5 things you should know about the Google Display Network, direct from Google

Google released responsive ads in July and announced cross-device remarketing, display location extensions and store visits in late September. Columnist and Googler Matt Lawson answers the top questions we’ve received on these features.

google display network

As we move into the last few weeks of 2016, I’ve been feeling reflective. (Blame it on the eggnog.) Looking back, this was a big year for the Google Display Network. In July, the Google Display Network launched responsive ads. And in late September, we announced cross-device remarketing, display store visits and display location extensions.

We’ve gotten a lot of questions on these new features. In favor of starting 2017 off on the right foot, I decided to dedicate a full Q&A to answer the top questions we’ve heard from you.

Here we go…

1. How do I set up cross-device remarketing? How will this impact my conversion rates and performance?

Good news — nothing is needed on your end! As long as you’re running display remarketing across all devices (including mobile), you’ll be opted in to cross-device remarketing. And the more you invest across devices, the more you’ll get out of cross-device remarketing and measurement.

What’s different? Before cross-device remarketing, someone who visited your mobile site and then your desktop site belonged to two separate audience lists. Now, with cross-device remarketing, she’s considered the same user and belongs to one audience list. That means you can show the same ads to the same user as they move across devices, which should lead to a better user experience.

Should you expect to see better remarketing conversion volume and ROI? Most likely, yes. Since you can re-engage people with ads as they move across devices, you should have better opportunities to drive more conversions and see better conversion rates. Keep in mind that this feature is rolling out over time, so there won’t be a specific moment where you’ll notice the performance shift.

2. Do I need to change my GDN remarketing strategy to account for cross-device targeting?

Cross-device remarketing doesn’t fundamentally change the way you manage your account. It just gives you a cleaner, more accurate picture of your customer across the web. You can also say goodbye to things like needing to set device-specific frequency caps.

Now, we get lots of questions from you on how to optimize cross-device remarketing. There are two things I’d focus on. First, make sure you include mobile and app inventory in your remarketing campaigns. You’re engaging people familiar with your brand; make sure you’re connecting with them regardless of whether they’re on a site, app, tablet or phone.

Second, you’ll want to automate your bidding based on your business goals. Automated bidding factors in millions of auction-time signals including device, remarketing list, language and more to determine the best bid for every auction and maximize your results.

If you want to stick with manual bidding, you can set desktop, mobile and tablet bid modifiers to account for cross-device behavior.

3. How do I know if my responsive ads perform better than my standard display ads?

In my eyes, responsive ads are like technological wizardry. You manage one ad format and — poof — you output thousands of ad variations on the internet. We’re big fans of responsive ads and recommend using them whenever possible to drive scale and performance.

Now, I know a lot of advertisers are cautious and like to A/B test before they dive in. Here’s one way to test your responsive ads against your standard display ads: Choose your top-performing ad group and create both ad formats. Make sure all elements remain the same between the two ad formats — like headlines, descriptions and images — and run both ads for a few days without making any changes.

A lot of advertisers will look at metrics like click-through rates (CTR) or conversion rates (CVR) to determine the best-performing ad. That might not tell the whole story.

If your ad rotation settings are set to “optimize for clicks or conversions,” the % Served metric will tell you which ads are being shown more often due to better performance. It’s very likely that responsive ads will show up more often in the auction, since they can adapt to 2M+ ad slots on the GDN.

4. Can I limit where my display location extension ads show to people near my store?

Display location extension ads default to a radius of 15 miles around your stores, so there’s nothing needed on your end.

We recommend starting off with the default 15 miles. This lets the display location extension ads learn over time and adjust your ads to show more often in areas where people are most likely to convert. Anything less than that can impact your reach and performance. That means your ads won’t show as often.


5. I want to better understand whether display store visits are real or estimated. For example, are you extrapolating conversions or using actual conversions from signed-in users?

Display store visits are estimates based on aggregated, anonymized data from a large sample of users who have turned on their Location History. We combine this with a large volume of data and breadth of signals like Google Maps data, WiFi signal strength in stores, GPS location signals and more to understand which stores are getting visits.

From there, we’re able to estimate what percentage of customers visited a store up to 30 days after clicking on a display ad. Store visits are also deduplicated across the Google Display Network and Google Search. Before I get into the nitty-gritty details, you can also check out this store visits post from my colleague on Search Engine Land.

Why should you trust in the data if they’re just estimates? We use a survey panel of over five million users globally to double-check that a person actually visited all of the locations we’ve recorded. That’s huge. Most importantly, that helps us achieve 99 percent accuracy in reported store visits data.

If you’re keen on a smaller radius, you can always use bid-by-location targeting to increase bids around stores. This helps focus your advertising on people closer to your store while still capturing demand from people who may visit your store but are farther away.


If you have questions, keep ‘em coming.

Hope everyone has a lot to be proud of this year. Relax, eat a gingerbread cookie, pour a glass of champagne and share some toasts for the New Year!

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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