Optimize Display Network ads and campaigns

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

Organize your campaigns by theme

Campaigns should be a collection of ad groups. Each ad group should have multiple ads that match the targeting methods you choose. For example, your ad group's keywords and ads relate to the same theme. Or, your ad group's placements and ads are about a specific topic. Structuring your campaigns this way also makes them easier to manage and optimize.

Group your keyword lists

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

When you include keywords in campaigns targeting the Display Network, each keyword is used for targeting and all keywords are considered broad match. All of the ads in an ad 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.

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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 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 create custom ads based on the look and feel of your website.

Keep in mind: 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 website placements you're targeting?
  • What action do you want that person to take?
  • Do you have special offers or features available on your website 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?

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Use keyword insertion

Keyword insertion dynamically updates 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).

Related link: Using keyword insertion

Target your ads effectively

When you set up your campaign, you'll need to choose how you reach people on the web. The most basic and powerful ways to reach certain audiences are to refine your keywords, use placements and topics, exclude websites, 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.

Related link: Choose keywords for Display Network campaigns

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.


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.

Related link: Add negative keywords to your campaign

Select placements and topics

Target multiple placements about the same subject to include a combination of popular and highly specific websites and increase your chances to show your ads. If you target your ad to only one placement or a few placements, you’ll limit the chances for your ad to appear.

Related link: Target websites about specific topics

Exclude irrelevant websites and topics

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

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Reach people who’ve already shown interest

You can target audiences interested in the types of products or services you offer. You can also show ads to people who have already visited your website or used your app by creating a remarketing campaign.

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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.

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.


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 for those specific placements to try to show her ads on those websites more often.

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Focus on cost per acquisition (CPA)

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.

CTR 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 a low CTR on a Display Network website, 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.

Related link: Cost-per-acquisition (CPA) bidding

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 placements 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. 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 websites 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.

Related links

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.
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