Choosing Between Search and Display Ads for Google Ads. Experts Say There Are Ways You Can Be Certain. Discover The Options!
Display ads generally have much lower click-through – and if your goals are things like brand awareness, you might not care about click-through at all. So you typically pay for how many times your ad is shown, rather than how many clicks it gets. This is known as Cost Per Mille billing. Mille means thousand, so it’s simply the cost of every thousand ad impressions. According to Adstage, the average CPM on the display network in Q1 2018 was $2.80. You have a range of billing options to choose from on the Display Network, including things like vCPM, aka viewable CPM. This is where you are only billed for an impression if at least half of your ad is visible for 1 second or more, or in the case of video ads, plays continuously for 2 seconds or more
Here’s an important rule to understand: Ads on the Display Network typically target users higher up the funnel, while ads on the Search Network target those who are closer to the bottom.
When search ads work
Why are search ads best for bottom-funnel campaigns?
Because people searching via Google, as opposed to just browsing the net, are much more likely to have a purchase intent. Sure there are plenty of non-purchase searches – queries like “what is the average flight speed of an unladen swallow?” – but when you search for “shoe repair near me” it’s because you’ve snapped a heel and need it fixed today.
That means a search ad targeting those keywords is likely to get clicked on – whereas an ad for emergency shoe repair on the Display Network is much less likely to be effective. No one snaps a heel, then starts browsing the internet waiting for the right ad to come up.
When display ads work
If, on the other hand, you are marketing a new restaurant and want its name to spring to mind the next time people are thinking of where to go on date night, then a visually stunning ad on the Display Network would be a smart approach. Similarly you could use your display ad to target all the most popular restaurant review sites and apps, or even run a remarketing campaign for people who visited your menu page but never clicked through to book. Perhaps your mains were all too costly and you could entice them with a discount?
You can see the different uses for the two networks really clearly by looking at the click-through rates on each. The average Display Network CTR is a miniscule 0.35 per cent, according to Adstage research on Q1 2018, whereas the Search Network average CTR was 4.23 per cent in the same period. That’s 12 times higher.
Our takes and further tips
So now you’ve got your head around the basic differences of search and display ads, here’s a grab-bag of tips and tricks to take away:
When deciding between search and display campaigns, you must first understand which part of the funnel you are targeting. When using the Search Network, think hard about the user intent you want to target and match your ads to that intent. You can hone in on user intent by listing negative keywords – these exclude your ad from auctions that aren’t relevant to your business. E.g. “Men’s shoe repair” if you only repair women’s shoes. Negative keywords can improve your ad’s performance, which can, in turn, make your campaigns cheaper over time. Remember how we mentioned that Google auctions check the quality of your ads as well as how much you’ve bid in determining who gets their ad displayed? Basically, Google lets you win auctions at lower bid prices if your ads are viewed as high quality – i.e. if they perform well. So it pays to constantly refine them. Use the Display Network to build awareness, or target the top of the funnel with your best and most compelling content. If you want clicks from the Display Network your ads should require a low commitment from viewers, in order to match the low purchase intent they’ll have. So “Watch the 10 most viral cat videos” might gain clicks and move people into your funnel, but “Buy these cute cat collars” will likely gain more purchasing intent.