The Lowdown on Display Select Keywords

By Cassie Oumedian | @cass_oumedian | Associate Director of Services at Hanapin Marketing

AdWords is always rolling out new features to help advertisers grow their PPC programs and Display Select Keywords, formerly known as Search Companion Marketing (SCM), are no exception. Display Select Keywords are an efficient way to expand targeting options on the Google Display Network (GDN) based on search intent and likely hood to convert.

This program is still so new that limited information is available around Display Select Keywords or SCM raising lots of questions for PPCHero readers. Below we will help tackle some of your questions by providing a sneak peak into how Display Select keyword targeting works and how they perform compared to other campaigns on the GDN.

What is Display Select?

“Display Select” keywords (formally known as Search Companion Marketing) allows advertisers to show text and image ads on the Google Display Network to users based on their search intent during their search session. Google matches the keywords in your Display campaign to highly relevant pages that have been earmarked as high intent to convert based on page visitor analysis and Google’s algorithm.

So long story short, Display Select Keywords help increase relevancy for the user and conversion rate for the advertiser by showing ads to users that are more likely to convert because they are currently searching for related items on the search and display networks. Because of the high relevancy on search intent, Display Select Keywords are likely to see lower impression volume but more likely to convert based on Google’s predictive conversion algorithm. Display Select Keywords offer a higher level of control compared to broader targeting options.

How To Set Up Display Select Keywords?

For now, you will need to contact your account Google Rep to see if your account is eligible. Or, if you are a Hanapin Client, just reach out to your Account Manager to see if you are able to be whitelisted. Once you’ve gotten the “go ahead” from your Google rep or Account Manager, you will need to create a Display campaign, select the option for Display Select Keywords, and build out the campaign with your top performing Search terms.

After checking with a Google rep, we were notified that this beta is only available currently to 10% of advertisers but is expected to roll out in Q3 2014. More information on the AdWords blog should be coming in August. Stay tuned!

How Do I Determine Successful Performance?

The question of the hour… do they work? Short answer, so far so good! While performance will vary for each account and vertical, in our small sampling below the results are positive.

Display Vs Search Companion Marketing performance analysis

For our analysis we used an ecommerce account with tightly themed generic terms in the Display Select Keyword (a.k.a. Search Companion Marketing) campaign. These terms typically have high competition (and CpCs) in the Search network but convert well. We compared the Display Select Keyword campaign to a contextual keyword Display campaign set up similarly. While the contextual Display campaign yielded more conversions, the Display Select Keyword campaign had 11% lower CPA, 94% higher CTR and 41% lower CPCs.


As with all PPC accounts it’s important to always be testing and looking for new ways to bring incremental conversions. Display Select Keywords are another way to do just that. Stayed tuned as more information starts to roll-out in the coming months or reach out to your Google rep or Account Manager to get started and let us know how Display Select Keyword campaigns perform for you!

Analyzing the AdWords Distance Report

The distance report provides a unique view of your geographic data. The report helps users understand how distance from a location impacts search ad performance.

How to Master Attribution for Easy Budget Planning

In this webinar, Hanapin’s Cassie Oumedian and Google’s Julia Meter will provide tips on using AdWords attribution to directionally decide where you should allocate your budget, and how you can use the changing industry to your advantage.

AdWords Interface Updating By End of 2018

By the end of 2018, the old AdWords interface will be replaced by the new AdWords Experience permanently. The exact date of the transition is up for debate but it is expected to come as early as October, if not earlier in the year.