display network targeting

7 Tips to Mastering Google Display Network Targeting

Victorio Duran III

Victorio Duran III

March 11th, 2021

Victorio is the Associate SEO Director at RingCentral, a global leader in cloud-based communications and auto dialer software. He has over 13 years of experience with PPC marketing strategies.

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The Google Display Network is probably the most powerful and accessible marketing platform available today.

Adverts placed on the Google Display Network reach up to 90% of internet users. Considering there are well over three billion users worldwide, that’s quite a market!

The Google Display Network (GDN) is a network of websites that partner with Google to display ads. It forms one-half of Google’s marketing apparatus. The other, perhaps more well-known half, is the search apparatus, driven by keywords, a sophisticated artificial intelligence search engine.

However, the search engine requires people to use Google. With the GDN, even a person who has never used it in their life can still view adverts because the sites they visit are likely a part of the Network.

Consequently, the Display Network is just as prevalent and just as useful. But, like the search networks, it requires best practices, attention to detail, and an understanding of what you’re doing.

A Google Display Network marketing campaign could end up costing you a lot of money and achieving little if it shares your ads with consumers who have no interest in your product. But by running an intelligent and well-crafted Display Network marketing campaign, you can target your ads to the customers you’re most likely to convert.

Below, we’ll look at seven things you can do to maximize the value of the Google Display Network, the largest marketing platform of its kind, and the role this can play in your digital strategy moving forward.

1. Make More Appealing Ads

It might seem obvious, but one of the first things you can do to improve your Display Network success is to make better ads. Google doesn’t make the ads for you, and your ad-making skills can put a ceiling on the success of your campaign.

The first way to make your ads better is to be as direct as possible. Show exactly what you’re selling along with unique/powerful selling points, price, and so on. You aren’t running a campaign that’s going to win awards for style here: you’re sending ads to as many people as possible who you think may be interested in your product, and competition is tough. Be direct.

The second way to make your ads better is by intelligently choosing between text and visual ads. The internet is full of information saying one is better than the other, but the truth is it depends.

Text is more accessible and loads faster, but engaging visuals give better impressions and are shared more. Younger people prefer visuals, as do those with busier lifestyles. Conversely, some sites only accept text ads, so you need some of these prepared regardless.

If you are marketing to an older generation with a slower device and more time to read, text might be better, but if you mean to make an impression on younger people with busier schedules, you should probably use visual ads.

visual vs textual
(Source: Visual is excellent in some contexts, but absolutely not all. Source: e-Strategy Trends)

2. Use Remarketing Ads

Remarketing is common. It’s a relatively simple concept. The idea is that once a person has visited your site, you send them more ads than you would another person. The purpose is to keep your brand at the front of the potential customer’s mind at all times.

This way, if a person is looking for Mitel alternatives and finds your site, they’re sent ads for your product wherever they go on the internet; your product literally travels with them through their time online.

You have most likely been the target of a remarketing campaign without realizing. If you looked for shoes on your favorite internet shop and found yourself facing a barrage of adverts for high heels, you were the target of remarketing. If you browsed a travel agent or airline for a foreign holiday then got inundated with pictures of beaches, you were also targeted.     

The reason remarketing is so common is because it works. The repetition and the reminder, especially with visually striking images like palm trees, keep the product in a person’s mind. Retargeting increases conversion by 70%. And while those images are clearly understood visually, retargeting works with B2B digital marketing too. The point is to keep your brand in a potential customer’s consciousness at all times.

remarketing explained
(Remarketing neatly explained. Source: Medium)

3. Use Similar Audiences

You should already be doing remarketing, and the next step is one that works well alongside it. According to Google, combining similar audience marketing with remarketing can boost conversions by up to 41%.

Google Analytics is constantly storing data and information about the people who use your site and who you will be remarketing to. What it can also do is find prospects who share characteristics with your customers.

These individuals may not have been on your site, but they have been on other sites frequented by your customers, and from there you can infer that they have similar requirements and preferences.

This way, someone who searches ‘Discord competitors’ and looks at all the search results bar one can still be sent ads from that website because it’s highly likely they will have an interest in it. This is very much the ‘network’ part of the Google Display Network!

Google’s tools add people to your similar audience list automatically based on their methodology, so you only have to enable this feature to get your ads to these people.

4. Monitor Your Ad Placements

You can use the Display Network tools to select which websites your ads go to as well. This is important because you want your ads to be properly directed. Bicycle adverts on motorist interest sites aren’t useful.

In the world of B2B e-commerce, you need to make sure that your ads are reaching sites that you expect your customers to use, and to use frequently and not fleetingly.

It’s not difficult to think of practical examples. Let’s say you sell productivity software and you see your ads on sites that review or discuss the best productivity software. This is obviously useful.

Then let’s say that those same ads run on websites reviewing furniture. They could have an effect, but it’s way less likely – and you’re paying for the ads, after all.

This leads us to our next point…

5. Manage Your Placements

Managed placements lets you choose exactly which sites and domains you want to place your ads on. As we described above, this is obviously useful, so some things to bear in mind for managed placements are:

  • Choose busy sites. A site with a lot of traffic will get you more conversions than a site with less traffic, all other things being equal.
  • Place your ads on sites where you are already converting customers. You know these are good sources of conversions, so it makes sense to maximize them.
  • Target subdomains and particular pages. You don’t have to target or place ads on just one domain. For example, if you want to market a product similar to Broadvoice, you could place those ads on pages that discuss or review Broadvoice specifically rather than the domain generally (although this may cost more).

To some, GDN might seem like a blunt tool – a way to place thousands of adverts all over the internet – but with the above in mind, it can result in a highly targeted campaign.

6. Use Consistent Branding

consistent branding
(Some tips for consistent branding: Bright)

You are going to put out a lot of ads, perhaps in different formats and types, placed in different parts of a page, at different times of the day, to different customers on different domains. What ultimately ties these ads together is that they lead back to YOUR product.

That means they need consistent branding, especially when your ads are ‘following’ or ‘waiting for’ your customers as a result of your targeting practices. You and your brand should be instantly and easily identifiable – at least by a person who’s seen your brand, adverts, or imaging before.

The whole point is to preserve yourself in a person’s memory, so you need clear, consistent advertising that stays on-message. It doesn’t matter what you sell – DVDs or digital signage solutions – you need to be consistent and on-brand at all times.

7. Always Test

You absolutely don’t want to spend a lot of money on a big marketing campaign only to find it doesn’t work. Luckily, one of the advantages of digital marketing, and especially Google Display Network, is the ability to test.

You can take adverts that are working and tweak them slightly to improve them or take ads that don’t work and tweak them too. Record, monitor, track the data from these ads and see the effect that your changes have.

Google analytics has a huge amount of data for you to use, so don’t be afraid to experiment; the smaller and more granular the experiment, the cheaper and more obvious the effect.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to fine-tune your Google display campaigns. If you’re not getting the success and ROI you’re currently aiming for, then going through these steps will help troubleshoot the issue.

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