Google AdWords Display Ads – Google’s Paying Close Attention to Display, Does that Mean You Should Too?

September 13, 2017

 You can learn a lot about marketing from Google, and if you’re in search marketing paying close attention to what Google says and what types of things they place emphasis on are vital to your lively-hood. This is why Matt Cuttsgets 350 comments on a post announcing a change in the algorithm that affects around 2% of queries, and it’s why search marketers have a much keener interest in Google Plus and its integration in SERPs, Webmaster Tools, et al than your average social network.

So when Google starts to push something and you’re a pay-per click practitioner you pay attention. Recently I’ve been aggressively retargeted by Google’s “Watch This Space” campaign:


I’ve also seen it on LinkedIn where I’m sure from a job title, skills, groups, and probably even demographic standpoint my profile puts me right in their sweet spot. And of course:


They’re buying up some of their own search inventory. Their Bing campaign is a little disappointing, however:



They’re being outbid by Yahoo! for their brand, and they’re sending people to a solid, but generic landing page rather than the watch this space page they push too via Google and their display campaigns. The good news is they have the top four organic listings for the brand term, so their SEO team is on top of things (good thing given that Bing doesn’t afford brands any enormous, industry-crushing site links to fall back on).

The point here though is that Google has created a fresh new campaign that they’re driving to aggressively to emphasize display ads to advertisers. Recently they’ve also shared their display benchmark data and housed it in the Watch This Space section of their site. Some highlights from the study:

Response and engagement rates are flat or trending downwards:


 And rich media such as that on video ad networks is suffering a similar fate:


 So if engagement and CTRs are largely flat or declining, why is Google so excited about your keeping an eye on this space?

Display revenue for Google is growing, and it’s growing even faster for Facebook. Google is a business, and they run marketing campaigns, introduce new AdWords features, and recommend best practices based on what’s good for Google and Google’s share -holders. When they tell you to watch this space, it’s worth noting, but it also shouldn’t cause you to abandon your search campaigns in favor of display. It shouldn’t force your hand into creating new banner-focused campaigns that steal budget from profitable text ads you’re running on the content network.

You should look at the above data the same way you look at Google’s suggestions: with an eye towards evaluating how actionable and relevant they are to your campaigns. In reality this anonymized data doesn’t tell us much about our campaign or even campaigns and budgets like ours (unlike tools such as the AdWords Grader, which evaluates your campaign against similar competitors). Even the industry data is fairly meaningless (one of the sectors is “B2B”) as they’re just too broad to tell you anything about the future of your display campaigns.

Beyond the very broad nature of the data outlined above, there’s a key set of metrics that’s altogether missing: conversion data isn’t even mentioned.

By leveraging Google’s free display ad builder or a similarly cheap and easy means of creating display ads, you can create your own display campaigns quickly and easily, and you can test your ROI for yourself: not because Google told you to, but because there are a number of great opportunities on the content network to expand your reach and drive profitable leads and sales for your business.

Tom Demers

Tom Demers

Tom Demers is Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Measured SEM and Cornerstone Content.

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