Segmenting search and display campaigns is a basic best practice that we are taught as PPC fledglings. However, I am guilty of having a campaign or two that targets both “Search & Display Networks”.

I can give you a list of excuses. The campaign is hitting goals, it doesn’t spend much or there have been other parts of the account that demand my focus. But if you are like me and have a “Search & Display” targeted campaign tucked away somewhere within your account, you probably received the email from Google.  In September, any campaign that targets both the “Search & Display Networks” will be migrated to “Search Network with Display Select”.

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Google is making it very easy to make the switch by showing this alert every time you login. Just click ‘Fix it’ and the problem will go away. However, before you jump head first, let’s review all available options. Once the switch is made, there will be no going back to the “Search & Display Network” campaign type.

Listing Options & Making Decisions 

  1. Try “Search Network with Display Select”

 What is ‘Display Select’? Jeff Baum wrote an article about “Search Network with Display Select” when Google first released the new campaign type.  As you can read above, Google believes that you will pay on average 35% less for each customer on the Display Network. The idea behind ‘Display Select’ is that Google has special methods that will show your ads to a smaller percentage of potential customers, but these individuals will more likely be interested in your product.  Performance will be similar to “Search & Display Network” campaigns, but ads will show less often on the Display Network to more qualified individuals.

  1. Segment Search and Display Now

There is a reason that segmenting search and display campaigns is considered a best practice: control and performance.  Keywords and ads that work well on the Display Network do not always work well with search. What do you do if one keyword has a wonderful CPA for search, but a terrible one for display? For this reason (among others) is why you would segment search and display.

I would take advantage of Google’s demand to fix it and make the change to best practices, especially if your display/search campaigns have a high volume of display conversions. Google recommends that if you still want to reach the largest amount of people and have the control that we love – targeting, bidding, and budgeting – “Display Network only” campaigns are still the way to go.

  1. Wait and See

 There is always this third option to do nothing. Any account choosing this option will be migrated later this year to ‘Search Network with Display Select’.  If you plan to actually do the full segmentation, I would recommend moving sooner to guarantee that a “Display Network only” copy of your campaign can be created.

Step-by-Step: Let’s Make the Switch

  1. Go with your instincts. Click ‘Fix it’! After you take the first step towards fixing the issue, Google will prompt you again: are you sure? Since you are, proceed to the next page. Here is where you might want to revisit your initial decision and strategy. Google will calculate an estimated performance change.  Google is telling me below that about 50% of my traffic and spend is coming from the Display Network.  Though ‘Display Select’ is supposed to selectively cut down on wasted impressions, this is a good situation to seriously reconsider creating a “Display Network only” campaign. After you click ‘Continue’, you will be given that option.

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  1. Make a duplicate display campaign.You will now be given the option to upgrade this campaign and create a duplicate “Display Only” version of your campaign. Do this! You will be able to pause the campaign right away, but it will give you the option to easily segment search and display in the future, if you feel inclined. 

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  1. Optional: Change “Search Network with Display Select” to “Search Network only”. If you decided to completely segment search from display, you will now want to review your campaign settings for the original, but now upgraded, campaign. Edit the type to “Search Network Only”.
  1. Wait and See. The last option above is the last step in the upgrading process. It is time to monitor your results and make changes accordingly. When using ‘Search with Display Select’, I have grown to expect a low volume of conversions from the display network.  Watch performance and decide what needs to be done.

In most situations, I would recommend taking advantage of the required change and create two separate campaigns: “Display Network only” and “Search Network only”. Segmenting the campaigns will give you the control that you have been missing. “Search Network with Display Select’ is only the right answer when you do not have the time needed to optimize both campaigns. Also when the display traffic is minimal compared to search within the same campaign.