How to use Google display ads.

This is the way I set up Google Display Ads. So if you’re just starting out, then copy this routine and once you become more familiar with running a campaign you can start changing things.

Google’s two main ad networks are the Search Network that displays ads top and bottom of their search results and their Display Network where ads are displayed on other people’s websites and apps if they’ve joined the AdSense content network (ads are also published on Youtube & in Gmail). I find I do best with Display Network ads.

To run display ads you need an Adwords account which you can set up at

When you’re logged in you’re currently offered a choice between the standard Adwords interface and a new Beta one and you can switch between them – the option is a link from one of the top-right menu items. The new interface is much easier to work with and the only trade-off I’ve found is that it doesn’t yet include the Display Planner ( which I guess will become available when it comes out of Beta ). So I still have to switch back to the previous Adwords to use that.

After you’ve run a couple of campaigns you’ll see the campaigns listed like this …

and after clicking Display campaigns, you’d then click the plus sign in the blue circle to create a new campaign.

But if you’re running a first campaign in a new account, Google will guide you through the set-up steps.


A campaign is for a particular offer, which may be a holiday rental discount, or a PDF to download or a sale. Often an offer will be advertised with several publishers, like Google and Facebook. I find it reduces confusion to use the same name for the campaign on all the publishers.

Google guides you in setting up a campaign, but there are still a lot of options to configure and decisions to be made.

I set up seperate campaigns for different geographic regions because I’ve found that people respond differently in the 2 areas I’m interested in – the USA and Australia.

You can get demographic data by going to the Display Planner (this is in the old interface under the Tools menu item ). Adding the subject that your audience is interested in will show you the interest per age range. You’ll also be able to get an idea of other things that these people may be interested in from the placement recommendations below the graph. You can use this info to help write headlines and select pictures.

So choose a region for each campaign – that demographic is set at the campaign level – So you may run the offer for Texas and Australia and Canada and each would have it’s own campaign.

Also get an idea of the average CPC to bid before you run the campaign. This saves you bidding too low at the start which can affect your CTR ( click-through-rate ). You can get an idea of what’s being paid by others and what the ballpark is you should start with from the services listed in the keyword tools a few paragraphs down.

If it’s your first campaign that you’ve set up, the approval can be a day or so. But after that I’ve found the ad approval is much faster. Usually within the hour.

Keywords & Ad Groups

I find it’s best to create a separate Ad Group for each main concept or selling point.

For example if you’re promoting a stay in Bali, it would be good to promote one Ad Group on websites about holidays, and another on sites to do with accommodation. So the first set of keywords would be “indonesia holiday”, “bali holiday”, “asian vacation” and the other set would be “bali resort”, “hotels at the beach” etc.

Unlike ads in the Search Network, you don’t want to add too many keywords, just a few bread ones for each Ad Group. That’s because rather than targeting phrases that people are typing when they search, you’re targeting websites that they visit and you want Display Network ads to appear on as many relevant websites as possible.

Then you monitor the conversions in Placements > Where ads showed and remove the websites that aren’t making any.

Use several keyword tools to get ideas for Ad Groups and an idea of search volumes.

There are a lot of good services to use, but nearly all of them charge a subscription for full access, which can add up when you’re subscribing to a bunch of them ) so one way to go is to use the free versions provided by several of them, which can still provide decent intel when used together.

  1. Keyword Finder –
  2. MOZ Keyword Explorer –
  3. SEM Rush –
  4. SEO Book –
  5. SEO Chat –

It’s good to get broad range of phrases where synonyms are used to describe the concepts. So while these tools are good for ideas, but they’re word-based, rather than concept-based.

For example, starting with a seed keyword phrase in the tools, the suggested sets all return internet marketing with other qualifying words appended or prepended. What you really want is the different phrases people use when looking into the subject – internet, digital, online and business marketing and promotion and advertising etc.

You can often get these by looking at the related searches after you search on a seed phrase.

Step by Step …

  • Select Create your ad group
  • All audiences.
  • Leave Demographics so that every option is checked.
  • When you get to Content, click Content targeting and select Keywords. As you delete the qualifying words and shorten the keyword phrases, you can see the targeting reach increase.
  • Choose No automated targeting.
  • Type an amount for the Ad group bid based on your research. You’ll notice later after the ads been running, if they think the bid’s too low.

Creating the Ads

Google Display Ads can be both responsive ( where their height and width adjust to fit the space ) or plain images in a range of standard banner sizes. Both should be tested and both need images created for them.

Graphics tools

Image sources

Check the rules for each image you use. Some people ask for attribution, some for none.

Step by Step …

If you’ve created an AdGroup, the options to create the ad will be underneath in the same frame.

Otherwise select Ads & extensions in the second, light-grey column on the left. Then click the plus sign in the blue circle.

  • Create a Responsive ad by filling in the fields and adding the 3 images asked for.
  • Make sure the offer in the add matches the offer on the page of  the Final URL.
  • Click More options to add a call to action button. I used Download for several ads in this campaign.
  • Create an image ad to run at the same time. The 250X300 pixel size does best. So don’t worry about all the other sizes to start off.
  • Make sure you type your business name on the image for the image ad or it’s rejected.


After you save the ads, it will say next to them if they are under review or approved.

There are a LOT of options and links in the Adwords interface. As with any piece of software, there is a learning curve as you orient yourself. So learning how to use Google Display Ads is easiest if you start off by running one Campaign and one Ad Group and a responsive and image ad.