You are currently viewing How To Utilize Google Display Ads – A Beginner’s Guide

How To Utilize Google Display Ads – A Beginner’s Guide

Driving more traffic is absolutely essential in order to make more sales. No traffic, no customers. No customers, no sales.

While brick and mortar companies can rely on foot traffic and word of mouth (to some extent), that is not the case with online businesses.

Foot traffic doesn’t exist for online businesses, and word of mouth is just never enough.

As an online business owner, if you want to compete in today’s marketplace, you have to really stand out by producing superb marketing ads that excite and attract your audience.

Most people think that running ads is hard and that there is a steep learning curve, but in reality, it isn’t nearly as challenging as most believe – particularly when you run ads through a platform such as Google.

Google is a comprehensive platform that gives you the ability to tailor the perfect ad for your needs.

Among the most powerful types of ads they offer are Google Display Ads which allow you to leverage the power of banner ads and run an online marketing campaign seamlessly.

These types of ads have been used since the dawn of the Internet and they are still a very powerful and popular tool that can produce amazing results for your business.

This article will help you understand Google Display Ads by answering the following questions:
  • What is the GDA platform?
  • How does it work?
  • Which type of business will benefit from it?
  • What type of ads do they provide?
  • Targeting the ideal audience with these ads
  • Leveraging metrics to boost efficiency

Google Display Ads Defined

Simply put, Google Display Ads is a category of Google Adwords. Marketers can create Google Display Ads via the same platform as their other Google Ads campaigns, which is very convenient.

With this ad service, advertisers can produce effective banner ads based on either images or images mixed with text. These types of ads are an invaluable tool for drawing the attention of many potential customers.

Benefits of Using Google Display Ads

A lot of marketers question the effectiveness of these ads, and they wonder if they should use them at all. Google Display Ads have a low barrier of entry and allow you to reach large audiences.

With just $10 or $20 per day, you can have access to nearly 90% of all Internet users from all over the world.

This is huge!

It means that you can potentially reach millions of people.

In addition to that, with Google Display Ads, you run ad campaigns based on clicks and not just impressions, so you won’t just be reaching millions of people, but your chances of converting the potential customers will be much higher.

But What About Banner Blindness?

Banner blindness refers to internet users’ tendency to ignore banner ads.

This is why a lot of marketers choose to ignore them altogether. Yes, banner blindness does exist, but there are easy ways to get around it. As long as you craft great banner ads and are able to reach the right audience, you will catch their attention and get lots of clicks.

The secret here is to craft ads that appeal to your ideal audience and then to target those ads the right way. We’ll talk about targeting in a little while. Just know that in order to defeat banner blindness in users, your ads need to really stand out and make your potential customer stop to look at what is on offer.

There are lots of ways to do this without going over the top including:
  • Specials
  • Sales
  • Appealing images
  • Time-sensitive material
  • Great ad copy

Potential customers are shown Google Display Ads through blogs, articles, video services, apps, and even emails.

Basically, any websites that opt into Google AdSense could end up showing your ad if the targeting fits. This all sounds great, but the main question is still whether or not this will work for your particular business.

Businesses that can find huge success using Google Display Ads include:

Thanks to the physical nature of the products, banner ads work extremely well for such businesses.

Business owners that know how to target properly can put their product in front of the exact people that are interested in it.

For example, if someone is selling shoes online, they could present their audience with a banner ad featuring beautiful shoes on sale, which can drive huge amounts of traffic made up of customers that actually love shoes and those in the market for a beautiful pair of shoes.

Digital Products and Affiliate Products

Ads for these types of products can be a little more tricky, but they still work. Ads for these types of products can be shown with visuals to help customers see the results of the product that is being offered.

Just remember that the page your customers land on must be part of a full website and not just one static sales page because Google frowns on those.

Service Related Businesses

Translating services into a visual ad can be done easily and effectively by showing those services in action. It can also be done by showing the results that customers can expect by using that service.

Marketers in service related businesses can catch their potential customers’ attention by reminding them of a service they need to be provided.

All in all, most businesses can benefit immensely from banner ads as long as those ads are effectively created and targeted well.

How Google Display Ads Work

There are a few things that you need to consider before your Google Display Ads campaign gets off the ground:
Where the Ads Will Show

Before getting to the details of how to run the ads, one of the first things you have to consider is where the ads are going to show and how the audience will view the ad.

As previously discussed, ads can be displayed in lots of different places, and in order to tailor your ads to the ideal audience, you have to consider the different placements as well as understand how the entire process works for those companies that run the ads on their sites.

Website owners use AdSense to open up advertising space and monetize their traffic. Google then sells that space to advertisers and they split the profits with the site owner.

To get ad space, a marketer must create an ad then bid on the ad placement.

Similar to buying real estate, the one who wins the bid is usually the one who pays the most. However, the bid price is not all that Google looks at.

They also consider the quality of the bid so that they display the best and most useful ads for their users.

Bidding Options

There are various bidding options available when marketers run Google Display Ads.

These options include:
  • Cost Per Click (CPC) where you bid and pay a certain amount for each user click
  • Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM) where you pay a certain amount for every 1,000 ad views
  • Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) where you pay a certain amount for a user action

The bidding option that you choose depends on your end goals.

For example, if your ad campaign is focused on exposure and brand recognition, the best route that will get you effective results might be impressions.

If, however, your goal is to have consumers take action then you may want to go with CPC. You can even run multiple campaigns with various sets and ads.


This is vitally important if you want to reach your ideal audience. Google Display Ads allow you to directly target your audience based on different factors such as age, gender, location, and interests. There are different types of targeting to consider, just as there are different types of audiences.

Choosing the right audience will make all the difference to your ads.

The broader the audience, the more likely you are to waste money because even if your goal is to get impressions if you’re getting a ton of them from the wrong people then you’re wasting your money.

This means that your ads have to be highly focused so that you can reach an audience that is more likely to view the ad, interact, and take action.

It’s also important that you understand that the more targeted the ad is the fewer people it will reach.

Different Types of Targeting

Various types of targeting help marketers reach the perfect audience based on different factors.

These types of targeting include:
  • Topics

Google uses its network to determine various topics for apps, websites, and videos that opt into AdSense so that marketers can run their ads on these sites and apps based on specific topics.

  • Affinity

Google bases this type of targeting around users that it deems to be long-term potential customers.

  • In-market

These are the people Google considers to be ‘ready-to-buy’.

They already have an interest in what the advertiser is selling and they just need a little push in the right direction.

  • Remarketing

This involves re-targeting people who have already been to your site. They’ve shown interest and you just need to remind them of what they’re missing out on.

  • Placement

Placement ad targeting is a great option for marketers who want to run ads on specific sites since it allows them to choose the URL for their ad to appear on.

So you can see how, with the right combination of the ideal audience and type of targeting, you can create an ad campaign that will give you outstanding results and lead to a massive increase in your sales.

Just remember that you will need to know what your ideal audience looks like before you can make this work.

This will involve making assumptions based on your brand and also taking into consideration metrics from other campaigns and split-testing.

Understanding the Metrics

Being able to accurately read the metrics from your ad campaigns will help you to grow your marketing campaign and save money at the same time.

Run ads and then take a look at your metrics so that you’ll be able to make the necessary changes to reach your perfect audience of people who are more likely to view, click, and consider your offer.

The data that you receive from each ad campaign that you run is vital in helping you tweak and grow.

You probably won’t run your best ad the first time around, and by focusing on the metrics, you will be able to fix a variety of different issues with your ad.

Key Metrics to Look For

There are a few things to look for when analyzing metrics from ad campaigns:
  • Impressions:

You must know how many views your ad got so that you have an idea of the level of reach at certain price points.

  • Clicks:

You have to know if an ad is not getting any clicks so that you don’t keep throwing money at an ineffective ad.

  • CPC:

You should consider the number of clicks that your ad is getting alongside the CPC.

The average cost per click should be low and if it increases too high, you have to make changes to bring it down.

  • Conversion:

Just seeing the ad isn’t enough, your potential customers need to click through and convert. Consider how your advertising costs compare to the actual conversions.

  • Audience Reception:

Understanding the demographic is important for making changes to who gets to see the ad so that you can boost its effectiveness.


Split testing is about running two or more ads that are similar and then seeing which ad performs better from the results. The ad that does better is then tested again against another similar ad with small changes.

The goal of split testing is to find the ad that converts the highest, and this can only be done by looking at the metrics of the ad to see where it succeeded or failed.

All great Internet ad campaigns should include A/B testing.

Scaling Up

Once you’ve found a successful ad, you can then scale it up in lots of different ways so that you can reach an even bigger audience.

You could scale up by trying out new topics, interests, and keywords.

Another option is to reformat successful ads.

For example, one ad might work well as a square ad, but you could reformat it and try it as a banner ad.

You could also scale up by re-marketing and then selling new products to the same audience, or by increasing your budget steadily over time. With proper scaling, your business will continue to grow and your ads will make you more and more money.

In Conclusion

Google Display Ads allow for a high level of campaign customization. They help marketers get the most impressions and conversions for their money.

Now that you know how beneficial display ads can be for your business, it’s time to create your own ad campaign using Google Display Ads and start growing your traffic and ultimately your sales.

Feel free to post your comment below. An email address is required but it will not be shared with anyone, put on any list, or used for any kind of marketing, just to alert you if there are any replies. Thanks and happy hunting!


Updated: Originally published June 6th 2018

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. kmv

    Hello and thanks for this great overview of Google Display ads…and online ads in general.

    I’ve been able to piece a lot of this together from various sites…your post just pulled it all together in one place which is fantastic!

    So, I’m still a little confused on A/B testing. How many test should you run before you know you have the most effective ad? Or maybe you never assume it is the “best” and keep testing it over time. (Things change, so I imagine you might want to keep testing over the long run)


    1. Steven

      I would test until you feel you have definitive results. Then, take the best of the two and test again against a different adjustment. You should do this continually, you never know when you might stumble upon something by accident that increases your conversions dramatically.

      Even a small gain of 1% will add up to a lot over time!

      Thanks for the kind words kmv!

  2. Cathy

    There’s always something about ads that elude me. When is the right time to use them? I have friends who started the moment they build their sites and I’ve also seen long term bloggers who don’t have a single ad on them.

    I get about 3K visitors per month. Is that a good enough number to try ad display? Appreciate your input.

    1. Steven

      If you are referring to placing ads on your site, then, it’s a mixed bag. Some feel putting advertising on their blog devalues it and simply pulls away users for just a few pennies in gain. I tend to agree with this. You work hard to get every reader, why give them away for pennies?

      The article is more about how to use display ads to attract visitors though (you being the advertiser). It’s a good strategy but requires a bit of a budget to get started.

      Thanks for the comment Cathy!

  3. Mat A.

    Great post with the beginners guide to google display ads. As I’ve created my website one of the lessons was about putting ads on your site to earn money with google adsense. I’ve had ads on my site for probably 6-7 months now and have yet to get my first check for $100. Part of that is due to my traffic finally gaining steam over the last 1-2 months but a bigger part of it most likely is not knowing much about it. Your article helped tremendously.
    I tend to agree with you that they can be an irritation to people who do actually visit your site. Have you found any “magic combination” of ads that have worked well for you?
    Thanks in advance,
    Mat A.

    1. Steven

      I don’t put any kind of syndicated advertising on my site and never will. Why would I direct a user away from my site for a few pennies? This only serves to give traffic to my competition at best.

      The article is more about using display ads to attract readers, as a form of paid traffic, not displaying the ads on your site.

      Thanks for the comment Mat!

  4. casey

    Wow, I had no idea google ads could have such an impact im glad that I had the change to read your article I am definitely gonna have to consider running my own ads to boost my site traffic in the near future anyway thanks for sharing have a good night and good luck.

    1. Steven

      Good to hear you got some useful information from the article. Google display ads is just another avenue to get the word out about your site. It can be very cost effective if done correctly.

      Thanks for the comment Casey!

  5. Dave

    Hello there,

    I have been creating a digital weight loss product and I just finished it. I have also created a sales page with Clickbank hoping to make a few sales.

    Do you think running Google ads on it will work for me? I see you say that Google frowns on one product sales page. Do they also frown on Clickbank sales pages?

    1. Steven

      Google the search engine frowns on what are called ‘bridge pages’, or pages designed to rank then direct users to another site, or are just designed to sell and not provide any real value. Many landing pages fit this description and will never rank well.

      If you pay for an ad for your landing page, on the other hand, I think that is OK. Look at their rules to be sure what is acceptable and what is not. If I am reading your question correctly, I think you’ll be fine with that strategy.

      Thanks for the comment Dave!

Leave a Reply