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Is the search network or display network better?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

We are a new compay in Columbus Ohio and VERY NEW to online advertising. I'm not sure which is better-the search network or the display network? Any feedback would be appreciated.


2 Expert replyverified_user
Marked as Best Answer.
Accepted by Mini-CM (Community Manager)
September 2015

Re: Is the search network or display network better?

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

Neither - no wait, both.


The search and display networks are two very different animals - it is not a question of either / or.


With the search network, you are looking to get your ad in front of people who are actively searching for your product or service.


With the display network you are looking to present your product or service to people who most closely match your customer profile whilst they are online...


Think of it like this - you sell women's fashion shoes.


You place an ad in the classified section of the local newspaper under the Women's shoes section - that's search - no-one is going to looking under that heading in the classified section unless they are looking for women's shoes.


You also place an ad in Vogue (if you can afford it!!). The women reading the magazine aren't actively looking for shoes, but they see your ad and are tempted (oh so sorely tempted) to go online and buy a pair. That's display.


Why do you advertise in the classified section? Because that's where people are going to go who are actively looking for shoes.


Why do you advertise in Vogue (instead of Auto Mechanic's Weekly)? Because that's the magazine that the women who tend to buy your shoes read....


Which is better? Neither, no wait, both!


How do you decide which to do? The best answer is - test.... see which works for you. In most cases search is more immediate and rewarding (at least you feel better because you tend to get a better CTR and more immediate results) but display is much more wide reaching and can be made to work really effectively if used correctly.


The biggest issue I see with display is that many people put no control over the placement of their display ads - so you're advertising in Vogue and Auto Mechanic's Weekly at the same time - and there are a lot more irrelevant magazines (and web pages) than relevant ones.


Hope this helps.

Re: Is the search network or display network better?

Top Contributor
# 3
Top Contributor

Hi itoola and welcome to the forum.


I would never say that one network or the other is "better", they are simply "different".  I usually talk about these two networks as (very roughly) splitting into an intent to buy (Search network) and a casual or impulse buy (Display network).  I describe them in this way because that's roughly how things pan out.  Think about two different products - a large LED 3D TV, and a pair of gardening gloves.  The first is almost certainly going to be a planned purchase; few of us would buy such an expensive item on impulse so the majority of potential customers are going to come from the Search network, people who've searched on terms such as "LED 3D TV"!  On the other hand, gardening gloves wear out over time and you probably think to yourself every time you use them "I must get a new pair", but you're probably not going to sit down at your browser and do a deliberate search for suppliers.  Here I think it's much more likely that a Display campaign, with Ads focused on gardening related sites, would be successful.  Your potential customer is reading about pruning roses, spots your Ad for gardening gloves and is triggered to buy (on impulse) there and then.


This is of course grossly oversimplifying things.  The Display network is useful for "brand awareness" advertising when you just need to get the word out there.  The Display network also allows the CPM model of advertising (cost per impression, rather than click) which may be more useful if you expect a high volume of clicks against conversions.  The Display network also allows for more flexibility in Ads with image, animations and video (although Search does also allow Product Ads with images).


You may be thinking "Why not just run them both at the same time?".  You can, though I'd always say you should do this under separate Campaigns, it's unlikely you'd have a situation where the same Keywords, the same Ad Group structure, Ads and other settings worked perfectly when applied to both Search and Display.  If for one reason alone - budget - it'd always recommend splitting Display and Search.



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Re: Is the search network or display network better?

Explorer ✭ ✭ ☆
# 4
Explorer ✭ ✭ ☆

Like everything else in life, it depends.


What are you selling? What are your goals?


Having managed many accounts and repeating in my own way previous posts, I can tell you that I've never had a campaign where search was not or could not be used. It is the ultimate advertising model as far as I'm concerned because you are targeting people at the very moment they are interested in your offers simply by the fact of the keywords they used.


Display on the other hand is more interrupt advertising. Think commercials on TV, radio, even newspapers and magazines. I also find that it's not for every kind of product. For example, I manage a campaign selling generator parts. People search for those when they have a need for it. And they usually need it right away to get their equipment running again. A display campaign does not work in this particular case. It might however be good to brand yourself if you are willing to spend money on it. But when they need the part, will they remember you weeks or months later? This might also depend on how you do the advetising and how you make them remember you when the time comes, a free giveaway for example.


Not saying display is bad but typically, I find the conversion rates lower. Then again, that might not be your immediate goal and it usually isn't the goal.


So as mentioned, it is not a question of either/or. The display network is very different and should be separate (not mixed with search) and handled differently. Don't use keywords but find sites where your prospects are likely to be. In other words, advertise in the proper magazine. And think about what it is you want to accomplish. For what it's worth, most of the campaigns I have managed don't use the display network for one reason or another such as my generator parts example.

Re: Is the search network or display network better?

Follower ✭ ✭ ☆
# 5
Follower ✭ ✭ ☆

Generator parts - I hear yuo on that one....


I always use the dentist example. If I wake up with a toothache I'll go search for a dentist... I want/need one NOW!


However, no amount of sexy advertising is ever going to make me just yearn for a filling....