We made quite a few Display Ads. After all, we are a full service ad agency. In this blog post, we are going to break down how to make a fully optimized Google Display Ads campaign in 2023.
One of the biggest problems that people have with Google Display Ads is the low quality of leads that they bring in or just bad traffic quality in general. We’ve certainly experienced this as well. Very often the traffic that comes from Display Ads will have the lowest engagement rate and the lowest average session duration.
In our experience, this can come from several reasons. Most often we see people using the wrong campaign settings or targeting. Using some options will increase the chance of you seeing bot traffic on your website, or receiving a lot of cheap, low-quality clicks.
We’ve also seen people run a picture of coins on a plain white background as an ad. That’s not a great way to grab someone’s attention and make them click on your ads. Ad quality is the most important thing in advertising. If your creative is bad, no amount of money can help you.
One more thing you have to consider is banner blindness. Google shows Display Ads on websites, apps, and Google-owned properties. A good question to ask is how many people actually notice the banner is there.
Banner ads can also be very intrusive, annoying, and generally not what people are looking for when they are browsing the internet. That’s how you end up with a lot of misclicks or very low-intent traffic.
Google Display Ads have their place in your marketing mix. There are also some things they are not very good for. Another mistake people often make is using this campaign type for the wrong goals. The campaign type and the goal simply don’t match well.
While we can’t completely eliminate any of these issues, what we can do is show you how to minimize them.
Whether you are already running Google Display Ads by yourself, or you are working with a Google Ads agency, it’s best to start from the basics.
Google Display Ads are banner (video) ads that appear on millions of websites, apps, or Google-owned properties across the internet, also known as Google Display Network.
Image source: Create a Display campaign
Display Ads is one of the campaign types supported on Google Ads.
There are Standard Display Ads and Responsive Display Ads. Standard Display Ads are also called Uploaded Display Ads. It simply allows you to manually upload all your banner sizes to Google Ads. This option offers you more control over your creative.
Responsive Display Ads on the other hand allow you to upload your assets such as headlines, descriptions, logos, images, and videos, and then Google automatically generates combinations for websites, apps, YouTube, and Gmail. These ads can automatically adjust their size and format so that they fit into available ad space.
As we mentioned before, a lot of users are having trouble with bad traffic coming from Display Ads. As you are browsing the internet, the Display Ads will appear on websites you are browsing, apps you are using, as well as Gmail or YouTube.
It is highly likely that this is not the content you are looking for at the moment.
Compare that to Search Ads. If you are looking for “blue polo t-shirts on sale” and you see an ad for 15% off on blue polo t-shirts, that ad is highly relevant. When you are searching for things with an intent to buy, an ad like this is much more interesting and relevant.
On the other hand, if you are reading an article about the economic meltdown, you might not even notice a blue polo t-shirt ad that’s on the right side of the website. Your intent to buy at that moment is much lower.
That’s why you see a lot of low-quality leads and bad traffic. And sometimes it’s just bots. You can use tools like Hotjar to look at recordings of how people browse your website. It will give you a decent idea of what their intent is, or if they are a real person or not.
Therefore, Google Display Ads are great if you are looking to build awareness or drive traffic. It is relatively inexpensive to run a Display Ad campaign focused on impressions. And with a few tweaks, you might get some decent traffic. When we say traffic we mean the top-of-the-funnel (people who are not yet familiar with your brand, or people in the consideration phase).
To make a new Google Display Ads campaign you want to click the blue button with the white plus sign. That will start the campaign creation. Next up, you will be asked to choose the campaign objective.
We broke down these in detail in our Google Search Ads post.
Choosing the campaign objective will change how you go through the campaign creation process. It will adjust the options available to you based on your objective. We recommend choosing to create a campaign without the guidance.
The next step is picking a campaign type. Out of 8 Google Ads campaign types available we will be choosing Display.
After that, it's time to pick campaign goals.
Campaign goals are defined on an account level. To set them up you can go to Tools and Settings, and then go to Conversions. Choose your prefer method of setting up these events, and follow the instructions that Google gives you. If you need any further assistance, you can reach out. We'd be glad to help get you started!
Insert your website, which is your landing page where you want users to go after clicking your ad, and name your campaign. We recommend creating a naming system for your campaign. If you start managing 10+ campaigns at the same time, it will make your life a lot easier.
After naming your campaign, you have to pick your language and your target locations. These will depend on the areas your business serves, and your Ideal Customer Profiles.
Now we are onto the additional settings.
We suggest leaving the Ad rotation on the default setting. The ad schedule should be all day unless you have a specification for that.
Here you can target specific devices, if your customers use only mobile phones, or only desktop devices for example.
Campaign URL options allow you to set tracking parameters on the campaign level. You will be able to do this on an ad level as well.
Dynamic Ads let you show your audience personalized content based on what they viewed on your website. If you check this option you will be asked to upload your data feed. This option can be useful for retail and eCommerce brands, but even so, we prefer to leave it off. You can achieve the same effect with more manual control allowing you to tailor content to people who visited specific pages, and not what Google thinks they might want to see.
Enabling “view-through conversions” will allow Google to take credit for conversions people take on your website after seeing your ad. For example, if someone sees your Display ad, then goes on Facebook, sees another one of your ads there, clicks on it, and converts, both Facebook and Google will claim it as a conversion. It’s hard to say if Google contributed to this conversion or not. You can’t actually know if a person saw your ad, or if the ad just appeared on the page. We prefer to leave this off.
Content exclusions allow you to exclude the content that your ad can follow. For example, you don’t want your ad to appear next to adult content. This is an excellent option to protect your brand.
It’s time to set the budget for your campaign. Pick a daily budget you are comfortable spending, and that can also give you significant data so that you can optimize your campaign. How much budget you need will depend on the locations and audiences you are targeting.
You have several bidding options you can focus on. You can bid on Conversions, Conversion Value, or Viewable Impressions. These are the three Smart Bidding options.
If you pick Conversions you can manually set an enhanced CPC bid, or you can pick Maximize Conversions option.
Enhanced CPC will look for auctions that are more likely to result in a lead or a sale and it will increase your max CPC bid to help you compete harder for those clicks.
You can also set a target cost per action. For example, that would be the average price you are willing to pay for one conversion.
You can also opt-in to manually select a bidding strategy.
Target CPA allows you to set a Target Cost Per Acquisition. That’s the average price you are willing to pay for each conversion event. Google will use this to set bids automatically whenever your ad is eligible to appear. Some conversions might cost more, and some might cost less, but Google will try to keep your average cost per conversion around your Target CPA.
Target ROAS allows you to target a return-on-ad-spend you would like to see on your campaign. If you want to use this strategy you must assign a conversion value to your conversion events.
Maximize clicks will focus on delivering the most traffic to your website for the available budget.
Maximize conversions will focus on delivering the most conversions within your budget. This is also a smart bidding strategy.
Maximize conversion value is another value-based automated bidding strategy. It will automatically bid higher for clicks that might result in higher conversion value. While Maximize Conversions is focused on getting more conversions, Maximize conversion value is focused on generating more conversion value.
Viewable CPM allows you to bid for impressions that are deemed viewable. For example, when you bid on CPM you bid on 1000 impressions. That means you pay 1000 times your ad showed on the screen. When you bid on vCPM you pay for 1000 impressions that are measured as viewed.
You can also set a Manual CPC bid which allows you set a target of how much you want to pay per click on average.
Now we are going to explain all the targeting options and give you some tips to make sure you use the right ones.
Optimized targeting is automatically turned on for all campaigns. You can turn it off in Ad Group settings. It will take information from your assets and find audiences that are likely to meet your campaign goal.
Here is what each of these targeting options does:
So, which of these targeting options you should use?
Well, it depends on your goal. It will also be determined by your ICP. Your business type will also factor into this decision.
If your goal is to drive awareness, you will most likely look to target people who are similar to your customers. Previously, you would upload your customer list, and Google would automatically create similar segments based on that. Since Similar segments are going away, you can supplement this with Affinity and In-Market segments, keywords, and topics.
One more tip - to narrow down your targeting for even more relevance, consider using Custom segments. They allow you to target people who are searching for specific terms or have purchase intents about those terms, visit similar websites to your list, or have use apps similar to the ones you choose.
With awareness, you want a broad audience. You want as many people to see your ad and hopefully remember it.
Now, if your goal is to generate traffic, you would also start with Custom segments, but we recommend narrowing down the audience as much as you can. It will decrease the traffic volume, but it should in theory increase the traffic quality as you will make sure you are reaching only the most relevant users.
If your goal is to generate leads or sales, don’t use Display Ads.
When you start creating your Display ad, you will automatically start with Responsive Display Ads. You can still upload your own Display Ads, but we recommend sticking with Responsive ones.
Google Display Ads allow you to upload several different types of assets: Images, Videos, Headlines, Long Headlines, and Descriptions.
You can upload up to:
Since Display ads are highly-visual, we suggest that you make sure that your image is high resolution, has the right dimensions, has contrast, and can catch the attention of a user. Also, when designing your banners, make sure that the design follows and compliments the message of the campaign and the ad copy.
Responsive Display Ad dimensions are 1200x628px and 1200x1200px. You need at least one portrait and one landscape ad.
We suggest leaving “Use asset enhancements” and “Use native formats” on. However, it is always better to use your own video ad than auto-generated one.
Now that you know how to create a successful Google Display Ads campaign, let’s recap everything.
Display Ads are banner ads that appear on websites, apps, YouTube, and Gmail.
They can be great when it comes to generating brand awareness and driving visits to your website.
When it comes to lead generation and sales, they are not the best choice for the job. This is simply due to the fact that users are generally low-intent when they encounter these ads. It becomes even more clear when you add banner blindness on top of that.
While making your next Display campaign, make sure you choose the right bidding strategy, and that you narrow down your audience for the most relevant traffic.
Lastly, you should constantly monitor the performance of your campaigns. You can use the Google Ads Manager, or even tools like Google Analytics to analyze your traffic and see if you are getting desired results.
If you feel like you need help managing your Display Ads, consider hiring a Google Ads agency. We have a full guide on how to select the right one for you.
Keep up with the latest Google Ads changes to boost your performance.
Learn how to make a fully optimized Google Search Ads campaign in 2023 and take advantage of all the features.