5 Proven Ways to Master Google’s Display Network.

When it comes to finding new customers, Google’s Display Network (GDN) is the most undervalued tool in the digital marketers acquisition playbook.

We’ve all witnessed the success of remarking using GDN, but when it comes to actually driving new leads using programmatic display, the majority look elsewhere.


Most GDN campaigns drive crap traffic to the landing page, which drives crap conversions (if any), which then leads to crap from the sales team and finally – oh yes, crap feedback from management or clients.

It’s a never-ending crap cycle. So why should we do it?

This doesn’t have to be the case. Several steps can be taken to transform your crap-generating campaign into a lead accumulating machine.

1. Laser-focused targeting

Perry Marshall (PPC maven) believes you should be able to paint a full customer picture using only the display campaign’s targeting set-up. That said, many seasoned PPC’ers choose to only utilise one targeting option:

⁃ Keywords
⁃ Interests (in-market segments)
⁃ Demographics
⁃ or Placements.

These are all great strategies but can leave the campaign reaching a much broarder audience than intended. To get the most relevant audience, layering multiple targeting options in tandem can lead to some great results.

Let’s take an accounting software company for instance:

Their targeted customer may be Finance Decision Makers looking for a new invoicing platform.

How should they go about layering their display settings?


First off, they’d research and find a list of relevant keywords, which may look something like this:


These would all then be added to the campaign.

Next step:

Google’s latest keyword update makes the keyword targeting more powerful than ever.

You simply tick a box (below the display keyword list), which ensures ad space will only be bid for if your exact keyword is present on the viewed page (see below).


Previously, a user could have been viewing a completely unrelated blog / video and would still have been shown your ad. This recent change means the keyword targeting option has never been so important to drive relevant and engaged conversions.

In-marketing segments:

In-market segments are the most important target filter when driving bottom of the funnel conversions. This option is crucial to filter out the masses and really focus on those who are in-market to buy, not kick-tires. This can be a great way to ensure you don’t rinse through the daily budget in 5 minutes of launching the campaign.

Here are a few categories our software company could look at selecting:



Let’s face it. No-one between 18-24 is typically going to be a decision-maker for an accounting software. There may very well be a few exceptions, but it’s important to think about opportunity cost. Do you want finance dissertation students rinsing your budget so you can find one 19-year-old Founder – or would money be better spent targeting the demographic more typical of Directors?

Whatever decision you make it needs to be backed by data. If your research shows the majority of success has come from women, target women. If you find 90% of your leads have come from prospects with kids – target parents only.

The only good decision is a data-driven one.


Finally, think about where you don’t want your ads being shown. Don’t let mobile games eat up your budget – especially if you’re targeting people who may not typically do business on their phone.

“50% of mobile clicks are accidental” AdWords

Luckily, if we’re the finance software company we can now make bid adjustments by device:


Under ‘settings’ – decrease the bid by 100% on mobile and tablet devices to ensure ads are only shown on desktop machines.

2. Don’t Over-layer

With every good strategy, there’s a catch. As powerful as layering can be, it can also hinder your display efforts.

Remember – it’s important to test. We have to make sure there is a big enough audience that adheres to our layered targeting set-up. If we make the targeting too specific (using only a couple of keywords and a niche in-market segment) you may reach very little.

Once you’ve set up your campaign, take a step back and look at the amount of impressions you are receiving. If there’s not enough to drive a large volume of clicks – revisit your targeting set-up and broaden the net.

Remember – without clicks and conversions, we have no data. And with no data we can’t create our lead-generating display campaign.

What Next?

Above we’ve got a water tight targeting foundation for a very specific display campaign.

So what next?

We’ve got the audience, we just need people to click on our ads.

3. Ad testing

This part is crucial.

You’d be surprised how many PPC advertisers spend a lot of money creating the same ads in the 10 different sizes accepted by the GDN.

This is a sure fire way to have 10 variations of a bad ad.

Then once they’ve found out that these ads don’t work. They create a batch of 10 new bad ones.

There is an easier way!

Why not let the customer choose?

Create 6 versions of the 300×250 sized banners. Put the 6 variations in the same ad group and let the public decide. At the end of 30 days, the variation with the most conversions is the winner.

That’s right, you can now create the remaining 9 ads in the winner’s design.

Cool, ey?

4. Impression capping

Frequency capping is the forgotten dimension of the GDN. It gets to a stage where subtle advertising can turn into annoying stalking.

This is why it’s important to cap the number of times each user sees your ad each day. Around 5-6 impressions per day gives the maximum chance of engagement without the risk of annoyance.

5. Getting cheap clicks

The problem with Display ads is that there is no quality score.

So how does Google to determine between good and bad ads?

The truth it there’s no definite answer.

However, over the hundreds of accounts I have managed, I’ve noticed one main thing. Anything over 0.30% CTR starts reducing the initial cost of your ad clicks. Anything above and beyond get’s even cheaper clicks.

This said, we ran a campaign which received only a 0.20% click through rate, but, it was producing a 30% conversion rate. And guess what – Google reduced the cost of my clicks significantly.

Even though there is no finite answer, we can safely assume customer signals (CTR & Conversions) lay the foundation of Googles ‘Display quality score’.

Final note

When set up correctly, display campaigns on GDN can drive vast amounts of relevant and qualified traffic to your landing pages. It’s the perfect solution for those competing in a crowded industry or those struggling with the budget to consistently hit top spots on search campaigns.

Most importantly with a lot of PPC’ers avoiding display campaigns to drive leads — there’s a massive audience out there awaiting your impression (pun intended).

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