The Google Display Network is a group of over 3 million websites, 650,000 apps and other Google properties such as Youtube and Gmail where your ads can show. Unlike Google Search ads (where ads show up after a potential customer shows intent to engage with your product/service by typing a relevant search query or keyword into the Google search engine), Google Display ads are image, text or video ads that show up as people simply browse the web – reading the news, checking the weather, watching a video, playing an app game, shopping online… you name the site or app, and it’s likely in Google’s network. In fact, this network is so large, it can reach more than 90% of internet users around the world! Because of this, it’s likely your ads will be shown to those who haven’t heard about your brand or who haven’t actively searched for what you sell/provide – and this is a good thing. One of the key reasons businesses use display ads is to increase brand awareness and reach new audiences rather than relying on intent based searches alone.
So with this in mind, you’re probably thinking okay but I don’t want to talk to everyone, I want my ads to be relevant to the end user. And that’s where machine learning comes in – and subsequently the value to your business. Google uses 70 million data signals within 100 milliseconds in order to determine whether an ad will be the right fit for someone – it looks at demographics such as age, gender, income and parental status, the area you live in, recent Google searches showing intent or being in-market for something, video views, app downloads, whether someone is more likely to buy high end brands over mid-low end ones given their past purchases (or vice versa), whether they’re a movie buff, a frequent traveler, a foodie, corporate decision maker, technophile, shopaholic and more.
All of the above features can be narrowed down through certain targeting criteria to further feed the algorithm and to reach your ideal audience. This means your ad can show up on related websites to your brand/business, or to users who match the details you’ve specified.
In terms of the ads themselves, you can provide the creative assets yourself (in a format such as HTML5) or use Google’s responsive ad builder. Responsive ads are preferred by Google as they are asset based and can therefore be made into ads with countless configurations. By simply providing the platform with a series of images, logos, videos (if you have them), headlines and descriptions, Google will combine these into great looking ads which are continuously optimised for performance i.e. it will figure out which combination works the best for your campaign!