The three biggest digital platforms for online advertising are Google, YouTube (which is owned by Google) and Facebook.
Many businesses choose to run Facebook ads in conjunction with Google Ads, for maximum reach and impact. Facebook ads are particularly ideal for developing a brand and a social following, whereas Google Ads are generally best for product sales.
As with any area of tech, new platforms and types of ads are being created all the time so if you want to catch the wave, you’ll need to keep an eye on developments.
Google’s current advertising comes in the form of its Google Display Network, which includes Google Search, YouTube and Gmail. This service offers users the ability to purchase paid-for advertising options to promote their products and services.
Google Display Ads are text, image and video ads, often seen as the visual banner or sidebar ads that appear on the internet when users are browsing. They are featured, along with a few other types of ads, on the Google Display Network, which includes Google Search, Gmail, Blogger and YouTube.
Google Ads evolved and rebranded from Google Adwords in 2018.
Containing headlines, images, descriptions, logos and videos, Google automatically adjusts these ads in size, appearance, and format to fit the ad space. Using machine learning, Google is able to determine which combination of assets is optimum by assessing predictions from your performance history. By drawing on data Google shows ads that are useful to customers.
One of the many types of display ads, they are the specific size of 468 x 60 pixels.
These appear on Google results pages and sometimes across the Google Network. You’re allowed up to three headlines with a max of 30 characters for each and up to two descriptions, each with up to 90 characters. They are often labelled as adverts and so identifiable as paid promotions.
A still image is accompanied by up to 90 characters of text.
As you can see from this Adobe ad example, an image can say so much and showing, rather than telling, can be more impactful.
These allow you to convey much more information than still image ads. Being more attention-grabbing they have a higher engagement level. They also enable you to establish yourself as an expert or thought leader. Video ads can be between 12 seconds and 6 minutes long.
An animated ad is like a GIF. They can be really good fun but can only last 30-seconds, after which they can stop or loopback. They provide information about a product and usually introduce both a problem and a solution.
Also known as sponsored ads, users know these are ads but they are designed in a way to fit smoothly inside the path search and so are less frustratingly disruptive and provide a good browsing experience. Specifically, they match the look and feel of the media platform they sit within.
Google has changed these and existing Gmail ads now have a ‘read only’ status. Advertisers can no longer make changes and instead will have to run a Discovery Campaign using Discovery ads.
Instead of being driven by keywords, advertisers can choose which audiences they want to target with their ads. Discovery ads are also different in that they reach their intended audiences just before they start their search.
You may also have heard the term search ads. These are a form of ‘pull’ advertising, whereas display ads work as a form of ‘push’ advertising. Essentially, search ads appear on the Google Search Network, which enables businesses to capitalise on the intent to purchase that leads someone to carry out a Google search in the first place.
Depending on the needs of your business, you can choose which to apply, or for the greatest impact incorporate several into a campaign.
By appearing during internet searches, display ads offer the possibility of potential customers clicking to find out more or take action about your products or services. Even without attracting clicks, a well-coordinated campaign of ads will put your brand in customers’ minds.
Given they are usually only on the screen for a short time they need to be impactful with striking visuals and minimal but effective copy/words. In the case of big brands, this is easier to achieve as the branding is already familiar. For smaller or newer brands, it’s all the more critical to draw attention and provide something memorable.
The Google Display Network spans across 2 million websites and apps, offering you a massive opportunity to connect with potential customers.
Although ad blockers have had a negative effect and the click-through rate (CTR) of display ads is low, at an average of 0.05% across all platforms, using Google Ads remains an effective way to establish and build your brand and increase purchase intent as it builds presence through exposure.
The more times a potential customer sees your brand, the more familiar they will become with it - moving them further down the sales funnel. Plus, compared with many other forms of advertising, particularly print, television or billboard ads, the cost can still be relatively low.
Combine this with the fact that the Google Display Network reaches two-thirds of the search engine market share at over 90% worldwide, across 2 million websites and apps. Impressively contrasted with Bing which even in second place reaches only a little over 2%, this form of PPC (pay per click) is clearly still a viable option.
You can further increase your return by using retargeted ads, as these perform considerably better than standard display ads.
This is because retargeting ads allow you to show targeted ads to the users who have a previous interest in your product. The ones that visited your website and didn’t complete an action, such as a purchase, contact form completion, or download of a file.
The click-through rate for retargeting ads is typically 0.7% compared with 0.07% at the top of the funnel.
1. Choose a suitable ad format: Google offers quite a selection to choose from. The more formats you use the more impressions you can potentially get. However, it can take time and will cost more. The most important thing is to focus on using the ad formats that perform the best.
The top three performers are:
2. Include a great title: Your title should be attention-grabbing. You only have seconds to attract potential customers so your title must have a punch – or at least make an impact.
3. Use headlines to define your text: Your ad can contain three headlines of up to 30 characters each to promote your products or services. These can help make the most important bits of information stand out.
4. Outline your value proposition: This is how your product or service is relevant, how a problem is solved, or a situation is improved. It’s also about quantifying the value for your customer, e.g. clearly translating and communicating the benefits into measurable outcomes.
5. Use easy-to-read fonts: Your text should be clear and visually appealing. If customers can’t read it quickly it will immediately be disregarded. Highly cursive fonts should be avoided and don’t overuse capitals. In terms of quantity, include the minimum amount of text necessary and don’t go over the word limit otherwise you may find Google cuts it short.
6. Include effective keywords: Google says up to 20 keywords per ad group is best. Use a keyword tool to help you identify which keywords will be most effective. There are quite a few, including Google Ads Keyword Planner Tool (available when you sign up to a campaign plan) and AnswerThePublic which has both a paid and a basic free option.
7. Include a compelling call to action (CTA): This is essential for guiding your customers through the buying process. Your CTA acts as a prompt for taking the next steps, which, depending on the aims of your campaign could involve signing up, subscribing, submitting an enquiry, trying something for free, learning something, joining something or buying a product or service.
8. Use striking colour and strong images: The more colourful your ad the potentially more eye-catching it will be. However, it can also be true that simple images are also incredibly striking.Consider your choice of image carefully and consider how this will appear in the different formats. You need an image that people can easily recognise and understand, even if it’s scaled right down on a mobile device and with often only seconds to view it.
9. Branding and Logo: Your display ad should harmonise with your branding. Remember this is about building familiarity with your brand and part of getting customers to trust you is being consistent.
10. Choose your words carefully: The language that you use is vital for connecting, engaging, persuading and eliciting the desired response. Avoid being negative, taking cheap shots at your competition or taking a preachy stance with your customers.
Inject some humour if you can.This may not always be appropriate but in many cases, if you can make your audience smile you are already winning them over.
As in the case of this GoDaddy ad:
In terms of SEO, it’s easy to think just choosing a few of the most popular keywords will be enough to draw a fast-flowing stream of traffic to your site, but it’s more complex than that. While it’s true that the words with the highest traffic will pick up a lot of relevant leads, they will also draw plenty of irrelevant ones too.
Not only will this be a waste of your money, paying for ads that will never convert into sales, but you’ll also be facing far more competition for those customers.
With this in mind, it may be more effective to target less competitive search terms by being more specific and responding to what are known as long-tail keywords. These are fuller phrases more in the form of questions, such as ‘adult performance bikes’ or
It’s also important to bear in mind that Google ranks pages, not websites.
Unlike traditional text ads, display ads have an appealing visual element to them which makes them much more engaging.
Yes, you have the option of adding animation to your ad if you wish.
This is the value that your customer will experience as a result of their interaction with you. The quantifiable outcome.
A word of warning from Google, performing searches that trigger your ad will accumulate impressions without clicks, which can lower your click-through rate. This can prevent ads from appearing as often as they should or even at all. So resist the urge!
So, now you’re equipped with some essential knowledge about Google Ads, are you ready to apply it to your business to get great results?
Grace Lippolis is Head of Content at The Ambitions Agency. An agency that is passionate about helping customers use digital marketing techniques to drive their businesses. Finding digital solutions for small to med-size businesses and enabling them to grow and stand out from their competitors.