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Display Ads Placement Targeting: Why & How it Affects Your Campaign Performance

If you have been running Google Display ads, then by now you should be familiar with the various methods or ways to set up an ad campaign. But have you specifically gone in-depth into placement targeting and how you can use that to your advantage?

Let's first begin with the basics:

Display Ads Placement Targeting

It is nothing but choosing the sites where you would like to show your ads within the Google Display Ad Network. The placement could be within a website, an app, a video, or any other individual ad unit. With placement targeting, the idea is to appear in front of people who may be interacting with your business or similar to yours and have shown intent.

Use of Managed Placements

This is the only type of placement that gives you granular control over your ads. Whereas, when you use topic or interest targeting which can also be automatic placements, you are letting Google take control of all your ad decisions. When it comes to Managed Placements, you select or add websites or videos where your ads will appear and have better control of the message to those audiences who are on those placements which makes it more relevant for your business. That’s why this is the most recommended option and delivers the best results for your Display ad campaigns.

In this blog, we’ll discuss how to select the best placements to optimize your ad performance.

So let’s start from the ad set-up journey:

  • Go to the new campaign set-up journey for Google Display ad
  • Create and name your ad group
  • You need to scroll past the ‘People’ section, you can, later on, add demographics and audiences
  • Move to the ‘Content Targeting’ section, it’s a little hidden, so click on the + button and select ‘Placements’ under it
  • The “Edit Placement” box will open up

    Google Display Ads Placements Edit

    Note: As this is an existing campaign, you can already see some websites selected. But if the campaign is new for you, you won’t be able to see these options in the right-hand column.

  • As you can see there are 5 options available to select from. You can add website URLs, add YouTube channels, or even certain video links, including mobile apps or categories. Google display network is made up of millions of these combinations to show your ads to your target audience.

Placement selection and review

  • Say for example if you are a Financial business and want to target audiences who are interested in financial products such as Business loans or Home loans. Then you can either choose to Browse or type in your business keyword such as ‘business loans’, home loans, etc.
  • When we search this keyword, below are the options you can choose from:

As you can see many websites show the average weekly impressions, you can select any of these where you think your TG will be spending time. So in this case, if you think a website like ‘news.gujratkhabar.in’ is not suitable for your demographics and some locations which are outside India or your target location, then do not select those options.

Same way go ahead and check all the sites which you think are applicable for your business, you can even open certain websites and see what type of ad placements they have and who all are advertising. This is a little bit of manual work but it can save you a lot of headaches in the near future.

Browse for display placements
Select YouTube channels for display ad placements
  • Now that you have selected the websites where you want your ads to appear, you can also select particular YouTube channels and videos which you think are relevant to your business.

Now you see here, for your business keyword these YouTube channels have been listed and you can end up selecting and showing ads on these channels. If you notice closely, we’ve selected the FinanceKid channel as it has a good number of subscribers and this means this channel imparts good knowledge about all things related to finance, so its a possibility many of our TG might already be subscribers to this channel or similar people are visiting these sites.

But we’ve gone ahead and excluded IndieGameBusiness because there’s a possibility that your TG might not be visiting such channels. You can even go ahead and search for a few influencer channels, that you think have credibility and gives some good gyaan on Finance.

  • Similarly, you can add YouTube video links directly to your placement list.
Add YouTube video links for display ad placements

Here you can see we’ve selected a particular video that covers the topic of Business loans and is in Hindi and English language. Though the views might be less for the video compared to others, these are more relevant to me as per the TG. so even though you might get fewer clicks, the number of people visiting your website or taking any sort of action could be higher.

Similarly, if you follow any particular channel and you think one of the video content is very relevant for your brand, then you can plug in your ads in between that.

  • An important thing to remember is that for YouTube videos and channels, you need to have video ads rather than static images to have a larger impact. Or else you will need to skip that part and just stick to websites and apps selections.
  • App placements are something where you can show your ads within the app when the person is using it. You might have come across many ads within the app, be it a specific finance-related app, news, or some gaming app.
App placements for display ads

As you can see, various apps are listed for the ‘business loans’ keyword which might be relevant for your business. So go ahead and select those which you might be frequenting as well, maybe a news app like ET Money, or some finance tech apps which makes your life easier, or any other where your TG might be.

So this is how you select your placements and create an audience that works for your business.

Now let's talk about how to get the most out of your placements by optimizing and excluding placements that don’t work for you. But before we deep-dive further, let me tell you about:

According to the SmartInsights report, for GDN campaigns the CTR is below 0.5% for all industries.

When we talk about search campaigns, the CTR is somewhere between 3-4%.

Then why do businesses still run Display Ads even when the CTR is low? The answer is very simple. GDN does what Search campaigns may not necessarily be able to do. GDN campaigns give you higher visibility, brand recognition, and recall as most of the sites your TG visits end up seeing your business ad and in the longer run, somewhere down the funnel, they might remember at a later date and visit your website through organic or paid search ads.

Hence by focusing on serving ads to consumers in the right place and right time, you’ll have higher chances of increasing engagement and click-through rates.

But a lot of times, we are so sick of seeing banner ads that aren’t relevant to us, that is why our minds have become trained to ignore them easily. With audience targeting alone, users see so many irrelevant display ads that 86% of them say they’ve developed banner blindness, as per a study by InfoLinks.

Let’s show you some examples of good & bad placements so that you understand better:

Example 1 : Here I typed in to search ‘how to control blood pressure’ and when I clicked on this URL to read more about it, I’m seeing ads from SEM Rush & Leanplum. I have a certain intent right now which is to look for specific information related to my health, so in this scenario, I’m bound to ignore these ads and just read up and move on.

These ads might be relevant for me but right now my focus is on finding answers for my query.

Display Ads placements examples

Example 2 : Here I searched for ‘how to control blood sugar’ , as you can see I clicked on a website URL that was suggesting foods that help reduce sugar levels. And I see an ad that talks about Diabetes-Friendly Meals which is more relevant to my search query and might end up taking an action or visiting the website out of curiosity.

Google display ads placement example

It's all about showing up in the right place, at the right time.

From the examples shared above, you get a better understanding of how placements matter and what you need to do to optimize the performance of your display ad campaigns.

To reach maximum efficiency for your Display ad campaigns, it is important to review and exclude audiences and placements which aren’t doing much but just end up draining more money. Access demographic performance and then make changes where necessary as per the analytics data.

Reaching wider audiences

Initially when you have set up a campaign and you do not have much data or info about the type of audiences that work, then it’s ok to go a little broad and include as many people as possible.

But after the initial assessment, when you review the performance of your campaign, you will need to re-assess and exclude those options which simply aren’t converting.

Few Metrics to Consider While Assessing Performance

  • Budget allocation (or what’s eating up the bulk of your ad spend)
  • Page View
  • Page Scroll
  • Bounce Rate
  • Click-through Rates
  • View-through Conversions

You can even go to Content > Placements on the left menu bar on Adwords and see the performance of each placement and how much budget each is eating up. Sort the data by impressions, clicks, and CTR.

Review display ad placements

So wherever you see high spending and poor performance or just high impressions with hardly any clicks, you can re-allocate the budget by excluding those websites from your list and even bidding higher on a certain placement that has been working well for you. You can increase or decrease the bid as per your requirements.
You should also exclude websites that show a foreign domain such as uk.com, au.com or those that end with io, ic, de, etc. because that means the traffic is coming from outside India which is completely irrelevant for your business. You can even go a step ahead and check your language and location settings and make the appropriate changes as per the data you see.

Edit Placements

To edit the budget follow this thread: > Placements> Select the sites where you d like to adjust your bids & click Edit > Change bid adjustments

Edit Google ad placements
  • Editing Audience Segments & Demographics

    In the image shared below, I’ve added audiences who are interested in Advertising & Marketing Services and Business & Industrial Products. As it’s a digital or performance marketing company, adding these audience segments makes sense.

    Edit audience segments for display ads

    Similarly, you can go ahead and choose segments of the audience that resonates with your business. For example, if it’s a Real Estate developer looking to target audiences, then selecting segments that make sense for your business would be helpful.

    Here you can see, I have gone ahead and added a few segments that talk about property buyers and excluded rental property seekers and others that do not relate.

    Edit targeted segments for Google ads

    You need to keep refining your audience as per the performance metrics and start making adjustments or exclusions as per the data¬

  • The same logic applies to Demographic Targeting as well. Here we can see that the age group of 25-55 is our ideal TG, so you can straight away go ahead and exclude 18 24 and 55 above and Unknown from the age group range as per your business product or service.
    Review demographics for display ads
  • Also, 24 34 is doing more for my business, so I can go ahead and adjust bids for this segment and reduce the bid for other segments.
  • Similarly, you can sort by Gender and Household Income and add only the relevant groups to target.
  • For example, if it’s a healthcare company, then focusing on both gender is equally important, but here the lifestyle of a person can matter, and those might be in the higher-income category rather than lower ones. But if you are a Finance tech app, then most likely your TG would be Males, and depending on product offering you can select high or low-level income audiences.

Best ad placements & dimensions

There are two types of formats available for a Display ad campaign standard and responsive. Standard images format include squares, rectangles, skyscrapers, and banners. The standard images include text within the creative and it is an image-only display option.

Whereas, responsive ads showcase both text and images and appear dynamically as per the size and space available and can be visible in various formats. You need to upload images, headlines, logos, videos, and descriptions. You can upload multiple headlines & descriptions. The headlines and descriptions are dynamically pulled to show the best-performing ad combination. This is more or less like the default A/B test setting done by Google.

Example of a responsive ad:

Responsive display ads example

Ad sizes that work best

  • The medium rectangle with 300x250 ad size gets the highest impression share since it can appear on top, right-side, and even between the article. Anything placed near the content is usually considered a gold mine for display ad placements¬
  • Large rectangle with 336x280 ad size is also one of the most popular choices as these are mostly placed beside an article on the upper left-hand side.Œ
  • Leaderboards is another popular placement as it appears on the header section of a page and is most likely to grab attention¬
  • Half-age ads are another popular ad type with a 300x600 dimension. They usually include all the elements of the ad including the image, text, offers, and CTA. Due to its size, the ad easily grabs the users’ attention.

Create Custom Audiences

Next, to optimize your display ad campaigns, you’ll want to create custom audiences. Apart from Affinity and in-market audiences, you can also create custom audiences to maximize performance.

For example, if it s a high-end Credit card scheme, then targeting HNIs or C-suite executives/employees would be an ideal choice, as they are the ones with high-spending capacity and could be interested in a credit card that offers them good benefits.

To add a custom audience list, you can go to Audience Manager>Custom Audiences and click on the + icon to create a new audience. Name your custom audience segment and start adding terms!

Create custom audience

Topic exclusions: Just like you can target pages in the GDN about certain topics, you can also exclude topics to prevent your ads from showing on pages that aren’t relevant. Just like how we use keyword exclusions, it works in a similar way to exclude topics related to those keywords.

Content exclusions: With content exclusions, you can opt-out of showing your ads alongside certain categories of websites, videos, and mobile apps that don’t match your goals. By default, Google has certain exclusions but it’s always good to exclude websites for matured audiences, parked domains, or even live-streaming videos because these places may have your TG but the site’s intent cannot be determined.

Kids & Mobile Gaming App exclusions: Make sure that you opt-out of all kids-related sites and apps which will not work for your business. Even gaming apps where you are less likely to see any activity should be excluded unless you are into the Gaming business or anything related to that.

Location exclusions: Make sure you exclude locations where you don’t have your TG present. If it’s an e-commerce site then a pan-India location works, but if you a located in just one city or neighbourhood then excluding other locations can help you save a lot of cost from receiving irrelevant traffic. Google even gives you the option to bid on certain locations, but it s not a very common practice for most businesses to follow.

Ad scheduling: Based on your business timings, decide if it makes sense to run ads all the time or during select hours. To start, I’d recommend breaking all hours of the day into blocks, so you can evaluate ad performance and determine the best times to run your ads. You can even schedule and bid higher for certain days of the week and time or turn off ads on certain days when you aren’t operating. But you have to constantly evaluate the performance based on data.

Key Takeaways

You can do a lot with Google Display ads if you choose the right Display ad placements and optimize your TG once you understand what’s working best for your business. It’s not something that can give you results immediately, as Display ads are meant to take your audience down the funnel rather than just looking for actual conversions. So it would be helpful if you set your priorities straight and understand that this has long-term gains rather than instant results! This is no instant coffee recipe, you gotta wait to brew that perfect cup and then sit and enjoy the rewards which you get afterward.