Google divides its ad network into 3 sub-networks: Search, Display, and YouTube.

Most campaigns will deliver on only one, though they do have a feature that allows you to run your search ads on the Display Network if you have extra budget.

Gmail used to be a kind of hybrid network/placement, but it’s now solely a placement in some of the new automation-driven campaign types. These blur the network lines so we’re ignoring them here. Same with Shopping, it’s a specialized campaign type based on a data feed. The logic below still applies, I’m just ignoring it for simplicity.

To recap, 3 networks for our purposes: Search, Display, and YouTube (a.k.a. video).

To grossly over-generalize:

  • Search matches ads to user intent
  • Video is awareness and brand building (a la TV commercials)
  • Display matches ads (theoretically) to user interest and placement context

To go beyond Google (and other similar networks like Bing), most social advertising is basically display. You deliver it to a user based on their interests and behaviors, or because they visited your site and you want them to come back (or sign up for a newsletter, etc).

The important thing to remember when you run display ads is how they will be received by the user.

They are an interruption.

They are not scrolling their feed to see your ad. They are not reading that article so they can see your ad. They are not checking the weather in order to see your ad (more on this one another time).

They may enjoy it. They may ignore it. They may realize your thing is exactly what they never knew they wanted. But that doesn’t change the fact that:

Your display ads are an interruption of the user’s desired activity.

How do you compensate for this?

Make them attention grabbing but with a pay off of greater value than they invested. And never lie.