3 Ways To Profit From The Google Display Network

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Earlier this week, there was an interesting conversation on Twitter about the Google Display Network. IntelligentPPC made the bold statement that one should avoid the GDN like the plague. Many members of PPCchat disagreed, myself included. Check this link for an example of the debate that ensued.

If you’re running search and display campaigns together, then you certainly will lose money. The two are not the same and optimization tactics are totally different. But if you’re running distinct campaigns in display, then you absolutely can profit from it. Here are 3 ways to profit from the Google Display Network.

Promote a new product.

One of the rare times that keyword search falls down is in new product launches. Let’s say you’ve developed a great new product that’s totally revolutionary. So revolutionary that no one is searching for it. If no one is searching for it, keyword search won’t be much help to you. I’ve seen this time and again – low search volume for new products.

The problem is lack of awareness. If people don’t know about it, they won’t search for it.

Enter the GDN.

By running carefully crafted display ads targeting the right audience, the GDN will help increase awareness of your new product amongst your target audience. From there, people will buy – either directly from the display ads, or from searches performed later on.

We recently did this with one of our clients. They developed a product that was unique. No one was searching for it. We created image display ads with pictures showing the product in use. The ads led users to a video demonstration on the client site.

Not only did we increase traffic and ultimately search volume for the product, we also saw direct and profitable sales from display.

Get on prime web properties through the back door.

Let’s face it – targeting B2B customers with keyword search can be challenging. Right now I have a client who’s trying to reach B2B decision makers to get them to use their product. Problem is, their product is also something consumers search for. They don’t want to reach consumers, so we’ve used negative keywords to eliminate most of those searches – and now the client’s search volume is very low.

Immediately I started thinking “LinkedIn Ads.” But CPCs on LinkedIn are high – the audience for this client has a minimum CPC of $4.50, and you’ll need to bid much higher to get a good position.

Enter the GDN.

Yes, LinkedIn is part of the GDN. And you can craft a GDN campaign to show ads on LinkedIn for a lower cost than going through LinkedIn directly. You can even get image display ads onto LinkedIn this way – something that costs 5 figures when working directly with LinkedIn.

Build killer remarketing lists.

Awareness is a key component of any marketing strategy. If you’re only using keyword search, you’re missing those who don’t know about your product. Sure, you might hook some of them with broad, generic terms – but at what cost? I’ve seen broad keywords in the $30-$50 per click range. With conversion rates of 1% or lower, that’s usually not very profitable.

Enter the GDN.

Use the GDN to create awareness of your brand and your product. Then, create a remarketing list comprised of those who came to your site from the GDN but didn’t convert. Then remarket to them with a compelling offer.

By using the 2-step GDN/remarketing process, instead of paying $30 for a visitor with a 1% conversion rate, you can now pay $2 or $3 per click. That’s 10 visits from the GDN for one from search – and now they’re familiar with you because of the remarketing component. That means they’re more likely to buy. At a lower cost than from keyword search.

So should you avoid the GDN like the plague? Go for it – I’ll be happy to take the customers you’re leaving on the table.

How have you used the GDN to make a profit? Share in the comments?

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  1. Great for saturating a new geographic market area as well! We recently saw huge success with display as a large part of building a presence for a client who opened in a completely new region.

  2. Driving new ecommerce users from the GDN to take advantage of an offer or free product can drive tremendous growth to your best performing remarketing segments- abandon carts and even higher converting behavioral pattern based segments.

    Great post!

  3. I want to stick up a little bit for Michael.

    I think people in the USA tend to be a lot more amenable to display ads than people in the UK. (From memory (I think I’m right) there was a report from Google a good while back which showed that the returns from GDN was even by Google’s reckoning not great compared to other countries)).

    I think it is also the case that if you are managing campaigns for small business, it is harder to justify spending on GDN…

    • Melissa Mackey says

      Jordan, that’s fair and I can definitely see your point. I haven’t done display outside the US so I can’t speak to performance in other countries. And I agree that for small business it often doesn’t make sense to use the GDN.

  4. And remarketing is brilliant, but conversions from it (in my experience so far) are small compared to search network.

    • And there’s going to be a percentage of those remarketing conversions that you would have got anyway…

      • And if you are using Display to build remarketing lists, then unless you put a major amount of time and effort into it, your remarketing lists aren’t going to be as good as if you had only used Search traffic.. (Feel free to disagree with me, and I’m sure this will vary by country and niche etc.).

    • Remarketing conversions are smaller than search in what way? Volume? Value?

      In my experience remarketing can account for a considerable % of your overall PPC program assuming you have the traffic volume to consistently grow audience lists over time or at the least maintain size or you know, one of a million other factors. Remarketing AOVs are higher than the other campaign types on a lot of my accounts.

      If you maintain your goals why does it matter if any amount of users would have converted regardless of remarketing?

      • Smaller in volume. If your main source of traffic is search, then conversions from remarketing are always going to be a lot smaller (unless you are in the lucky position of getting huge amounts of organic brand traffic or something like that).

        What percentage of conversions do you get from remarketing? (Looking at a fairly large e-commerce client of mine over the last 3 months (with dynamic remarketing and standard remarketing with image ads and text ads,) the percentage of conversions For AdWords are:-

        Search (Including PLAs) – 93.62%
        Remarketing – 6.38%

        Don’t get me wrong, like I said, remarketing is a great invention, I’m just saying that the average business is not going to get a huge number of conversions from it compared to search. (But I don’t know everything, so if anyone has data proving me wrong – stick it up here so everyone can learn from it)…

        As far as goals (conversions) go – I am only pointing out that not 100% of remarketing conversions are incremental, surely no-one can argue with that?

      • And I should add that in the example above there are approx 4x times the number of view through conversions as well which of course no-one could claim are without any value. And the conversion value / cost was significantly better than the conversions from Search (See I’m not saying remarketing is a waste of time at all)..

        • Melissa Mackey says

          I think that as with most things PPC, your mileage may vary. Remarketing can be a huge source of conversions, or it can be a waste of time. I’m enjoying hearing the different points of view on the topic.

  5. “Yes, LinkedIn is part of the GDN. And you can craft a GDN campaign to show ads on LinkedIn for a lower cost than going through LinkedIn directly. You can even get image display ads onto LinkedIn this way – something that costs 5 figures when working directly with LinkedIn.”

    Watch as LinkedIn closes this loophole in 3 … 2… 1… 🙂

    I kid, I kid! Great article, as per usual. I’ll definitely be sharing this with my followers.

  6. Anyone who thinks the GDN is a bad move, should learn more about PPC and specifically, brand conversions. In PPC, you’re charged when someone clicks the ad. If it’s a rich-media graphic ad, why would you want anyone to click it, ever? If you feel the need for clicks on such ads, it’s an ad copy issue.

  7. I’ve seen some great successes using GDN to target Youtube viewers. With the video ad option within AdWords, it can be easy to forget that we’ve still got the option of serving text and display ads as well. This can be a great tool to use for competitive disruption and has a very reasonable CPC.

  8. Hi Melissa,

    This is a helpful article for me, I really appreciate you efforts 🙂

  9. I have been trying to get display ads on LinkedIn by using the GDN but with no luck. Would love to know what I am doing wrong.

  10. Nice post i have trying to succeed with GDN for a long time, i hope this post helps.


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