Display Network Best Practices

This is the second post PPC Hero’s series on How to Succeed on the Display Network. This post focuses on the best practices for structuring Display Campaigns, available  targeting options, and tips for optimizing performance on the Display Network.

Yesterday, Abby wrote on the similarities and differences between the Google Display Network and Bing Content Network. In this post I’m going to just focus on Google since, well, I’ve actually seen success on it and it’s got a lot more to offer in its targeting options. The general best practices discussed here though can be applied to both search engines.

Display Campaign Structure Best Practices

The Display Network is a completely different animal than the Search Network. You are targeting people earlier in the buying cycle who are not actively searching for your product or service. Therefor, your strategy is going to be completely different. Below are the best practices to follow when running ads on the Display Network. You can view a helpful article from Google that walks you through the step-by-step process of setting up Display campaigns here.

  • Separate Search and Display Campaigns. You are targeting a completely different audience on the Display Network that behaves in a different manner.
  • Create tightly themed ad groups of between 5-20 keywords. The more closely related your keywords, the more likely it is that your ads will be targeted to the write audience. A good strategy is to create ad groups around each product or service you offer.
  • Avoid dynamic keyword insertion. Because no one particular keyword is used to trigger your ads on the Display Network, keyword insertion will not function properly. Therefore we do not recommend using it as part of your ad text.
  • Include negative keywords. The more negative keywords included on a particular topic, the less likely your ad is to appear on pages that match that topic.
  • Test multiple ad formats in all available sizes. Don’t just stick with running text ads on the Display Network. Test image and video ads to determine what type of ad will perform best.
  • Utilize targeting methods to reach different audiences. Google offers many different targeting options for the Display Network. We’ll go over these more in depth in the next section.

Display Network Targeting

In the Display Network’s infancy, when it was still called the Content network, there were just two types of targeting options: automatic placements and managed placements. Now, it seems like Google releases a new type of targeting feature every month. Below is a chart that lays out the different types of targeting options available on the Display Network.

Display Network Targeting OptionsI recommend separating out each type of targeting into its own campaign in order to gauge performance. However, these targeting options can be used together to show your ads to the most relevant users. For example, if you sell jewelry you can select the Topic “Gifts & Special Occasions” and then include keywords like “jewelry” and “necklace” to have your ads show on specific pages within the topic you selected.

So now that you are a little more familiar with all of the targeting options, how do you know which ones to use? Well, I would recommending at least testing all of them but there is a strategy you can follow to effectively grow your conversion volume. Take a look at the graph below from a recent Google Display Network webinar:

Display Network Targeting ChartThis graph compares each of the targeting options on Conversion Rate and CPA. The size of the bubble around each option reflects the conversion volume you can expect. As you can see, Remarketing will have a higher conversion rate and lower CPA than the other options. This makes sense as you are targeting people who have already shown interest in your site. However, you can expect to generate a lower number of conversions since you are targeting a smaller audience.

If you are just starting out on the Display Network, I would recommend starting with Remarketing and Contextual targeting campaigns as they will give you the most return on investment. However, if you are more focused on branding instead of generating conversions, you may want to start with a Topics campaign to reach the largest audience. You overall PPC strategy will guide you in where to begin your Display Network efforts.

Tips For Display Network Optimization

Once you’ve structured your campaigns, selected your targeting options, and started gathering data it’s time to optimize. You can see how you are performing on the Display Network by looking at the Networks tab. Below are 5 tips to follow when making optimizations to Display Campaigns.

  1. Focus on Conversions, not CTR. Your click-through rate on the Display Network will be lower than the search network because of the sheer volume of impressions. Since user behavior on search is different from content, focus on conversions, not CTR. Note that Display Network CTR doesn’t affect your ad’s Quality Score on the Search network.
  2. Increase bids on high-performing sites to maximize the delivery of your ads on those sites. I would note that we have had experiences where adding sites to managed placements has lead to higher cost-per-clicks without much additional conversions, so test a few managed placements at a time to determine if an increase in bidding increases performance.
  3. Decrease bids on poor-performing sites that aren’t meeting your goals.
  4. Exclude from your campaign specific sites and that aren’t performing well. You can exclude placements at the campaign or ad group level. Start small with just excluding sites at the ad group level. Check to make sure a placement isn’t performing well for all ad groups in a campaign before excluding at the campaign level.
  5. Expand on well-performing ad groups. This is the perfect time to put the contextual targeting tool to use.

I hope this post has given you a clearer picture of how to set up and optimize your Display Network campaigns. If you have any tips or questions please post below. Be sure to tune in tomorrow when Jessica will be discussing some of the newest developments for the Google Display Network.