Google Ads Display & Search Networks: SHOW UP
With more than 80% of search traffic worldwide and a vast network of publishers with popular web pages who are looking for advertisers, Google is the big boy on the block, with a sophisticated advertising platform that allows advertisers to target specific groups of people through their geographical location, demographics, interests and habits, what they’re actively researching, the type of websites they’re visiting, what keywords they’re entering into search engines and many more audience and content targeting options. This allows advertisers (like you) to reach people who are likely to be interested in your product or service with messaging that is likely to resonate with those people.
People surf the web for different reasons: entertainment, research, shopping, etc. Whatever the reason, their motivation boils down to this: they have a problem. They need a hole drilled…
With the ability to direct such specialized messaging to people at different stages of the customer journey, we dedicate considerable effort in determining your customer avatar (ideal customer) and writing ad copy that is appropriate for the audience temperature and employing tactics and ad copy based on where these groups of people are in your marketing funnel. In short, we provide the drill, drill bit, center punch, tape measure, level, square…basically all the tools you need to make the perfect hole.
Google has 2 advertising networks and they do very different things:
The Display Network is great for introducing your business to people who have never heard of you before and may not even be aware of the products or services you provide. Because display ads include video and pictures, they also serve to increase public awareness of your brand. Here, we focus on identifying the problem (that they need a hole).
The Search Network serves text ads to people who have entered certain search phrases into the Google search engine. These potential customers are actively searching for a solution. Ad copy at this stage is result-focused, meaning we seek to offer a specific solution (drill, drill bit, etc.).
Quick tip: while it is possible to run ads on both search and display from the same campaign, we never recommend this! We’ve found that it’s always better to design ads for a specific network.
More About the Display Network
Forecast estimates vary but, by all accounts, the fastest-growing advertising medium worldwide is digital display advertising (banner ads). For display, Google offers the Google Display Network (GDN) which provides a means of reaching millions of websites via their network of AdSense publishers and websites. GDN gives us the ability to put out static or animated image ads as well as rich media and video ads, rather than just plain text, which offers a stronger ability to brand your business than with the search network alone. Google estimates that display ads reach 90% of internet users.
Not so long ago, this was accomplished in similar fashion to traditional advertising (television, newspapers, magazines, radio, etc.) where the task was to try to find websites with similar audiences to the targeted market. Now, machine learning allows computer systems to track user behavior in real-time across the web and place ads where an algorithm determines they are likely to engage.
The ability to collect data that is measurable, quantifiable and repeatable allows us to make in-process adjustments or collect lessons-learned for future campaigns. We start collecting data from the instant one of our ads is displayed on a user’s screen. Just that information (called an impression) is valuable for future adjustments to the landing page or ad. If they click the ad, we track their activity on the landing page and/or website and determine what actions they take. Usually, we’re trying to get them to take some action that is valuable to our client, such as make a purchase (conversion) or filling out a form (lead). If they leave without taking one of those desired actions, we can retarget those people by serving them display ads.
More About the Search Network
Every day, there are 3.5 billion searches made on Google—and since Google accounts for about >80% of worldwide searches over the past 10 years, that’s a pretty good place to be if you’re interested in driving traffic to your website.
Search advertising on Google Ads (previously AdWords) puts your ads above the organic (unpaid) results through an auction process where you compete with other advertisers to display ads when users enter certain keywords into the search engine.
Depending on your organization, market and budget, there’s a good chance that paid search will be a good move for your business. In fact, we consider this a fundamental component of the marketing plan for most clients.
Note: although Google commands the largest share, by far, of the online search traffic, there are a number of other search providers available, including Bing, Yahoo and numerous others that might be right for your business, depending on the market. Paid search on these networks can be an extremely effective part of an overall advertising strategy, depending on the competitiveness of the keywords we’re bidding on and the relevancy of those keywords to your product or service.
Account Maintenance, Integration, Tracking & Analytics
Integration is the process of connecting your Google Ads account to your website, landing pages, forms, Google Analytics, email marketing platform, online listings and other 3rd party applications. This requires knowledge of and experience with each of the platforms and often requires some coding capability as well to get things to work properly. This can be frustrating in the extreme for owners and managers who have a business to run and don’t have the time to learn a completely new set of skills.
Once everything is hooked up, tracking and analytics is the engine that will keep your ads performing.
In traditional advertising, an agency would do some research, propose a strategy to the client, negotiate with publishers (newspapers, magazines, radio, television, signs, etc.) to purchase ad space, then publish the ads. Other than pulling sales reports, that was pretty much it until the next campaign.
Digital advertising is much different. It’s not a “once and done” proposition!
An effective Google campaign, as mentioned, requires familiarity with the platform (which is constantly changing) as well as continuous management. We’re constantly reviewing analytics, meeting with Google account reps and adjusting our client’s ad campaigns to improve ROI. This entails adjusting ad copy, budgets, keywords, audiences, placements, geotargeting and other settings to improve performance on a (minimum) weekly basis. This ability to measure and adjust is the great benefit of digital over traditional advertising.
Of course, this level of proficiency necessitates a lot more training and effort than most business leaders can reasonably devote to marketing. To make things easier (and to bring in more ad revenue) Google has introduced “Smart Campaigns” that are highly automated, with fewer settings. Of course, this “hands off” approach comes at a cost. We have yet to see a “Smart Campaign” that performs anywhere near a properly managed campaign on what Google terms “expert mode”. Bottom line: you’re likely to spend less overall and get better results by ensuring that your account is properly set up and managed.
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