Google Display vs. Search Ads: Differences & When To Use Each
Overview: Google Display vs. Search Ads
If you’re a brand advertising in today’s market, chances are you’re familiar with Google. The digital advertising platform has become a go-to for brands of all sizes, thanks to its massive reach and ever-evolving suite of marketing tools.
While the Google ecosystem continues to grow more and more complex, two of the most effective ad formats are Display and Search advertising.
Both of these advertising methods reach large numbers of potential customers, but they have several differences in their approaches, benefits, and limitations.
In this post, we explore the differences between Google Display and Search ads in order to help you decide which paid advertising option is the right fit for your brand.
- Google Display ads show up on websites that have partnered with Google to display ads, while Search ads appear in Google search results.
- Display ads are more visual and focus on creating brand awareness, while Search ads are text-based and more effective for capturing high-quality leads.
- Display ads have a lower cost-per-click (CPC) (also called pay-per-click (PPC)) but may have a lower conversion rate than that of Search ads.
- Search ads have a higher CPC but are more effective in driving conversions.
What’s the Difference Between Display and Search Ads?
Display advertising refers to visual banner ads that show up on websites that have partnered with Google to display ads. These can include text ads, image-based ads, or even UGC video ads. They are meant to create brand awareness and capture the attention of potential customers. Display ads can have targeting parameters based on demographics, interests, and behaviors.
Search ads appear on the search engine results page (SERP) when a user queries a specific keyword or phrase. These ads are text-based and feature a headline, ad copy, and a call-to-action (CTA) button. Search ads are designed to capture high-quality leads that are actively searching for a product or service related to the keywords being targeted. Search ads can be targeted based on keyword intent, location, device type, and more.
Essentially, the main difference between these two ad types is their end goal: Display ads are “push” advertising, whereas search ads are “pull” advertising. Search ads appear only to shoppers who are looking for a service or product, while Display ads are paid placements that can appear in various locations across the web, thereby attracting consumers at different parts of their customer journey.
What Are the Benefits and Disadvantages of Google Display?
What Are the Benefits of Using Google Display?
One of the primary benefits of Google Display ads is their ability to reach a wider audience than Search ads. Because Google Ads can appear on millions of websites within Google’s advertising network, brands can reach a broad audience without having to consider specific search terms. Additionally, Display ads can be more visually engaging, which makes them effective in establishing a strong visual identity and boosting brand awareness and recall.
Another benefit of using Display ads is their lower PPC cost. Display ads are typically less expensive because they have a lower conversion rate, but they can still be an effective tool for digital marketing campaigns.
What Are the Challenges of Using Google Display?
While Display ads can be an effective way to reach a broad audience, they have some challenges. One of their primary challenges is their lower conversion rate compared to Search ads. Since Display ads are more focused on boosting brand awareness, they may not be as effective in driving conversions as Search ads, which are designed to capture and convert high-quality leads.
Another challenge of Display ads is the potential for ad fatigue. Since ads can appear on many websites, users may start to see the same one repeatedly and grow tired of it or start ignoring it. This can lead to decreased engagement and click-through rates (CTR).
When Should You Use Google Display?
In some cases, Google Display’s advantages outweigh its disadvantages, such as:
- When visuals are the priority: If your brand has a strong visual identity and wants to build upper-funnel brand awareness, Display ads are a smart option. Display ads allow you to showcase your brand through display campaigns with captivating visuals that can help you stand out from the competition.
- When you’re trying to foster awareness for those with passive intent: Display ads are an effective option if you’re looking to reach potential customers who may not be actively searching for your product or service. Since Display ads are shown on websites that are part of the Google Display Network, you can reach a broad audience that may be interested in what you have to offer but not know they are until they see your ad.
- When you have a longer sales cycle: If your brand has a longer sales cycle, Display ads can be a reliable way to keep your brand top of mind for potential customers. By showcasing your brand through engaging visuals and compelling messaging, you can build awareness and interest over time, which can lead to conversions, especially for pricier products or services.
- When you want to reach niche markets: Display ads can be highly targeted, which makes them a strategic option if you’re looking to reach a specific niche. By targeting based on interests, behavior, or even geographic location, you can ensure that your ads are reaching the specific audience best suited for your brand.
What Are the Benefits and Disadvantages of Google Search Ads
What Are the Benefits of Search Ads?
One of the primary benefits of using Google Search ads is that they can be highly effective in capturing high-intent leads. Since these ads are displayed to users who are actively searching for products or services related to the targeted keywords, they are more likely to convert into paying customers.
Search ads are also highly customizable, which increases their thumb-stopping potential for brands of all sizes. You can set your budget, target specific keywords or geographic locations, and track your performance in real time. This level of customization allows you to maximize the ROI of your advertising budget and ensure that your marketing strategy effectively and efficiently reaches the right audience.
What Are the Limitations of Search Ads?
One of the limitations of Google Search ads is their higher cost-per-click (CPC) compared to Display ads. Since Search ads are highly effective in capturing high-quality leads, the competition for certain keywords can be stiff. This drives up the cost of advertising.
Another limitation of Search ads is that they may not be as effective in building brand awareness as Display ads. While Search ads can be impactful in driving conversions, they may not be as effective in building brand recognition and loyalty.
When Should You Use Search Ads?
Similar to Google Display, there are times when the advantages of Search ads outweigh its disadvantages, such as:
- As a supplement to organic traffic: If your brand is already ranking well in organic search results, Search ads can be a smart way to supplement your traffic and capture even more high-quality leads.
- To capture high-quality leads on a smaller budget: Since Search ads’ are highly customizable, they can be a creative option for brands with a smaller advertising budget. This means you can get more out of your advertising strategy using less of your budget!
- When you’re catering to a local target audience: If you cater to a specific geographic location, Search ads can be useful in reaching potential customers in that area. This can work particularly well for small businesses or brands with a strong local following.
- When your sales cycle is short: If you have a short sales cycle, Search ads can be highly effective in quickly driving conversions. Since these ads are displayed to users who are actively searching for products or services related to the keywords being targeted, they are more likely to convert into paying customers because the intent is already there.
How You Can Use Google Search and Display Ads Together
While both Google Display and Search ads have their own unique benefits, using them together for your search campaigns can be a strategic way to grow your business. By combining the visual impact of Display ads with the targeted effectiveness of Search ads, you can create a powerful PPC advertising campaign that reaches a wide audience and drives conversions.
One way to use Display and Search ads together is to create a retargeting campaign. By remarketing to users who have already interacted with your Display ads, you can remind them of your brand and encourage them to take action. You can then use Search ads to capture these high-quality leads and convert them into customers.
Another way to use Display and Search ads together is to create a cohesive branding campaign. By leveraging similar messaging and visuals across both Display and Search ads, you can create a consistent brand experience for potential customers, which makes the shopping experience more seamless and consistent, ultimately boosting brand recognition and loyalty.
MuteSix Can Help You Do It All
While both of these PPC ads have their own unique benefits and limitations, the key to a successful Google advertising campaign is understanding when to use each option, how much to invest in each, and how to optimize them for success.
By choosing the right advertising method based on your brand’s goals, budget, and target audience, you can create a powerful advertising Paid Search campaign that drives conversions and maximizes ROI.
No matter which option you choose or how you combine efforts, it’s important to continually test and adjust your campaigns for maximum efficiency and profitability.
Whether you’re conducting A/B testing, monitoring performance metrics in real-time, or using conversion rate optimization (CRO) techniques, ongoing adjustment is key to a successful Google advertising campaign.
In the end, it’s important to choose the type of ad that aligns with your brand goals and competitive needs. When it comes to Paid Search, MuteSix takes an ROI-first approach, leveraging powerful measurement solutions in real-time to unlock profitable growth with industry-leading media buying and thumb-stopping creative to scale brands profitably across the entire Google ecosystem.
Looking to reach, convert, and retain more customers using Google advertising? Reach out to our team of Paid Search experts today.
Discover How to Use Google Ads to Reach Your Goals | Google Ads
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Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): How To Get Started | Search Engine Journal