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What Is The Google Network?

Andrew Swindlehurst

Andrew Swindlehurst

January 25th, 2019

After getting a degree in Physics, Andy has become a data wizard which means he splits his time between researching for us and min-maxing World of Warcraft.

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No matter if you’re practising for an AdWords exam, or you’ve just started using Google Ads for the very first time, understanding Google’s pay per click service is essential.

With so many different options and features to explore, getting to grips with how everything works and what it means can be very confusing. Without knowing what everything does, you could be missing out on a vast amount of sales by not utilizing a specific feature in your campaign.

One of the most common confusing aspects of Google’s paid search service is their range of networks available. We’ll dive deeper into what networks they have later, but for now, all you need to know is: there is a big difference between them.

To help you understand what the Google network is and how it can significantly affect your ad’s success, we’re taking a closer look at these important networks.

Understanding Google’s Networks

Ever since Google’s launch back in the ’90s, the company has been continually expanding and growing its services. With the introduction of AdWords and AdSense in the early 2000s, Google’s advertising networks have exploded in size and can now reach over 90% of all online users.

It’s this network that advertisers pay a pretty price to advertise their products and services to millions (possibly billions) of users online. Currently, there are 2 main Google networks that advertisers choose to use; these are the Google search network and the display network.

Google Search Network

The first and most popular network Google has in its arsenal is the Google search network. This network is the one you’re probably the most familiar with and use on your own Google Ads campaigns.

The Google search network includes every search engine results page under Google’s control. This means that any search term you type in Google, that search engine results page is part of Google’s search engine network.

Considering there are an unlimited amount of phrases that people can search for, that’s a pretty big network!

If you use Google frequently (without AdBlocker), then you’ve probably noticed the sponsored results at the top of every search you make. All of these adverts are using the Google search network to maximise their visibility. Depending on what settings the ads are using, this means the ads will display for a range of keywords including exact match phrases, phrase matches and broad matches.

With billions of users making Google searches every day, there are plenty of opportunities for advertisers to advertise their products to millions of people.

Google Display Network

The second most popular Google network that advertisers use is the display network. Introduced in 2003 through Google’s AdSense program, the network allows Google to take advantage of 3rd party partner sites. User’s simply apply to the network with an application form, and if they’re successful, they will be able to display Google’s ads on their website. For every click they receive on their ads, the webmaster will receive a commission from Google based on the average cost per click.

This gives webmasters an incentive to apply to the network, and it allows Google to increase the size of the advertising network. It’s a win-win!

The main purpose of the display network is that it allows advertisers to target users without them having to visit one of Google’s domains (Google USA, UK, etc). It can also be used for more advanced forms of advertising, such as remarketing once a user has already visited a website in the past.

The Difference Between The Networks

Now you understand the two different networks, how do they compare when they go head to head?

To help you understand the main difference between them and which one you should be using on your campaign. Here’s a handy comparison table.

Search NetworkDisplay Network
ReachLimited to Google’s search engine onlyOver 2 million 3rd party websites covering 90% of online users
CostFrom 50 cents to 100 dollars plus per clickMuch cheaper clicks from 1 cent to 50 cents
Targeting OptionsFocuses on keywords, exact match, phrase match and broad match as well as countriesAudience interests and specific sites targeting
EffectivenessHighly targeted clicks from users related to the target keywordVague targeting which results in less targeted users

As you can see from the table above, the main difference is the price that advertisers pay per click. When it comes to the search network, advertisers almost always get better quality traffic but have to pay more money per click. Traffic from the display network, on the other hand, is a lot cheaper per click, but the targeting is nowhere near as precise.

In some cases, the low cost per click from the display network can outweigh the low conversion rate and interest. But in most cases, advertisers always want the most targeted users to click on their ads and land on their pages.

Protect Yourself On The Google Network

No matter what Google network you decide to run your ads on, make sure you’re protected from competitors and fraudulent clicks.

Like running ads on Google isn’t expensive enough already, fraudulent clicks can seriously artificially inflate the price you pay for clicks. With 1 in 5 clicks currently being fraudulent, you could be losing a large amount of your budget every month to click fraud.

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