How to use Google Display Network to Boost Sales

How to use Google Display Network to Boost Sales
How to use Google Display Network to Boost Sales

They say if you can’t google it, it doesn’t exist. It is true that as a SME being googleable (what a beautiful word) is essential for your business, what is less talked about are outbound advertising solutions Google offers for you to reach new visitors that can’t be captured with search channels, such as when your prospect is browsing blogs and content relevant to your product &services (Google Display Network contextual targeting) and when they are consuming video content online (YouTube in-stream skippable ads).

Being the biggest fish in the sea, Google went into the furthest corners of the internet to crawl pages for useful information, and in the meantime, acquiring ad spaces across small and big publishers. That’s how Google becomes not only a two-sided platform connecting content provider and search users, but also the biggest ad networks that can put your ads in front of millions of eyeballs.

And don’t be intimidated – tools like Adwords and Display Planner aren’t just built for big brands armed with massive IT departments. With adequate education and practice, you will soon see the benefit of using the free tools courtesy of Google’s mission to get all business online. I will walk you through the many products suitable for your business goals and how to use them to your advantage.

Advertising with Google Display Network

Google’s advertising solutions mainly contribute to paid search and referral traffic. Unlike traditional advertising that’s only available to big brands, Google has put the tools and resources in our hands so that everyone with a tech-savvy mind can run their own advertising campaigns at minimum cost.

In this post, I will breakdown the less talked about ad solution for SME – Google Display Network.

Google Display Network (GDN)- text, image, rich media and video

Online banner ads are descended from Newspaper display ads. The pro is that advertiser can showcase attractive image and compelling copy to grab readers’ attention, the con is that Display ad is often seen as an interruption, taking users away from the article/task they were focusing on. Think about when you are reading a news article on Syrian war and next to it there is an advert about wealth management? A bit jarring isn’t it…this is because traditionally, newspaper ad rates are based on size and positions. Every advertiser is vying for the premium upfront news pages. Content relevancy becomes secondary if considered at all.

The benefit of online display ad lies in that it can still leverage on the advantage of traditional display ad – showcasing attractive imagery and copies to entice consumers – with an added layer of smart targeting that is unique to advertising on the world wide web. You can choose to target only sites and pages containing content relevant to your products/services, or you can target people in a certain region of certain interest based on browser data etc.

Example of how your display ad will appear in GDN site content


Display can bring very good conversion if targeted to the right people in the right context at the right time with good creatives. For instance, if you are running a campaign to market your hand-made jewellery and have found out your ideal customers are urban women aged between 25-35 interested in beauty, fitness and spa treatments, you may want to make better use or your marketing dollars on this particular target group and place your ads on beauty/wellness/fitness blogs and websites.

Some measure display ad performance by click-thru rate, however I’d argue that the likelihood of a prospect making the purchase after seeing the ad without clicking if even greater. For the many display campaigns I’ve run on adnetworks, the view-thru conversions is always many times more than click-thru conversions. Again, Advertising is about influencing the subconscious. The exposure to your brands to your prospect with a certain frequency is powerful in exerting influence on purchase decisions.

How view thru brings conversion without user clicking on the ad

Additionally, GDN has been expanding ad formats to interactive rich media and video ads. Its beneficial in 2 ways: your ad will be more captivating with have higher engagement rate than image ads, and you will be charged by cost-per-enagement buying model. View rich media ad examples at Google’s free Rich Media Gallery here.

Powerful Reach and Smart Targeting

Google Display Network (GDN) owns inventory to display your ads across more than 2million websites, and under each of these websites there are multiple pages you can choose from to place your ad in. There is trillions of impressions delivered to over 1 billion users globally.

If you already know your audience, you might not need to reach out to so many users . Instead of investing a lot of advertising dollars in branding, you can also choose to focus on the sites/users that will bring you actually conversion. A great free tool GDN offers is the multiple ways of targeting. You can choose to place your ad based on relevancy of the site content to your product and services, or display your ad to a customized audience who has demonstrated interest closely aligned with your product/services by the topics they consume online.  Currently, GDN offers below targeting options:

  • Contextual Targeting – using keywords to identity relevant site content where your messaging will  be shown to interested users
  • Placement Targeting – already know which popular sites/blogs your potential costumers would frequent? You can choose to advertise on these exact sites or even designated pages within a chosen site
  • Topic Targeting – works similar to Contextual targeting but on the site level and groups content more broadly, which would mean you might cast a wider net than contextual/keyword/placement targeting, which is good for branding but not ideal for conversions.
  • Interest categories – this level of targeting is based on audience. Google can help you isolate audiences that have shown interest in certain topics and categories, such as “History Buff” or “Travel Enthusiasts”. This audience profile is inferred from cookie data collected from their browsing history and YouTube playlist etc, so don’t mistake it as real data and take it with a grain of salt.
  • Demographics Targeting –  much like Interest categories, Demographics targeting works on the audience level, with cookie data to infer audiences gender, age, and parental status based on their browsing history. Again this is probability date so not 100% accurate to who your audience might really be. But an advantage of this tool is that you can use the reporting insights to identify who are most interested in what you sell and stop wasting marketing dollars on those who aren’t.

Bidding Options – only pay for what you get

There are 2 main bidding options for GDN ads. We’ve all heard of pay-per-click that stirred up a perfect storm in the advertising industry. But GDN is moving this revolution even further forward: you can choose to pay per click on your ad (CPC) or you can choose to pay for the ads actually viewed by a user (CPM, soon to be vCPM).

This is why I’m championing for investing in Display – your days of praying the newspaper ads that cost you thousands of dollars for won’t end up in readers’ trashcan before being looked at will be gone forever. As a small-medium sized business owner, it is costly to get your brand name out through traditional mass media. GDN is indeed designed for equality – with the flexible buying modes and free creative build tools, SMEs finally have a chance to compete with big brands for the attention of the masses, all thanks to technology as a fiercely democratizing force.


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