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Which is better for YOUR business – Google search or Google display?

Most businesses, when they think of Google AdWords, think of the search network. This is where someone searches on Google for the product or service you are selling and your ad shows up. A nice, simple concept that everyone can grasp.

But AdWords also has a Display Network, which for some businesses can be more profitable than just using Search. Unfortunately, many marketers don’t understand the Display Network and even some AdWords professionals are still wary of it.

If you use the Display Network without having a clear grasp of what you are doing, it’s possible to rack up a lot of wasted clicks – and pour money down the drain.

Here’s a useful tool to help decide whether to use the Display Network

The way I personally decide whether to focus on Google Search or Display is to use a quiz developed by Perry Marshall. You can find it at

This quiz gives you a result similar to what is shown below.


The example above is a real result from one of my clients. I wasn’t sure whether the Display Network would work well for this particular client. The quiz told me clearly to focus on Search for best results.

This tool is the fastest and easiest why I know to quickly discover whether you should be targeting your AdWords efforts on Search of Display. So if you are running AdWords, I highly recommend you use it.

The pros and cons of Google’s Display Network

Google’s Display Network is the vast array of websites on the internet that display Google ads. This includes all kinds of websites, from small businesses that want to make a bit of extra money by running Google ads on their sites, right up to the big players such as CNN and the New York Times.

So if you want to put your ads on CNN’s website or the New York Times – or any other website of your choice – you can do it using Google’s Display Network. The question, of course, is should you? And that’s where you need discernment.

It’s important to understand the mindset of people who see your ad on the Display Network versus Google search results. If someone searches on Google, sees you ad and clicks, there’s a good chance they are interested in what you are selling. It is then up to your website to do its job of taking them to the next stage of the process.

But on the Display Network, people are not actively looking for your ad. In fact, the ads are seen by most people as a nuisance – a distraction – similar to the ads on TV and radio. If your ad happens to catch someone’s eye and it is relevant to a need they have, they might click on it. But they are less likely to be a in a buying frame of mind, so the quality of clicks from the Display Network is generally lower.

You need a careful strategy with the Display Network

Even so-called “AdWords experts” can burn through a lot of their clients’ money with badly targeted Display Network campaigns. In my early days of managing AdWords, I did it myself on one occasion and was mortified when having to explain to the client what had happened.

The Number One secret to success with the Display Network is to think carefully about who your ideal customer is. This is quite different from Search, where you think in terms of keywords. With Display, it is all about the customer – the person who is browsing the internet and who you hope will see your ad.

You need to think about the interests that your ideal customer has. What websites are they likely to be browsing? What is their age, gender, family status etc? Then you can target your ads so they are focused only on your ideal customer’s demographic. This way, you will minimise wasted clicks.

If you take the time to do this kind of strategic thinking upfront – and if your type of business appears to be a good fit for the Display Network, based on the quiz mentioned at the start of this post – your chances of success with Display advertising are good.

Final thoughts on the Display Network

If you are new to AdWords, there is no shame in leaving out the Display Network until you have mastered the Search Network first. Having said that, almost everyone should use the Display Network for Remarketing campaigns. But that is is another subject, which I will cover in a future post.

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