Display Ads: what they are and how they work

To reach users on different websites and all categories of publishers, going from the most popular large websites to niche sites and audiences, advertisers use the Google Display Network. Put simply, the Google Display Network is able to present display ads to potentially interested audiences on related content on thousands of websites.

Google’s goal is for Web Marketing Specialists and agencies to have the best tools to plan, create, buy, target, measure, and optimize campaigns.

But what are display ads? How do they work? What are the benefits? How to set up a display campaign?

Display ads: what they are and how they work

Display ads are nothing but billboards and internet magazine ads, unlike Google’s traditional text-only search ads, display ads are made up of images, photos, symbols, and text.

Therefore, advertisers through using something that goes beyond the text can increase the visibility of your ad among competitors, involve the potential buyer, and bring him to the site.

Google Adsis divided into two, the Search Network and the Display Network.

While text ads appearing on the Search Network appear in search engine results, Google display ads appear across all major blogs, publications, and apps, making display advertising an excellent tool for reaching the right customers at the right time; this happens through in-market audience segments and similar audience segments that allow us to reach those who are really interested in our ad and find new potential customers.

You can also use data, such as remarketing lists, to re-engage users who have previously visited a particular site. Thanks to continuous automatic optimization, Google Ads is also able to identify the most effective audience segments for its business. Automated bidding automatically adjusts your bid to help you meet ROI goals.

The paid promotion activity of a site is called SEM (Search Engine Marketing).

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What are the types of display advertising campaigns?

There are four main types of display campaigns that offer a great opportunity to engage users with compelling ad formats:

Responsive Display Ads

The creation of ads on the Google Display Network is partially automatic thanks to responsive ads. improve performance. The advantage of responsive ads is that they appear as native ads and blend in with the publisher’s site font.

Uploaded Image Ads

Ads can be created and uploaded. Ads can be uploaded as images of different sizes or HTML5.

Engagement Ads

Place eye-catching ads on both YouTube and the Display Network.

Gmail ads

They look like sponsored emails that appear at the top of Gmail mailboxes. When you click on the ad, some of it expands into a full-size graphical HTML page.

Pricing models

There are three pricing models available for advertisers to choose from, based on their business goals.

1. Cost-per-Click(CPC): Advertisers pay only when someone clicks on an ad and visits the web page. 2. Cost-per-Thousand Impression(CPM): Advertisers pay per thousand views. This is the best option for larger awareness campaigns. 3. Cost-per-Acquisition(CPA): Advertisers pay per conversion on their site, whether it’s an email signup or an online purchase.

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Google Display Ad Size

Format sizes for display ads are predefined by standards (European and US). It ranges from the classic banners 468×60 to buttons, from the long and vertical skyscrapers to pop-ups (and pop-unders). With Rich Media, on the other hand, the user can interact directly with the advertisement; the latter is characterized by an audio or video component that increases user engagement.

digital display sizes

After evaluating your budget and choosing the pricing model based on your goal, you need to find the optimal ad size. According to Google, here are the most popular and best-performing ad sizes:

  • 300×250: Medium rectangle, works best when integrated natively within an article or at the end of a post.
  • 336×280: Large Rectangle, a slightly larger rectangle that performs best within articles.
  • 728×90: Leaderboard, positioned in the header of a site.
  • 300×600: Mid-page ad often found in the sidebar.
  • 320×100: Large device banner popular in mobile game apps. Alternative mobile banners are 320×50 and 300×250.

Main benefits of display ads

Display ads use different strategies to reach the desired target and thus generate a conversion. When we talk about conversion, we mean a signup, lead contact request, or purchase that an advertiser wants a user to make.

Here are the advantages of display ads even for those who have one business and want to advertise online:

  1. The display ad takes advantage of the graphic element. This is an advantage that should not be underestimated as in the midst of the many mainly written announcements you have the possibility of attracting the attention of visitors with a communication that also uses the image.
  2. The ads are positioned within a page in a non-invasive way and are positioned in places where the user’s gaze often falls while reading the content, thus making it possible for the user to notice them without interrupting their activity.
  3. Display ads allow you to change strategy according to the availability of our budget: you can choose between different types of payment ranging from cost per click, the number of impressions delivered, the number of leads obtained, or based on the time the ad stays on the page.
  4. As thePay per click(PPC) we can take advantage of the “free visibility”, i.e. many users after seeing the ad prefer to search for our business directly at a later time; in this way we not only have the target but we have also managed to save on the cost of the click.
  5. We can create some campaigns that allow you to schedule individual ads or groups of ads on specific subsets of our target to maximize return on investment.
  6. Ads are measured as the Pay-per-Click, this allows us to improve and modify our campaigns as well as to know much more in detail about the behavior of the reference target.
  7. Today display ads are very important mainly because the user interacts more and more via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Therefore, attracting the attention of the user browsing on mobile with an attractive ad allows you to bring traffic to our responsive site.

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Strategies on how to target audiences with display ads

The primary goal of social media advertising and search engines is the achievement of a conversion which can be the purchase of a product/service or the filling out of a form. The path that leads to the conversion must be studied in detail in order to predict what the user will do once they see our landing pages(landing page on the site).

Here are some actions that the target visitor could take:

1. Follow the route and get to the goal. 2. Ask for more information on what is offered using the contact methods. 3. Visit the website for more information. 4. Leave the path at a precise point (this last point should not be considered negative as it could simply mean that the user is not currently interested but could return to our site in the future).

But what are the targeting strategies of display ads? Let’s see them one by one.


Remarketing is an advertising strategy aimed at people who have already visited a site used a specific app, watched a video, or purchased a product. With the display remarketing, you can tell Google to change the ad content based on the viewer’s past interaction. This is known as dynamic remarketing firsthand.

Placement targeting

With the placement targeting, you can choose which websites to place your ads on. But remember that this is an auction so there is no guarantee that your ads will show up.

Contextual targeting

Google analyzes every web page within the network to determine the main topic. As a result, they match them with the keywords we use, the languages, and the topics we target so that your ads are shown to the most relevant audience possible.

Interest targeting

Here are the groups of people targeting certain interests, which are targeted based on their historical surfing behavior.

Demographic targeting

Target people by gender, age range, or parental status and household income (for video campaigns, currently only available in the US, Japan; Australia, and New Zealand).

Topic targeting

Google ads offer a long list of topics you can target such as industries, careers, and niche topics. Then Google will show your ads in a group of websites that fall into these categories. Conversely, interest targeting places ads in front of people interested in the specific topic.

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How to create a display campaign on Google

Setting up display ad campaigns is simple. Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to do it.

From the Campaigns dashboard, click the blue + button

choose campaign

Select campaign type “Display”

create campaign


After selecting the campaign objective, select the campaign subtype. There will be 2 options to choose from:

  • Standard Display campaigns (recommended) give you manual control of settings and targeting, with some automation options.
  • Gmail ads show ads in people’s emails.

select campaign type

You will now be able to enter the name of your campaign, and always choose a name that clearly describes the campaign’s theme.

campaign name

Next, specify the places you want to target. If you want to add more locations or define a radius around a specific location, you can select “advanced features” and add targeting.

campaign locations

Now it’s time to set up your bid. Choose the main optimization goal of your campaign:

  • Conversion: The action that is measured by interacting with your ad. For example, registration or purchase.
  • Conversion Value: The financial value of each conversion.
  • Clicks: Someone clicks on your page.
  • Viewable impressions: Pay when at least 50% of your ad is shown for at least one second.

select bidding

Now select your bidding strategy. You’ll have the option to choose an automatic bid strategy or a manual bid strategy.

The manual bid strategy gives you maximum control over your ad campaigns.

Next, set your budget and delivery method. Google will spend up to double your daily budget on days when your campaign has high engagement but will never be more than your monthly budget.

When selecting the type of publication, you have two options: standard and accelerated.

  • Standard Delivery (Recommended) spends the budget evenly throughout the day
  • Accelerated delivery spends your budget as quickly as possible, which could lead to running out of budget early in the day.

Once you’ve set your budget and delivery methods, click the “Additional settings” drop-down menu.

more setting

Here are three important configuration options:

  1. Quota limit: Limit the number of times ads are shown to the same user on the display network. By limiting the number of times someone sees your ad, you can help avoid unnecessary spending. The frequency cap can be set on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis as well as on the ad, ad group, or campaign level.
  2. Localization options: The location options allow you to change how you target the specified geographic region, thus targeting people “at your target location”. This ensures that you are only showing ads in the desired locations versus people who are “interested” in the location.
  3. Content Exclusions: Not showing ads on your content that don’t fit your brand. Make sure you turn off adult and sensitive content, as well as different types like games, apps, and videos.


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