last Updated 8 July 2022

What is the Google Display Network and Should You Use It?

What have London’s Piccadilly Circus and the website of your local newspaper got in common?

The answer is they both feature display advertising.

In the case of your local newspaper’s website, this display advertising will take the form of image, text or video ads that appear alongside the article you’re reading.

At Piccadilly Circus, the display advertising is provided by the world-famous advertising screens that were first erected in 1908. Initially they used ordinary light bulbs but a couple of years later they were converted to use neon lights.

Oh, and if you’re wondering which company was the first to feature on the Piccadilly Circus signs, it was Perrier.

I can tell you that because I Googled it. But what I can’t tell you, even though I walked past them a few days ago, is which companies or products are being advertised in Piccadilly Circus at the moment.

The problem with Google Display ads

And that’s the problem with display advertising - whether it’s an ad on a web page or a huge billboard with neon lights. People take very little notice of these ads and they very rarely buy anything as a direct result of seeing one.

Display advertising is a form of outbound marketing - where you’re pushing your message out to people and hoping they respond to it.

Nowadays, smart advertisers tend to favour inbound marketing. This is all about allowing yourself to be found by people who need your products or services and then letting them come to you when they are ready to buy.

One of the reasons Google Ads is so effective is because it’s an inbound marketing channel. You use it to allow people to easily find your business when they are actively searching on Google for the product or services you sell.

But there’s a catch.

You see, by default, a Google Ads campaign will show your ads to people who are searching on Google but it will also show your ads on Google’s Display Network - a vast collection of display advertising websites (like those local newspaper ones I mentioned earlier). 

And that means that most people who start advertising on Google end up wasting huge amounts of their budget on the low-quality traffic that comes from this Display Network.

Maybe you’re one of them.

How to opt out of the Google Display Network

Fortunately, it’s very easy to set your Google Ads so that they only appear on search results pages and not on the Display Network. All you have to do is untick one box.

To make it easy for you to do this, I’ve made this short video that shows you exactly how to check the settings on your own Google Ads campaign and fix them if you’re currently opted in to show ads on the Display Network.

Hopefully it will help you avoid making a costly mistake.

About the author 

David Miles

As a digital marketing consultant, author and trainer, I specialise in helping businesses in the financial services sector use the internet to get more enquiries and increase profits.

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