HomeBlogEntice Your Target Audience with Custom Engagement Ads: Here’s How

Entice Your Target Audience with Custom Engagement Ads: Here’s How

Author: Joe Martinez
Last Updated: April 6, 2022 | Display Ads

Display campaigns are extremely important if you are looking to grow awareness to fill the top of your funnel. And having potential new customers see your ads will definitely help. But I always want something more: I want to have users be able to engage with my ads.


People who engage are more likely going to be better candidates for the products and services. That means my clients are more likely to get more results—and quicker results—from these people than the ones who just see the ad. That’s where Google Display Network’s engagement ads can help.

Here, I’m going to break down everything you can do with this display ad type in Google Ads, including:

  • How to set your campaign goal
  • How to set up engagement ads
  • How to attract even more people with customized engagement ads

Let’s get started.

Engagement ads need a specific campaign goal

Ever since Google Ads started pushing the campaign goals on all advertisers, finding out how to set up an engagement ad became more difficult. If you want to run an engagement ad campaign, you must select the “Product and brand consideration” goal. After you choose “Display,” you then will want to add your website URL into the third field as you can see below.

display campaign goals

In case you were wondering, choosing the “Product and brand consideration” goal is the only way you can run or test engagement ads for your Display campaigns. That being said, let us understand the purpose of this particular campaign goal to make sure we are setting the proper expectations. When Google talks about goals in the new Google Ads experience, they define the “Product and brand consideration goal” as follows: The goal is to “educate users on your products and encourage them to explore exactly what you offer.” We all want as many goal conversions as possible. If you are looking for conversion boosting, this is not the campaign goal for you. But if you want to reach out to a brand new audience and see if they engage with your brand, this should be a campaign goal to consider testing.

Engagement display ad campaign setup: CPE bidding

For the most part, engagement display campaigns have the same setup as a typical display campaign. There’s one major difference that you need to know. There is only one option advertisers get for bidding, and this option is cost per engagement bidding, or CPE bidding.

CPE bidding for engagement ad campaigns

CPE bidding is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Advertisers only have to pay for the ad when a user engages with the ad. Engagements occur with discovery ads when users choose to expand the ads by hovering the mouse over the ad.

Custom engagement ads target your audience better

Setting up an engagement ad can take much more time than a regular display ad you are probably used to making. If you are wondering why this is the case, it’s because Google gives advertisers the options to add many elements to this particular ad format. If you want users to engage with your ad, you want to have many elements on the ad a user can see and interact with.

Let’s go over the main elements you can add to your engagement ads to not only capture attention, but also drive potential traffic by thinking about your target audience while making these customizations.

*For the sake of this post, I’m creating a hypothetical ad. The images were pulled from Musician’s Friend, and the YouTube video I used was courtesy of Gibson Guitar.

1. Gallery and video cards

These are the main elements people who see your ad will interact with. You can choose up to 10 cards to add to your engagement ad, and they can be a mix of images and videos found on YouTube. While the image below does not show it, you can add multiple videos to the ad. Ecommerce advertisers can also add product feeds as an optional card. You just have to remember to select a product feed from your Merchant Center in the campaign settings.

engagement ad gallery card

When you manually enter these cards, you can include additional information, or captions. This extra information for each card caption includes a title, a description, a call to action, and a URL. So, yes, the advertiser will pay per user engagement, but there is the opportunity to send users to several product pages on your site.

engagement ad captions

The captions for your cards allow you to describe your images in greater detail—and we’ll see an example later.

Another benefit of personalizing the captions is we get to create almost any call to action we want. Advertisers are not forced to choose from a pre-selected list of call to action buttons. This freedom can satisfy a variety of campaign goals whether you want to push product awareness or maybe just have people read a blog on your site.

2. Messages and calls to action

Now you may be thinking, “Wait. Didn’t we just add these elements in our cards?” Why, yes, we did. But the second section in creating an engagement ad includes messages and a call to action for the entire ad—not for each image of video card.

engagement ad messages

I like to look at the messages we can add as a combination of a promo and callout extension. What message do you want to put in front of potential customers that could make them want to engage with your ad and learn more about your offers? Start putting together a list of promos, offers, or value messages you would want to put in front of a new audience. Use this new collection as your first messages to test.

One final fact to note: You can rearrange the order of your messages and call to action elements. The order of which these elements are displayed goes from the sort order of highest to lowest. This means you should put your most important messages at the top of your list in the ad set up.

3. Image and style options

There are three more options advertisers have to customize their ads. These aren’t mandatory to start running engagement ads, but they are great ways to customize your ads even more. To access these three additional options, you have to click on the “More Options” link under your URL fields in the ad set up.

Header images

Add some additional branding by creating a header image to run on top of the other elements and cards you have added to your engagement ad. Here’s an example with the header image highlighted in red:

engagement ad header image

Invitation Images

To engage with the ad, the user has to hover the mouse over the ad for a couple of seconds before the ad expands. Initially, Google will take a preview of the ad as the main image, but the advertiser can import their own images to control the initial experience. Advertisers can add the most common display image ad sizes as the invitation image to control the entire engagement ad experience.

Custom Styles

With this option, you can change the colors, fonts, and themes of your ads. That’s great news if you have a boss or client that is very focused on making sure branding images and colors align with all marketing efforts.

engagement ad custom styles

Attract more customers with custom engagement ads

Don’t get me wrong: Having a target audience see your ad is incredibly beneficial. But I prefer people to interact with my brand. A user who visits my site after engaging with one of my ads is, in my opinion, more valuable to me than someone who just visits my site from a regular image ad. They spent more time than other users to expand my ad, see what I have to offer, then still decided to click on my CTA buttons. I’d rather build remarketing audiences from these users first instead of basic site visitors from my other display campaigns.

So create a few different versions to see which ad elements users prefer to engage with the most. If you are focused on building a branded experience, give engagement ads a try to offer a different experience with your Display Network campaigns!

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Meet The Author

Joe Martinez

Joe Martinez is the Co-Founder of the Paid Media Pros YouTube channel. He is a regular contributor to WordStream and Social Media Examiner. He has also written for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, PPC Hero, SEMrush, and more. He has hosted webinars for SEMrush, Unbounce, Quora, and Microsoft Ads. He regularly speaks at conferences and organizations such as SMX, HeroConf, Inbound, Pubcon, SMXL, and more. Finally, he was named a Top 25 Influential PPC Expert by PPC Hero in 2017-2021.

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