Display Network

Laptop screen with two red circles

The Google Display Network or GDN is a network that allows advertisers to show text, image or video ads to users directly within websites that are opted into the GDN. The GDN has a huge reach; it gets over 1 trillion monthly impressions and reaches over 90% of all global internet users.

It differs from the Search Network in that marketing on this network is “interruptive marketing.” The user doesn’t really search Google sites to view ads, but your ad interrupts their visual process and takes their attention away from whatever they were viewing in the first place.

This is where clever targeting comes into play: you have to think about where and why your ad should be shown, making sure that your ad is being displayed somewhere close to the actual content on the site. Non-relevant ads are easily ignored so you need to thoroughly research your demographics and placements using the Display Planner tool that can be found within the AdWords interface. Lets look at some of the targeting methods available to us:

  • Keyword: Obviously, keyword-based targeting can be used. This is where Google will attempt to show your ads when your keyword matches the content of a particular site.
  • Topics: Google tries to classify all content on the web as it crawls it. It will then put sites into buckets based on their perceived topics. Topic targeting allows you to target sites that fall into a specific category very easily. It is less targeted than keyword targeting, so it may result in a greater number of impressions and a higher CPA.
  • Interest: Very similar to topic targeting, but it is more focused on the individual user. This is where Google tries to identify content that interests you or I as a user. It then classifies the individual user and drops them into an interest category. It will then allow us to target that user based off which categories they fall into, for example camera enthusiasts or “shutterbugs” as Google calls them.
  • Placements: This is where we can specify exactly where our ad will be served. We select the particular placement using tools to research the placement, estimated amount of impressions and cost per click. Placements can be entire sites, one particular ad slot on a particular site or placements within mobile apps.
  • Demographics: We can also target users based on their broader demographics such as age, gender, parental status, et cetera. However, this is rarely used as the sole targeting method for a campaign and is more likely to be used in combination with other targeting methods. 


Quick Tip

Remember that it’s best to use one primary targeting method per campaign. You can actually have one campaign that uses different targeting methods in different ad groups, but it can end up getting messy. Try to make things easy for yourself and segregate the targeting methods out, so it’s nice and easy to manage them.

The ads you choose to show are also vitally important and need to be thought about very carefully. They need to be visually appealing and eye catching with rich content. Remember they can be static .jpeg images, animated .gif or HTML5 format as well as embedded videos. They are much like ads on the search network, subject to quite strict advertising policies. Check out the full rundown of the advertising policies here and the technical requirements here.