If you’ve been following these PPC blogs, you will see that the topics follow the course of creating and optimising an Adwords account. These are written in such a way that any advertiser can follow the blogs as a step by step guide of how to use Adwords to its full potential. These blogs should give you the knowledge to build your own account, however if you find the theory too time consuming, you can enquire about our pay per click management here. I try to publish these blogs once a week so readers have something new to try out each week, however you may find you would rather wait for longer than a week before implementing any of these methods/tools. The following blog (part 1 of a 3 part series) outlines the benefits and basic background of the display network. If the display network is something you would like to try out but not quite yet, or have any additional questions, please feel free to enquire via our website or get in touch via Twitter (@BenGarrity).

Part 1

After running an Adwords account for a month or two (depending on your attention span) you might begin to think “So, what now?” You may have structured your account properly, monitored and excluded any irrelevant traffic, optimised ads and keyword lists etc and have your account performing to a reasonable standard. If you’ve got a spare bit of budget (I would say minimum £5 a day) why not try the display network? (Previously known as the content network.)

I know what you’re thinking – So STOP. (Hammertime)

If I had a penny for every time a client has said “I’ve tried the display network before and I just wasted money” I would have enough money to buy Google by now. There are two ways to run display ads – the generic, money wasting, makes-you-break-out-in-a-cold-sweat kind of way and then there’s the clever, amazing, I-would-marry-Google-if-I-could kind of way (which we like).

Firstly, what is the display network? The GDN (Google Display Network) is a network of websites who have all opted into the ‘Adsense’ program. By doing so, these website publishers have agreed to have adverts (including yours) displayed on their sites. This allows you to display your adverts in a more ‘billboard’ fashion, rather than users having to search for your specific brand/service/product in order to see your ads. This method is especially beneficial for those providing luxury/non-essential products/services. The reason for this being that if you need a new washing machine, you will buy one. If you don’t need one, you wont buy one, regardless of how amazing the advertising is. With more luxury products (jewellery, clothes, accessories, beauty products, some electricals, holidays etc) you can encourage users to buy these products at any point, not just when they need them.

Using the GDN, you can run text ads, image ads, animated ads, and even video ads. There are several different pricing structures for these ads but the most common is CPC (cost-per-click), although CPM (cost per thousand impressions) and CPA (cost-per-acquisition) are also available. We will focus on the CPC model as this can is the most commonly used and can lead to lots of free brand exposure.

“So…” (I hear you scream in anticipation) “…How do I choose where my adverts appear?”

 Here are the two categories display placements fall under:

Original Image by: zhenikeyev Flickr

Automatic placements are only useful to identify websites you could potentially show your ads on in the future or if you are in the smallest, most specific industry in the world like watermelon art or chameleon dentistry – The smaller the industry the less sites your ads will be relevant to and the less budget you should waste.

Managed Placements are much more specific, even down to choosing the exact website you want your adverts to appear on.

Lets assume for a moment that you offer smoking cessation services. Using managed placements you can run adverts on ‘giving up smoking’ advice websites, thus targeting relevant users at a time that they are interested in your services.

By using the automatic placements option, Google could contextually target your adverts to a cancer support site that just so happens to mention the word ‘smoking’ on the page (maybe as a cause of lung cancer or another unrelated context)  – This would obviously be a quite distasteful placement and would encourage negative feelings towards your brand as a whole, let alone that one individual advert.

This is where managed placements come in. Using this method, you can use keywords, topics and placements (or a combination of the three) to ensure your ads are only appearing on the most relevant sites.

So what does all this have to with brand awareness? Using the CPC model, you, as an advertiser, only pay when users click on your adverts. Therefore, when your ad appears (thus displaying your call to action and logo etc) you don’t pay anything. It’s like having a free mini online billboard – until a user clicks in which case you will pay the relevant CPC. And don’t worry about low CTRs from using the GDN for brand awareness – your display network quality score wont affect that of your search ads.

Have a think about your products/services – are they purchased on a ‘need’ or ‘want’ basis? Lawyer = Need. Manicurist = Want. Would your customers be willing to use your services all year round and not just in a particular situation? If you have ‘want’ services, you can target a broader range of users and will most likely reap better rewards. If you have a ‘need’ service, you will need to be more specific with your placements.

For example, if you sell handbags, you can show your ads on sites and blogs featuring clothes, fashion, shoes, handbags, jewellery etc as you know these users will most likely be interested in your product as well as the products the site itself offers.

However, if you are selling dining room tables for example, this is not really an ‘impulse buy’ and users will only buy a dining room table if they have an empty dining room to put it in. For this reason, you would receive the best results from showing your ads only on highly relevant websites (E.g. furniture websites which sell similar products.)

(Again, if you are unsure which catagory your company falls under, please feel free to get in touch.)

Pros of the GDN

  • Cheaper CPCs than search
  • You can reach a wider audience than just those users actively typing in your keywords
  • Free brand awareness with the CPC pricing option
  • The opportunity to show video/image content
  • Only a small point, but you can also include words in all capitals in image ads which you are prohibited from using in text ads. This means you can emphasise words such as ‘SALE’ or ‘FREE DELIVERY’
Cons of the GDN
  • GDN ads almost always receive a lower CTR than search but again, this does not affect your search CTR
  • Alot easier to target irrelevant users thanks to automatic placements or not using targeting options properly

Next week I will be publishing part 2 which will show you how to set up and optimise a display network campaign. The following week, part 3 will delve into the more advanced features of the display network.

In the meantime,  have a closer look at your products/services, work out what other interests your customers have and see if you can determine the kind of sites you would want your ads to show on.

Once you’ve determined this, you will be in a great position to create your campaign.

P.S. If you’d like to see examples of some great placements, the Daily Mail website have some great ones that you probably wont have recognised as ads as they are so well merged with the site: www.dailymail.co.uk/femail