6 Tips For Supercharging Google Display Network Performance

The Google Display Network (GDN) remains the largest contextual advertising network on the Internet.

It is also a cost effective way to enter the market for awareness and re-engagement.

Chances are, your target audience can be found on the Google Display Network.

The targeting options are endless. From reaching a brand new audience with outreach efforts to retargeting your existing customers, the Google Display Network is a powerful place to find the results you seek.

With the inevitable move towards automation in Google Ads, it’s important to understand the levers and mechanisms you can manipulate to reach optimal performance.

In this post, you’ll find six tips that will help you rely on automation while maintaining control of your campaigns.

1. Remarketing campaigns

One obvious one, but it’s by far the biggest opportunity: If you’re going to see any kind of display revenue, you’re most likely to see it from remarketing.

Remarketing allows you to deposit a cookie through your website visitors’ browser.

You will then be able to show targeted ads to site visitors when they visit other sites also on the Google Display Network.

It may sound a bit intimidating, but it works due to the fact that the people who see your ads are already familiar with your brand.

What’s more, remarketing has been shown to offer a lower cost per acquisition, so it’s a great option for advertisers working with a smaller budget.

Here’s how to set up a basic remarketing campaign to target users who have previously visited your website:

1. Remarket and add your remarketing tag for all pages of your website.

2. Prepare remarketing lists Using the Audiences tab in the shared Google Ads library:

Screenshot by the author, March 2022

3. In a few days, you will start populating the All Visitors list. You can monitor this via the Audiences tab in AdWords, as shown above.

4. Once you have acquired your chosen list At least 100 visitors within 30 daysyou’re ready to start remarketing.

To set up a new campaign, click + Campaign, then select your campaign objective. To enable all features, select “Create a campaign without targeting:

Choose Don't choose any objective to get all the benefits in Google Ads campaigns.Screenshot by the author, March 2022

5. Set your campaign type to ‘Display Network only’:

Types of Google Ads campaignsScreenshot by the author, March 2022

6. Choose a target siteAnd the languageAnd the Bid strategyAnd the Donate, And the Campaign name.

7. Click Save and continue.

8- Name your first ad group, and set the default CPC bid (if applicable). click How did they interact with your work? Under “Audience Segments”:

Choose from a variety of audiences.Screenshot by the author, March 2022

9. In the “Select Category” drop-down list, choose From a variety of segments, including site visitors, app users, customer lists, and more:

Choose different ways users interact with your business.Screenshot by the author, March 2022

10. Choose one of the remarketing lists you previously created via Audiences tab. In this example, we’ll target “all site visitors”:

Example of selecting Google Ads remarketing lists.Screenshot by the author, March 2022

11. Click Save and continue If you want to create your own ads, or Skip ad creation If you want to do it later.

12. Once your ads are created, they are eligible to be shown to all previous website visitors when they browse sites on the Google Display Network.

There are many helpful posts on how to optimize your remarketing campaigns, including how to set up an appropriate frequency selection and how to monitor performance.

2. Target similar audiences

the Similar slides feature in Google Ads to find people with similar interests and browsing habits as your remarketing audiences.

If you’ve already set up remarketing, I recommend targeting similar segments in their ad groups to see if you can boost performance.

To target similar audiences, set up a new display campaign and select “Similar to remarketing listsUnder Display Network targeting settings:

Google allows you to choose from similar remarketing audiences.Screenshot by the author, March 2022

Similar audiences allow you to increase the reach of your existing remarketing campaigns to attract new users to your site who have similar browsing habits to previous website visitors.

Pro tip: I always recommend splitting your remarketing and similar audience lists into separate campaigns to monitor relative performance, rather than grouping them into a single campaign.

Similar segments usually have a much larger audience than remarketing lists.

3. Focus on placements

Of all Targeting options available to advertisers On the Google Display Network, the best way to gain granular control over where your ads appear is to use Selected positions.

If you use targeting methods such as interests or topics, Google is basically guessing which sites are relevant, which means there is a risk that your ads will be shown on irrelevant websites.

With placement targeting, you can specify exactly which sites you want your ads to appear on, so it’s a safe option for advertisers who are just branching out into display ads.

To set up placement targeting, go to your Display Network campaign targeting settings and select ‘placements‘ From Ad targeting Projection:

Placement targeting in Google AdsScreenshot by the author, March 2022

You can then pick specific positions from the list by searching for specific keywords or websites:

Placement targeting options in Google Ads.Screenshot by the author, March 2022

If you have a list of high performing placements(websites), you can start separating them into individual ad groups.

Then, you can manage your bids more effectively on the positions that bring the best return.

4. Find mobile apps

Are you using keyword, topic, or interest targeting?

Has it been a while since you monitored the placements where your ads are showing?

If that’s the case, then chances are mobile gaming is wasting a significant portion of your budget. This issue has emerged largely due to children using their parents’ mobile apps, which often leads to them clicking on ads by mistake.

How to check if mobile games are taking up part of your viewing budget: Go to Display Network Campaign, and click placements Campaign tab (under ‘Content’ on the left-hand side), then click See where your ads appear:

Easily find where your ads appear with placement reports.Screenshot by the author, March 2022

You have the ability to exclude mobile apps as a whole, or at the category level. Tips on how to opt out can be found here.

5. Targeting the audience in the market

In-market audiences are the people that Google has determined are most interested in what you have to offer based on their browsing behavior and activity.

This audience consists of users who are Actively searching for and comparing products and services matching those you offer.

To see if in-market audiences is a successful targeting method for you, set up a campaign via ‘Interests and remarketingtab.

Choose masses in the market from the dropdown list before checking What kind of audience Want to target:

Target the active users in the market for your product or service.Screenshot by the author, March 2022

From there, you’ll find many different categories and subcategories of fans in the marketplace:

You will find many different categories and subcategories of fans in the market.Screenshot by the author, March 2022

Pro tip: To get a true reflection of whether this method of targeting is right for your business, be sure to split your in-market audience targeting into a separate campaign.

Then pay close attention to the placements report to improve performance over time.

6. Use responsive display ads

Gone are the days of relying on still image testing to understand what resonates with users the most.

In fact, responsive display ads are now the default ad type for this campaign. They also display many times more than static ads because of the available inventory.

Responsive display ads take a combination of the titles, descriptions, images, and videos (if applicable) that you choose for your campaign.

Then, Google mixes and matches based on the available ad inventory to display the most relevant ad to each user.

Here is an example of how to create a responsive display ad in the Google Ads interface:

How to create responsive display ads.Screenshot by the author, March 2022

The interface will update in real time as you add your assets. Google will also measure the strength of your ad based on the variety and amount of assets offered.

The interface will also show examples of your ads in different Google sites, such as websites, apps, and Gmail.


The Display Network is a gold mine of opportunity – if you use it the right way.

Google’s reliance on automation can make or break campaign performance.

By choosing the right levers to pull your campaign settings and choosing the most relevant audiences, you’ll have more control over campaign performance.

It’s always a good idea to double check your settings when setting up a campaign, as well as keeping up to date on any industry changes that may affect your campaigns.

More resources:

  • 6 Simple and Effective Google Display Tips
  • Best practices for Google Performance Max campaigns
  • PPC 101: A Complete Guide to the Basics of PPC Marketing

Featured image: Sammby/Shutterstock

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