Optimize ads and campaigns for the Display Network

Ads on the Display Network can be shown on millions of websites across the Internet, so it's important that you spend time thinking about your advertising goals in order to make the most of each opportunity to improve your ads' performance. Here are some ways you can optimize your Display Network campaigns:

  • Organize your campaigns by theme
  • Write great quality ads
  • Target your ads effectively
  • Adjust your bids to find more customers
  • Keep an eye on your ads' performance
Organize your campaigns by theme

A well-structured AdWords account should be easy to manage and optimize. Each campaign should be a collection of multiple ad groups. And each ad group should include multiple related ads that are matched to targeting methods you choose, like keywords that relate to the same theme or placements about a specific topic.

Group your keyword lists

When you include keywords in campaigns targeting the Display Network, each keyword is used for targeting and all keywords are considered broad match only. All of the ads you create in a group will share a keyword list, and that list will be most successful at connecting you to the customers you want if it’s specific to the ads in your ad group.

Tip

To help you better pair your ad text and keywords, try grouping your keywords and ads into ad groups based on your products, services, or other categories. That way you’ll be able to focus ads on reaching people most interested in your business.

Write great ads

To better connect to your customers, it's important to create the most compelling ad you can. Whether your ad is a basic text ad, or a display ad such as an image ad, telling your story can help attract customers to your business.

The Display Network supports a variety of eye-catching ad types and formats. You can use the Ad Gallery to help you create a custom ad that is based on the look and feel of your website. Learn how to create image ads for the Display Network in the Ad Gallery.

Important: Keep in mind that some websites don't show all types of ads, so you might want to create ads of all formats and sizes to reach the most people.

Here are some questions to keep in mind as you start creating your ads:

  • What type of person is browsing the websites you're targeting?
  • What action do you want that person to take?
  • Do you have special offers or features available on your site for this person?
  • Can you show this person a unique page that will make them more likely to take the action you'd like?
  • Have you tested multiple versions of your ad to find the ones that work best?

Tip

A great ad should perform well no matter the format (text, image, or video), and regardless of the network you target. It should be no surprise then that our tips for text ads are just as relevant for image or video ads.

Use keyword insertion

For your text ads, try using keyword insertion to dynamically update your ad text to include one of your keywords that triggered your ad. Keyword insertion can make your ads more relevant to customers and help increase your clickthrough rate (CTR).

Target your ads effectively

When you set up your campaign, you'll need to choose how you reach people on the web. You have several ways to try to reach groups of people, such as limiting your ads to just the Display or Search networks, or only showing your ad to people in specific locations. But the most basic and powerful ways to reach certain audiences are to refine your keywords, use placements and topics, exclude sites, and remarket to people who have already visited your site.

Choose the right keywords

Your ad group's individual keywords help determine where your ads show on the Display Network. Most advertisers find it useful to have somewhere between 5 and 20 keywords per ad group. The keywords should relate closely to the ads in that ad group. The more closely related your keywords are to your ads and landing pages, the more likely it is that your ads will be targeted to the right audience. Learn more about how keyword targeting works on the Display Network.

Exclude irrelevant keywords

Excluding keywords can help you prevent your ads from showing on pages about irrelevant topics, so you avoid paying for unnecessary clicks, and help increase your return on investment.

Example

An advertiser named Sarah sells "dog doors" but not "sliding glass doors." She chooses keywords like "dog" and "dog doors," but excludes "glass" and "sliding." Excluding these keywords helps prevent her ad from showing on Display Network pages that focus on glass sliding doors, and reduces unwanted traffic to her ad.

Select placements and topics

If you target your ad to only one placement or a few placements, you’ll limit the chances for your ad to appear. Try targeting more placements about the same subject to include a combination of popular and highly-specific websites, and increase your chances to show your ads. You can get ideas for placements by using Display Planner.

Exclude irrelevant sites and topics

Keep your ads from showing on websites that aren’t related to your business by excluding those websites as placements. You can either enter the URL of a specific website that you'd like to exclude, or exclude certain sensitive content page types. You also have the option to exclude many pages about a specific topic at once.

Reach people who’ve already shown interest

You can show ads to people who've alread visited your site or used your app by creating a remarketing campaign, or reach customers interested in specific categories.

Adjust your bids

When you create a new campaign, you'll have the option to target the Search Network, the Display Network, or both. Depending on which networks you target, you'll need to monitor and manage your bids to make sure you’re getting the most from your daily advertising budget.

Bidding for Display Network targeting

If you target only the Display Network, you can use your ad group default bid, set individual bids for your targeting methods (like a keyword or placement bid), or set bid adjustments for specific targeting methods. If you find your ads are performing very well for a certain targeting method, you can help your ads show more often and get more clicks by setting a different bid or automatic bid adjustment to your ad group bid. We recommend learning more about bidding features on the Display Network to help you refine your bidding strategy.

Example

Sarah’s ads for dog doors are doing particularly well on certain websites that she targets on the Display Network. She decides to increase her bids on the Display tab for those specific placements to try to show her ads on those websites more often.

Tip

We recommend that you use conversion tracking data and your cost per acquisition CPA -- and not your clickthrough rate (CTR) -- to gauge overall performance for placements on the Display Network performance.

Clickthrough rate is generally lower on the Display Network than on the Search Network because people have different goals when they’re on Display Network pages. People on Display Network pages are browsing through information, not searching with keywords. When you advertise on the Display Network, keep in mind:

  • If you have low CTR on a Display Network site, it doesn't mean your ads aren't performing well.
  • You can use Relative CTR as a measure of how your ads are performing on the Display Network compared to other advertisers' ads that are appearing on the same websites. This is more helpful than CTR by itself.
  • Your ad performance on the Display Network does not affect the performance, Quality Score, cost-per-clicks (CPCs), or position on Google search pages or on other pages in the Search Network.
Keep an eye on your ads' performance

Find out which sites have shown your ads

Monitoring which websites, videos, and apps have displayed your ads can help you avoid impressions on sites where your ads don't earn clicks. For example, if you notice that a placement never leads to any clicks on your ad, you might consider excluding it. Or, if a placement leads to a lot of clicks, you might want to target it specifically and set higher bids.

Use Google Conversion Tracking

Track specific actions (or “conversions”) you generate from your ads, from both Search Network and Display network sites. Reviewing your total number of conversions and the value of these conversions can help you decide if you should increase your budget, change your bids, or make other changes to your ad groups to receive more targeted visitors.

Maintain a high quality ad campaign for the best possible visibility

Most sites in the Display Network only display a few ads per page. Your ad's placement on the page is strongly influenced by your ad's Quality Score and bid. If you find that your ads don't show often on the Display Network, try improving your Quality Score with more relevant ads and refined targeting.

Did you know...

If your campaign has at least 15 conversions per month, you can use these tools to optimize your campaigns automatically, while still being in control of your targeting:

  • Conversion Optimizer is a bidding optimization engine that can help you maximize your return on investment (ROI) by optimizing bids in real-time, impression-by-impression.
  • Display Campaign Optimizer optimizes both targeting and bidding to help you find additional conversions for your Display Network campaigns.

Next steps