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Google and Facebook rule the digital marketing sphere - by far. That you already knew. But what you might not know is that in spite of it being a multibillion-dollar tech company that has hundreds of products, Google’s main products and revenue generators are still in advertising – search advertising and display advertising. Today we’re going to guide you through the latter.
Google Display Network AKA the GDN
Display advertising on Google, simply put, is the banners appearing on the huge network of websites (more than 2 million) that are partnering with Google and enable you, as an advertiser, to reach 90% of Internet users. Also, as Google is the developer and owner of Android, the most common mobile operating system in the world, your display ads can potentially appear within apps available on the Google play store.
Google AdSense and Google Ads – what is what?
How does this work? How come you see ads appearing on lexpress.mu or dailymail.co.uk and even linkedin.com that are actually coming from Google?
The deal is that the website owner (commonly referred to as “the publisher”) lets Google deliver ads on its website, Google charges the advertiser for showing its ads on this space and then shares the revenue with the website owner. That is also called monetization of a website.
The platform used to connect between website owners and Google is called Google AdSense. If you’re a business that wants to show ads on the GDN, you would use the Google Ads platform, where you also create your other Google campaigns - Search, YouTube and App campaigns.
Does the size matter?
A website doesn’t need to be huge in terms of traffic to start Google AdSense, however, volume does impact the publisher’s revenue. Not only that, the payout from Google is usually lower than what a potential advertiser will pay the website if they work directly with each other. Therefore, in many cases, websites – big or small - prefer to sell their advertising space directly to the advertisers.
At this point, you might ask a very “obvious” question – “Ok I do understand why a small blogger with a full-time job doesn’t want to bother with calling local businesses to sell advertising spaces but why would very big websites – like bbc.com – need Google? Don’t they prefer to assign to this task their in-house team to sell ad space and make more money?”
Well, that’s an excellent question and right on spot!
The answer is that yes, any website would prefer to sell their ads spaces directly to the advertisers and in fact, most of them do just that. But on top of that, they also use Google AdSense. The reason is that no sales team in the world can compete for the volume of advertisers that Google can offer, 365 days of the year. Furthermore, Google’s machines work 24/7 and are always able to bring on more and more advertisers, from all around the world (we assume you noticed ads from websites like Amazon or AliExpress on Lexpress.mu).
Your Google display advertising campaigns
Creating a Google display campaign is relatively easy, and the targeting options are quite flexible and broad. Having said that, you must know that it’s not easy to generate immediate results from general display campaigns, especially if the budgets are not sufficient (which is the case most of the time… J). One important tip is that Google Display remarketing (or in its other name retargeting) campaigns are very effective and very recommended. In some cases, that’s the only campaigns you’d want to run in terms of display.
Pay attention: the small screens
If you own a website, you know very well that mobile traffic increased big time in the last few years. The unfortunate part of the story is that most businesses didn’t adapt to the new reality and therefore the experience on (too) many websites today is still very poor. That implies to the ads on websites as well. In spite of the fact that Google cares much about websites being mobile friendly, it’s still not happening. Starting a display campaign, you will clearly see that your campaign generates a lot of mobile traffic that will not convert. Furthermore and as mentioned earlier, as Google owns Android (celebrated 10 years this month), your ads will appear in-apps and that traffic… well… probably won’t be the best you’ll get. So to start with, make sure you follow up on this. And secondly, if you’d like to reduce mobile traffic you can simply reduce bids on mobile or tablet devices in your campaign settings.
Note: there used to be a placement (website address) that if excluded, your ads wouldn’t appear on mobile apps, but lately this option was removed by Google.
How to design banners that make people click
The main type of banners you will create in your campaigns will be static images in different dimensions (see specs at the end of this article). As they will appear across multiple placements and as users developed “banner blindness” (yes, it’s a real thing) it’s crucial to create them – copy and design – in a way that will draw attention. Here are some suggestions on how to do it:
- Keep in mind that many of the high traffic websites feature a lot of content (news websites for example) so the artworks shouldn’t “float”. A frame, even if thin, can help to differentiate your banners from the rest of the noise.
- Less is more - avoid too many elements on the banners – especially on the small dimensions.
- Try to create GIFs - which draw users’ attention more due to their movement.
- We suggest creating more than one design direction, each of these directions will put the emphasis on a different USP of your product/service. For example, one will emphasize your 24/7 services and second your (excellent) clients’ feedbacks.
- Create different types of banners (on top of the different directions above) according to the type of campaigns:
- General display campaign – people who haven’t visited your website yet should see a general message, that is within the brand awareness
- Remarketing campaign – people who have already visited your website, should see a strong, sales oriented
- Add a CTA (Call to action) “button” on the banners. It’s not a real button as the whole banner will be clickable. We suggest that to simply create a bigger drive for the users to click it and continue to your website. For example: “Check the details here”, ”Get the offer now” or “Shop now >>”.
- Pay attention that some of the GDN dimensions are landscape and some are portrait in very small dimensions. The re-sizing of your artwork should be done accordingly. Furthermore, we suggest to design them differently if needed – resizing is not the answer to all. For example, for the small landscape banner, less text can be used and background image should change, if used at all.
- Keep the look and feel of the website when designing the banners to create a good UX (user experience): the visual the user sees on the banner should send her/him to a page with the same colours, fonts, look and feel.
- Google offers 20 different dimensions that you can upload to its platform and indeed your ad can deliver in all these dimensions. Having said that, many marketers create very few dimensions and that doesn’t benefit with their campaign as it enables fewer options across the GDN. Furthermore, if many other advertisers create far less than 20 dimensions, why not take advantage of this marketing opportunity and create more dimensions? Our recommendation is to create at least 10
Last but not least – your specs
If you’re interested to get started with the GDN (and we sure hope you do!), the thing you’re missing now is the specs Google dictates (and make no mistake – it is a strict dictation – Google is a platform, you can’t cheat by 1KB or 1 pixel), so without further ado, here they are:
- Image format: JPG, PNG, GIF
- Size: must be 150K or less
- Please note that GIFs must be 30 seconds or less and it must be slower than 5 frames per second.
Square and rectangle:
- 300X250 (common on desktop as well as mobile)
- 336X280 (common on desktop)
- 200X200 (common on desktop as well as mobile)
- 250X250 (common on desktop as well as mobile)
- 120X600 (common on desktop)
- 160X600 (common on desktop)
- 300X600 (common on desktop)
- 728X90 (common on desktop)
- 468X60 (common on desktop)
- 970X90 (common on desktop)
- 320X100 (common on mobile)
- 320X50 (common on mobile)
Putting aside remarketing campaigns, which as you already know we recommend if you want conversions, the main common use of Google display is to create brand awareness. And indeed, if that’s your marketing goal, advertising on the GDN is a big-scale-opportunity for your business to be seen out there.
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