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6 Tips to Optimize Your Google Display Network Performance

July 26, 2023

google display network

The rise of paid advertising has led Google Ads to gain a massive market with its engaging digital advertising platforms.

Google offers a wide range of advertising options to meet specific requirements and business goals.

The Google Display Network (GDN) is one such digital advertising platform where advertisers can run their ads in a visual format on different Google platforms. This article will show what GDN is and provide you with tips to maximize its performance.

You can use display ads to serve your ads on the network, reaching millions of potential customers.

The GDN enables the display of your online ads on websites, apps, or videos relevant to your business. It also allows you to target users who meet specific criteria you define.

Now, let's delve into a more detailed explanation of how it operates.

Why should you use Google Display Network?

You might consider using GDN as part of your advertising strategy for several reasons. Here are some key advantages:

Wide reach

GDN is one of the largest display ad networks globally, reaching over 90% of internet users worldwide. This vast network enables you to reach a massive audience across a wide range of websites, mobile apps, and video content.

Targeting capabilities

GDN provides robust targeting options that allow you to reach specific audiences based on demographics, interests, behaviors, and more. You can tailor your ads to reach the right people at the right time, increasing the chances of engagement and conversions. 

Diverse ad formats

GDN supports various ad formats, including text, image, video, and rich media ads. This flexibility allows you to create visually appealing and interactive ads that can capture users' attention effectively.

Remarketing opportunities

With GDN, you can implement remarketing campaigns, which enable you to target users who have previously visited your website or engaged with your brand.

This feature helps you stay top of mind and reengage potential customers who have shown interest in your products or services. 

Cost-effective alternative

GDN offers flexible pricing options, including cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM), allowing you to optimize your budget and advertising campaign performance.

Additionally, since display ads typically have lower CPCs compared to search ads, GDN can be a cost-effective way to generate brand awareness and reach a larger audience.

Comprehensive reporting and insights

Google Ads provides detailed reporting and analytics for GDN campaigns.

You can track various metrics, such as impressions, clicks, conversions, and view-through conversions, to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns and make data-driven optimizations. 

Integration with Google Ads

If you already use Google Ads for your advertising efforts, GDN seamlessly integrates with the platform.

This integration allows you to manage your campaigns holistically, streamline your advertising efforts, and leverage the targeting and optimization features available in Google Ads.

Ultimately, the decision to use GDN depends on your specific advertising goals, target audience, and budget. It's important to consider your overall marketing strategy and assess whether GDN aligns with your objectives and can effectively reach your desired audience.

Google Search Network vs. Google Display Network

Google Search Network and Google Display Network are two distinct advertising platforms offered by Google.

Here's a comparison between the two:


Google Search Network

Google Display Network


Ads appear on Google search engine results pages (SERPs) when users perform relevant searches using keywords.

Ads appear on websites, mobile apps, and video content that are part of Google's network.


Ads target users actively searching for specific products, services, or information.

Ads target users based on their interests, demographics, browsing behavior, and contextual relevance.


Text-based ads that appear as a part of search results.

Supports various ad formats, including text, image, video, and rich media ads.


Provides access to a vast audience as Google is the most popular search engine globally.

Extensive reach across a wide range of websites and apps, reaching over 90% of internet users globally.


Based on keywords and search intent, allowing precise targeting.

Based on demographics, interests, behaviors, and more.


Typically operates on a CPC basis.

Can operate on a CPC or CPM basis.

In summary, the Google Search Network primarily focuses on reaching users actively searching for specific information or products, while the Google Display Network aims to reach a wider audience across various websites and apps by leveraging advanced targeting options and diverse ad formats. 

Choosing between the two depends on your advertising goals, target audience, and the type of engagement you seek. Some advertisers may find value in utilizing both networks as part of a comprehensive online advertising strategy.

Types of Google display ads

lt comes in various formats and types, each designed to capture attention and convey a message to the target audience.

Here are some common display ad types:

  • Banner ads: These are rectangular ads typically placed at the top, bottom, or sides of a webpage. They can vary in size and are often static or animated images.

example of banner ads

Source: Times of India

  • Pop-up ads: These ads appear in a new browser window or tab, typically triggered by a user action or upon visiting a website. They can be intrusive and may require user interaction to close.

example of pop-up ads

Source: HubSpot

  • Pop-under ads: Similar to pop-up ads, these ads open in a new browser window but are hidden behind the current window. They become visible when the user closes or minimizes the current window.
  • Video ads: Video ads are short video clips that play before, during, or after online video content. They can be skippable or non-skippable, commonly found on platforms like YouTube and other websites.
  • Interstitial ads: These are full-screen ads that appear between content or during natural breaks in a user's activity, such as between levels of a mobile game or during app transitions.

example of interstitial ads

Source: Google Ads

  • Native ads: Native ads blend seamlessly with the surrounding content, matching the style and format of the platform on which they appear. They aim to provide a more organic and non-disruptive advertising experience.
  • Rich media ads: Rich media ads are interactive and engaging advertisements that can include elements like videos, audio, animations, and interactive features. They offer more immersive experiences than traditional static ads.
  • Remarketing ads: Remarketing ads target users who have previously visited a website or engaged with certain content. They follow these users across different websites or platforms, reminding them of the products or services they showed interest in.

These are just a few examples of the types of display ads available. Advertisers choose the most suitable format based on their goals, target audience, and the platforms they are advertising on.

Audience targeting for Google Display Network

GDN offers different targeting options to help your ad reach the right audience. Below are the different options included in GDN ads.

Interest-based audience targeting 

With interest targeting on the GDN, you can display your ads to users who are interested in your offerings or engage in relevant activities.

There are three primary interest-targeting categories to choose from:

  • Affinity audiences
  • Custom audiences
  • In-market audiences

Affinity audiences

Interest-based targeting on the GDN allows you to reach users with a strong interest in a particular topic.

These audiences are created based on users' long-term online behavior, such as the websites they visit, the content they engage with, and their search history.

For example, an affinity audience for "travel enthusiasts" may include users who frequently visit travel-related websites, book hotels or flights online, and engage with travel-related content on social media. 

Custom audiences

Custom affinity audiences on the GDN allow you to create audience segments based on specific interests and characteristics related to your business.

It lets you define your own audience by selecting relevant keywords, URLs, topics, or apps, helping you reach users with a strong affinity for your defined interests. This enables targeted advertising to a niche audience that aligns closely with your business objectives.

In-market audiences

In-market audiences on the GDN are created based on users' recent online behavior and signals indicating their intent to purchase specific products or service categories.

These audiences represent users actively researching and considering buying options within those categories.

For example, you can target the "travel planning" in-market audience if you run a travel agency. This audience consists of users who have shown recent online activity related to travel planning, such as searching for flights, reading hotel reviews, or comparing vacation packages. You can optimize your ad spend by effectively reaching users actively planning to book a trip.

Demographics-based audience targeting

One practical approach for targeting audiences on GDN is demographic-based targeting. This method involves reaching users based on their demographic attributes, such as age, gender, household income, parental status, and more.

Remember that your ads will reach a smaller audience as you make your target more specific.

It's essential to experiment with different targeting combinations and assets to determine which ones generate the most conversions. This will enable you to optimize your campaigns and achieve better results for your fashion boutique.

How Google Display Network works

GDN offers various targeting options to help advertisers effectively reach their desired audience. These targeting options allow advertisers to display their ads to potential customers in the right place and time.

Below are a few examples of how advertisers can approach targeting with display ads.

Audience segments for new customers

Similar segments

Advertisers can target people with similar interests and behaviors to their existing customers. This helps them expand their reach and find new prospective customers likely to be interested in their products or services.

In-market segments

By targeting in-market segments, advertisers can reach people actively researching or considering purchasing products or services similar to what they offer. This helps them connect with potential customers who are in the market and more likely to convert.

Custom data segments

Advertisers can leverage their customer data to create custom audience segments. This allows them to re-engage people who have previously visited their website or interacted with their brand, increasing the chances of conversions and driving repeat business.

Automation for increased conversions

Automated targeting

Google Ads uses automation to identify high-performing audience segments based on an advertiser's existing audiences and landing page. It can help you learn which audience segments are most effective for your goals, helping drive more conversions.

Automated bidding

Advertisers can use automated bidding to optimize their bids based on the desired return on investment (ROI). The automated bidding system automatically adjusts bids in real time to help advertisers achieve their conversion goals while maximizing their ROI.

Smart display campaigns

Smart display campaigns combine automated targeting, bidding, and creative optimization. Google Ads automatically optimizes ads, selecting the best combination of assets (images, headlines, descriptions, and logos) to maximize conversions.

Using these targeting options and automation, advertisers can optimize their display ad campaigns to reach the right audience, drive more conversions, and achieve their advertising goals.

When Display ads show

While the Search Network targets users actively searching for specific goods or services, the Display Network lets you capture attention earlier in the buying cycle. By placing your ads on the Display Network, you can reach users before they even search for products or services related to your offering. 

This can be crucial for your overall advertising strategy, enabling you to create brand awareness and establish interest early on.

Additionally, leveraging your data segments allows you to reconnect with users who have visited your website or app, reminding them of their previous interests and potentially driving them back to complete a purchase or take a desired action.

6 ways to optimize your Google Display Network

1. Remarketing 

Remarketing places a cookie on the browser of your website visitors, so you can target them with ads when they browse other websites on GDN.

With remarketing, you can reconnect with your site visitors and maintain your brand's visibility throughout the online journey. Despite initial concerns about intrusiveness, remarketing is an effective strategy because it targets people who already know your brand.

Remarketing campaigns are cost-effective as they generate lower cost-per-acquisition (CPA) rates, making them an excellent choice for advertisers with limited budgets.

Below is a step-by-step overview of creating a simple remarketing campaign targeting past website visitors.

  1. First, create a remarketing campaign and add a remarketing tag to every page on your website.
  2. Use the Audiences tab in the Google Ads Shared Library section to create remarketing lists.

Source: Google Ads

3. After a few days, you'll notice that the “All Visitors” list starts to fill up. Track progress from the Audiences tab in Google Ads.

4. Once your selected list has reached at least 100 visitors within 90 days, you can begin your remarketing efforts.

Source: Google Ads

5. To create a new campaign, click the “+ Campaign” button, click on new campaign and select your campaign goal. If you don't know the goal yet, select Create a campaign without a goal.”

Source: Google Ads

Source: Google Ads

Source: Google Ads

6. Choose the “Display Network-only campaign type” to focus your campaign solely on GDN.

Source: Google Ads

7. Enter your Specify your target location, bid strategy, budget, language, and campaign name. Click Save and Continue.

Source: Google Ads

Source: Google Ads

8. Give your first ad group a name and set the default CPC bid if you want. Then, click “How they have interacted with your business” in the “Audience Segments” section.

Source: Google Ads

9. The drop-down menu labeled ”Choose Category” lets you choose from a variety of segments, such as Website Visitors, App Users, Customer Lists, and more.

On the Audiences tab, select the remarketing lists you created earlier. For example, you may want to target the All Website Visitors list.

Source: Google Ads

10. After you save your choices, you'll have the option to create your ads right away or to delay creating your ads until later. Once your ads are created, they can be shown to all previous website visitors as they navigate through GDN sites.

Following these steps, you can effectively set up and manage a remarketing campaign, maximizing your reach and engagement with your GDN audience.

2. Managed placements

Managed placements let you target specific websites or apps to show your ads on. This feature gives you better control over your placements and ensures your ads are shown on platforms most relevant to your audience.

To maximize your ad's viewability, identify websites or apps that attract your desired audience and add them under managed placements.

Source: Google Ads

3. Mobile app exclusions

If you're running a campaign on GDN and want to ensure optimal performance, consider mobile app exclusions. Accidental clicks and irrelevant targeting in mobile apps can drain your budget and reduce campaign effectiveness.

For example, to determine if mobile games are impacting your display budget, go to your Display Network campaign, go to the Placements tab (under Content on the left), and select See where your ads appeared.

Source: Google Ads

You can also exclude mobile apps entirely or at the category level in your ad targeting settings.

With mobile app exclusions, you optimize your ad placements and direct your budget toward more relevant placements for maximum impact.

4. Targeting in-market audiences for campaign success

In-market audiences are people with a strong interest in products or services similar to what you offer. Google determines this based on their surfing behavior.

To target in-market audiences, set up a new campaign under “Interests and Remarketing” and select “In-Market Audiences”.

Select the relevant audience categories and customize your message. Don’t forget to continuously monitor and optimize your campaign to improve performance.

Source: Google Ads

Within “in-market audiences”, you’ll find a wide range of categories and sub-categories.

Source: Google Ads

5. Leveraging responsive display ads for optimal campaign results

For best results, use responsive display ads as the primary ad type for your campaign. Thanks to the higher availability of ad inventory, these ads are now shown more frequently compared to static ads.

Responsive display ads combine different elements like headlines, descriptions, images, and videos (if applicable) that you have chosen for your campaign.

Google uses this combination of assets to generate the most appropriate ad for each user by selecting from the available ad inventory.

In the Google Ads interface, you can easily create a responsive display ad by adding your ad assets. The UI dynamically updates in real time as you make these additions.

Google evaluates ad strength based on the variety and quantity of assets you serve. The interface also provides visual representations of your ads across various Google products, including websites, apps, and Gmail. This allows you to preview how your ads will appear in these different contexts.

6. Experiment with Gmail sponsored promotions

Gmail sponsored promotions are ads that appear on top of the emails in a Gmail inbox. These ads resemble regular emails, and when clicked, they expand to provide a full ad experience.

Ad costs are based on a CPC model, counting clicks when users expand the ads, rather than when they click on the site. Advertisers are only charged for the first click, and no additional charges are incurred when users visit their website.

These ads only appear in standard Gmail accounts and aren’t visible in accounts linked to paid G-Suite business accounts. B2B advertisers should be aware of this limitation as they can only target business users through their personal Gmail accounts.

As for targeting options, you have the flexibility to target or exclude your ads using a combination of the following:

  • Display keywords: This targeting method is based on the content of the last 300 emails a user has received.
  • Google Ads Customer Match: This option allows you to target specific customers based on their email addresses.
  • Location targeting: You can choose one location per campaign to target users from specific geographic areas.
  • Topics: Targeting based on the user's inbox, focusing on relevant topics.
  • Demographics: Targeting based on demographic factors such as age, gender, and parental status.

A strategic approach  

The GDN has significant potential, but leveraging it effectively is critical. Campaign performance can heavily depend on Google's automation and impact results.

You can gain more control over performance by strategically choosing campaign settings and targeting relevant audiences. Remember to thoroughly review your settings and stay informed of industry updates that may impact your campaigns.

Gauge the effectiveness of your marketing campaign by measuring the click-through rate (CTR). Learn more about CTR and how to calculate it

digital advertising platforms Reach your ideal customer

Serve and manage ads through a variety of channels with digital advertising platforms.

digital advertising platforms Reach your ideal customer

Serve and manage ads through a variety of channels with digital advertising platforms.

6 Tips to Optimize Your Google Display Network Performance Learn what Google Display Network is, how it works, and effective ways to optimize display ads to boost its performance.
Krishna Yadav Krishna is known for his startup Branding Marketing Agency (BMA). He is an entrepreneur & has expertise in organic SEO, Branding, Content Marketing, and PPC. His clients operate in industries ranging from home services, IT services, saas, marketing, and advertising.

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