Google Display Advertising is hands down one of the best options for marketers who want to reach out to a large audience. The Google Display Network can give you access to over 90% of all internet users, which is remarkable in itself. And, to top it off, it provides excellent targeting options to ensure that your ads are displayed only to a relevant audience.

With Google Display Advertising, you get complete control over who sees your ads, where, and how many times. And, the interface is easy-to-use and helps you optimize your Google Display Advertising campaigns, even if you are not an expert.

In this post, we will tell you everything that you need to know about Google Display Advertising.

Google Display Advertising: The Basics

When it comes to things you need to know about Google Display Advertising, it’s best to start with the basics. Here are some of the basics of Google AdWords and Google Display Advertising.

1. What is the Google Display Network?

This is a collection of over 2 million websites and apps where display ads from Google AdWords can be shown. So, if you use Google AdWords to run an advertising campaign, then your ads can be displayed on any or all of these websites and apps.

This includes all of the products in the Google Suite, its affiliated websites, video-streaming websites like YouTube, and a lot more.

2. Why Use Google Display Ads?

Google claims that the network can reach over 90% of all internet users in the world. This is much higher than what you will get if you use any other advertising platform.

It also provides good targeting options, not just for reaching the right audience, but also for the websites where you want to show your ads. It lets you choose the category of websites that you want to display your ads on. This helps you show your ads only on websites that your target audience likes to frequent.

Overall, Google provides advanced targeting options that help you control who sees your ads and where. And, it does so in a way that will help you get the best results out of your advertising spend.

3. Types of Google AdWords Display Ads

There are four main types of ads that you can place using Google’s advertising suite. You can select one or more of these for your advertising campaign:

Text Ads: These simply have a headline and two lines of ad copy.

Image Ads: These are ads that have an image that can fit the chosen display ad space. They usually have text on a background image or color.

Video Ads: These are the video ads that are displayed on YouTube, as it is a part of the Google Display Network.

Rich Media Ads: These ads have some form of interactive elements or animation that encourages users to interact and engage with the content.

For example, you can add a Click-to-Call feature to enable users to directly contact you through a phone call.

Image via MobileAds

4. Different Ad Sizes and Formats

There are four key ad formats, and for each there are several size options that you can choose from. Here are the four main ad formats that you should know about:

Square and Landscape

These ads have either equal width and height, or the width is greater than the height. The various ad sizes include:

  • 200 ⨯ 200 - Small Square
  • 240 ⨯ 400 - Vertical Rectangle
  • 250 ⨯ 250 - Square
  • 250 ⨯ 360 - Triple Widescreen
  • 300 ⨯ 250 - Inline Rectangle
  • 336 ⨯ 280 - Rectangle
  • 580 ⨯ 400 - Netboard

Skyscraper or Portrait

  • 120 ⨯ 600 - Skyscraper
  • 160 ⨯ 600 - Wide Skyscraper
  • 300 ⨯ 600 - Half-page Ad
  • 300 ⨯ 1050 - Portrait

Banner Ads

  • 468 ⨯ 60 - Banner
  • 728 ⨯ 90 - Leaderboard
  • 930 ⨯ 180 - Top Banner
  • 970 ⨯ 90 - Large Leaderboard
  • 970 ⨯ 250 - Billboard
  • 980 ⨯ 120 - Panorama

Mobile Banner Ads

  • 300 ⨯ 50 - Mobile Banner
  • 320 ⨯ 50 - Mobile Banner
  • 320 ⨯ 100 - Large Mobile Banner

Also, remember that the file size of your image ads should not exceed 150kb regardless of the file format that you use.

5. Keywords and Targeting Basics

As we all know, Google search ads are based mostly on keywords, and keywords are the main targeting option. You choose the keywords that you'd like your ad to appear on. For the most part, you target your ads based on what people are searching.

However, the Google Display Network provides a lot more targeting options beyond keywords. As these are image ads or video ads, keywords are not always the most important targeting factor. In fact, what matters here is the selection of platforms or websites where you want your ad to be shown.

So, go through the various targeting options for Google display advertising before creating a campaign. These are covered in the next point.

6. Various Targeting Methods

Here are the various types of targeting that you can do for your Google display advertising:

Placement Targeting

This allows you to select the platforms where you want to place your ads and is probably the most important targeting decision for Google display ads.

You need to understand who your target audience is and which websites they are most likely to frequent. Then, you can make a selection of websites or apps where you want to show your ads to your target audience.

You can choose to target industry-specific websites or websites based on special interests that match with those of your target audience.

Topic Targeting

This lets you select the pages where your ads will be displayed based on the topic covered on the page. This is the logical next step after you have selected the websites where you want to show your ads.

Here is a screenshot of some of the topics that are available for you to select.

Image Source: Google AdWords

Audience Targeting

This allows you to select your audience based on demographics, interests, their online behavior, etc. There is a detailed list of demographics that you can use to filter and find the most relevant audience for your brand.

Google Display Advertising also has the option of interest-based targeting that allows you to target people with specific interests.

Overall, Google Display Advertising provides advanced audience targeting options to help you deliver your ads to the right people.

Image Source: Google AdWords

Contextual Targeting

This is basically the Google Display Advertising’s version of keyword-based targeting. Here you need to make a list of keywords that are most relevant to your ad content.

Google AdWords also makes keyword suggestions based on your product or website to help you select the best keywords.


This allows you to target people who have had some past interactions with your business. It has a whole set of targeting options based on the type of interaction a user has had with your business.

Creating a Google Display Advertising Campaign

Once you know the basics, you can go ahead and create your first Google Display Advertising campaign.

7. How to Set Up a Google Display Advertising Campaign

For all of you who are not familiar with the Google AdWords interface, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create a Google Display Advertising campaign.

  1. Log into your Google AdWords account and go to the “Campaigns” tab in the left menu.
  2. You will see an option to create a new campaign as shown in the image below.
  1. Click on this and you will see a new page where you will be asked to select your Google Display Advertising campaign goals.
  2. Next, you will be prompted to select the type of campaign--display or video.
  3. Select the “display” option and continue.
  4. You will next reach a page where you can adjust all the settings and set requirements for your Google Display Advertising campaign.
  5. You can select the locations, languages, budget, bidding strategy, ad rotation preferences, ad schedule, etc.
  6. For ad rotation, select the option that optimizes the ad rotation to display only the best-performing ads.
  7. Next, you will have to set a duration for your campaign.
  8. You can also adjust the frequency capping options to limit the number of times an ad is displayed to a user.
  9. You can also adjust the settings to exclude certain types of content and not display your ads on websites with that content.
  10. Next comes the part where you actually need to create ad groups and set the preferences for each.
  11. This is where you need to refine your audience and other targeting options.
  12. The last part is to set a CPM bid for each ad group.
  13. After this, you can upload your ad copy and then create the campaign.

The process of creating a Google Display Advertising campaign is fairly simple and the steps are self-explanatory. And, Google provides a lot of helpful resources to help you at each step of the way.

Tips for Running Successful Google Display Advertising Campaigns

Now that you know the basics of Google Display Advertising, let’s focus on how you can optimize your campaigns. Here are a few tips.

8. Use a Combination of Targeting Methods

Given the various types of targeting options provided by AdWords, it would be a waste not to leverage all of them. Using a combination of targeting options can help you refine your selection and make your targeting more precise.

You can also use different combinations for different target segments and ad groups to take your ad targeting to the next level. It can help you select an audience at a much more granular level.

For example, you can choose people with a particular set of demographics who have a specific interest and live in a particular area. Using just one of the targeting options would not have allowed you that much precision over whom you want to display your ads to.

9. Try Managed Placements for More Control Over Ad Placements

As discussed earlier, you can select the platforms where your ads are displayed based on a number of parameters like industry or topics. Using these options, you help Google AdWords to find relevant websites and show your ads, making the process very simple.

However, if you want more precise control over your ad placements, then you can opt for the “managed placements” option. This allows you to select exactly which websites you want your ads shown on.

Google might sometimes get it wrong and place your ads on irrelevant websites. Having manual control over the process makes sure that your ads are displayed only on relevant websites. This can help you get the highest return possible on your ad spend.

This technique is also useful for marketers who have limited budgets. It is also good for first-timers to start with managed placements and then expand to the broader placement options.

10. Optimize Your Ad Copy in Text Ads

You can optimize your ad copy in a variety of ways, including:


Headlines are usually one of the first things that people see in an ad and should, therefore, be compelling enough to get clicks. Write something that people can relate to, and build excitement or curiosity.

Essentially, your headlines should have something that gets people interested enough to click on the ad to learn more.

Here are a few effective tips to write engaging headlines for your ads.

  • Using a number or statistic in your headlines makes them look more trustworthy and can help you get more clicks.
  • You can use a shocking fact or a controversial statement to generate curiosity and make people want to know more.
  • Another great way to generate curiosity is to ask a question that your target audience might want an answer to.
  • Your headlines should be able to either evoke emotion or at least encourage people to take action. Therefore, you should use action words in your headlines.
  • If you have any ongoing offers, mentioning those right in the headline is a tried and tested way to get audience attention.

Apart from these tips, you also need to be mindful of the essentials like the headline length. You can use a headline analyzer tool to further optimize your headlines.

Ad Content

Your headlines are meant to attract people but it’s the actual ad content that will finally close the deal. It should be relevant, engaging, and compelling enough for people to take the desired action.

Here are some quick tips to optimize the content, both text and visuals, for your ads.

  • Always use high-quality, clear images or videos for your ads.
  • Keep the layout clean and simple, without any distractions.
  • The ad copy should highlight the most important elements like what you’re offering and the CTA.
  • Clearly highlight your USP or key offering in a highly visible manner.
  • If your ad aims to sell a product, show a clear product picture, along with the key benefits.
  • For video ads and rich media ads, ensure that there is no lag and the visuals are playing smoothly.
  • Include your brand logo in your ads. That's a must, but it does not have to be the most dominant part of your ad.  


Once you have attracted users and engaged them long enough for them to go through your ad content, it’s time to close the deal. The ultimate goal is to encourage people to click on your CTA and check out whatever you have in store for them.

Whether your goal is simply to get more website traffic or to sell products, the success of an ad starts only when people click on the CTA. Therefore, your CTAs should be able to encourage people to take action.

These are some of the best tactics for writing compelling calls-to-action:

  • Use strong action words that encourage people to take action.
  • Make use of bright, positive colors that look appealing.
  • Ensure that your CTAs are clearly visible and are the main focus of your ad.
  • Hire copywriters, if you must, to write catchy, creative one-liners to be used for your CTAs.
  • Creating a sense of urgency by emphasizing that an offer is for a limited time, also helps get more clicks.
  • Keep it short and simple.

11. Experiment With Different Ad Formats and Sizes

Just like with the targeting options, it would be a waste not to try out the different Google display ad formats and size options to see which one works best. This is also needed because some websites support only 1-2 ad formats. Therefore, to maximize your reach, you should try out different ad formats and place them on different websites.

Some websites, for example, might not support rich media or video ads, so it’s better to use image ads there. Some might only support text ads and you might not be able to advertise on those if you only have visual ads.

Overall, try out all of the ad formats first and then filter down to the one that works the best for you.

12. Always A/B Test Your Ads

This is a must for every advertiser, regardless of whether they are using Google Display Advertising or any of its counterparts.

A/B testing your ads helps you optimize your advertising campaign and gain valuable insights for your future advertising strategy. From finding out what ad copy resonates with your audience the most to finding out which images get the most clicks, you can learn a lot by A/B testing.

Another advantage of testing your ads is that it helps you refine your targeting. You can use different combinations of targeting options for different ad groups and see which ones get the best results.

Wrapping it Up

Use this post as your guide to create powerful Google Display Advertising campaigns that actually work.