Creating your first ad can be a daunting experience, not to mention the decision of whether to advertise on the search or display networks. For the newcomers to Google AdWords, it’s definitely worth being aware of the benefits and drawbacks of each network for your future ad campaigns.

Search network 

Before we get in the nitty-gritty of the benefits, the Google search network is a ‘group of search-related networks in which your ads can appear’. In other words, people searching for similar products or location-based services will see your ads pop up if you’ve chosen your keywords wisely. This includes search partner sites such as YouTube and AOL. 

When advertising on the search network, you set keywords in advance in your ad groups. If your keywords match the search query, your ad could display in the search results. However, with the ability to select a variety of different types of matches, advertisers can decide which keyword ads will show for as well as specifying negative keywords to prevent ads from displaying for certain searches. 

It’s important to be careful these do not counter any keywords you have set in the beginning. If this happens, it can result in ads not displaying. For example, if you have set the exact match keyword [marketing agency] however added the negative keyword [marketing agency Glasgow], the ad would not display as the negative keyword has countered the existing. To prevent this from happening, best practice suggests adding [Glasgow] as a negative keyword. 

The ‘Standard’ option will allow you to set basic location and language demographic targeting, budget and bid settings as well as basic ad extensions. However, if you select ‘All Features’, this will provide the same features as standard with the addition of ad delivery methods and a greater select of ad extensions. 

If you’re creating a new campaign, you’ll be asked to select a campaign type which determines where an ad will display. During this stage, you’ll need to consider your business objectives to ensure the best network is selected. 

If you’re new to AdWords, the search network option is recommended. It can be a great way to target specific audiences with your brand and ensure your ads appear next to similar search results on Google.  

Display network

On the other side of the coin we have the Google display network which is a collection of websites displaying AdWords ads and this includes mobile sites, apps and desktop sites. Think about the last time you saw an ad displaying on the side of a website – these are driven by the display network. 

If you are interested in attracting new customers and delivering a compelling message, the display network could be the perfect network for you with a multitude of ad options from text, image to rich media. The display network can help you reach out to customers who have previously expressed an interest in your offering as well as helping to generate brand awareness, and build loyalty.  

Reaching 90% of internet users worldwide and with more than 2 million publisher sites, the display network definitely has stats on its side. As well as the ability to reach new customers at different parts of the purchasing cycle, an advertiser can select specific sites on the display network on which they want ads to appear. 

Unlike the search network, ads on the display network can be placed in front of potential customers at the right place and time. This can be done through various different methods: 

1. Managed placements 

With this type of placement, you can manually select sites you wish your ads to display on. Also, with managed placements, you can block any sites you wish your ad not to appear on for example, websites you previously didn’t have success with. 

2. Contextual targeting

Based on your keywords, AdWords will locate relevant sites and display your ads here with the aim of reaching customers who have expressed an interest in your offering. 

3. Remarketing

This is a key advantage of the display network instead of the search network where advertisers can reach out to customers who have previously visited the site through a remarketing campaign. Targeting them whilst they browse helps to act as a reminder for the products and services you offer. 

Search with display

Although it is an option to run an ad across both Google’s Search and display network we don’t recommend this as best practice. Typically, the display network is more image-led in comparison to the text heavy search network and as a result, we view it as more beneficial to run two separate ad campaigns. It is important to note, if there is an under-performing ad on the display network, this won’t impact the performance of the any ads running on the search network or the quality scores of these. 

After chatting about the differences between the search and display networks, we hope you are a little more clued up on the differences between the networks and which one is best for you.