Yes, The Google Display Network Can Drive PPC Conversions!

I remember when Google launched the Google Display Network. It was called the Content Network back then, and it was part of search campaigns. In the beginning, not only were you stuck with the same bids for search as for display, but you couldn’t opt out of the content network at all!

Thankfully, Google saw the light and fixed things pretty quickly: first, allowing an opt-out, and second, allowing separate bids. Then, finally, Google gave us the ability to create distinct GDN campaigns.

I often hear people say to avoid the GDN like the plague, claiming poor conversion rates and low-quality traffic. And that’s what you’ll find if you merely copy your search campaigns to display (or worse, run display in combination with search). But a carefully crafted GDN campaign can drive conversions at a low cost.

In fact, I’ve written about how to profit from the Google Display Network. Let’s revisit some of those tactics, and talk about some new ones as well.

Generate awareness.

OK, awareness doesn’t always lead to conversions. But if you have a new product that people aren’t searching for, or if you’re targeting a niche audience, the GDN is a great way to reach people who may not be aware of your product. Impressions are usually high in the GDN, meaning lots of exposure for your ads. With a carefully crafted campaign and strategy, you can generate not only awareness, but conversions for a product that people may not be searching for.

Also, if you’re using rich media image ads, you can drive a lot of awareness without anyone even clicking on your ad! Remember, you don’t pay for impressions in the GDN, so engaging or interesting ads can capture attention without costing a lot in clicks.

Create remarketing lists.

Sure, you can do remarketing on the GDN, but you can also use GDN traffic to create remarketing or RLSA lists. This works especially well for new or niche products as mentioned in the example above. With the right targeting, you can drive people to your website from the GDN at a low cost, and then use RLSA or remarketing to get them to convert.

Launch in a new region.

A geotargeted GDN campaign can be a great way to create awareness of your company in a new geographic region. Let’s say you’re well-established in the US, and just recently launched in Canada. Or, you opened a new location in a new city within the US. Create a geotargeted GDN campaign to generate awareness of your business – again, at a lower CPC than you’d find with search. (Hat tip to Timothy Jensen for this idea!)

Get your ads on YouTube and other high-traffic sites.

Yes, YouTube is part of the GDN, as are other high-profile sites that you may not be able to afford otherwise. We frequently see our clients’ GDN ads on YouTube, even as in-stream ads showing over videos. This is great exposure for clients who may not otherwise have the assets (such as videos) to run on YouTube.

In my 2014 article, I talked about getting on to LinkedIn via the GDN. I’m not sure that’s still possible. That said, Microsoft’s recent purchase of LinkedIn could lead to an entirely new way to serve ads on LinkedIn – albeit not through the GDN.

As with any PPC campaign, driving conversions through the GDN requires attention and optimization. You’ll need to monitor your placement reports and remove any poor-performing sites. Test ad copy and ad variations like crazy. Try different targeting options: placement, keyword, interest, and combinations of these. Just be careful not to restrict your audience to the point that you don’t get any traffic.

With careful planning and monitoring, you can generate conversions from the GDN!

What are your favorite ways to use the GDN? Share in the comments!

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PPC News Around the Web: Top 7 Posts for January 2013

January is nearly over, and as always the month went fast. And as usual, there was a lot of interesting PPC news published this month. Here is a summary of the top 7 PPC news posts and articles I bookmarked this month.

All About Display

A Search Marketer’s Guide To Google Display Advertising, Part 3.  I stumbled across this excellent series by my good friend Matt Van Wagner a bit late in the game, on Part 3 of 3. The entire series is required reading for both new and experienced Google Display Network users; you’ll find links to Part 1 and 2 in this post.

Get On Those Negative Keywords

I don’t believe this was new in January, but it was new to me: World’s Biggest Negative Keyword List, compliments of Clix Marketing and via David Szetela. While there are other good negative keyword lists out there, this one buckets keywords by vertical. I found it immediately useful for a few client campaigns where we’ve been struggling with irrelevant traffic.

Geek Out Posts

Let’s face it – when you’ve done PPC and SEM for a long time, most blog posts are underwhelming in terms of true geeky content. That’s why these next 2 posts made my list for this month: they’re so technically awesome that I need to go back and re-read them, because I was lost the first time around!

Advanced Filters: Excel’s Amazing Alternative To Regex by Annie Cushing, who gets my vote for being the Miss Universe of Excel. Her posts are so full of knowledge and resources that I bookmark nearly all of them (and then go back and try to understand how the heck to replicate what she did).

Google Analytics Tips: 10 Data Analysis Strategies That Pay Off Big! by Avinash Kaushik. Google Analytics is a valuable tool for PPC data analysis, and this post is full of great tips. It starts out easy enough, but quickly moves into custom reports & segments for some serious data crunching. As a bonus, it includes many of Avinash’s unique phraseology.

Girl Power

Marty Weintraub from aimClear takes on gender diversity on search conference speaking panels and backs it up with data in Female Online Marketing Speaker Stats: 13 True Evangelists Discuss The Data. Ever wondered why so few females speak at search conferences? Marty interviews longtime conference speakers and organizers to get at the reasons. Disclosure: I’m one of the Evangelists in the post. But don’t let that stop you! It’s an analysis that’s long overdue.

Conversion Optimizer Case Study

Brad Geddes brings us yet another informative and detailed post with Case Study: Quadrupling A Small Account’s Conversions In Just 90 Days. A fascinating read illustrating how to replicate his results! (And yes, I realize that this was published on December 31. A mere technicality.)

Most-Commented Beyond the Paid Post

While it wasn’t the top in page views in January, my Adwords Search Query Reports: US Versus The World post garnered the most comments of any in recent memory. It illustrates what’s so great about the PPC community: people chimed in with stories of their own and suggestions for additional research to help me get to the bottom of the situation. I’ll be doing a follow-up post soon, thanks to all the great insight shared in the comments.

There you have it – my top 7 PPC news posts for January. What were your favorites?

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Display Network Resources

Last Friday, I had the privilege of participating in the PPC Hero Twitter chat. It was a lot of fun, and I’m honored to have been chosen for the interview. We talked about a couple of hot PPC topics, including Adwords Campaign Experiments and the Display Network.

During the Q&A, several questions came up regarding display, and I’ve seen some chatter on Twitter this week about it too. So I thought I’d post a few resources here.

When I have questions, the first place I always go is the Help section of the respective engines. Both Adwords and adCenter have helpful, informative sections on Display. I recommend starting there.

If you’re looking for additional suggestions and best practices, take a look at this post I wrote recently on Adwords Display Network Best Practices.

For your additional reading pleasure, here’s a big list of display network resources that I put together recently.

Display can be a great way to expand your PPC reach, and it’s becoming more important than ever. Here’s to your success with display advertising! What are your favorite display resources or success stories? Share them in the comments!

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