What’s Going On with the Google Display Network? | White.net

What’s Going On with the Google Display Network?

By Tamsin Mehew / March 1, 2012

Google keeps making updates to the Display Network – so what’s going on?

Display Network Tab

The main change is that AdWords is collecting Display targeting options under one new Display Network tab

Previously targeting information was scattered between four tabs (Campaigns, Networks, Audiences and Topics), so the change should simplify management greatly. Although you can only edit keywords on the new tab if you have a Display Network-only campaign (as you should have!) and don’t have a Display Network bid.

Google also promises “a diagram that shows how your targeting methods, like keywords and placements, interact” – which is certainly an improvement from having to dig out the right help page to make sense of it. There will also be reach estimates (although their accuracy remains to be seen).

The most important part of this change is the addition of keyword level statistics – previously you could only see performance at ad or ad group level, but now you can see which individual keywords push traffic and conversions.

Is this helpful? Obviously access to more data is a good thing, but the Display Network’s keyword targeting is in my experience broader than the Search Network’s, so I’m not sure how much difference it would make having (say) different bids on ‘red widgets’ and ‘widgets’. Time (and experimentation) will tell. Still, the change means you could start with broader ad groups and split out the keywords with the most impressions or cost.


A week ago Google announced that it was discontinuing demographic bidding on the Display Network – previously you could choose to vary bids based on gender or age-group, but from the 21st of March this will no longer be an option. Demographic exclusions “won’t be affected for now” (which sounds ominous). These demographics were only ever available when advertising on select sites, so the change will not affect all advertisers.

Demographic reports won’t be in the Dimensions tab: some data will still be in the demographics panel (accessible from a campaign’s Settings tab) but this isn’t split up by domain. So download your demographic reports now, in case you ever want them later!

This does appear to be an odd move, just when the new privacy policy could allow Google to use demographic information from any of its products for the purpose of advertising: currently if someone has demographic information on their YouTube account Google will only use it for targeting when they’re on YouTube, but the new privacy policy means that needn’t be the case in the future.

But Google’s announcement says this change is to ‘simplify’ AdWords, and that they are “looking at ways to offer demographic bidding and targeting in the future”. So we may see more widespread demographic targeting options at some point – perhaps demographic groups will become audiences, the same as remarketing lists and interest categories?

Suggested Image Ads

You can now select a text ad and have Google automatically create image ads from it, using the Display Ad Builder. You may need to add logos or adjust colour schemes.

This is not as big a change, but still a sign that Google is pushing the Display Network. It could also mean an increase in similar looking adverts – will the templates used for these suggestions become overexposed and their performance suffer?

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