Zehnder Communications, Inc.

How to Craft a Smarter Google AdWords Campaign

Google’s online search-based advertising platform, known as AdWords, is an intimidating yet powerful tool for marketers to manage. AdWords allows brands to target audiences with digital ads that appear on a search page or website. How, when, and where the ads appear depend on what the users are searching for, what they’ve searched for in the past, and so much more. The features of AdWords are ever changing, meaning that only the savviest and most up-to-date marketers succeed.

After Google recently rolled out its “Search Network with Display Select” option, our Media team dove right into research mode to learn more about this new AdWords platform. We even spoke with Google representatives to get the details on how Search Network with Display Select changes AdWords for many advertisers. 

Adwords Display vs. Search Network: Which to Choose

First, an introduction to Google’s Search Network and its Display Network. When you think of Google ads, you probably think of the Search Network ads, which are typically displayed in the top center as well as right-hand column of Google’s standard search results page. The Display Network ads, on the other hand, aren’t displayed within a Google search landing page. They’re hosted on Google partner sites that opt in to have Google ads displayed – sometimes in a side column, or sometimes on the bottom or top of the partner sites’ pages.

In our experience, Search Network ads generally perform better than Display Network ads in terms of direct click-throughs, because the Search Network reaches an audience that’s directly searching for the product/service offered in each ad.

The Display Network, on the other hand, reaches an audience that’s browsing a related topic or product to the product/service offered in the ad. This audience might not be interested in pursuing additional websites on the topic.

Although the Display Network is a less direct form of advertising than the Search Network, it’s still valuable in many ways. As this study shows, even though Display Network ads might not result in direct or high-quality click-throughs, they can often lead to indirect web traffic later on and increase overall brand awareness.

Thus, many advertisers use both the Display and the Search networks to promote their products. They can do so in two ways: by managing two unique ad campaigns separated by network type, or by managing Google’s Search & Display Network option, a single campaign that covers both networks at once.

Search Network with Display Select: AdWords' Newest Campaign

And here comes the “ever changing” part we mentioned earlier: The Search & Display Network campaign plan is recently became extinct. It's been replaced by Google’s newest AdWords platform: Search Network with Display Select.

The new Search Network with Display Select platform is, in principle, similar to the old Search & Display platform in that it still offers advertisers an easy way to target audiences over both the Search Network and the Display Network.

But the big change lies in the “Select” part of Search Network with the Display Select platform, which basically means that Google is being more “selective” when it comes to placing your ads on its Display Network. According to Google, the new Search Network with Display Select uses “improved signals and methods of predicting where and when your ads are likely to perform best, and sets a higher bar for when to show them.”

Basically, Google has refined its algorithm for its Display Select network. In theory, this should lead to lower quantity – but higher quality – clicks from Display Network ads.

Which AdWords Campaign Type is Best?

Brands basically have two types of AdWords campaign approaches at present: 1) Manage their own separate Display and Select campaigns independent of each other or 2) Combine both campaigns into a single Search Network with Display Select campaign. 

Option 2 is the easiest to manage, and obviously requires you to place your trust in Google’s “improved signals.” While you’ll see the quantity of your ads’ click-throughs decline (due to reduced ad display quantity) on the new platform, you should, in theory, see the quality of your ads’ click-throughs improve (due to increased ad display quality).

Option 1 is an interesting choice that might prove most successful, but will also prove most time consuming. By separating your Search Network and Display Network campaigns, you’ll have more control over how and when your ads are displayed and be able to see more transparent results. However, you’ll have to invest nearly double the time managing your ads – because you’ll have double the amount of campaigns to manage. With this in mind, the best AdWords campaign approach for most brands is the Google Search Network with Display Select. 

So What’s the Final Takeaway?

Be Prepared. As predicted, our initial findings show that Search Network with Display Select has resulted in a much higher quality, but much lower quantity, of click-throughs for some advertisers. Though the initial drop-off in overall traffic was a bit startling, improved metrics such as higher click-through rates and longer times spent on the ads’ target websites illustrates the improved quality of the new Search Network with Display Select audience.

Think strategically. Depending on what sort of product/service you’re offering, Search Network with Display Select could be good or bad. For example, if you’re offering a low-cost good or service that’s a perfect impulse purchase – like nail polish or pizza delivery – then the quality of your ads’ click-throughs might not matter as much as sheer quantity, meaning that you might not want to opt in for Search Network with Display Select. If you’re offering an expensive, rare product or service – like laser eye surgery or waterbeds (does anyone still make those, anyway?) – then this new AdWords platform might be the best fit for you.

Hire an Expert. If anything, this latest AdWords evolution simply emphasizes what we’ve always loved and loathed about Google: It’s always changing. To get the most out of your AdWords campaign for the lowest price, it’s essential that you remain agile and respond to every AdWords tweak. To do so, we’d recommend hiring AdWords-certified experts to monitor and manage your campaigns.

Luckily, we just happen to know a few. Get in touch, and let us help you craft your best AdWords campaign.

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