Both the Search and the Display Networks have benefits of their own and the network you choose to run your campaigns on will ultimately depend on the needs of your business. For generating leads, and for higher click-through-rates, the Search Network has historically been the best option, whilst the Display Network outperforms Search for driving awareness, increasing brand recall, generating demand and for retargeting. However, campaigns that run across both networks can reap the ultimate benefits bundle.

If there is one thing we love most about the Display Network, it's the network's potential to reach millions of people worldwide. The key is to know what your business aims and objectives are from the offset and clearly establish how you can measure success against these. In this blog, we’ll highlight five key strategies that you can adopt to ensure your campaigns are fully optimised for Display Network success.

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Tip #1 - Theme, theme, theme

For your own sanity, but more importantly to maintain clear and consistent structure, it's important to organise your campaigns by topic or theme. This means you can easily work across campaigns and have multiple managers overseeing PPC activity and optimising campaigns. Each campaign is a collection of many ad groups and, in turn, each ad group has many ads. All the ads that you create should match the targeting methods you use or you can target the ads and segment them by specific topics. 

Tip #2 - Create great, original ads

The only way to capture the attention of your potential customers and make sure they visit your site is through effective ad copy and a strong call to action. Although your competitor may rank below you in paid search results, this doesn’t necessarily mean users will automatically click on your ad - the key is in the copy. Providing unique selling points (USPs) of your product or service offering can help to give you stand out from the crowd - always ask yourself 'what sells?'. So, if you have competitive pricing it may be worthwhile including a "From Only £XX" statement or if you have free shipping be sure to include this. But also remember to tell the user what you expect them to do, for example "Find Out More" or "Buy It Now" both provide clear intention. 

Tip #3 - Manage your ads

You might optimise your campaigns in the background but you should also focus on optimising your ads - after all, this is what the end user will see when they enter a search query and see results. To reach the right audiences, it is necessary to work on the expansion of your keywords, whilst ensuring any display or remarketing ads are set to appear on web pages that are directly related to your product or service. Retargeting to visitors who have previously visited your website (and are aware of the products and services you offer) is also key to success. My colleague Carly delved into cross-device retargeting which you can read more about here, but for now, let’s look at the different methods of ad optimisation:


Display Network ads can be targeted in a number of ways. The first of which is through keywords. The choice of keywords helps to decide on which websites your ad will be displayed upon. Common practice amongst us PPC professionals is selecting between 5 and 20 keywords per ad group (think quality and relevance over quantity) and these keywords should, of course, be directly related and relevant to the ad and offering.

Pay close attention to keywords that are not relevant

With thousands upon thousands of websites in Google’s Display Network, you have to be careful your ads aren’t placed on websites that are completely unrelated to your product, service or industry. Think about it like affiliaition - being shown on completely irrelevant sites could be damaging to your brand identity. For example, if you are selling beauty products, you can ensure your ads don’t place on websites that are specialists in cars, finance or banking and instead focus on luxury brands, beauty magazines, etc.

Select where you want your ads to appear

Once you have excluded the websites you don’t want your ad to display on, you can fine-tune your placements and topics to select websites where you do want your ads to appear. If you already know the sites your customers tend to visit, you can target them through placement targeting. Placement targeting allows you to put your message in the best place for your business. Contextual targeting can also be used to reach your audience at the exact time they are showing interest in your product or service. And don’t forget, placement and contextual targeting can be used at the same time to reach very specific groups of customers. Experiment with your targeting options, test and refine - the best campaigns are those that were born out of iteration. 

Do not forget previous visitors

As well as targeting new customers to create demand for your product or service, it’s important to bear in mind all those users who have already visited your website in the past, as they may be closer to making a purchase. Remarketing is an incredibly powerful way of matching the right people with the right message at the right time. For anyone unaware of how remarketing works, if a user reaches a page on your site but doesn’t purchase the product, providing you have remarketing tags installed on your site, a remarketing ad can then be displayed to them whilst they browse other sites on Google’s Display Network. You'll have seen this before as a consumer, for example when you've been looking at prices for flights to Paris and then for days after your 'spookily' followed by ads with "£49.99 return flights London to Paris". 

Tip #4 - Adjust your bids

If you are creating campaigns only on the Display Network, the easiest way is to use the default bid on the ad group. However, if you see there are some ads that work better than others, don’t sit still - it’s time to make the most of this. We recommend increasing bids strategically on ads, which perform well to ensure they appear more frequently and generate a greater number of clicks. Always bear in mind that Suggested Bids from Google will be swayed toward increasing your ad spend, so use some common sense and (top tip) odd numbers tend to be more effective (as many people are lazy and simply go with rounded figures). 

Tip #5 - Monitor, monitor, monitor - don't give up!

Success on the Display Network (or Search Network) does not come from creating ads and leaving them to do their thing. Monitoring and adapting will always be the key to success. By monitoring your ads and campaigns on the Display Network you see what sites, videos and apps are showing your ads. This provides you with an opportunity to refine and drive greater return on investment. If your ads haven’t had a single conversion from one website but have had multiple from another, this tells you that this referral is more valuable and you can reduce bids on the lesser performing placement and increase on those performing well. 

Whether your aim is to generate awareness, increase sales, drive loyalty or all three, check out some success stories from Google Display Network advertisers here. 

Do you have any questions about display advertising? Or have you any of your own top tips for optimisation? Join the conversation over on Twitter.