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Types of Ads You Can Run on Google - Which is most effective?

Today, Google Ads is considered one of the most powerful platforms for paid advertising.

That’s because it gives you access to users of the world’s two largest search engines—Google and YouTube. Google also comes with search partners and programmatic display ads. This means you get access to a network of millions of websites to advertise on.

Now, there are different types of Google Ads that you can leverage as an advertiser to drive traffic and conversions for your business. However, the options you have may be seemingly complex, especially if you've never been in touch with digital advertising platforms before.

Today, we'll be focusing on the types of ads (briefly) that you can run on the Google Ad platform.

What are the types of Google Ads?

1. Search Ads

You’ve very likely seen these. These are text ads on Google search results pages that typically appear above the organic results.

In other words, they’re keyword-targeted ads that show up when people search for specific products or services similar to those offered by the advertiser.

The main visual differentiator between these ads and organic results is fairly subtle. Google has gone through several iterations of the differentiator, but by and large, it’s stuck to the simplicity of the letters “Ad” placed somewhere in the listing.

This means that a good number of people are actually likely to miss the fact that these are ads.

This, added to their topmost position in the search results, make them good value for a lot of campaigns. They work particularly well for campaigns focused on generating online sales and sign-ups.

For search ads, the most important factor is keyword research and bucketing. The ability to identify the keywords that drives you the best conversions, and set up a campaign structure that allows you to control your budget spending will give you the best chance to return a better rate on your ad investment.

BEST USED BY: Companies who are looking to generate quick wins, and capture high intent searches to convert quickly.

2. Discovery Ads

Google Discovery Ads, on the other hand, aren’t keyword-targeted.

What’s more, they boast a single static image to go along with their headline and description (Search Ads, by comparison, are purely text ads).

These ads are designed to be visually engaging and personalised. That’s because they appear in Google’s feeds via YouTube, Google Discover, and even Gmail.

These ads are also very mobile-friendly, arguably even mobile-first. They’re similar to responsive ads in the sense that they adapt to the context when they’re shown.

How, you ask? Via machine learning. Google’s AI will actually test different content combinations (text and image) to figure out what version of the ad to show to a user.

Discovery Ads are precisely for reaching people who are open to discovering and engaging with a new brand relevant to their interests. In other words, they’re often aimed at high-intent audiences. That said, these ads aren’t just for new customers. They can also be used for remarketing, to target past customers or website visitors.

In either case, a Discovery Ad can still be a solid way to hit performance goals by driving either conversions or increasing traffic to your site.

BEST USED BY: Companies who have a strong inbound funnel and are great at leveraging content to drive sales and conversions.

3. Video Ads

As you might have guessed, most of these are on YouTube, though they can appear on other websites as well.

The real virtue of video ads is that they offer cheap clicks – a quick way to boost general awareness of your brand and consideration, as well as drive conversions.

Given that YouTube is one of the most-used platforms in the world, it’s easy to see how these ads can help expand your reach. They’re also good for targeting people beyond search results.

BEST USED BY: Companies who offer services and products that have selling points that are best communicated visually. Usually, products that require credibility building or some level of education for their target customers.

4. Display Ads

Display ads are image or video ads that display on websites in the Google Display Network. They’re essentially paid placements, especially as you can often choose which website they should show on based on various parameters.

These ads let you reach relevant audiences with visually engaging content as they browse websites, apps, and Google-owned properties (including YouTube).

Again, these are great ads for generating brand awareness. They can help you stay top-of-mind for audiences, including those who’ve never dealt with your business before. They’re often used with calls to action that try to drive sales and registrations, a bit like Discovery Ads.

Display ads are also useful as a retargeting channel, to maintain your brand within the consideration set of the customer. Do make sure you have a strong and varied set of creatives on hand, if not your customers might get bored of you.

BEST USED BY: Companies who are looking to reach new audiences, build their brand and eventually convert them. Display ads are difficult to get right, but when you have a strong funnel of activities, they can provide a really good return.

Which type of Google Ad is most effective?

As you may have guessed from our descriptions, which Google Ad type is best for you depends on what you want to achieve.

As we explained above, all formats have their strengths and purposes. To choose the best one for your campaigns, you should consider the context of your advertising goals.

Ask yourself as many questions as possible to figure out the answer. For example, what fits best into your marketing funnel? Should you consider a combination of Google Ad types instead of just one? Which ad type goes with each goal?

Here’s a quick summary of the ideal marketing goal for each ad type:

Set up your own Google Ads now

Even after selecting and setting up the right Google Ad type for your campaign, it’s important to keep an eye on performance. Ad campaigns aren’t generally set-and-forget projects.

That’s because it’s entirely possible – even probable – that you’ll have to change something in your ad campaign in order to get better results. In fact, you may even find yourself needing a switch to an entirely different ad type sometimes!

Monitor and measure, process and evaluate to see if you need to adjust. That’s the key to succeeding with Google Ads, no matter which type.

You can learn more about how to do that in our marketing guides. For instance, we have an article on measuring marketing campaign performance that can help you.

But if you want more personalised advice and assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Contact us any day for a chat about your digital marketing needs.


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