Set your display campaigns up for success

Today, people have higher expectations of ads than ever. They want everything right, and they want it right away. It’s never been more important to tailor messages to the right person at the right moment, in the right context. Marketers are increasingly turning to programmatic advertising which uses automation and data to deliver relevant ads and efficient results.

To make the most of programmatic on the Google Display Network, marketers must do 3 things:

  • Reach the right audience at the right moment
  • Match the right message to the moment
  • Optimize for performance

In this guide, we’ll show you how to do all 3. With 90% reach across all internet users worldwide, the Google Display Network is the largest global display ad network across desktop and mobile.4 We’ll offer you best practices to deliver on consumers’ expectations and ultimately drive more leads and sales for your business.

Optimize your campaign as you create it

As you create your campaign, you may receive notifications based on your setting selections. These notifications may alert you of issues that can result in decreased performance or that may be significant enough to prevent you from publishing your campaign.

The campaign construction navigation menu that appears as you construct your campaign provides a holistic view of your construction progress and will call attention to notifications that you may want to address. Move between steps in the navigation menu to easily review and resolve potential issues with your targeting, bidding, budget, or other campaign settings. Learn more about features that help you create a successful campaign

Check that you’re accurately tracking website and app conversions.

Your ability to optimize is only as good as the data you’re using. We recommend that you check your conversion tracking on a regular basis.

You can confirm the tag is on the right page by viewing the page source of the conversion page. You could also test conversion tracking by generating conversions and checking to see if they registered across Google Ads, Google Analytics, or your third-party platform.


  • To ensure all cross-device conversions are counted, make sure your Google Ads conversion tracking tag fires unconditionally.
  • If your website doesn’t yet have a way to measure conversions, Smart Goals in Google Analytics can identify the highest quality website visits and optimize for them in Google Ads.

Keep Display and Search campaigns separate for more control.

Search and display ads both play a key role in introducing customers to a brand and moving them closer to purchase. However, they reach consumers in different contexts.

On the Search Network, marketers use keywords to capture explicit intent. For example, an airline website knows that a person searching for “flight to Thailand” is looking for a trip to Thailand. For the Google Display Network, marketers use signals to influence and capture intent, such as past behavior, context of a page or demographics. In this same example, the airline website can reach people who booked a flight with them in the past, or reach people who recently browsed travel websites.

Because of these differences, you’ll want to manage and optimize these campaigns types separately for better control of your bids, ads and targeting. If you don’t have the time or resources to manage search and display campaigns separately, use Search Network with Display Select. Google Ads will automatically manage your display advertising and optimizations with this option.


Avoid over-segmenting your display campaigns. Ad groups that are too specific can hinder results and keep the system from learning enough insights to optimize properly.

Think beyond last-click attribution.

It’s important to account for all of the media touch points that led to a conversion. Today’s purchase paths often span multiple channels, but last-click attribution only looks at the last channel that drove the final click before a conversion. Advertisers using only last-click attribution risk underinvesting in display because their models don’t account for the upper-funnel conversions that the Google Display Network generates. People who see your display ad but don’t click on it might later remember your brand and search for your products when they need them.

How can you measure the value of a display ad? Consider one of these 3 directional approaches:

  • Add view-through conversions to placement reports. View-through conversions measure a conversion when a customer sees-but doesn’t click-on any ad before completing a conversion. You can use this metric to optimize your Display performance or identify high-performing placements. Keep in mind that view-through conversions are automatically de-duplicated against Search, YouTube, and Google Display Network campaigns in the same account. view through conversions
  • Review your Assisted Conversions report in Google Analytics to understand how many conversions each channel initiated, assisted and completed. You can use your findings directionally when making budgeting decisions.
  • Run A/B split testing to understand how many more visits or conversions occurred as a result of your display ads. You can split your audience into 2 groups: people who were shown your display ads versus people who were not shown your display ads. You can use these findings directionally for budgeting and bidding decisions.
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4 Source: comScore, February 2014.
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