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What is the Google Display Network? A Quick Beginner’s Guide!

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What is the Google Display Network?

The Google Display Network is a powerful advertising platform that allows businesses to reach a wide audience by displaying their ads on various websites and mobile apps.


Transcript: If you’ve seen an ad like this [an Adobe and Triscuit display ad appear] when surfing the web, you’ve likely interacted with the Google Display Network. But what is the Google Display Network, and how can you use it for your business’s digital ads?

A display ad from Adobe featuring the phrase, "PDF like a boss"

Keep watching to find out.

What is Google Display Network?

The Google Display Network is comprised of a ton of websites, Google properties like Gmail and YouTube, and apps that can show your display ads to your target audience.  Display ads are visual ads that usually contain your business’s logo, photos, some text, or even an animation. It all depends on what you create. 

Why use the Google Display Network?

The Google Display Network is huge and includes over two million sites and other locations your display ads can appear.

You can reach a lot of potential customers. Another great benefit is the network’s audience targeting. You have different options to get your ads in front of people with the right interests and intents. Your ads will show up in front of people who fit into your target audience. It’s like a virtual billboard, but instead of having a bunch of random cars drive by, you’re only showing it to people on the web who would be interested in what’s on it.  Because these ads are visual and not just text-based like search ads, you have so much opportunity to get creative and make your ad pop.

A display ad from Best Buy advertising an LG TV

Google Display Network vs. Google Search Network

So Google has two different ad networks you should know about. Of course, there’s the Display Network, but there’s also the Search Network.  While the Display Network focuses on visual ads, the Search Network focuses on text-based ads. You’ll see Search Network ads in the Google Search results with a small ad tag.  Again, display ads will show up on other Google properties like YouTube and Gmail, and in its network of websites.

A Gmail display ad from HelloFresh

The way you target your audience with these ads is different, too.  Search ads mainly rely on keywords to determine when your ad will show up.

So if someone looking for gourmet cookies searches for the phrase “gourmet cookies,” ads related to that keyword will show up. With display ads, you’re focusing not on keywords but on different audience segments. 

How do you target audiences on the Google Display Network?

There are several audience targeting methods when you’re creating a Google Display ad, and I’ll go over a few of them. 

The first audience I’ll talk about is an affinity audience. This is an audience made up of people interested in whatever your ad offers. So if you run a music venue and you’re advertising a huge jazz festival, you can choose to target music lovers, and more specifically, jazz enthusiasts, in your display ad.

Next are in-market audiences. This one is just like it sounds.

You target people who are in the market for something you offer. So if you’re advertising your phones or phone plans, you can target people looking for electronics.

Remarketing is also a great way of reaching your audience. With this type of targeting, you place your ads in front of people who have interacted in some way with your brand.

This audience has done things like visiting your website or watching your videos. 

The last audience targeting I’ll talk about is demographics targeting, which uses things like a person’s gender and age to determine if they see your ad. So if you want to target your ad to people of a certain age, you can. 

How do you create Google Display Ads? 

You create display ads in your Google Ads account.  You can choose to upload your own designs or enter your information for a responsive display ad, which will change to fit the space available. 

Google's responsive display ad templates

When designing your responsive display ad, you’ll upload elements like your logo, images related to your brand, videos, and add headlines, descriptions, and more. You can really get creative with your ad copy and the visual elements. 

How much does the Google Display Network cost? 

There isn’t really one answer. The cost can vary depending on how much you want to spend, who you’re targeting, and the industry you’re in.

But don’t worry, you can set a budget that works for you.  We’ve put together a blog post about the average cost of Google Ads so you can estimate what you’ll spend on your campaigns.  The cost can also change if you decide to partner with a digital marketing agency, and we can recommend a really, really good one for PPC management So if you’re ready to start growing your business with Google Display Network and launch digital ads that boost your return on ad spend (ROAS), don’t hesitate to contact us or call at 888-601-5359! And check out our blog for even more digital marketing content. See you soon!

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