Google Display Network layout image

All this week I’m blogging about Google. Monday’s post was on the central place of search in marketing today. Today’s topic is display: the Google Display Network is the largest network, highly targetable, and has lowest cost of entry. And more. Future posts will be on mobile, video, YouTube, social media, analytics, and the Google corporate culture that makes this and many other innovations possible.

Along with digital marketing in general, online display advertising continues to grow rapidly. This is a huge opportunity for brands as they continue to reduce their spending on TV and, especially, print. And Google is the leader in online display. The Google Display Network of over two million sites has the largest market share, reaching 90% of people online worldwide.

Omni-channel marketing provides a synergy that typically lifts the results on each of the channels.  Just as traditionally a follow-up call would lift the results of a direct mail campaign, today search, mobile, email, and social are all likely to show improved results when paired with a well-managed display program.

One way that display can improve on what search, for example, would do by itself is through remarketing to people who visited a company’s site as a result of a search campaign. Remarketing is perhaps the most cost-effective digital marketing program, with typically lower costs per acquisition, and all companies should be taking advantage of the opportunity to stay in front of their digital “in-house” list of prospects during the extent of their buying cycle. Of course, remarketing can be targeted to the people who visited the site through email, social and other channels, too

And brands can further capitalize on the remarketing concept with Google’s Similar Audiences program. With Similar Audiences, Google puts your ads in front of people who have a similar profile to the people in your remarketing pool – which are probably the next best to the people who have actually visited your site.

Display also is one of the best lead generation channels. B2B customers are doing more and more research before and while talking to vendors. In that time they’re not only educating themselves, but in many cases creating a short list of vendors that they’ll consider. Display ads that are targeted by context to run with the content that customers are consuming in this early research phase are certain to raise the likelihood of the advertiser being on the prospect’s short list. In fact, cross-channel research shows that display is often the first click in the buyer’s journey.

Display provides a much larger and more flexible canvas than a search ad and so is an ideal channel for building a company’s brand and enhancing its other digital marketing programs. Of course Google supports the standard IAB ad units, and with Google’s new Engagement Ads brands can offer a rich media experience to users who hover their cursor over the ad for two seconds. They then see a larger, or near full screen video or other rich media content. Lightbox is a technology that Google provides to support this superior creative. And advertisers pay on a cost-per-engagement basis, only paying for the times when a user actually hovers their mouse and watches the ad.

How cool is that!

Google provides a number of tools and programs to optimize the advertising spend of brands.

  • Advertisers can place their ads using Contextual Targeting, which places ads on pages with content related to the keywords selected by the advertiser. The Contextual Targeting Tool dynamically builds additional keyword lists and AdGroups.
  • Interest Categories are another method for targeting display ads. With Interest Categories, Google shows ads to people who have particular interests — such as fashion, sports, technology or cars – independent of the context of the page or app. You can also target in-market users as an interest group: people who, through their online behavior, indicate that they’re in the market for your products or services right now.
  • If you want to make your targeting even tighter, you can combine several targeting methods at the same time.
  • Contextual Dynamic Display Ads can be created by Google from products in your Google Merchant Center account. With just one template Google can create hundreds of separate product ads and place them in ads in context on appropriate pages
  • With Active View you only pay for a CPM display ad when at least half of the ad is visible for at least a second. This supports the industry Making Measurement Make Sense viewability initiative.
  • Above-the-fold Ads only show when they will display fully above the fold of the loaded web page
  • Google has video ads and ads on YouTube; on YouTube Google also offers various desktop and mobile home page mastheads, take-overs, and Expandables
  • And Google offers Mobile display and in-app ads

All that, and more than I can cover here.

Of course, like all Google ads, you can use the analytics within AdWords, a combination of AdWords and Google Analytics, or third-party marketing automation and analytics tools to track your clicks all the way through to sale. This allows you to optimize on revenue and really prove the value of your program to upper management.

Finally, while many publishers will only sell space on a CPM basis, since the Google Display Network is managed through AdWords you have the option of CPC and CPA pricing. And smaller advertisers, or brands who have a limited budget for a particular product, can start out for just a few dollars a day, whereas publisher direct buys can be five-figure and up deals.

With all that, and DoubleClick for agencies and larger advertisers, the Google Display Network is both a good place to start and a good place to grow.

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