Does Google really make the grass greener?.. To some people the answer is “yes”. To others, it is just another deep dark hole that they throw money into (with little return). Google can either be the best friend, or the worst enemy to your advertising budget.

You need to understand the difference between the display and search networks, and that specific strategy is required for each (It’s not a one-size-fits-all) in order to maximise return on your ad spend.

The Google Search Network

This is what most people are used to. Those wonderful text ads that appear alongside the search bar in Google when you type in a search query. It’s a well-oiled form of PPC advertising (if you’re still unsure what that means, head on over to our Jargon buster!).

This form of advertising is incredibly effective, as it targets customers that are actively searching – i.e. there is some demonstration that they are looking for things that you might be able to sell to them. If you have a business that has clear services / solutions, then search marketing is probably for you. What’s more, you only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad, meaning that the cost to acquire is generally lower.

You should definitely get onboard with search advertising if:

  • You have a “right now” type of business. That is, you sell something that people look for when they need it. Plumbers, lawyers, accountants, locksmiths etc. If you are a business like this, Google search advertising is a must.
  • You have a low marketing budget. As the search network can generate direct conversions, it makes it easy for you to see where your money is going.

The Google Display Network

In addition to the search advertising, Google also gives you the opportunity to get your ad placed on a list of popular websites across the internet. These sites include over 2 million websites (so say Google) and can reach over 90% of global internet users. In short, if you want to reach as many people as possible, the display network is a likely vehicle to get your message out there.

Get onboard with display advertising if:

  • Your product is more complex a purchase than a simple “I need it now” proposition. The display network allows advertisers to drop ads into the normal browsing experience, and is a good way to help you build your brand’s presence.
  • You want to remarket to your audience. The display network is a great way to facilitate “follow-you” or remarketing strategies – meaning that when people have visited your website, your ads can effectively follow them around when visiting other websites. Be mindful that this can border on the feeling of being “stalked”, so ensure that your ads are well designed and offer true and compelling value to the audience at all times.
  • You want to get your video out there. The display network includes websites like YouTube, so if you’ve splashed out and created some expensive video content, why not put it to good use? It’s been demonstrated time and again that people are much more willing to engage with video content than standard static ads, making this a great opportunity to deliver return on your creative investment.

Be aware of the two network solutions, and design your activity specifically for each.

Don’t try to run the same campaign across both Google networks – as commonly this will fail. Instead, break your campaign into network specific activations in order to get the most bang for your buck.

A couple of things to consider:

  • You voice should be different across the networks: as the search and display solutions will appear in front of people at different times – while they have different needs – it’s important that your voice or key message be different in each. For example, in search they might be looking for you right now, so it’s simple enough to say “Click here for discount floor tiles in your area”. By comparison, on the display network it would be more important for your ad to focus on the value that you provide. Show off your brand promise, speak more to the general nature of your proposition, i.e. “For over 30 years John’s tiles have been producing quality stone floor-tiles”.
  • Keep your campaign activities in separate ad groups: as there is expected to be a different result from each network, separating your ads into groups lets you attribute success or failure (or cost) accurately. For example, the Display network generally produces lower click-through rates than search. If you are trying to measure engagement based on clicks, then this would skew your overall results if they’re not separately monitored.