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Advanced Tips on How to Use the AdWords Display Network


If you’re brand new to the AdWords Display Network, my earlier post introduces you to re-marketing, in-market audiences, keywords, managed placements, target by topic, similar audiences, interests, affinity groups, and demographics. Once you have an overview, read some tips for your bid strategy, campaigns, placement monitoring, overall design, and mobile-friendliness.  After those posts and some time implementing previous suggestions, you’re ready for even more tips on how to use the AdWords Display Network.

Combine Targeting: You can use a combination of the targeting methods available to find a very specific audience.  For example, if you choose keyword targeting with one of the other methods, your ads will be served within the context of a relevant article on a content site. This can be a good option if you find clicks from your Display Network ads are not bringing you traffic that converts.


Don’t overdo your targeting: If you combine too many targeting groups, your reach is reduced significantly.  If you combine a number of targeting methods and find that you are reaching too few people, broaden those groups to ensure you reach a larger number.  Another problem can occur if you overdo targeting because it becomes difficult to determine which targeting method is providing the best return. Keep your combination to a maximum of two groups when you start out so you don’t make your audience too narrow and so you can also get a feel for which targeting method has the greatest return.

Custom affinity audiences: An affinity audience is a group of people with similar interests. The custom affinity audience introduced by Google in October of 2014 lets you decide exactly who you want to reach.  For those who are concerned about being too narrow, immediate estimates are provided as the audience is built, which shows demographics and relevant affinities.  This real time feedback lets you make changes to your ads before you launch.

Display Select: Now that you’re an advanced user on the Display Network, make sure you do not select the “Display Select”.  When you create a new campaign, one of your options is Search Network with Display Select which is described by Google as the “Best opportunity to reach the most customers”.  It may reach the most people, but not necessarily the best customers.  What this does is tell Google to use the budget on the Search Network first, with leftover money on the Display Network. It may be easier for new advertisers to manage, but ultimately it’s not worth the loss of control of your budget.

Reach and Frequency:  These columns are only available for the Display Network and are found under Campaigns > Columns. The Avg. impress. freq. per cookie is the average number of times your ad was displayed to a user. This can help you determine how engaging your ad is. With a number close to 1, it means most users clicked on your ad after seeing it one time. It tells you how many times people need to see your ad before they click and is data you may want to use to decide where to cap frequency.


Check Active View Metrics: Each tab in your account offers the option to add additional information to your screen by using Columns.  In Columns, select the Performance (Active View) metrics and add all three columns to get this viewable CPM data mentioned above.  The Active View, viewable impressions shows how many times your ad was viewable on the Display Network. Google counts this only when at least half of the ad shows for at least one second. The viewable CTR column tells you how many clicked on the ad and Avg CPM gives you the average charge for when your ad has 1,000 viewable impressions.  The key advantage of this option is advertisers are charged only when the ad is really seen.  With the CPM bid strategy, advertisers are charged when the ad is loaded on a page – not whether or not it is viewable.

Mastering the Display Network is key to building a successful campaign.  The main thing to remember is that it is very different from the Search Network in terms of user behavior and the targeting options are really unlimited so you can reach the right audience for your specific business.

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