3 Advanced Tips To Bolster AdWords Display Campaign Performance

January 7, 2014

Are you running Google AdWords Display campaigns?  Is your ROI suffering as a result?  Are you about to give up on what seems like a lost cause and waste of precious advertising dollars?

If you answered “yes” to each of these questions then your AdWords campaigns probably aren’t looking so hot at the moment, but don’t give up just yet.  Test the advanced tips outlined below to get your display campaigns back on track and running smoothly in no time.

Whether you’re looking to generate conversions or build brand awareness, display campaigns can be an incredibly effective advertising outlet when everything is set up correctly.  You obviously knew this or you wouldn’t have jumped in to the world of display advertising head first.  So resist the temptation to quit and test some new display options now.

Fine-Tune AdWords Display Targeting

Don’t blindly choose your targets. Before your make your selections, consider (1) your product or service and (2) your audience. Display campaigns, just like Search campaigns, make it possible to build high quality, finely tuned campaigns and ad groups. Doing so just requires a little more forethought.

I always take a long, hard look at the product or service I’m promoting, then brainstorm a list of keywords related to that product. I’ll then use both the Google AdWords Keyword Planner and the Google AdWords Display Planner to generate an initial list of user interests, topics, placements, and contextual keywords.

When I build out my campaign I almost always combine AT LEAST two targeting options within a single ad group. I typically combine keyword contextual targeting with one of the other remaining targeting options. This ensures that my ads are always served in context with the article that a user is viewing. See examples below:

Keyword + Placement

– Ensures that display ads are served on a website of my choosing in context with relevant site content

Keyword + Topic

– Similar to the first example, this method ensures that display ads are served on websites that match the topic target alongside relevant site content

Keyword + Interest

– Ensures that display ads are served to users whose interests match that of my product or service alongside relevant website content.

These are just a few examples. It’s not out of the question to say that I might run all three simultaneously for the same product within the same campaign. You can always include additional targets on top of these to fine tune your audience even further (maybe age or gender?).

There are literally dozens of targeting combinations you can choose to utilize. The takeaway here is NOT to simply target using a single method. Think harder than that. Utilize the power of the ad platform and combine your targeting to find really specific audiences.

Test Viewable CPM Bidding Option

Google quietly unveiled an advanced viewable CPM bidding option and Active View metrics that gives insight into performance when an ad is seen.  I highly recommend testing this option with your campaigns.  The benefit here is that you are only charged for the ad impressions that users actually saw.

How does viewable CPM work?  If your ad is at least 50% visible on the user’s screen for at least one second you are charged.

Let’s take a look at a test that I started only a few weeks ago.  You can see how performance varies between “regular” metrics and Active View metrics.  Knowing how an ad performs when it is actually seen will provide a greater opportunity to optimize in the future.

Google AdWords Viewable CPM

Viewable CPM comes as a HUGE improvement to the previously flawed CPM bidding method.  Before viewable CPM, you were charged any time your ad was loaded on a web page, whether or not it was above or below the fold – whether or not a user actually set eyes upon the ad.  Again, I suggest testing this bidding option in your display campaigns as soon as possible.  Knowing that users are actually seeing your ads should come as a sigh of relief for advertisers everywhere.

Use Reach & Frequency Report to Determine Your Cap

UPDATE: Reach and frequency reports are no longer available in the dimensions tab. Add these as columns in your standard campaign reporting view.

Ensure that you are setting a frequency cap in your display campaigns. Not doing this can cause significant damage to not only your display campaigns but to your brand image as well. Nothing is more annoying for internet users than advertisers who relentlessly bombard them with ads (as much as I personally love ads, this is true).

Let’s take a look at a reach and frequency report from one of my display campaigns.  This report can be found on the Dimensions tab.  The goal here is to maximize the number of clicks received by ensuring that users only see your ads enough times to entice a click.  I would take a large sample and aggregate the data to come up with an average number of impressions (frequency) per user to accomplish this feat.

Google AdWords Reach & Frequency Report

I would cap my impressions at four in this example in order to maximize the total number of clicks received and unique users who see my ads.  Make sense?  Good!

Hopefully, once put to use, these three advanced tips will help sway your opinion surrounding the stigma that accompanies display advertising.  Display campaigns can be incredibly effective if you incorporate them in a well thought out fashion.  Resist the temptation to simply roll out a display campaign without fully investigating the options available to you first.

Is there a campaign setting or strategy that you find particularly useful with your display campaigns?  Share it with the LunaMetrics community below.