How to Differentiate Google Search Ads and Display Ads

How to Differentiate Google Search Ads and Display Ads


Content Writer: Anne Karasarides Anne Karasarides Social Media Coordinator

You may have read about Google display and search ads in our paid advertising blogs in the past, but do you know the difference between the two?

These are distinctly different types of ads, but you may not recognize them merely from their names. Because of this, we are here to break down the specific differences between the two and the different ways they benefit your business.

Google Display Ads

If you’ve visited any website on the internet, you’ve seen a display ad.

Picture this, you’re visiting a website to book plane tickets for an upcoming trip, and on the right of the screen, there is an advertisement for a hotel chain. This advertisement is a display ad, and it can be used by businesses to redirect potential customers to their website.

Think of it this way; display ads give a business the option to promote their products or services even while a potential customer is navigating other websites. Whether someone is catching up on a news source or watching videos on YouTube, a business can still reach internet users on these webpages with the help of display ads.

Display ads can be used most effectively by targeting specific people or websites for the advertisement.

These ads also focus on audience-based and content-based targeting.

Audience targeting can be refined to focus on the following:

  • Demographic — Target groups based on age, gender, location and more who will be most interested in your products or services.
  • In-market — This group of users can be targeted because they are looking to make a purchase that is related to your business and products.
  • Affinity — Users who are consistent in viewing or purchasing products or services like yours fit into this targeting field.
  • Remarketing — To reach people who have visited but then left your website, remarketing will place an advertisement of what they viewed on your website to entice them to return.
  • Similar Audience — This takes information from users who are similar to those who have been targeted through your remarketing efforts and places your advertisement in front of them because of their related interests.

Content targeting is narrowed to the following categories:

  • Keywords — Based on the context of a webpage, your ad can be displayed if it has the same or similar keywords.
  • Placement — This simply allows you to have discretion over which websites or webpages you want your advertisement to display.
  • Topics — A broader targeting option to place advertisements on pages that focus on a topic that is related to your ad.

Google Search Ads

You can look at Google search ads as a direct response to a user’s search, and these ads are based around the immediate need for a product or service.

When a user is searching specifically on Google, a search ad will display in their Google results. This ad is in direct response to the search that the user was conducting.

It is critical to know, however, that these are not average search results in Google. These search ads will display above organic search results, and they will be identified by a small “Ad” box located next to the page’s URL.

Setting up the capabilities for this advertising option allows for your business to show up before the organic search results that a user typically interacts with. The user must continue to scroll through the page to reach these results where the search advertisements at the top of the page require no further scrolling by the user.

Check this blog for a better understanding of the layout of your Google search results.

There is more immediacy behind search ads because they are acting directly on a user’s keyword input and can promote quick action by the user to visit a website to browse products or purchase something quickly.

Take the keywords, inexpensive restaurant, for example, in this visual:

Some updates have been made recently to Google’s advertising metrics that are worth keeping up-to-date on. Read this blog to learn more.

Final Thoughts

It is easy to feel bogged down by marketing terms, and that is why we’re here to help when it comes to differentiating Google search ads and display ads.

Advertising for your business is essential, especially on Google, so gathering and implementing this information for your business will give perspective on how to best approach your business’s advertising wants and needs!

At RevLocal, we understand how important support throughout the paid advertising process can be. Click here to find out which paid advertising strategy is right for your business!


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