In Display Advertising, Google AdWords, Pay Per Click, Services by Olivia

Everything you need to know about the Google Display Network (but were too afraid to ask)

If you’re anything like the rest of us, you spend faaaaaar too much time online.

Whether you’re obsessed with cat memes, taking pointless personality quizzes on BuzzFeed, or simply keeping up with news in your industry, statistics show that 95 per cent of your time online is spent reading and engaging with content on websites.

As a consumer, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to browsing the web.

As a business owner, however, this abundance of content and choice available to consumers can make getting your message across exceptionally difficult.

Enter the Google Display Network (GDN).

What is the Google Display Network?

Designed to help you reach potential customers by generating awareness, increasing sales and driving loyalty, the Google Display Network puts your ads in front of consumers to help them learn about your business as they consider their options.

Typically, when you talk ads on Google, most folk think of the adverts that appear above the organic listings when you carry out a search – but there are other forms of ads that do not get displayed on Google’s search results pages.

These ads appear on what is known as the Google Display Network or GDN, and can take many forms, such as:

  • Static image banners
  • Rotating image banners
  • Videos

The GDN itself serves a number of different purposes, and has certainly come a long way in the past decade from being focused purely on pre-defined placements to expanding into remarketing and including YouTube within the GDN.

Below, we take a look at the different campaign types you can use to exploit the GDN for the benefits of your business.

Brand Awareness

This is the type of campaign the GDN originally existed for, and is still one of the best ways to complement your search campaigns.

No matter the form of marketing employed or the year in which it is done, brand awareness will always be a major part of every marketing campaign – because who doesn’t need brand awareness?

Using the GDN, a great way to create targeted brand awareness campaigns is to directly replicate your search campaigns and target your ad banners to websites that contain the same keywords you’re targeting on search.

Why is this a good approach?

Because if a user is searching those keywords, they’re clearly displaying an intent to read content on that subject.

Likewise, if they’re already viewing a webpage that contains that keyword content, they evidently have a clear interest in it, so it pays to serve them a banner at the side of the article they’re reading that could either direct them to your website if they click, or reinforce your brand with them at an appropriate time and place.

plusnet google display ads

plusnet really going for brand awareness here on via the GDN

As well as targeting your brand awareness campaign on the basis of a web page’s keyword content, you can also target your ads based on:

  • Interest
  • Topic
  • Affinity audiences
  • Managed placements

In terms of further refinement, you can use information on demographics such as age and gender to refine your targeting, as well as using negative keywords as you would on any Google AdWords campaign.

You may sometimes hear campaigns of this type referred to as pre-targeting, though this is a new term thought up by agencies to make them sound a little sexier and easier to sell …


Just as essential as a general brand awareness campaign is a remarketing (sometimes called retargeting) campaign.

The purpose of a remarketing campaign is to serve your ads to users who have visited your site but have left without converting (making an enquiry or purchasing a product, for example). These ads are served to them as they browse elsewhere online, provided the site they’re on is part of the GDN.

Depending on your level of knowledge and skill, your remarketing lists can become ever more refined and return conversions at a much lower cost than a standard search or brand awareness campaign. This is achieved because all users targeted via these campaigns have very recently interacted with your business, so are instantly more likely to convert if directed back to your website.

Remarketing ads can take two main forms: Dynamic and Standard.

Standard is much like the general banner ads you would use on a GDN brand awareness campaign, whereas Dynamic contain the product(s) a user viewed before exiting your site. As you can imagine, the latter generally has better conversion rates as the ad content is highly targeted.

saxon remarketing ad example

Standard Remarketing Ads from Saxon served via the GDN on a local news website. (with a general brand awareness banner at the top for Oak Furniture Land)

As well as on websites, remarketing ads can also show in mobile apps and on YouTube within the GDN. As an extra tip, you can now run remarketing campaigns on the Google Search Network via remarketing lists for search ads.

Make the Best Use of the GDN

Now you (hopefully) have a better understanding of what the GDN is, the ad formats available and how best to target them, you can go ahead and get some campaigns live.

In the interest of best practice, it’s our advice that:

  • Even if you have no other AdWords campaigns running, implementing a remarketing campaign will be highly cost effective and a great way to capture lost sales
  • If you’re running campaigns on the Google Search Network, your campaigns should be replicated for the Google Display Network, because who doesn’t need brand awareness?
  • If you have campaigns targeting both the search and display networks, they should be done via separate campaigns that target the search or display network ONLY

If you’d like further information on how the GDN could benefit your business, please don’t hesitate to contact our team.

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