The digital marketing discipline continues to develop and improve upon existing strategies to keep up with the rapid changes inherent to its platform. This way, the method of promoting businesses online never stagnates. In an increasingly digital-centric world where trends are fleeting or exist solely to set up the next big thing, simply having one set of tricks up your digital marketing sleeve is a recipe for failure.

With this in mind, perhaps you’re thinking your current campaign can do better in terms of capturing and converting leads — and you’re right! Even if you’ve got a killer set of keywords for deployment through organic search and content marketing, it’s never a bad idea to explore other avenues where you could put those assets to work.

We’re talking about paid ads —not the one your grandpa looks over in his morning paper — but rather, smart ads that know when and where to appear; ads that appeal to your audience’s interest and positions your product or service as what they need.

PPC Breakdown

PPC or pay-per-click ads are an effective way to advertise to your desired audience. As part of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), PPC works with search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to market your business to people who use search engines like Google for their daily activities.

As the name implies, a PPC ad only charges you (the advertiser) when someone clicks on the ad. Some PPC campaigns have evolved to implement different pricing models like CPM (pay per thousand impressions) or CPA, where you only pay if the clicked ad leads to a conversion. Still, the general idea is to reach your audience quickly by tailoring your ads to appear when someone uses certain keywords, or when the user fits the target demographic profile for the ad.

PPC ads are effective due to numerous reasons: they’re cost-effective, easier to control budget-wise, appears directly to your target audience, and instantly earn the much-coveted page 1 position on Google search. It makes perfect sense, then, that the best place to invest on PPC ads is Google’s own AdWords platform.

Put the (Ad)Word Out

As Google is the largest and most widely used online advertising vehicle out there, millions of businesses use Google AdWords to reach new markets and expand their operations. Any entrepreneur worth their salt knows the importance of wisely spending their ad dollars, and there’s no better bet than Google AdWords to get the most out of their PPC budget.

This being Google, it has to know a few things about you for it to work its magic. If you’re a Denver-based business, for instance, you need to provide data on your targeted demographic there, select and bid on relevant keywords, create a budget, and write concise and compelling copy that users can’t help but click.

It’s not a fire-and-forget affair though, as your Denver AdWords will still need a bit of attention and optimization for your ads to stay relevant and appear on the right pages (and keep users clicking on your ads, of course!). Like we said earlier, being complacent about a single tactic is an easy ticket to marketing troublesville.

Fortunately, AdWords has another killer feature in its advertising arsenal: the Google Display Network.

Expand to Fresh Audiences

The Google Display Network (GDN) is one of two networks that AdWords uses to target users, the other being the search network where regular PPC ads appear. This means that your paid ad appears when users type in a query and then gets a bunch of results on page 1. GDN differs by putting your ad on websites that are part of the Display network.

How effective is the GDN? With a system that covers more than 2 million websites and reaches about 90% of Internet users worldwide, it’s pretty powerful. By giving you access to that vast global audience, the GDN is a solid way to tap into a demographic you might have previously neglected.

Banner Ads for Better Visibility

Ever wonder how your favorite tech sites seem to know when to show you an ad for that gadget you’ve been eyeing for a while? That’s the Google Display Network (GDN) working its algorithm magic.

The GDN is perfect for when you’d like to refine your ad scope as it only displays your ads in carefully chosen sites. Doing so gives your ad the edge in terms of user intent, as they’re already in a place where they frequently visit. Seeing your ad there helps persuade the user that you’re the right product or service for their current needs.

One neat thing about the GDN: it gives your ad additional style points by displaying them in banner-style formats. Since the information processed by the brain in any given situation is approximately 90% visual, making your ads more visually appealing could up your advertising game. In that respect, the GDN gives your ad the edge yet again by being an aesthetically pleasing element on what is otherwise just walls and walls of plain old text.

Picture this: you’ve been Googling around for shoes in Denver the past week, surfing in and out of sneaker-head and lookbook websites to get an idea of what shoe style would fit your current wardrobe.

The next time you visit one of your favorite shoe review sites, you’re scrolling down to see a banner for a pair of sneakers halfway along the paragraphs, looking like they were there purely to recommend that particular pair for your next event or trip. Now, if you’re a marketer or an advertiser using Denver AdWords, you’ll know exactly what’s going on. But to the ordinary user, it could mean the difference between scrolling down and a conversion.

Targeting to Your Advantage

Understanding the GDN is easy enough, but getting it to work at maximum effectiveness requires a bit more homework. You could adopt a plug-and-play policy and just let Google’s algorithms sort out how your GDN campaigns manifest on the web, sure. But isn’t refinement one of the core competencies of the platform in the first place? Why not use that attribute to your full advantage?

The GDN has a targeting feature that lets you focus your ads on a particular category: choose from interest, demographic, or activity-based targeting to cater to your desired audience. You can also do the reverse by excluding a particular interest group or demographic. At first glance, this might seem counterintuitive to the “reach new audiences” goal, but it could still help you fulfill your goal too — just in a more controlled and thoughtful manner.

Targeting by interest allows you to build an “affinity” audience, or a profile of people who have shown interest in products, sites, brands, and other services like yours. The demographic category lets you filter by age, gender, geographic location, marital or parental status, and device type to zone in on the audience where your brand can make the most impact. Targeting by activity uses cookies from sites that have had users browse pages, fill out forms, made purchases, or completed any other action.

If you have a clear goal to reach a specific, brand-new market for your ads, you can simply input the demographics for that particular market in your GDN campaign. This is ideal if you want to measure how exactly your ad campaign performs in these uncharted markets, letting you craft strategies as you go along based on what works and what doesn’t. The GDN even has built-in analytics and reporting features so you can view your campaign’s progress and tweak them accordingly on the fly.

To further illustrate the distinction, take a random time that you’ve browsed the Internet recently. You open a Denver news site, for example, and a banner ad for wireless earbuds appears on the sidebar. You’ve never shopped around for such an item as far as you remember, so why is the GDN showing that specific ad on a news site at that time?

The GDN campaign for that advertiser likely opted for a ‘blanket’ deployment of Denver AdWords instead of targeting a demographic. The banner ad appeared, however, because there are trending news stories about wireless devices on a website you just happened to frequent.

On the other hand, citing the previous shoe-shopper example above highlights how the GDN’s interest and activity targeting feature works.

GDN as an Adaptive Ad Platform

The Google Display Network’s massive reach means its appearance isn’t limited to text-based websites. As long as it’s a legitimate domain on the web, the GDN could put your ad on it. This means you can reach people watching videos on streaming sites, people playing online games, people checking their social media feeds on their mobile phone, and more. It’s quite the responsive ad platform that lets your marketing efforts expand beyond static search results pages (although they still matter) and into specific audience spaces — targeted or not.

Our company understands how businesses need the kind of versatility that Google AdWords and the Google Display Network provides for their ventures to grow. Contact us today to learn how our PPC management services can help your campaign convert leads into paying customers.

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