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What is the Display Network?

First, let’s define Display Ad:

A Display Ad is the type of ad that’s going to be shown on the display network. It’s basically a banner or image ad that appears on a website.

Banner ads have been around way before Google existed.

If I’m browsing website A, I might see an ad for website B. I click on the ad and it takes me to website B.

When you’re setting up Display Ads in the Google Ads platform, you can upload these banners directly. You can create the images yourself or have a designer create them. Got the image file? Great. You can simply upload it directly onto the platform.

Google also has a way for you to create Responsive Display Ads. You can upload this with multiple images but the image will not have any texts on it. In addition to that, within the Google Ads system, you would add the text such headlines and descriptions. Google then takes these elements (image and added text), and uses parts or most of what you wrote, depending on where that ad is going to show online. Sometimes it won’t have the image, it will only have the text that you wrote (just the headline, shortened version of the headline, or description). 

The benefit of Responsive Display Ads is that you don’t have to create all kinds of different sizes. The system does that for you. You just upload the basic assets to Google, their system then takes those, and they can rearrange your assets and fit them wherever they need to go. The reason for that is because the places where these display ads are going to show on the display network are varied. There are lots of different formats and sizes for display ads to actually show.


Let’s look at this from a perspective of someone who actually owns a website. 

Let’s say I am a travel blogger and I have built up a readership, people are coming to my site and getting a lot of traffic. To motivate me to continue writing this blog, I decided to make some money from it. A very easy thing for me to do as a publisher is to put Google Ads on my website.

If I’m a publisher, what I’m going do is to sign up for AdSense. That’s going to allow me to put Google Ads on my site.

  1. I sign up for AdSense
  2. I get a code from Google
  3. I put that code onto my travel blog

Now there’s a specific spot on my blog where I want these ads to show. There are many sizes to choose from, but I will decide on what size I want them to be. I’m going to put that code on my travel blog for the size that I want it to be. Now what happens is, people who are advertising with Google Ads on the Display Network can have their ads shown on my blog. 

Whenever somebody clicks on that ad, Google is going to split the revenue from that click. Google keeps part of it, while the owner of the website takes another part of the revenue.

That’s how a blogger, publisher, or a news website makes money from this arrangement.

Google has made it so simple. 

They’ve actually had it set up so you can earn a decent amount of revenue. If you’re getting a lot of traffic from your website, Google is going to pay you a bit significantly just for putting ads on your website.

There are lots of advertisers wanting to advertise on Google’s display network. This creates demand. When people click on those ads, the website’s publisher makes money.  It’s a really good balance of supply and demand. I would say that the demand is actually greater than the supply, and it works out pretty well for the publishers.

Is it overpriced?

In my opinion, it can be overpriced for us advertisers at times. It is hard for most advertisers to be successful in advertising on the display network. If there were more “supply” i.e. more websites, more traffic available to show on the display network, then advertising costs would come down and it would be easier to make a profit.

Lots of websites with heavy traffic run Google Ads.

There are also Google Display Ads on YouTube. Because YouTube is owned by Google, they have inventory for Google Display Ads.

Most of the time, when you’re just browsing the internet, wherever that may be, you’re going to see these Google Ads. You can usually tell it’s a Google Ad. On the top right of the ad, there’s a little triangle icon. Hover over it, and you will see it labeled as Ad choices.

Do I think it’s a good idea to advertise on the display network? 

That depends on the type of business that you have and the experience that you have with Google Ads. For the most part, I don’t think it’s a good idea to advertise on the display network. You need to really have a well-oiled machine. You need to have your ads, your messaging, your product really dialed in for the display network to work. Otherwise, it’s just too expensive.

Should you take this option?

There’s an option when you’re setting up search campaign and Google tries to get you to add the display network to this. It will give you the option to, according to Google, expand your reach by showing ads to relevant customers as they browse sites, videos, and apps across the internet. 

So when you’re setting up a campaign and see a checkbox to include Google Display network, think twice. It’s overpriced because it *can* work, however, supply of quality websites that will drive traffic to you can be low so costs can be too high.

So many advertisers check that box without really knowing what they’re doing, and they end up spending money on the display network which drives the costs up even more. My recommendation is NOT to check that box.

What you can do…

If you’re going to advertise on the Display Network, you should have a campaign that’s completely separate from the search network campaign so you can really track it and see how it’s working.

Keep in mind that this traffic of people never really intended to come to your website. That’s why it’s hard to make it work. People who are initially browsing another website may see your ad and have some interest in what you’re offering. A lot of the time, they just click the ad by mistake and leave right away. But you really need your messaging “dialed in” in order to convert that type of traffic into paying customers where you can actually make a profit.

One thing that advertisers should be doing in the Display Network is Remarketing Ads. In that case, it is pretty cost-effective because you’re putting ads in front of people who have already been to your website.

What’s the bottom line?

Most of the time, I recommend to just stay away from Display Network Ads, unless you really know what you’re doing, or you really want to invest some time and money testing, or you find someone who can help you (and even then I’d be very cautious). You shouldn’t throw so much money on display network until you figure out if it’s going to work for your business.

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  1. […] Again, if I’m running an ad for a company, usually we’re not doing Display Network unless it’s just remarketing, especially for a l… […]

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