George Noon is the PPC Lead at Embryo

Google Display Ads

If you’re looking for a cost-effective, data-driven way to optimise your PPC campaigns, look no further than Google Display ads.

Google Display Ads are a form of PPC advertising that utilise a mix of visual assets, including images, text, and even video content! Display ads typically appear as banner ads at the top of your desktop or mobile device page, or as square and rectangular ads, usually spotted at the top or sides of millions of website pages. In recent years, these placement spaces have also expanded to include YouTube and mobile apps. This array of placement variety is referred to as the ‘Google Display Network’, or ‘GDN’ for short.

If this sounds like something you or your business could be interested in, keep reading! Or pick up the phone or drop us a message speak to the expert PPC team at Embryo – we’ve got years of collective experience in building, managing, and understanding Google Display Ads campaigns to deliver strong return on ad spend (ROAS) for clients in hundreds of different industries and sectors.

Capture Your Audience with Stunning Visuals and Eye-Catching Copy.

We use assets and persuasive copy to attract your audience to complete purchases and drive your growth, get in touch today.

quote left

By far the best agency I have ever worked with! Every single member of the team is a pleasure to deal with. They're absolutely brilliant at what they do! Highly recommended.

Ryan Robinson, Hairshark

Google Display Ads vs. Google Search Ads

The simplest way to think about the difference between Google Display vs Google Search ads is how they target customers, and when and where they appear. Display ads target users based on who they are, and their behaviours (both on-and-offline), showing ads on websites and apps.

Search ads can target users in the same way, but vitally, Search targets users at the exact moment they are searching for your keywords, showing ads on the Google search results page (this is sometimes abbreviated as ‘SERP’).

Why Use Display Advertising?

The world of Google Ads & PPC has changed dramatically over the decades, and despite being a holdover from the “old world” of digital advertising, display campaigns continue to be a top contender for brands deciding how to divide up their ad budget.

Why? Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words – and text ads have strict character limits! Google display ads allow you to utilise the Google Ads platform for more than just ads in the search engine results pages (SERPS).

There are many benefits of display advertising to your advertising budget.

Teal Manchester bee icon

Differentiating Your Brand and Building Brand Awareness

Image ads are a visual medium which means your campaigns have the opportunity to do what text ads can’t – create a visual association in the minds of relevant audiences.

Display adverts let you use a combination of text, images and video to:

  • Show off your unique brand identity to new users
  • Showcase your products with strong photography or mockups
  • Feature your key staff members or locations

If you’re launching a new brand, undergoing a rebrand, or expanding your customer base into new areas, the display ad format is an effective way to raise awareness for new and existing users.

When combined with an intelligent custom audience targeting strategy, interested users can also click through to your website (or landing page) from a Display ad, allowing them to engage with your content and learn a bit more about you to improve your business profile online.

red line graph icon

Improving the Performance of Your Other Ads

Not every PPC campaign type can give companies the same level of data and insights as display ads do, which makes them an excellent method for trialling new approaches. Due to the relatively cheap cost-per-click and CPM (the cost per 1000 clicks), Display can be a useful and very cost-effective testbed for trying out new ad copy, visual designs, and even who to target. Especially when compared to the average CPC/cost for more competitive, keyword-targeted campaigns, responsive display ads offer a considerably lower upfront cost.

Let’s take a look at a hypothetical example:

Let’s say you’re a new brand looking to target a keyword with an estimated bid of £25 for a high-ranking placement in search results.

Your business objective and marketing goals are to drive clicks to your website, but you also decide you’re going to take the opportunity to learn about the kind of users you’re targeting, and what kind of ad copy performs best.

With each click costing so much, you’re going to need to spend a lot to gain any sort of insight from your paid-click audience…

You spend £25,000 to gain 1,000 clicks from unique users, and upon assessing your data, you see those 1,000 users are categorised and split across a variety of ages, audience types, locations, and ad headlines. The more you look, the more these users are categorised, until you are left with several ‘pools’ of internet users, each too small to get any real insights from.

Funnel teal (tall)

Utilising Different Types of Search Advertising

Keyword-targeting campaigns target users at the exact moment they’re searching for something, and the cost to bid on them is high, because of the power of the intent at that moment. Essentially, if they’re looking for your exact keyword, it’s likely they’re ready to convert. This is one of the reasons why great PPC campaigns can have such high conversion rates, but this does come with higher-click through costs.

Display instead targets users solely based on:

  • ‘Who’ they are (non-commercially when they’re not thinking of purchasing anything) – referred to as “Affinity” audiences in Google.
  • Their current behaviours in relation to certain markets & services – referred to as “In-Market”
  • How they’ve previously interacted with your web properties (your website, any apps, any ads they’ve previously clicked on etc.), via retargeting
  • Where they are and they have been
  • What device and apps they’re using and the content you’re looking at on them

While In-Market and retargeting audiences are definitely more “warmed up” in the sales funnel than other types of users, it’s clear that there is not the same user intent as when someone searches directly for a brand, product or service.

The tradeoff is that targeting users via Display is typically much, much cheaper, per click. This is why a clever combination of placement and campaign types is so important when it comes to your overarching PPC. You need those increased conversion rates, but also want to keep campaigns at an affordable cost.

Going back to our hypothetical brand, if you were instead to decide instead to invest £2,500 in Google Display Ads at £0.30 per click, giving you a much larger data set, you could get 8x the data (800 users!), for 10% of the cost of a keyword targeting campaign.

Using this much bigger data set, you’re able to take more learnings and gain more confidence in your decision-making.

Businesses and PPC managers can use this kind of data to determine the most effective targeting strategies and creative assets by looking at:

  • CTR on different ad variations
  • Average session duration
  • Average number of pages viewed per session
  • Actions are taken on-site, including conversions
  • Many more data points specific to your objectives

Most of these learnings can then be applied to more costly keyword-targeting campaigns, by layering in the insights. Now you know which ad copy is most likely to drive a high CTR, which users are most likely to engage with your content, and perhaps even which ones converted from that first interaction, you can use the rest of your budget for marketing spend with high-quality, data-led decision making behind it.

navy shopping basket icon

Using Retargeting to Capture Engaged Users

Display can be used to drive conversions on entirely fresh audiences, however, it is more common for brands to see performance driven from pre-engaged users.

Retargeting via Display effectively “follows” a previous website visitor, though how effectively depends on how intelligent your retargeting strategy is.

For example, it’s one thing to target all users who visited your domain – it’s another to segment that group of users into funnel-based categories. Some ways that audiences can be segmented include:

  • By the content they viewed and how long they’ve browsed
  • If they began a lead submission process but didn’t complete it
  • If they added a product to your shopping basket but didn’t proceed to checkout
  • If they began checkout but didn’t ultimately purchase
  • If they visited multiple products in the same product category
  • If their visit was triggered by a particular keyword
  • If they visited a blog or review pages or FAQs

You’ve likely seen the effects of this first hand, with remarketing display ads showing specific products you may have browsed, or nearly bought. As with most things in Google Ads, ‘relevance to the user’s interests & behaviours’ is key, so segmenting your users based on their behaviours, and following up your audience with display ads relevant to them gives you the best chance for success.

You can also retarget regular customers, or even go on the flipside and exclude users who have already purchased, or submitted leads, to save on the costs of repeat bidding.

Types of Display Ads

There are a couple of different types of display advertising.

The most common form of Display ads are known as Responsive Display ads, so-called due to the responsive nature of their setup and placements. You simply insert your images, add some headline & description text, and bingo – Google will “mix and match” these assets together to create hundreds of variations to fit most ad placement sizes, as well as testing for which visuals and text are most effective at fulfilling your campaign objectives.

This is favoured by many brands as it doesn’t require designing your own assets, however, the trade-off is that you lose control of how your brand assets appear. Google’s intelligence around creating responsive ads is good – but sometimes it’s not good enough.

That’s where custom designs can be used via traditional image and HTML5 (animated) ads. These give you complete control over how the ad appears and allow you to show off some creative flair, which again is where Responsive Ads can’t compare, as their responsiveness is universally applied across every Google Advertiser. In short, while your messaging and images will differ, the format will be the same as every other Responsive Display advertiser.

Sam and Harriet Working at the Digital Marketing Agency Embryo

What’s New with Google Display Ads?

These days, Google advertising is all about ‘the messy middle’, and as such, Display placements are also being catered to by other campaign types – no longer are Display ads limited to Display campaigns. Performance Max & Google Discovery are two new campaign types that utilise Display ads & placements.

Performance Max, in particular, utilises dynamic retargeting in e-commerce, showing the user a mix of standard image ads and specific product imagery based on their browsing behaviours, and how they engage with on-site product content.

Google Discovery is similar to Performance Max, though where Performance Max utilises text, shopping, and Display, Discovery is primarily focused on Display network campaigns and placements. Google Discovery especially excels at driving performance via retargeting and does not require the same wealth of assets and data that Performance Max does in order to perform well.

The world of Google Display Ads is constantly evolving, but is resilient and is fundamentally unchanged since the early days of the internet! A true tried-and-tested pillar of digital advertising, with a wide potential for performance and engaging your users.

quote left

The team at Embryo is a joy to work with. They understand what we want to achieve as a business, their level of service is excellent, and they are constantly analysing metrics and data to ensure that together we overachieve in the performance of campaigns. They have become a natural extension of my marketing department and I look forward to what the future brings.

Dan Walmsley, The Insurance Octopus