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Search Advertising vs. Display Advertising: Which One Wins?

by Brian Colling - October 15, 2019

Paid Advertising: Search vs. Display

Are you thinking about investing in paid advertising? It’s a good choice. Paid advertising has a great ROI, especially for businesses just starting out, or businesses launching new products and services. Paid advertising is an investment, and it’s important to figure out which paid strategy will work best for you.

When exploring paid advertising options, you may notice two major types of advertising: display and search. Both methods have benefits and drawbacks, and most advertising campaigns will include both to maximize effectiveness.

Depending on your business and where you are on your business journey, you may find yourself leaning more heavily into one strategy than the other. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between paid and display advertising strategies. 

Display Advertising

Display ads are ads shown on other websites, through a third-party advertising network. As an example, Google’s display ads are shown across the Googled advertising networks. Likewise, Bing’s display ads are shown through Bing’s own advertising network.

Google’s Role in Display Advertising

One of the major advantages of display advertising is the amount of information you have about your audience. Google collects large volumes of information about its customers. Many times, Google knows the age, location, hobbies, marital status, household income, and much more about users.

Google uses this information when targeting consumers and shows our ad to users on websites or web pages they visit. If you tell Google to display your ads to 20-25-year-old women who are interested in knitting, they will target women who are interested in knitting. Similarly, you can display ads to 25 to 35-year-old women who are interested in purchasing a car.

You don’t even need to define a target on your own. Google’s new AI features can figure out the customers most likely to make a purchase on your website. Google can also work from a list of existing customers, and match you with customers that have similar demographics. Altogether, this results in Google scoring your leads for you, using their extensive database of customers. 

The pros of display advertising:

• Targets your ads directly to your primary demographics, which includes demographics that are like the customers who have committed to purchasing your products.

• Re-market your ads to people who have already seen your ads, increasing your exposure with these customers and consequently encouraging them to make a purchase.

• Improves your marketing exposure at a low cost. Display advertising is generally a very low cost compared to search advertising, and you only pay if someone actually clicks on your ad.

The cons of display advertising:

• Only compelling marketing campaign ads encourage people to click your ads.

• It can be difficult in telling whether an individual who clicks on your ad is truly interested in your product or if they’re just intrigued by the ad itself.

Display advertising is one of the most effective methods of advertising, especially for launching products, building brand awareness, and bringing in new traffic.

Search Advertising

Search advertising shows up on the search query page. When someone searches “construction companies in Phoenix, AZ,” the search ads show up before the other search results (or on the side, depending on where you positioned your ads). 

These search ads are highly effective because they target an audience already searching for products and services. Most people today look up products and services before they make a purchase, so being on search engine advertising pages provides a direct path to potential customers.

Like display ads, search ads use information about the customer. But unlike display ads, search ads are contextually related to the content surrounding them. Search ads compete with other results of what your potential customer is looking for. 

Search ads are placed either in-line with the other query results, or to the side of the query results, depending on the type of visibility desired. 

The pros of search advertising:

• Leads should be of higher quality because your customers are already looking for a specific item, and more likely to purchase.

• Search ads make it possible to generate web traffic and are often best used when you’ve just launched a website. Through search ads, you can start building up a following.

•Search advertising can be capped at a certain cost, so you never pay more than you want for your ads. Like display ads, you pay based on how many clicks you get, so it’s your job to get a commitment once someone clicks.

The cons of search advertising:

• More people are competing for search advertising, so it’s more expensive. You may be able to get significantly more display ads for your budget than search ads.

• Once you stop paying for the ads, the traffic often diminishes considerably. If you don’t hook your customers immediately, your followers will go away once your ads stop.

Search Advertising or Display Adverting — Which Should You Choose?

Search ads and display ads both leverage the same ultimate audience network. They’re simply different methods of reaching them. Both search and display ads can be tested to figure out which ones operate the best, and both of them usually need a reasonable amount of investment to get traction.

Search ads may be the best option for building traffic to a new website or getting purchases on high-value products. Display ads may be the best option for sustaining your existing website traffic or securing commitments for lower-priced products.

Most successful marketing campaigns use both types of advertising, to varying degrees. Understanding the differences between Search and Display advertising tools helps determine when each type is appropriate.

Find out more about how Colling Media helps companies grow by combining Search Advertising and Display Advertising.

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