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Launch and Optimize a Google Display Network Campaign in 3 Easy Steps

When I first started in paid search almost 5 years ago Google’s Content Network (now Display Network) was intimidating. I compared it to the wild west because you spent time developing campaigns and then hoped for the best. You could spend a lot of money and not have a return to show for it or limited data and tools to optimize.

wild west

This is no longer the case. Optimizing Google Display/Content campaigns is similar to tactics you employ for Google Search Network campaigns. I followed the process outlined below for a client recently and in the first 30 days the campaign accounted for 30% of the conversions across the campaigns. Read up on how you too can launch a text ad campaign on Google’s Display Network:

1. Copy and Paste in Google Adwords Editor

I’m pretty sure copy and paste is the best shortcut evah for computers. First step is identifying your highest performing campaign and ad group that is NOT a branded campaign. In my experience there is usually a campaign and ad group that is driving more than 50% of conversions and is highly relevant to your product or services. I prefer to use conversions as my primary metric for “high performance” but maybe for you it’s clicks or click through rate. Here are the steps you need to take in Adwords Editor:

  • Highlight your selected campaign in Adwords Editor and select Edit < Copy Special < Copy Campaign Shell and hit Ctrl+v to paste the campaign shell into your Adwords Editor account.
  • Highlight your selected ad group in Adwords Editor and hit Ctrl+C and then Ctrl+v the ad group in your new campaign.
  • Campaign settings-For simplicity reasons I would suggest renaming your campaign by just adding “-Content” to the end of the existing campaign name. Set “Search Network” to “None” and “Display Network” to “Relevant pages across the entire network”. I would check and double check the budget setting you have set up for the campaign. The Display Network is a fast way to spend a lot of money if you’re not careful. Set your bids at the ad group level and at this point just use the same bid you have in the “Default Max CPC Bid” and copy this over to the “Display Network Max. CPC Bid”.

I prefer allowing Google to identify relevant websites because you’re casting the largest net possible for conversions as opposed to you selecting specific websites to advertise on. I’d rather not guess the websites my prospects are browsing but make that judgment based on the performance metrics. After you have all your settings dialed in I would suggest launching your campaign and be prepared to monitor the performance very closely over the next few days.

2. Bid Adjustments

After you’re showing impressions, clicks, and other metrics it’s time to adjust your bids. I like to compare the average cost per click to your default bid. Bids are made on an ad group level for Display Network campaigns. If your default bid is high compared to the average cost per click I would suggest lowering your bid closer to the average. Consider increasing the bid if your average cost per click is near or slightly higher than your default. You want to ensure your campaign is getting enough exposure in terms of impressions and clicks to optimize your campaign.

3. Review Automatic Placement Reports

Under the “Networks” tab in Adwords select “show details” in the “Automatic Placements” section of the window. This report will show you every website your ads have been running on across the Google Display Network.

First I prefer to sort the report by cost. You can then view websites that are costing you money but not offering a return. Any sites that have a high cost and no return I suggest you add these websites as an “Excluded Placement” in Adwords. If you would like to get more granular Adwords allows you to see the exact URL in the website where your ads are showing and you can exclude URL’s from a website instead of the entire website. To see the exact URL’s in Adwords select “See URL list” in the report. You will probably see websites in the report where you are getting multiple impressions but no clicks. At this early stage of your campaign I would not worry about high impressions and no clicks since it’s no cost to you.

Also keep in mind click through rate is not as critical on the Display Network as it is on Google’s Search Network. You want to be more concerned about cost per conversion. When you start adding sites as excluded placements, please ensure you have adequate impression, click, and conversion volume which is relative depending on your campaign. But use your best judgement.

After you’ve got your campaign set up and optimized you should continue to monitor the campaign to add new excluded sites to the campaign and adjust bids as necessary.  Now that you’ve got your first campaign set up you can expand your reach on the Google Display Network with other search campaigns. Take advantage of the relatively cheap clicks and impressions the Display Network has to offer.

Ryan Campbell

About Ryan Campbell

Ryan is an Account Director with Add3. When Ryan is not geeking out over PPC he enjoys watching football and basketball. And then trying to avoid serious injury on his mountain bike, skiiing(when he has the time), and spending time with his family.