The Huge AdWords Opportunity Hiding in Plain Sight

by Adam Kreitman

Quick question…

When you hear the word “AdWords”, what do you think of?

If you’re like most people, it’s probably the ads that appear above and/or to the right of the organic search results on Google.

And, you’re absolutely right. That is AdWords.

BUT…there’s a whole nother side to AdWords most people don’t think about.

Now you’ve surely encountered these AdWords ads while surfin’ the web (they’re seen by 80% of all Internet users). You just may not have recognized them as being part of AdWords.

This side of AdWords is a largely hidden opportunity flying under most business owners’ radar screens. And that’s a BIG mistake cuz the potential here, depending on your business, could dwarf the traffic and sales generated by a plain vanilla Google AdWords Search campaign.

So what is this opportunity?

It’s the Google Display Network (GDN).

The Display Network is made up of over 2 million websites that run Google ads on them. These could be huge sites like The New York Times and Oprah.com or they could be small sites like someone’s personal blog.

(These sites put Google ads on them to make money…if someone clicks on an ad on their site, Google gives them a cut of the action.)

And you, as an advertiser, can display ads on these websites to target your prospects in a myriad of mouth watering ways (we’ll get to those in a minute).

An Avalanche of Traffic

The GDN, done right, can trigger an avalanche of traffic to your site. And do it at a cost per click that’s often much cheaper than an AdWords Search campaign.

Now GDN traffic tends not to be as high a quality as Search largely because you’re dealing with a different mindset on the part of the searcher (more on that below). Even so, it’s very possible to get a ton of traffic at a very acceptable Cost Per Conversion.

Better Than Ever

While I’ve mainly focused on Search over the years, I have dabbled in the GDN. But recently, I’ve found myself spending a lot more time there.

See, Google’s been improving how things operate on the GDN (especially the targeting options) and it’s getting harder and harder to ignore. Now, I find there are few campaigns and niches where it’s not worth at least testing GDN traffic.

So I’ve been running more and more GDN campaigns, having good success for clients, and having a blast doing it! (Hey, it may not fit your definition of fun, but I geek out on this stuff!)

How Most People Screw Up the GDN

When you set up a new AdWords campaign, Google’s default is to have the campaign run on both the Search Network and the GDN. This is where many advertisers get in trouble.

You should NEVER have a campaign running both on Google Search and the GDN. They’re totally different beasts.

On Search, people are actively typing in keywords related to a need they have at that very instant. So when you’re ad appears, it’s positioned smack dab in front of a highly motivated audience.

On GDN, people are consuming content on a web page. They’re not actively searching for what you offer. So they’re in a very different mindset than a prospect on Search.

And this is why a GDN campaign needs to be set up quite differently than a Search campaign. It requires:

  • Different keywords (if you use keywords at all).
  • Different ads.
  • Different campaign organization.
  • Different bid strategy, etc.

But most people treat them the same. And that’s a big reason why so many fail with the Display Network.

They set up one campaign that runs on Search and GDN. The campaign (if it’s optimized at all) is optimized for Search. They blow through a ton of budget on GDN clicks that haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of converting.

And they think GDN (and often AdWords in general) is an expensive waste of time and money so they give up.

Let them…just means more opportunity for those of us who know what we’re doing! 🙂

Ahh, the Possibilities

A big part of the key to a successful GDN campaign is in how you target your prospects. Here’s just a taste of the possible ways you can target people on the Display Network and leverage this largely untapped opportunity…

Contextual Targeting

This is just a fancy GDN name for targeting people using keywords…but it’s VERY different than using keywords for Search. Basically you want to choose much broader keywords for GDN than for Search and group them into themes. Then Google will find web pages across the 2+ million sites in the GDN related to the themes of your keywords and your ads can show up on those pages.

Topic Targeting

No keywords here. With Topic targeting you select topics (Google has a list of hundreds to choose from) that your target market is likely interested in.

For example, if you’re selling a health product for women you could test topics ranging from “Vitamins and Supplements”, “Women’s Health”, “Weight Loss”, “Fitness”, and more. Google will find pages on the web related to these topics and potentially display your ads there.

Interest Targeting

This is similar to Topic targeting but it’s not based on the content of the website. It’s based on the individual searcher’s interests based on their browsing history.

Unless you’re a GDN pro I’d recommend you stay clear of this option because there’s big potential for trouble (ie. The Creepy Factor) here. For example, if you’re selling an Erectile Dysfunction cure, you probably don’t want your ads showing up when your prospects are on sites related to Kitchen Appliances, Asian Cuisine or Christmas!

Managed Placements

Managed placements let you target the specific websites and/or web pages you want your ads to appear on.

Remarketing

This is where you target people who have previously visited your website. These can be people who came to your site through AdWords Search ads, organic search listings, email lists, social media, etc.

Google puts a cookie on their computers and you can then show ads to them on the Display Network as they surf the web. It’s an amazingly powerful way to stay in front of people who showed at least some interest in your products/services.

YouTube

Yes, you can even run ads on YouTube – the world’s second largest search engine – through GDN. On YouTube, you can do demographic targeting, topic targeting, keyword targeting, remarketing and more.

Combinations

Where things can really get interesting is when you combine the different GDN targeting methods – like combining remarketing with topic targeting so you show ads to those who’ve been to your website already, but only when they’re on sites related to specific topics.

Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to GDN. But hopefully it gets your brain stirring on the potential that lies within this hidden corner of the AdWords world.

If you’d like to explore the specific possibilities for your business that may lurk in the Display Network, you can either sign up for a consulting session with me to develop a GDN strategy for your business or contact me about managing a GDN campaign for you.

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