read more about Display Network Topics by clicking the link.
All ads on the Display Network appear on websites that are shown in AdWords as ‘Placements’, so no matter the targeting option you choose, you will always have Placement data. But you can also use Placements as a targeting option on its own, unlike all of the other options.
If you know or think you know what websites your customers visit, you can target them or specific pages on their website
Read more about Display Network Placements by clicking the link.
Up until this point we have been discussing automatic placements, but you can add specific placements as
Interests are served through audiences, the section below covers what audiences are and how the work. Read more about Display Network Interests & Remarketing by clicking the link.
There are three types of audiences that can be used to target users based on their interests, we describe each one below in more detail.
Read more about Display Network Audiences by clicking the link.
Affinity audiences target users based on their interests and lifestyles. This is a good choice if you are looking to expand reach or drive brand awareness. For example if you were managing an account for a car manufacturer, you could target car-enthusiasts with this targeting option.
Custom Affinity Audiences
Using the same technology and audiences as the above mentioned ‘Affinity Audiences’ you can customise this to reach highly targeted or more specific sub-groups of users. This is essentially a sub-set of the above audience type.
As the image above shows, you can create custom audiences from the ‘add targeting options’ in AdWords. Here you can create your custom audience from scratch, as is shown in the screenshot below:
In-market audiences target users based on whether they have recently shown intent to purchase a relevant product or service online. Google determines this through a combination of user behaviours such as clicking ads, converting, and the nature of content that they are viewing.
This makes this audience great for targeting if you are after users who are3 more likely to convert. For example, if you were managing the account of a car manufacturer, you could target people looking to buy a car with this targeting option.
There are many categories and sub categories to choose from in order to reach the right audience.
Remarketing is a technique used to target users who have previously visited your website with relevant ads. Remarketing requires remarketing lists to work, in order to build these lists you will need to installed the remarketing tracking code on (typically) every page of your website.
Remarketing lists can be built in a number of ways; you can define lists based on a set of criteria that a user needs to meet in order to be added to the remarketing list. An example of this could be users that visited a set of pages on your site and who did not make a purchase. You can then target these people with ads relevant to the pages they were visiting.
If you have ever looked at a pair of shoes online and then seen an ad for those shoes follow you around the net for some time… This was likely a remarketing ad from that business.
This technique allows you to plug the hole in your marketing or conversion funnel, bringing users who had dropped out back into the funnel. Hence this can be very powerful and highly effective, especially when ads are highly targeted.
You could also advertise relevant products to users who made a purchase, for example; if a user buys a bicycle from your online store, you could later target that user with ads for a puncture repair kit or other bicycle accessories.
We cover this topic in a lot more depth in our guide to remarketing.
As the name suggests you can target users based on demographics and there are three categories to choose from or between:
- Parental Status
This targeting option is useful for advertisers who know their target audience demographics or who are targeting a specific demographic… If you are selling men’s clothes for example, there is an obvious demographic to target.
Read more about Display Network Demographics by clicking the link.
Exclusions are a way of limiting or ‘excluding’ things from your chosen targeting option… For example you can exclude specific placements (websites) in a comparable way the way in which negative keywords work. This enables you to tailor or customise your targeting, excluding criteria that are either irrelevant or are proven to be ineffective with data.
We cover specific exclusions for each targeting option within the guide for that targeting option, so if you want to know about demographic exclusions, read our guide to demographics.
Ad extensions provide users with more reasons to click on your ad and more locations on the ad to click. They also help to provide additional information relevant to the searcher.
Ad Extensions come at no extra costs, you will be charged for the Clicks but at no additional cost to what you would pay for a click normally. By providing additional information about your business, products, what your customers think, etc. to searchers you can encourage people to click on your ads.
We cover below only those ad extensions available on Search Network Only campaigns and all of the campaign sub-types, to know more about this topic please read our guide to ad extensions.
There two types of ad extension available, manual and automatic, we describe these below:
As the name suggests, these are extensions that require you to set them up and manage manually.
Location extensions provide the functionality to include information about the location of your business. You will need to link a ‘Google Places’ / ‘Google My Business’ account to the AdWords account in order to include this information in your text ads.
Sitelinks are probably the most common type of ad extension, adding clickable links, to web pages, relevant to the ad with short descriptions. You can create loads of sitelinks typically to different product or service pages, category pages, special offers, etc.
Call extensions add a phone number to your text ads; this can be a clickable link for mobile users and encourages users to call your business.
Review extensions are quotes or paraphrased quotes from third party sources saying something about your business. These appear below the ad in quotation marks and are supported by a clickable link to the source of the quote. Because review extensions are not links, you will not be charged for them specifically, you will simply be charged for a click on the add (at no extra cost).
‘Callouts’ are, as the name suggests, an opportunity to call-out your selling points, services, offerings, etc. Similar to sitelinks except that they are not clickable links, they can however appear with other extensions.
Structured snippets allow you to show information specific to your products and services to searchers in your text ads. In the example below, we searched for “men’s shampoos” and the ad (see below) appeared with ‘types’ of shampoo that they offer and may be relevant to the search.
Mobile App Extensions
These extensions are used to promote tablet or mobile apps by providing a link in the ad. The link in the ad can be setup to either direct a user to a description in the app store (Apple store or Google Play) or to download the app directly to the device.
Automated extensions appear, as the name suggests, automatically on your ads. These follow the same format for the corresponding manual extension version. You can see how these extensions perform by seeing the Automated Extension Report in AdWords.
These require no setup and highlight industry specific ratings / consumer survey data from independent 3rd party sites.
These only appear on ads for businesses that Google have surveyed the customers of, if they have this data then it may show, if they do not then it won’t show. You can opt out of this if you so choose by Consumer Ratings often enhance CTR.
This feature lets users know when they have visited your site before and when the last visit was, as the example image below shows:
‘Previous Visits’ allows past site visitors to find their way back to your site and as such can improve CTR.
Seller ratings appear automatically in ads where Google have collected data about your business from your customers.
These extensions are not the same as most other automated extensions, typically you will need to hire a company (see below) to acquire reviews from which ratings are collected. This service will cost money and is not paid through Google or to Google but to a Google preferred partner. You will also have to meet the following criteria:
- Have at least 30 reviews
- Average score must be 3.5 at a minimum
Dynamic Sitelink Extensions show links to relevant parts of your site underneath your ad. This provides more clickable links and options for searchers, thus increasing the potential for Clicks. The below is an example of how this can appear. We cover sitelinks in the manual extensions list above, all of the benefits are the same for this as for those.
Dynamic Structured Snippets are the automated version of ‘structured snippets’ described in the above section on manual extensions. These provide additional specific information relevant to the search in your ads.
Dynamic Structured Snippets are free as they do not provide a clickable link to the user. If you would like to opt out of this feature, complete this form.