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Search Ads vs Display Ads: Unravelling the Differences and Knowing When to Use Them

In the vast landscape of online advertising, businesses are often faced with the decision of choosing between search ads and display ads. Both are powerful tools, but understanding their differences and knowing when to use each can significantly impact the success of your digital marketing strategy. In this blog, we will delve into the distinctions between search ads and display ads and provide insights into when it's most effective to deploy each.


Search ads, often associated with search engine marketing (SEM), are the text-based advertisements that appear on search engine results pages (SERPs). These ads are triggered by specific keywords and are displayed when users search for relevant terms. Here are some key characteristics of search ads:


Intent-Driven: Search ads target users with high intent as they actively search for information, products, or services related to specific keywords.

Text-Based: Search ads typically consist of a headline, a couple of lines of ad copy, and a link. The focus is on concise and compelling messaging.

Cost-Per-Click (CPC): Advertisers pay when users click on the ad, making it a performance-based model. This aligns with the idea that the user is actively seeking information.

Keyword Targeting: Search ads are highly targeted based on specific keywords, allowing advertisers to reach users who are directly interested in what they offer.


When to Use Search Ads:

High Intent Queries: Utilise search ads when targeting users who are actively searching for your product or service.

Lead Generation: If your goal is to capture leads or drive immediate conversions, search ads are a great choice.

Product or Service-Specific Campaigns: When promoting a specific product or service, search ads help you appear at the top of relevant search results.


Display ads, on the other hand, are graphical or multimedia advertisements that appear on websites within the Google Display Network (GDN) or other advertising networks. Unlike search ads, display ads are not triggered by specific searches. Here are some key characteristics of display ads:


Visual Appeal: Display ads leverage images, videos, or interactive elements to capture the audience's attention and convey a brand message.

Broader Reach: Display ads are shown to users while they browse websites, expanding the reach beyond those actively searching for a particular product or service.

Cost-Per-Thousand Impressions (CPM): Advertisers pay per thousand impressions, regardless of whether users click on the ad. This model is more focused on brand visibility and awareness.

Audience Targeting: Display ads allow for a variety of targeting options, including demographic, interest-based, and contextual targeting.


When to Use Display Ads:

Brand Awareness: Display ads are effective for building brand awareness and visibility among a broader audience.

Visual Storytelling: If your marketing strategy involves visually showcasing your product or telling a compelling story, display ads are the way to go.

Retargeting Campaigns: Use display ads to retarget users who have visited your website but did not make a purchase, reminding them of your products or services.


In the dynamic landscape of digital advertising, it's crucial to recognise that both ad formats—search ads and display ads—come with their respective advantages and disadvantages. Strategic utilisation in the appropriate scenarios can yield significant benefits for your marketing campaigns.


Once you've made the decision on the ad format and crafted a well-thought-out campaign plan, the optimisation journey doesn't end there. It is equally imperative to ensure that your landing page is optimised to align with your campaign goals, whether they be centred around raising awareness or driving conversions. This optimisation step is pivotal in achieving maximum results from your advertising efforts.


Are you seeking assistance in constructing effective campaigns and optimising your landing page?

Look no further. Our team of experts is ready to collaborate with you to propel your business to new heights through the power of Google Ads.

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