5 Tips for Low-Risk Google Display Network Testing

Advertising on Google’s Display network is a whole different ballgame than the Search Network. While the Search network consists of Google Search, Google Maps, Gmail and a few other closely related properties, the Display network consists of tens of thousands of websites that participate in the company’s AdSense program.

Because of they rely on different traffic sources, it’s important for advertisers to separate their Search and Display network campaigns. Assuming you choose the latter type, the following tips can improve your Display network campaigns.

#1) Display Select Keywords

One simple but effective strategy for Display network testing involves using Display Select Keywords (DSK). According to a study conducted by PPC Hero, DSK campaigns had an 11% lower cost per acquisition (CPA), 94% higher click-through rate (CTR), and 41% lower cost-per-click (CPC). Previously known as “Search Companion Marketing,” DSK campaigns show ads based on users’ search intent. You simply add relevant keywords, and Google will match your ads to highly relevant webpages based on search intent.

After logging into your AdWords account, access the Display network tab followed by the Display keyword sub tab. From here, click the “+targeting” button, at which point you’ll see a new box in which you can enter DSKs. Start by adding 10 and 20 relevant keywords, refining this list as you gather more data about your AdWords campaigns.

#2) In-Market Segments

You can also improve your Display network campaigns by targeting relevant in-market segments. Using this option matches your ads to users who’ve expressed interest in your market or marketers. If you run a website that sells aftermarket car parts, for instance, you should choose the in-market segment Autos & Vehicles > Auto Parts & Accessories. Users who’ve browsed auto parts in the past are more likely to see your ads, which should prove useful in boosting your CTR and conversion rate.

Google matches in-market segments based on user behavior, including the content of websites visited by the user, the frequency of those visits, the number of clicks on related ads, and the conversions of those ad clicks.

You can find in-market segments under the “Interests” section of your AdWords Display network campaigns.

In-market segments supports CPA, CPC and CPM bidding. As with most Display network campaigns, it’s best to avoid CPM bidding, choosing either CPA or CPC instead.

#3) A/B Split Test Multiple Creatives

Of course, running multiple creatives simultaneously is critical to achieving a high return on investment (ROI). Whether you choose text or image ads (or both), you should A/B split test at least two different creatives at all times. Allow these creatives to run for at least one week, during which you’ll gather invaluable data about their performance. After the one-week mark, delete the creative that didn’t perform as well and replace it with a new one. Rinse and repeat this cycle indefinitely.

Here are some of Google’s best practices for creating effective Display network ads:

  • Check to make sure your ad displays properly in the chosen ad size.
  • Experiment with the various templates available in Google’s Ad gallery.
  • Use an image editing program like Photoshop to create custom ads.
  • Try different colors and color schemes in your image ads.
  • When possible, use transparent 24-bit PNG image format for image ads.
  • Ensure your creatives comply with Google’s advertising policies.
  • Keep in mind Google’s technical specifications and requirements for image ads.

#4) Similar Users

Assuming you have remarketing set up in AdWords, you probably have a decent-sized list of people who are interested in your products or services. But there’s an additional feature that can further enhance your Display network campaigns: targeting similar audiences.

When you target similar audiences, Google looks at your remarketing list to find prospects with similar characteristics and behaviors. More specifically, Google analyzes the browsing activity on Display Network sites over the past month, using this information to better understand users’ interests and how those interests relate to your remarketing list.

You can create a similar audiences list from a remarketing list with a minimum of 500 cookies.

#5) Remove Bad Websites and Pages

Not every website on which your ad displays will bring sales/conversions — and that’s okay. One of the many perks of advertising on the AdWords Display network is the ability to exclude sites that do not convert. If a website is generating ad clicks but no conversions, conventional wisdom should tell you to remove it from your AdWords campaign.

Before you can exclude specific website or webpage, however, you must first run a placement report. This report reveals the pages on which your ad has displayed, along with its respective performance for each of these pages. Set up placement tasks as a recurring task so you can better optimize your campaigns.

After harvesting a list of bad websites and pages, log into your AdWords account and choose the Display Network tab > + Targeting > choose an ad group > and select either “Add ad group exclusions” or “Add campaign exclusions” followed by “Placements.” Here you can enter up to 10,000 URLs (one per line), preventing your ads from showing on those pages.

When determining whether or not to exclude a website, consider both its performance and its impact on your brand image. If a website has “questionable” content, it’s probably best to exclude it from your Display network advertising campaigns. Keep this in mind and follow the other tips listed here to improve your campaigns.

These are just a few tips to enhance your Google AdWords campaigns. For more PPC and digital marketing strategies, contact us today.