In Why You Should Use Display Ads, I wrote about why running an ad on Google Display campaign could benefit a business, provided it’s done right. Now I’d like to focus on how to get the most value from it.

Examples of Google AdWords Display Ads that show on other sites.
Examples of Google AdWords Display Ads

Part of the problem with display ads isn’t just that they have a reputation for not delivering, it’s that setting them up requires more work. With the search ads you simply type in what you want your ad to say, create a list of keywords and boom you’re ready to go. With display you have to decide how you want them to run and while you can do a text ad this type of ad will only reach part of your potential market.

Google itself seems to realize they’ve done little to differentiate the two. So in a couple weeks they’re going to roll out a new interface specifically designed for display campaigns. This will make it easier to set up your ad, as well as how to target your campaigns. One of the nice new features of the new interface is that you’ll actually see a graphic showing the reach of your ad. As you test various factors with your ads (keywords, placements, topics, etc.) you see a shaded area showing your reach. Add more information and this shaded area will grow.

There are literally dozens of variations on not just how your ad appears, but also in what format. Here are 5 ways to get the most out of your display campaign.

Create Display Ads

While you can run text ads in display, doing this alone limits where your ad appears. Many sites only allow display ads to appear on their page. Display ad builder allows you to create your ads using templates provided by Google. There are a couple advantages to this. First you can create your ads in a matter of minutes and second, you don’t need to be a graphic designer to accomplish it.

What I’ve found is that by using the display builder, the ads are usually approved pretty quickly. Ads I’ve designed myself or have been created by a graphic designer can sometimes take days to get approved. If you’re looking to get a campaign going immediately then use the display builder and then upload your designs so they begin the approval process. Once they are approved pause the other ads.

Once you’ve picked out a design and typed in your information you can preview it. I’ve very rarely seen an ad look good in all the different formats. I simply uncheck the designs that have issues such as text being cut off and then save my ad. I’ll then try a different ad or different text to create ads for the other formats. There are six sizes to choose from and I’ve found some sizes work better. Instead of creating graphics for every size I first see which has the most traffic or success and develop these graphics first.

Try Video to Market Your Business

Most people don’t realize that YouTube is the number 2 search engine in the US. It has a much larger reach than Bing and Yahoo, yet advertisers seldom use its potential. It’s part of the Google family and if your audience is utilizing that format you should take advantage of it. The problem is that for this you need to have a video, not something every business has the budget to do. If you’ve created an for television, however, it might work for this format.

Video is a great way to brand your business and set yourself above the competition. Watch this video on how Animal Planet took advantage of the opportunities of video.

Develop Your Brand Online

Video isn’t just the only way to develop your brand online. Simply showing up in the search results for words people are targeting or on articles related to what you do is also key to spreading the word about your business. In fact, if branding is your main concern for your campaign then consider doing cost per impression.

With cost per impression your ads will appear up to 1,000 times for a set amount. So if you set it at $4.00 you will be charged every time 1,000 people have been exposed to your ad, whether they click on it or not. So if you simply want your logo or images to appear all over the web and aren’t really interested in making sales from it, then go with cost per impressions. Be cautious with setting your CPM, however, as it might not take long for those one thousand impressions to take place. Initially set your bid a little low to see how much response you get. And as with any campaign you’re doing set a daily spend so you don’t wake up to a huge AdWords bill.

Avoid Certain Words or Certain Neighborhoods

The default setting for display campaign is usually All Available Sites. This means your ads will appear throughout the web on pages that Google finds to be related to your keywords. There is a benefit to this as you will see a lot more impressions and potentially a lot more clicks. You could also find, however, that the people clicking on your ads aren’t really interested in what you offer.

With managed placement you can determine which sites your ads appear on. This is a great tool if you’re targeting a very specific market. Suppose you want to target Realtors and so one of the phrases you’d likely be using would be real estate. So instead put real estate into the placement tool and you’ll receive a list of YouTube videos and sites related to home selling. Looking through the list you can determine where your market is likely to be visiting and choose those sites.

What is also nice about the placement tool is that it provides a little graphic for each listing showing what types of ads the site allows. Not only does it show which allow for display ads, if you run your mouse over them, it will reveal the specific type of ads they run.

At the campaign level you can exclude specific sites or specific categories. For example if you’re a Realtor you don’t want your ad appearing for crimes in your community or for stories related to death and tragedy. You can exclude these topics.

Keep Your Costs Down

Maybe I’m conservative when it comes to money, but when I set up an AdWords account for a client I tend to error on the side of caution. I purposely keep my cost per clicks or cost per impression down until I’ve seen how much of a response we get. What I’ve seen with a lot of clients experiencing very little return on investment with their campaigns is that they’ve accepted the default seting and are running their campaigns on both search and display. Then their budge is eaten up pretty quickly because most of their clicks have been on the display network.

Maybe I’m conservative when it comes to money, but when I set up an AdWords account for a client I tend to error on the side of caution. I purposely keep my cost per clicks or cost per impression down until I’ve seen how much of a response we get. What I’ve seen with a lot of clients experiencing very little return on investment with their campaigns is that they’ve accepted the default seting and are running their campaigns on both search and display. Then their budge is eaten up pretty quickly because most of their clicks have been on the display network.

Keeping down costs begins with running two campaigns, one specifically for content and another for display. Then set the cost much lower for display, particularly as you test it out. I also monitor the analytics to see which phrases seem to do better. If I find Portland Airport Shuttle converts better than Portland Airport transportation, I’ll raise the bid higher. If I find certain sites do better for my display ads, I try to focus on them. The advantage of pay per click is that you can start almost immediately with a campaign. The disadvantage is that you can also spend your money right away. If you find yourself needing help with pay per click management, then consider bringing in a professional. They will cost you money in the beginning, but in the long run will help you to lower your costs, increase your Quality Score and increase your return on investment.

Article examining how to effectively use Google AdWords Display setting to reach more prospects in a cost effective manner.