The Perils of the Google Display Network

What is the Google Display Network?

The Google Display Network

Thousands of web sites where text, image, video, or rich media ads are targeted based on themes in your keyword list, rather than specific keywords. You can target web sites that have partnered with Google (display partners), YouTube, and specific Google properties.

The Google Search Network

Search engines such as and search engines powered by Google, such as where ads are targeted based on a user’s specific keywords. For example, if someone searches for “Italian coffee” on a search engine powered by Google, such as, the user will see related coffee ads on the search results pages.

In other words, if you turn on the Google Display Network, your ads may be displayed not only to people searching for your keywords, next to search results, but also on thousands of other web sites.

Before we proceed let us establish if you are using the Google Display Network. Have a look in your Google Adwords interface.

If it is zero then you have nothing to worry about except think about how we can help you optimise your Google Search Network campaigns and get you more quality leads at a lower acquisition cost per quality lead.

It is important to understand that The Google Display Network is an entirely different animal than the Google Search Network. You are not going to have the same intent connection when serving Google Display Network ads as you will when serving ads through the Google Search Network. The potential impression was not a result of someone directly telling you what they are looking for.

Advertisers look at the Google Display Network as just another way to advertise. However, many have tried their hand at the Google Display Network and concluded that the Google Display Network cost them a lot and left them with nothing.

Why? Because when you advertise on the Google Search Network, you know at least some of the user intent based on the search query. If someone typed “blue widget” you have a good idea of what they want. However, in the Google Display Network, users are occupied with something else. They might be reading an article about a vacation spot. They might be reading their gmail. Your ads need to pull them away from what they are currently doing to get a click.

Advertising on the Google Display Network requires a completely different advertising strategy and campaign setup to be effective. In addition, setting up a Google Display Network campaign will take considerably more time and money to truly optimize than what you may be used to in a Google Search Network campaign.

Just like in real estate, the location of your ads is vital to success. There are two ways to target your ads in the Google Display Network

  • Keywords – Similar to search, but you need to think more about the content your ad will appear next to.
  • Placements – These come in two flavors: automatic and managed. Automatic refers to the web sites that Google feels are relevant. Managed placements are specific URLs you choose, like a specific forum or blog that you know potential customers read.

So let us say you take the time to setup a separate Google Display Network campaign. What performance do you get? Typically your CTR and conversion rates on the Google Display Network is much lower than on the Google Search Network so why even bother? Why, because the click on your ad was most likely because of curiosity than anything else. A waste of your hard earned marketing budget.


Most advertisers have turned on the Google Display Network without knowing the consequences. It cost them money which could be spend more wisely on Google Search Network Campaigns. If you do not have a Google Display Network strategy, separate campaigns and lots of time then turn it off and focus on optimizing your Google Search Network campaigns. We will be happy to show you how to turn off your Google Display Network.

Please contact us if you are interested in more quality leads at a lower acquisition cost per quality lead.


About Jorgen Poulsen

The Catalyst Partnership provides cost effective Social Media Marketing solutions to small and medium-sized businesses. Social Media Marketing is one of today's most successful and cost effective online marketing strategies and is being embraced by millions of companies from Fortune 100 to small companies. Please contact us to discuss how we can help you implement a Social Media Marketing strategy.
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