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Optimising Google Display Network ad spend

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 19 Feb, 2014
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Minimize Waste, Maximize Impact by Optimizing Your Ads on Google Display Network

Google’s ads are shown on more than 2 million publisher websites a day, and that kind of broad reach can carry an incredibly powerful campaign — or send a lot of money to a lot of dead ends and wrong addresses. More than $12 billion of Google’s $43 billion in ad revenue came from Google Network members’ websites in 2013, but not all of this revenue yielded positive outcomes for the businesses that paid for them...

A business wastes time and money when an ad campaign fails to yield the desired conversions or actions from its target audience. For instance, if your ads are being shown to people outside of the geographic area you serve, that’s campaign waste.

Your business can create an effective and efficient ad campaign by using Google’s tools and taking a few simple steps to avoid campaign waste from the start.

Why Google’s Tools Have the Power to Optimize Your Message

While another avenue might be appealing, there are three compelling reasons why Google can offer more bang for your buck:

  • 1. Google’s reach is unparalleled. The search engine serves billions of ad impressions each day across hundreds of thousands of websites, so it’s possible that people all over the globe will see your ads multiple times. Google Display Network has a reach that was unheard of in the days before the web, and a broad reach is actually affordable now.
  • 2. Google gives you a sixth sense. Google allows you to target your ads granularly. You can narrow your campaign by keyword, geography, website, and other parameters, and with real-time bidding, you can see the results of these choices as the ads are displayed.
  • 3. You can continue the conversation. Google provides remarketing tools that allow you to specifically target those who have visited your website. This means that you can advertise to potential customers after they’ve left your site. Combine this with Google’s powerful search companion ads, and you can target all kinds of people who have shown an interest in what you have to offer.

Five Valuable Tips for Advertising on Google Display Network

To make advertising on Google Display Network effective, I recommend:

1. Not all display campaigns are created equal — test to find what works best for you.

The Google Display Network offers a variety of campaign options that target users’ interests, display preferences, demographic information, and more. It also offers engagement opportunities through nontraditional mediums, including Gmail and TrueView ads on YouTube.

With such versatile campaign options, it’s important to test as many campaign types as possible to assess which techniques engage your audience best.

2. Display campaigns are like a ski trip in the mountains — layering is a good thing.

To fully optimize a campaign, companies should consider layering targeting methods to create finely tailored display segments for specifically targeted ad copy. This method can boost conversion rates and ROI.

Google often touts case studies of advertisers who layer two or even three campaign types, and targeting settings increases engagement and conversion rates by hundreds — or even thousands — of percentage points.

3. Use subtotal placement performance reporting — but don’t worry about this for remarketing.

Once you’ve determined the ad campaign to which your audience responds most positively, Google offers statistics and measurements to evaluate your ad performance and gain insight into why your ads were matched to a specific placement and which sites and ad targeting offered the best (and worst) results. This information is highly valuable for determining where to invest in the future and where to stop showing your ads to save money.

4. Request a search lift report.

With this type of reporting, Google will help you understand how many more search queries your brand and campaigns received from advertising with display and/or video ads.

If you meet the minimum campaign reach Google requires, you can get some really insightful data on how your display efforts increased in search volume based on geography, which specific terms were impacted, which campaign types performed best, and which ad frequency works best for your message.

Reach out to Google before you start your campaign, and an account team can help you set up the A/B testing to get your impact study.

5. Time is on your side for remarketing.

The hours surrounding a potential customer’s most recent activity on your site are crucial. The more time that passes, the less likely he or she is to convert.

Remarketing ads are substantially more effective in converting people who’ve been in the final steps of your conversion process in the past one to five days than those who were on your page 25 days ago. By default, any remarketing lasts for 30 days. When creating your list, segment smaller targeting windows for increased ROI and efficiency.

4 Simple Steps to an Effective AdWords Campaign for the Google Display Network

A campaign doesn’t need to be complicated to be successful. Just follow these guidelines to get the best results.

Step 1: Eradicate negative keyword themes.

We want to add negative keywords for themes that a computer search algorithm might assume relate to what you’re offering, but are actually irrelevant. For instance, if you’re selling Apple accessories, “apple” and “accessories” might show up in unrelated websites (such as sites related to apple picking in Upstate New York or fashion-related sites discussing the latest fashion accessories).

Use Google’s Display Planner to find the keywords that are irrelevant to your interests, and include them as negative keywords. You can only have 50 negative keywords per ad group, so try to focus on the top broad keywords that would yield irrelevant results.


Step 2: Don’t set it and forget it.

Most ad campaigns require some tweaking. AdWords allows forconstant optimization and auditing, which are features your campaigns should take advantage of.

Monitor which sites your contextual display ads are effective on and which are contributing to campaign waste, and then adjust your budget and remove the useless sites from your campaign. Keep track of which sites and keywords work for which campaigns, and use that data in future advertising.

Remember: Website performance and audience fluctuate, so even if one site is successful now, it may not be in a month’s time. Stay vigilant; the only way to avoid campaign waste is to watch out for it.

Step 3: Don’t break the bank on your first campaign.

With the power of Google’s vast display network at your fingertips, it’s easy to overspend, especially when first starting out. You may get good results by spending a lot, but chances are high that only a fraction of that amount is actually doing anything for you.

Start small to test campaigns for a week or two. Monitor the site reporting, and make adjustments based on the results. It’s better to underspend than to waste money right off the bat.

Step 4: Know your limitations.

The display network is a different beast than the search network. Expertise in the search world doesn’t always translate when it comes to running a successful display campaign.

If you think you might need help, get it. Google and Yahoo have representatives who are willing to guide you through the process of setting up display advertising with their respective networks. Keep the reps abreast of what you’re doing, and they can help you in return. The Internet is a vast resource full of people who know all sorts of things. Don’t be reluctant to ask for help.

Google provides a huge network of websites that allow you to run an effective online advertising campaign. Whatever your product or service, chances are good that you can find the people who want what you’re selling. As long as you follow these easy steps and keep track of the results, display advertising can be a truly effective weapon in your marketing arsenal.

Marc Weisinger is Director of Marketing at Elite SEM, one of the fastest-growing search engine marketing agencies in the U.S. Marc has worked as a search engine marketing (SEM) professional for over 8 years and teaches an SEM course at New York University. Marc is a thought leader in SEM and online marketing, and he can be reached on Twitter or Google+Google Authorship

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