Google AdWords PPC Comparison: Search Network vs. Display Network

Google AdWords offers two major avenues for advertising – the Search Network and the Display Network.  Each network offers advantages and disadvantages to PPC advertisers.  But which network is better?

Let’s start by looking at the advantages of the Search Network (these ads run on www.google.com):

  • Simple and easy targeting, just pick the keywords you want and your ads will appear
  • Conversely, you can eliminate the keywords you don’t want to appear for and filter your audience
  • Tapping into Google’s audience, an audience you know has interest in what they’re searching for and trusts Google to provide relevant results
  • Google’s Search Network includes relationships with other Search Engines, so you can tap into those holdouts that still use second tier Search Engines like AOL.

Now let’s take a look at the advantages of the Display Network (these ads run on other websites):

  • A  huge inventory of thousands of websites with tons of relevant content
  • The ability to target specific audiences and sites within that network
  • You can also choose sites or audiences to block to better target your audience
  • The ability to run not only plain text ads, but static or animated banners and other rich media

The fact is that both have advantages you can take advantage of, and which network is better depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

Things to Consider About Google AdWords’ Ad Networks

The vast majority of advertisers start using AdWords because they want to show up in Google’s search results.  What many of them don’t realize is that when you create a campaign in AdWords that campaign is set to appear in both the Search Network and Display Network by default.  Many advertisers end up running ads in the Display Network unaware and unprepared for what that entails.  When you’re starting up in AdWords be careful to check campaign settings to only show up in the networks you want to show up in.  If you’d like to utilize both consider creating separate campaigns for each Network to help you better optimize your results.

If you are one of those advertisers who unwittingly ended up advertising in the Display Network, you may have had a bad experience.  You may have even willingly gave the Display Network a try in the past and been unhappy with results.  If that’s the case you may want to consider giving it another try.  Google has come a long way in creating options for that make targeting in the Display Network easier and more precise.  Google’s content targeting algorithm has also improved.  The network has expanded and includes much more relevant content.

Google is still the top Search Engine and has a huge audience.  In many cases an advertiser can set up a campaign in the Search Network and, by using the right keywords and ad copy, can run a very successful campaign.  However some advertisers, for one reason or another, may not be able to get enough from just the Search Network.  Google’s tools may suggest more keywords to add but that may not always work.  A properly set up Display Network can help those advertisers tap into a huge inventory and grow their campaign even more.

So Which Network Is Better?

The answer all depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.  Both networks give you options to find a targeted audience to reach out to. The Search Network is often the best place to start for most advertisers because of Google’s audience, but the reach that the Display Network offers shouldn’t be ignored.  Be sure to try both and discover which one works best for your offer.

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