Guide to Creating Google Display Ads for Ecommerce Stores

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When the US interstate highway system was created in the 1950s, billboards quickly became one of the hottest forms of advertisement of the era. They were strategically placed in high-traffic locations to capture the attention of potential customers and communicate their message quickly and effectively. With the advent of online marketing, Google Display Ads have come to serve a similar purpose in the digital space, reaching more than 90% of internet users worldwide. You see them as you check your email and catch up on news. Google display ads are the billboards of the web—only better, because you can target who sees them.

Google Ads conversion tracking

With Google Ads conversion tracking set up, you can see which one of your Google Ads advertisements generates the most sales on your online store.

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What are Google display ads?

Google display ads are targeted image ads that appear across the Google Display Network, which includes Google-owned properties like Gmail and YouTube, as well as more than two million websites partnered with Google. With its widespread reach, the Google Display Network reaches more than 90% of internet users worldwide. 

Display ads typically show up as banner ads, across the tops or along the sides of websites, and need to fit into a variety of spaces depending on the webpage and device. Google Ads’ default setting is, therefore, a responsive display ad, which automatically adjusts ad size and format to fit the available space. If you want more control over the appearance of your ad, you can also create your own assets in varying sizes for uploading display ads. However, uploading your custom ad means it only appears when it meets the space’s size specifications. 

Google display ads are one of many ad formatsGoogle Ads offers. They differ from search ads and shopping ads, which show up as paid Google Search results. Whereas search ads appear when potential customers show a high purchase intent, display advertising can be an essential tool for ecommerce businesses to generate brand awareness among their target audience, as they can be targeted to specific users based on their interests and demographics.

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4 benefits of Google display ads 

  1. Affordability
  2. Reach
  3. Goal adaptability
  4. Ease of use

Google Display Ads can be a powerful tool for reaching new customers and growing your business. Whether Google display ads are a practical part of your online marketing plan depends on your needs and objectives. Here are four notable benefits worth considering:

1. Affordability

At just 63¢ per click, Google display ads are more than $2 cheaper per click than their popular alternative—Google search ads go for $2.69 per click. Google Display ads are also less than Facebook ads, which cost about 94¢ per click

2. Reach

Google Display ads allow advertisers to reach potential customers across 35 million sites and apps on the Google Display Network and Google’s platforms like YouTube and Gmail, as opposed to just the search network. Best of all, you can use retargeting strategies to show ads to people who’ve visited your site in the past, encouraging them to return and make a purchase. 

3. Goal adaptability

Google Ads lets you optimize your campaigns and ad groups based on your online marketing goals. You can choose whether you want to focus on making sales, sending leads to your landing page, or building brand awareness. 

4. Ease of use 

Google Ads uses machine learning to optimize targeting and create a smart bidding strategy, so your display ads have the best chance of achieving your digital marketing goals without much effort from your end.

How to set up a Google display ad campaign

If running display advertising sounds like the right approach for your ecommerce business, follow these steps to create your Google display campaign: 

  1. Create a Google Ads account
  2. Choose the right campaign type
  3. Set audience targeting options
  4. Set a budget
  5. Create visually appealing ad creatives
  6. Wait for approval
  7. Optimize your Google Display Ad campaign

1. Create a Google Ads account

Creating Google display ads requires a Google Ads account (which is separate from other Google accounts, such as your personal Gmail account). Log in if you have one; if not, head to the Google Ads site and hit “Start now.” Enter your business name, website, and Gmail address. 

2. Choose the right campaign type

Once your Google Ads account is set up, you may be prompted to create a smart campaign, which means Google will choose the ad type for you. If you wish to create display ads and have more control over your account, hit “Switch to expert mode.” From there, navigate through campaigns to click “New campaign” and choose “Display Network only” as your campaign type. 

3. Set audience targeting options

After creating and naming your Google display campaign, you have the opportunity to select targeting options. Your ads will only be shown to internet users who match your qualifications. You can adjust audience targeting based on both interest and demographics:

  • Interest. When selecting interest-based targeting, you can choose from 80 affinity-based groups, such as “sports fans,” to show your ads to internet users who have indicated such interests. You can also be more specific by choosing your own keywords, such as “plus-size surfing,” so people browsing websites that contain these keywords see your ad. You can also use in-marketing audiences to target users browsing products similar to yours (like someone who put a wetsuit in their shopping cart but didn’t purchase it). 
  • Demographics. Demographic groups you can target include age, gender, parental status, household income, and location. 

4. Set a budget

Next, set your budget. Google Ads asks you to choose an average daily budget. Google will optimize your ad, so some days you may exceed this budget, but it will average it out over time. Your expenses won’t exceed your monthly spending limit, which you can calculate by multiplying your daily average by 30.4 (the average number of days in a month). 

5. Create visually appealing ad creatives

Now it’s time to create your ads. At this point, you must choose between uploaded display ads and responsive display ads. Here’s how they differ:

  • Uploaded display ads. If you want maximal control over your ad appearance, opt for uploaded display ads, which lets you create the display ads yourself. They’ll appear exactly as you upload them. The drawback is that your ads won't appear on pages where they don’t fit the available space. To ensure your ads show up, you’ll need to upload multiple sizes. There are dimensions for 48 different Google display ad sizes. 
  • Responsive display ads. If you want to maximize the number of pages your ad can appear on (or if you don’t want to do the work to create your own assets), choose responsive display campaigns, also known as smart display campaigns. Responsive ads automatically adjust to fit whatever space is available on various pages, and desktop and mobile devices. Instead of uploading ads in their final form, you’ll upload headline options, logos, images, videos, and descriptions. Google combines these elements to generate ads. 

6. Wait for approval

After you’ve selected your targeting, set your budget, and uploaded the necessary assets, the review process to approve your Google display ad begins automatically. Your ad’s status will be under review until Google can review it (typically within 24 hours). If it’s approved, the ad’s status will change to “eligible,” and it’ll begin running online. If your ad violates Google’s policies it will be “disapproved,” and you’ll be notified on how to resolve the issue. 

7. Optimize your Google Display Ad campaign

Once your display ad is up and running, you can track its performance on Google Analytics. Use this data to make adjustments, and test different ad creatives and placements. Use remarketing strategies to target internet users who’ve engaged with your ads or visited your site but didn’t make a purchase.

8 tips for Google Display Ads in ecommerce

  1. Make a clear value proposition 
  2. Write effective headlines
  3. Include a call to action (CTA)
  4. Create an effective landing page
  5. Share customer reviews
  6. Make bid adjustments
  7. Review referral traffic

While Google Ads’ machine learning does a lot of the work to optimize your display ads, it’s still your job to provide compelling assets and adjust your campaigns according to performance analytics. Here are tips for creating effective Google display ads: 

  1. Make a clear value proposition. When potential customers are browsing the web, their eyes may only skim over your ad momentarily, so it’s important to make your value proposition immediately clear. Use effective headlines and imagery to highlight the products or services you’re selling, and make a case for why they should buy from you.
  2. Write effective headlines. Short, punchy headlines can help catch users’ attention. Keep in mind that Google may not include your description in some iterations of the ad, so your headline needs to convey meaning on its own.
  3. Include a call to action. Prompt people to click on your display ad with call-to-action (CTA) language, like “shop the collection” or “learn more.” Remember that buttons promising non-existent functionality, such as Play or Download are not allowed.
  4. Create an effective landing page. When potential customers click on your display ad, direct them to a landing page that delivers on the ad’s promise. In other words, your landing page should reflect the CTA that accompanies the link.
  5. Share customer reviews. Buyers trust online reviews almost as much as personal recommendations. Consider leveraging positive customer testimonials to draw in new customers.
  6. Make bid adjustments. Once your display ads run long enough for you to collect some data on their efficacy, use bid adjustments to boost spending on top-performing ads and cut your losses from those not helping you reach your online marketing goals.
  7. Review referral traffic. Google Analytics can tell you where your website traffic is coming from. Looking at referral data reveals which sites, or types of sites, are the best places for your business to find leads, letting you concentrate your display ads in these places.

Google Display Ads FAQ

Can I use Google Analytics to analyze the performance of my display ads?

Yes, you can monitor your display ads’ performance with Google Analytics.

How do I optimize my Google display ad campaign?

Optimize your Google display ads campaign by testing adjustments based on performance.

How much does it cost to run a Google display ad campaign?

Google display ads cost an average of 63¢ per click.

Are Google Display Ads only for big businesses?

No, businesses of any size can benefit from a Google display ads campaign, especially when using efficient audience targeting.