How to Generate Quality Traffic With Display Advertising

For a few years it seemed that “display advertising” had become something of a dirty word for many in the Internet marketing community.

Perhaps they only tested contextual targeting on the Google Display Network (GDN) – throwing a few keywords up and hoping for the best? Maybe they tried some large buys from a demand side platform (DSP) and didn’t see the best ROI? Or maybe they signed on with a self-service DSP only to find the platform was confusing and lacking in features?

Whatever the case, there are so many options available for display advertising that you should be out there testing.

Google is pushing the envelope with their offerings on the GDN. But that is just one display network! Peel back the curtain and you will find a big world of networks, DSPs, and remarketing services – all of them offering their own special sauce of algorithms, self-service platforms and generally raising the bar for the entire industry.

Google AdWords – Google Display Network (GDN)

The GDN is the most well-known display network given that it is a part of the Google AdWords platform. However, the consensus among an alarmingly high percentage of advertisers is that GDN doesn’t work. My gut instinct is that the advertisers crying the loudest know the least about how to leverage the range of GDN features to target their customers.

So, if it has been a while, here is a sampling of the myriad ways you can tweak GDN campaigns to generate quality traffic – and yes, conversions:

  • Contextual Targeting: This is the basic foundation of the GDN. Input some keywords that are relevant to your product or service, and Google will match your ads to websites. This is where a lot of advertisers stop. But you have to dig deep. Segment your keywords. Google has given us the ability to bid on individual keywords. Review placement performance reports and exclude poor websites. Add demographic settings to gain another layer of relevancy.
  • Placement Targeting: Cherry-pick the websites that are most relevant and/or convert the best. Layer on keywords, demographic settings for even more detailed targeting.
  • Topic/Category Targeting: Need to increase your ad reach? Try Topics or Categories relevant to your product or service. This will open you up to a much larger portion of the GDN. Be sure to control performance with site exclusions, keyword targeting, and demographic targeting.
  • Remarketing: Where do I start? The possibilities are endless! Tag your website and landing pages. Segment those visitors into audiences. Create targeted ads. Voila! – watch the conversions come in!
  • Search Companion: Bridging the gap between search and display, Search Companion is a unique feature for the GDN. You create a campaign leveraging keywords you would normally target on search. Google will cookie anyone searching for those keywords on Google.com – regardless of whether they click your ads. You can then target ads to those searchers on the GDN. This is an extremely relevant way to run display ads!
  • RLSA: Otherwise known as “remarketing lists for search advertisers.” This is another way Google is bridging the gap between search and display. RLSA functions like typical remarketing, adding a cookie to anyone who visits your website. However, instead of triggering ads on display, your ads are remarketed to these visitors on Google.com. Unfortunately, this beta test is closed. Ask your Google rep for more details.
  • Similar Audiences: Already running remarketing? Great! How can you gain even more impressions, clicks, and conversions? Run ads on audiences that are similar to your existing remarketing audiences. Google reviews your audiences and will match you to an audience that expands far beyond those visitors who have already been to your website.
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