Just what the heck is Google Display Network (GDN), and how can you make it work for your business? With so many ad platforms out there, what makes this one special and how can your business best benefit from using it?
GDN allows businesses to advertise images and videos on websites of their choice, so you have the ability to get pretty niche here if you choose to. Plus, think of all ways that can help your online branding! You have the ability to find and reach customers that otherwise might have been missed through other advertising platforms.
Lisa Raehsler is about as “expert” as you can get on the topics of PPC, display, retargeting, and social media ad campaigns. Her strategy and program development for countless businesses over the last 17 years has shown quick, proven results.
Rich: Lisa Raehsler is a Search Engine Marketer and Pay Per Click Strategist, nationally recognized speaker, and columnist for industry leading publications. As the founder and principal strategist at Big Click Co., she helps companies and agencies of all sizes to integrate PPC advertising into online media programs for brand promotion, demand generation and customer acquisition.
Lisa has led hundreds of paid advertising accounts for search engines, Google Adwords and Bing Ads, mobile, display, retargeting and social media ad campaigns. Her experience spans 17 years and includes working with national brands and agencies, and at the enterprise level at Thomson Reuters.
Lisa has spoken about PPC, mobile, retargeting, and other online marketing topics and podcasts and webinars. Her industry conference speaking engagement include Pubcon, ClickZ, SES, OMS, MIMA, HeroConf, SMX, as well as training events. Lisa shares her expertise as a columnist for several industry publications. She recently received the 2015 Microsoft MVP Award for outstanding contributions to Bing Ads Technical Communities, and somehow she made time for us. Lisa, welcome to the show.
Lisa: Hello, that was a great introduction, thank you for having me.
Rich: No problem. I’m excited about this because we chatted about what we should discuss, and I wanted to talk about Google Display Network, something we have not talked about on the podcast before – and I was sharing with you before we got on – not something I know a lot about. So let’s start with the basics. What exactly is Google Display Network, or, GDN?
Lisa: The Google Display Network is where Google – instead of searching in the search engine – basically you’re going about your daily business and browsing and you see display ads, banner ads, on different websites. And all of these websites host Google ads.
Rich: So how is GDN different than Adwords, and how is it similar?
Lisa: Well, GDN is in Adwords and you can opt into it and place it and do your strategies right in it within Adwords, the same as you would for keyword search. So it’s part of your overall PPC strategy.
Rich: And is it always visual? I mean, it sounds like it is, being the Google “Display” Network.
Lisa: Yes, it is always visual. The ad formats can be in a banner and they also have a text ad that kind of fits into those ad spaces on the websites, too.
Rich: So what are we getting – besides pretty pictures – from GDN that we’re not getting in AdWords? Why would this be something that we want to add to our marketing mix as small business owners or business owners?
Lisa: Well, there are only so many keywords. I know that sounds silly the way I just said that. But sometimes you have to reach audiences in creative ways. One way is through doing keyword searches. So if you’re searching for shoes or searching for vacations, etc, the Google Display Network offers this vast opportunity to reach people by different types of targeting.
Rich: So let’s talk about that targeting. So I know, for example, on Google AdWords we’re targeting people based on the searches that they’ve just done. It sounds like GDN might be different. Is it more based on where these people are, is it like Facebook ads where we’re targeting them based on their personality, how exactly do we find our ideal customers using GDN?
Lisa: You can target them in many, many ways. So we could actually talk about this for 3 hours, probably. You have the ability to target based on audiences, so, who the people are. You have the opportunity to target on placement, so you can pick a site and say you want to advertise on a certain news website or a sports website. You have the opportunity to target on contextually, which is it doesn’t matter which website you’re on – the keywords are on the page – so maybe it’s a news article about buying shoes or shoe fashion. You could show up on that. And then we have the most awesome of them all which is the remarketing/retargeting that you can do.
Rich: Alright, cool. So what I wrote down on there is there’s four main ways, at least, of reaching the right people. One is, I can target audiences. I can target places. I can target contextual places. And then I can retarget to people. Let’s take those one at a time, because I just want to make sure.
Being selfish, I’m thinking about my upcoming conference, and I’ve got audiences. Now I am used to advertising on Facebook, where I’m able to upload an email list or I can say I want to find everybody who follows HubSpot. They might be interested in my conference so I can target them based on that.
I know Google has an insane amount of information about people, but I always think of Facebook as kind of being the king of this. How can I reach my audience based on my knowledge of who they are?
Lisa: So you can target them based on interests. So if you were having a conference that was about business and marketing, you could target people that were interested in business and marketing. You could target based on the same topics. You could also target on demographics, which is really interesting – and probably less applicable to you running a conference – but more so to B2C for reaching consumer audiences.
Rich: Sure, if I had a line of fashion bags I might target women. If I had a series of men’s athletic shoes, I might target men. Those kinds of things you mean?
Lisa: Right, So I work with a retailer and we have very specific demographics that purchase from them. They tend to be women, then tend to be over 40 and up to 65, they have a higher household income, and we can actually target by household income in the geographic settings.
Rich: Now I know with Facebook, we’ve given Facebook so much information, and then they pair us with a whole bunch of demographics and resources that they have. Is Google getting similar information? LIke I know that I’ve got multiple Gmail addresses, but I’ve only got one Facebook account. Do you have any understanding of where Google’s getting all this information about us so that they can give us audiences as marketers?
Lisa: As long as you’re logged into Google, they’re tracking your behavior, pretty much.
Rich: Alright. So I was afraid of that.
Lisa: It’s actually very interesting and it will be hard for me to explain where you can find this, but if you look in your personal settings when you’re logged in, there’s a place in there that says, “your interests”. It’s in one of the settings. Google will tell you what they think you’re interested in, and it will basically tell you what your demographics are, what topics you’re interested in.
It’s really interesting and you should definitely check it out. Number one, it’s a little creepy. And number two, I like advertising but I like it to be relevant to me, so this is a place you can log into your Google account and if there’s something wacky in there you can actually delete it.
Rich: That makes a lot of sense because I remember when I was doing some research for a hair restoration organization, after I did the research, every pre-roll on YouTube was all about laser surgery for hairline improvement. So I can see where I might have wanted to remove that.
Lisa: Exactly. And I work with a lot of clients where I get all kinds of crazy ads.
Rich: I can only imagine. Ok, so another thing that you had mentioned was “places”. That seems overwhelming to me. So if I want to advertise in specific places – whether it’s for the Agents Of Change Conference or for my own web design agency – there’s obviously an infinite number of websites that I can advertise in. How do I actually choose? Is it by category or how does that all work when I get into the GDN network?
Lisa: Well Google has a placement tool, they call it the “display planner”. If you are in AdWords you go to “tools” and you go to “display planner” and you put in keywords and it will give you suggestions of different websites that you might want to advertise on.
Lisa: So this can be by keyword, it can be by topic. For example if you were trying to reach a younger demographic you might want to advertise on music sites or video sites. So you basically run this planner, look through it, find what’s relevant to you, and choose them and place that into your campaign and say here are the websites I want to show up on.
Rich: Is there a negative tool, too, where if there’s certain sites we don’t want to appear on we can make sure that we wouldn’t appear on those specific sites?
Lisa: Yes you can. And you don’t really need to worry about that if you’re doing it via this placement technique, because you’re saying you want to show up on these 10 sites. So it should only show up on those 10 sites. But certainly if you’re doing other techniques where the actual site is wide open, then yeah, you can definitely negative those sites out, which is a great tool.
The great thing about the Google Display Network is you can get reach. So if you’ve maxed out your keywords, this is an area where you can be the king of the castle in your area, in your niche, in your geolocation, if you need to be.
Rich: Yeah, it sounds like a definitely different approach that would maybe fill in some gaps in our marketing and advertising. Now the third thing you mentioned was “contextual”, so it sounds similar to “places”, but maybe what I’m doing here is I’m just thinking about the keywords that we might be talking about. So again, if I’m putting on a marketing conference, I might be looking for words like “marketing”. If I was selling women’s sportswear, I might be thinking about things like “yoga”, “athletics”, something like that.
Lisa: Right. So whatever site they’re on, it doesn’t matter. They could be on a local newspaper site. What’s the newspaper in your neighborhood?
Rich: We’ve got a couple, one of them is the Bangor Daily News
Lisa: Right. So if you were on that site, maybe you’re reading the weather and you see an article that interests you about women’s yoga, then that contextual appropriate ad will show up on that page.
Lisa: Or if you were reading a business article, if your conference was more localized, you want to reach people that are reading business and marketing articles locally. That’s how you would do it.
Rich: Makes sense. And the last one you mentioned was “retargeting”. So is this after somebody has come to our website and not made a buying decision, is that usually how we are going to use our retargeting or remarketing?
Lisa: They can come to your website, they can do a number of different actions for you to retarget them. But basically they have to come to your website – so they are “cookied” – then as they navigate and surf the web, you would be coming back to them and serving your ad. You’ve seen this before, everyone has seen this where they feel like they’re being followed.
Lisa: Right, same thing, that’s what it is. There are a lot of tricks and strategies to do it appropriately, but basically we want to say you already have a contact with me because you’ve been to my site and expressed interest in me, so I want to talk to you about this a little bit more.
Rich: Alright, that makes sense. Now I know with some of these other ad platforms I can upload an email list into, say, Facebook and Twitter. Is there a similar tool in the GDN?
Lisa: There actually is a new one. Do you know about that?
Rich: I do not, this was a completely curious question.
Lisa: It’s called “customer match”. It’s brand new, I think it’s interesting. What you do is you will basically upload your email list into AdWords, and Google will run their magic and try to match up your email list to their known users. So it has to basically match a Gmail account.
Lisa: So let’s say you input 10,000 emails, you might actually only come out with a customer match of about 5,000, just for example.
Lisa: Now once you have that, then you can target that list so when they’re searching you can send them offers based on the list.
Rich: Alright. So let’s say we’re ready to give GDN a try. Do we work this through our Google AdWords account, or is this a completely separate entry point into the Google universe?
Lisa: No, it’s right through the Google AdWords account. But the first thing you have to do is think about how you want to reach people and what your needs are.
Rich: Oh, I skipped over probably the most important point then. Alright, so what kind of goals do people have when they come to GDN?
Lisa: Well, it really goes through the sales funnel, the opportunities on the display networks. So if you think about it, you have audiences and placements, those types of targeting don’t know you, they haven’t had any contact with you. So you can go from the most general, or the top of the funnel might be that contextual and placements where you’re just trying to introduce yourself and generate awareness.
But then as you go down the funnel a little bit more, you can get into the demographics where you know they have more interest in you. And down to the remarketing, where they actually have that contact with you.
Rich: Ok, that makes a to of sense.
Lisa: There’s also a very cool way that you can target people that’s a list that Google has that’s called, “in market”. Basically they have monitored you, collected information, that shows that your inbound market to purchase something. So for example, a car. If you’re going to purchase a car you’re going to demonstrate probably pretty specific behavior online, right?
Lisa: Searches, going to different websites, looking at reviews, maybe different dealership sites. So they’ll tag you and say you’re in the market to buy a car. And they have these lists for various industries, so this is also a great type of targeting method. And they’re a little bit more down the funnel, too, because you have information about them that they’re ready to purchase. And that’s cool.
Rich: Yeah, absolutely. It definitely increases our ROI, or at least our opportunity for improved ROI.
Lisa: Right. Because you know one more thing about them.
Rich: Now this all sounds really good. What’s your experience been in comparing the cost per click – or the cost per lead – with the Google Display Network versus AdWords or some other platforms?
Lisa: So the cost per lead when you look at it strictly as the cost per lead for these campaigns, it will be higher. However, we know that when you’re doing PPC, when you’re doing AdWords, that there are multiple touches to consumers before they eventually convert.
So one thing we can see in Google Analytics that’s very helpful is assisted conversions, where we can see that they’ve seen a display ad, they’ve searched for a keyword – maybe they saw another display ad – maybe they searched for a keyword in another campaign and then eventually converted. So when you look at the Google Display Network and how it fits into the whole process of a person converting or purchasing, it really plays a huge part.
Rich: Ok. Now what do you recommend to your clients – and I’m sure it varies – if you’re a small business, so you recommend that they start with AdWords, do you recommend they start with GDN? Is GDN kind of like an “add on” after you’ve already established and kind of gone on after all your keywords? How do you recommend people start with that?
Lisa: Well I think it depends on what your goals are, but oftentimes for advertisers that are doing local advertising, they’re already limited by the geographic area. They can only get so much volume in that with their keywords. So at that point, the next steps are to try to find volume through the Google Display Network, or like you mentioned Facebook several times. Or through Facebook or through social PPC. So you want to spread out your marketing tactics wide, because you already have it so very narrowed geographically.
Rich: That makes a lot of sense. And do you have recommendations for budgets, like a monthly budget that somebody should expect to pay when it comes to GDN?
Lisa: That’s a good question. It depends on what the overall budget is. I would say most times what I have seen is that people will max out the keyword marketing as it’s appropriate and as they’re getting a return on it, and then whatever they can after that get into the Google Display Network.
But again, you have to keep an eye on those reports to see what are these assisting conversions, how is the display network looking in with your keyword search. Especially if you have a local business you could be seeing these banner ads and then eventually say, “I’m thinking about remodeling and I’ve been seeing this company showing up again and again, and now I’m going to research them.”
Rich: So some of this is definitely about branding, and I completely agree with you. When you buy an ad in a magazine or a newspaper, the bottom line is you’re just hoping people will see it. There’s obviously no clicking in print. So it sounds like what you’re suggesting is the fact that GDN can almost kind of help warm some leads out there because people may never have heard of my conference – for example – but they keep on seeing the logo, they keep on seeing the name, and then all of a sudden somebody they know speaks of it and they’re like, “I’m seeing that everywhere.” So that is one way of raising the visibility, and thus, kind of on some level building the trust with your audience.
Lisa: Right, absolutely. And one of the things I love about the Google Display Network is especially if you have a local business, you can seem very big in a small area.
Rich: That’s a good point.
Lisa: By getting hundreds of thousands of impressions in a small area or in a small niche. For example for a conference, and that’s definitely worth it. Even if they’re not at that moment going to attend the conference or need your services, you’re getting a lot of exposure, you’re making them aware of you. It’s like a billboard tenfold.
Rich: Now Lisa, I know that when it comes to keywords we’re doing bidding. How exactly do we pay for these ads? Are we paying for a certain number of impressions, is there a certain type of bidding because we might be going after a certain audience? How exactly is Google going to be charging us for getting our word/name/brand out there?
Lisa: So on the display network, you can pay per 1,000 impressions, or you can pay per click. Just like in keyword search. And what is great about this is that all the impressions are essentially free.
Rich: So you’re recommending pay per click over pay per impression?
Lisa: That’s what I usually do.
Rich: No, that makes a lot of sense.
Lisa: Paying per impression is used more with, say, national brands that just want to maximize the number of impressions they can get.
Rich: Right. Because they want the Coca-Cola logo everywhere, they’re not actually expecting somebody to click on a link to go buy Coca-Cola.
Lisa: Correct. And through each of these different tactics you’ll expect a different type of click through rates. So for example, I’m looking at my screen right now and so for when I have contextual the click through rate is .18%, and that’s something that you might expect from that. That’s 100,000 impressions and 180 clicks that they paid for. So only 180 out of 100,000.
But if I’m looking at that in-market type of a campaign, well for the same business they had a .57% click through rate, and those are more qualified and that’s good. You want to pay a little bit more for those clicks. But they’re still quite inexpensive in comparison to the keyword search.
Rich: Makes a lot of sense. What are some of the biggest mistakes that you see small businesses making as they get into the Google Display Network?
Lisa: I think anytime you go to create a campaign and just not having the knowledge behind it, it’s really something that is a science in how you reach these audiences. That would be the biggest mistake I would see is just kind of hitting the Google AdWords default buttons. So I mean, I would recommend that an advertiser get some help with that. Either read up and study on it, maybe hire someone to get them set up, hire someone to work with on a regular basis so that they’re getting the most bang for their buck. Because you can actually waste a lot of money on the Google Display Network is you don’t know what you’re doing.
Rich: That’s awesome. This has been great, I mean, I really understand what the GDN is all about. Which was not true half an hour ago, so I definitely appreciate this. Where can we learn more about you and Big Click Co. online?
Lisa: My website is bigclickco.com.
Rich: Alright, and we’ll make sure that we have a link to that in the show notes. Lisa, thank you so much for your time and expertise today.
Lisa: Thank you, it was fun.
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