What is Google’s AdWords Display Network?

The Google AdWords Display Network is the name of the combined websites that display Google Adwords’ tekst and banner advertisements. It includes all websites that  use Google AdSense. By far the biggest website within the Google AdWords Display Network is Google’s YouTube.com.

This makes Google AdWords’ Display Network the world’s largest online advertising network.

When to use Google’s Display Network

AdWords professionals often use the Google AdWords Display Network for:

  • Branding campaigns, advertising by CPM (Cost Per Mille)
  • Generating awareness for new products or services
  • Show advertisements to targeted audiences (based on interest)
  • Show advertisements to targeted audiences (based on a selection of websites of webpages)
  • Remarketing (also referred to as retargeting)
  • Conversion-driven PPC advertising campaigns
  • Behavioral targeting

Advertising on the Display Network

Within Google’s Display Network, there are various ways to show your banners or text advertisments:

Keyword matching

Advertising based on a list of keywords. If these keywords appear on a webpage that uses Google AdSense, your advertisement has a change of being shown. Whether or not the advertisment will be shown will depend on the calculated Quality Score (QS) and maximum bid.

Topic targeting

Within Google AdWords it is possible to select a number of topics. Once selected, Google will show advertisments on websites and/or webpages that Google thinks are relevant to the chosen topics.

Audience targeting, behavioral targeting and remarketing

Audience targeting uses tags to identify people across the internet. Tags usually contain information about a visitor’s interest. They are usually placed within cookies on a visitor’s computer.

Examples of tags can be:

  • “existing customer” (a qualifying tag)
  • “has downloaded a white paper” (behavioral)
  • “visited more than 4 pages about car insurance” (remarketing)

Audience targeting can also be used to exclude audiences, such as people that already bought a product or asked for a quote.


Placements are manually added websites or webpages within a Display Network-campaign. They are often used to make the most out of well-performing websites, or to use specific advertisements.

What do advertisements in the Display Network look like?

Advertisements shown through the AdWords Display Network are easily identified by the words “Ads by Google”. For instance, the advertisements on Searchify.ca are examples of advertisements within the Adwords Display Network.

An advertisment can be based on text (like an advertisment within the Search Network), but also as a banner. Currently the Google AdWords Display Network supports the following formats, as (animated) images and Flash-banners:

  • Leaderboard (728 x 90 pixels)
  • Banner (468 x 60)
  • Small square (200 x 200)
  • Skyscraper (120 x 600)
  • Wide skyscraper (160 x 600)
  • Square (250 x 250)
  • Medium Rectangle (300 x 250)
  • Large Rectangle (336 x 280)

For more information and examples of banners within the AdWords Display Network, find out more at Google AdWords Support.

What is the best banner size to use?

This is a question that is often posed, but hard to answer. It is adviseable to, when creating banners, use all options available within the AdWords Display Network. Once a first banner has been designed, it costs considerably less time (and cost) to create banners in other sizes, based on the same design.

Providing your AdWords campaign with more banners will allow you to work with more websites and reach a larger audience. It also provides you with more options for finetuning your Display Network campaigns. Some banner formats provide a lot of traffic, but less-used banners often have a better CPA.

The same goes for static (GIF) and dynamic (Flash) banners. Many website only accept static banners or animated GIFs, but Flash banners often have more impact and effect on your branding. Use a mix of both for optimum results.

If you are already using banners within your Display network-campaigns, you can check their statistics and results within Google AdWords.

Where can I get low-cost banners?

Google provides a free banner-making tool within Google AdWords. It is called the Display Ad Builder. Have a look here for more information.

However, it is often advisable to hire external help. Professional designers know how to make the most of your banner and provide it with a more professional look-and-feel. An investment in an effective banner set usually yields higher results from your advertising.

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