In this digital world, your company’s online presence is vital to drawing in new customers. But we know it’s hard to stay on top of the constant changes in the marketing industry while also keeping up with your own company. So, where should you start when it comes to marketing…specifically online advertising?
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes down to it. Certain ads can raise brand awareness, while others help drive sales and grow your customer base. What makes it confusing is that everywhere you look there is different advice about the types of Google ads needed to make your business successful.
As a Chicago-based marketing business, we’re here to clear up the confusion. Here are the six core campaign types of Google ads:
So, when you see other places saying there are 10+ types of Google ads… does that mean they are wrong? Not necessarily. It just may mean they’re including both campaign types and ad types in their lists.
Campaign types are a way to organize how you want to advertise your products or services; whereas ad types refer to the clickable, user-facing, visual component. For example, Dynamic Search Ads and Call-Only ads would fall under the Search category while Discover Network is part of Display ads.
We know it can be overwhelming, but we’re experts in the field. So, we’re breaking down the six core campaign types of Google ads, as well as touching on a few key ad types! Here’s what type of Google ads you should consider to build a thriving business in 2023.
Pros of Search Ads for Businesses:
Cons of Search Ads
Google’s search ads are text-based ads that run on the Google Search Network and on Google’s Search Partners. When a user searches for something on Google, Google returns results relevant to the query, which may include ads at the top, bottom, or middle of the Search Engine Results Page.
Here is an example of how an ad renders on desktop view:
With Google Search Ads, you can create online ads to reach people the moment when they’re looking for the products and services that you offer. Your ads will target certain keywords related to your business. Users will see your ads when searching for those same keywords; thereby, connecting them to your business.
In addition to targeting keywords relevant to your products or services, these types of ads allow for demographic targeting based on age ranges, gender, location, and even income level. This allows you to refine your audiences to users who would be more likely to engage with your ad.
You can also set up the ad to run on certain days, times, frequencies, and even devices, like mobile only.
Here is an example of how an ad renders on mobile view:
Search ads are a cost-effective method to find potential customers because they are pay-per-click (PPC) based. That means that you only pay when someone actually clicks the advertisement your keyword triggered. Because Google Ads allows you to put a maximum on how much you’re willing to pay for a click and how much you want to pay per day, you have control over how much budget you want to spend per month.
On top of that, you can track how well each campaign is performing because Google provides insight into your data at the campaign, ad group, keyword, ad level, and more. Some of these insights include:
Additionally, by ensuring your website is properly set up with tracking, you can not only measure the amount of conversions to your site such as sales or leads, but also other meaningful website actions such as page views, how long someone watched a video, or even scroll-depth of a page.
The immediacy of search ads can also help you get your advertising started without delay. Your ads will generally start appearing on Google Search soon after launching, so they can help drive results much more quickly than many other types of marketing.
Types of ads that fall under the umbrella of search ads are:
Responsive Search ads (RSAs) are now the default ad type for all Google search ads. Responsive Search Ads use Google’s machine learning to mix and match provided assets in order to provide the user with the most relevant result for their query at that time. Google allows up to 15 headlines and four descriptions to create over 43,000 ad combinations.
With all those permutations available Google does provide advertisers with some guardrails, like pinning a headline to always show first, to ensure your ads render correctly. Not only does tactical pinning prevent embarrassing ad mistakes – like showing two CTAs together (for example, “Request a Quote | Call Us Today” ) – it also ensures you’re showing the right message to the right user at the right time.
Dynamic search ads (DSAs) are automatically generated and take the keyword guesswork out of your hands. This type of ad uses your website’s content to create ad headlines relevant to the user’s query. All you provide is the ad’s description.
If there are no keywords to trigger an ad to show, how does Google know when to show your ad? Instead of keywords, Google targets the pages of your website.
Fortunately, Google puts you in control of which landing page URLs you want to target or exclude. For example, you can target your whole website or just specific URLs. Then, when someone does a search, and that search closely aligns with frequently used keyword phrases on your targeted URL’s page, Google will automatically create an ad using content from that page.
For dynamic search ads to work best, you must have a highly-optimized website or large inventory. While Google draws on many signals to create your ad, the most important one it draws from is the HTML title of your targeted URL.
DSAs can help businesses save time by doing the work for you, but that doesn’t mean you can set them up and let them go. These types of ads require constant check-ins to be sure the ads are targeting relevant areas and are doing it at your price point.
Meanwhile, call-only ads include very limited information, encouraging people to, of course, pick up the phone and call. These ads are very beneficial for companies used to attract customers living near them. The ads can be targeted by location and set up to run during prime times for your business.
For example, if you have a restaurant, you can make sure your call-only ads appear when your restaurant is open and busy like a Friday or Saturday night. Call-only ads are also very popular for service-based industries, often being used by workers such as plumbers or locksmiths.
Overall, search ads can be an efficient, cost-effective way to connect with customers, but there are some things to keep an eye on if using them. People are often used to where these ads run on Google, and therefore, could ignore them. This ad blindness, along with no visuals, could make it harder for your advertisement to stand out.
Pros of Display Ads for Businesses:
Cons of Display Ads
When you are clicking through certain websites, you may be drawn to visually creative advertisements throughout the page. These creatives may show up on the sides, bottom, at top of the page, or within the body of the content. Regardless of their placement on a web page, these image-based advertisements are display ads and can be found on websites that are part of the Google Display Network.
Display ads can not only lead to new customers but can expand the reach of your business with brand building. More than two million websites and apps are part of the Google Display Network, which means your company can be introduced to a very large audience. That will also help make your brand name more recognizable, which can lead to more repeat customers.
These types of ads are also incredibly versatile. A display ad can be anything from an interactive ad, image banner, or video ad (more on that below). That gives you the flexibility to showcase your business in the most visually-appealing and eye-catching way possible.
Display ads aren’t just being shown to everyone who clicks on a page, however. Google Ads gives you the power to target certain audiences through demographic targeting. That will help you maximize your efforts in targeting potential customers.
Additionally, Google makes it simple to focus on users who previously visited your website. For example, let’s say you want to re-engage people who have visited your website but did not make a purchase. You can use display ads to re-target those users and encourage them to return to your site, while also excluding people who already made a purchase.
Unlike search ads, you can choose different ways to spend your ads budget when it comes to display ads:
Display ads in general have a lower click-through rate and conversion-rate compared to other types of ads. Since people know where these ads appear on websites, the ads can fall victim to ad blindness or even ad blockers.
One unique branch of display ads that could circumvent some of those issues are Google discovery ads. These advertisements are mobile-only and appear on specific pages on Youtube, Gmail, and the Google app. They’re meant to blend into your feed and are often shown as a video or image with just a little text.
Unlike display ads, these are shown to people who are actively looking through content related to your company’s product or service. That can lead to a higher conversion rate and better return on your investment.
Pros of Shopping Ads for Businesses:
Cons of Shopping Ads
Businesses that sell physical products should strongly consider shopping ads. These types of Google ads are highly targeted. It’s more likely to show up for potential customers and drive sales because Google uses your product information to match the ad to people who are searching for similar items.
Shopping ads take the customer on a private shopping trip without having to figure out all the logistics. These ads offer better-qualified leads by giving consumers everything they need to know to make a purchase. Shopping ads display an image of the product alongside the price and other product details. Basically, these ads take out the stress of shopping and make it easy for people to order your product at the click of a button.
Shopping ads can also be cost-effective because they follow a pay-per-click model similar to search and display ads. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s always cheap. Competition can drive up the cost-per-click for your company’s product, and if the product being sold is more expensive that can also drive up costs.
Just like the other ad types, they include detailed reporting and analytics, making it easy for you to see which products are the most popular and which ones may need additional improvement.
Keep in mind that shopping ads do not use keyword targeting like search ads. That can make it challenging to be sure your ads are getting shown to your potential customers. It also means you need to be sure your product’s data is up-to-date and optimized. If it’s not it could cause unnecessary clicks and wasted ad spend.
These types of ads can increase your business’s reach online. If you have both shopping and search ads, along with an SEO spot on the Google SERP, your company will be more visible and have a broader presence. The more visible your company is, the easier it will be for people to recognize your brand.
Pros of Video Ads for Businesses:
Cons of Video Ads
Video ads share a lot of similarities with display ads, and are often grouped in the same category. However, these are often viewed on video-based websites such as YouTube, giving businesses an easy way to reach out to a massive audience. These ads can also be used on social media platforms.
The broad reach of video ads alone is a major reason to consider them for businesses. These types of ads specifically give your company a powerful platform to share your story. Compared to text or a static photo, video can immerse future customers in your brand and quickly convey why you do what you do. Video ads can leave a very strong impression and bring your brand to life in a way some other advertisements can’t.
Similar to display ads, video ads also include audience and demographic targeting to make sure that your video is being shown to the types of customers you are hoping to reach. One caution about video ads is to make sure you are specific about where you want or don’t want these ads shown. That way it doesn’t end up alongside controversial or inappropriate videos that do not align with your company’s values.
Of course, video ads are more time intensive to make, and you may not have the time to do it. That’s okay! It’s something to keep in the back of your mind and maybe tackle at a later date when you have the time, resources, and budget to shoot it.
Pros of App Ads
Cons of App Ads
Another place you can promote your business is through app advertisements. These will show up on a number of Google-owned apps including Youtube, Google Search, Google Play, and the Google Display Network. These types of ads are small because they are mobile-only, so there is not a ton of space to work with while promoting your company. However, the ads have an incredibly large reach and can give your business access to a wide audience.
Similar to other ads, you can target your advertisements based on everything from demographics to location and interest. These ads can also be cost-effective because the cost is based on if or when someone clicks your business’s ad or installs your app.
One specific type of app ads are mobile app install ads. Those let the user automatically start downloading your company’s app onto their phone through the advertisement. This can help promote your brand and make your products or services more available, while also giving your company front-seat access to the customer through push notifications.
Of course, if your company doesn’t have a mobile app, these ads will definitely not be beneficial and your time will be better off spent elsewhere.
Pros of Performance Max for Businesses:
Cons of Performance Max Ads
One of the newest types of Google ads are performance max ads, which replaced Google local ads and smart shopping ads in late 2021. These advertisements combine elements of search, display, and video and appear in a variety of locations such as Google Display, Search, Discover, Gmail, Maps, and YouTube.
What makes these ads different is that they use Smart Bidding and automation technologies to optimize performance in real-time and across channels, like YouTube, Search, and Gmail. In simple terms, performance max campaigns automate your bidding, budget optimizations, audience signals, creatives, and more, so you don’t have to.
Because of that, performance max campaigns are very easy to set up. You simply upload all your assets such as ad copy, images, and videos, and audience signals to the Ads platform and Google creates the ads for you.
This can be especially useful for businesses because you do not have to create and iterate the campaign across multiple channels and networks. While automation and smart bidding can be a pro, it can also be a con too because you have less control over your ads and less data that comes with it.
Performance max ads can take away some of the stress of monitoring your campaign financially. Google’s automation technology works to distribute your budget and put money toward the highest-performing ads. Automation can be incredibly useful for businesses because they do not require as much effort to maintain, saving precious time.
However, this should not be the only type of advertising you do. Performance max ads should be used to complement search campaigns. You should diversify your ad strategy to make sure your business has the opportunity to reach customers in a variety of different ways rather than relying solely on one option.
One important note: while automation is beneficial for businesses who don’t have the time or resources to invest in their marketing, we highly encourage you to consider using a marketing expert instead…especially if you have a complicated product/service or if you’re spending a significant amount of your marketing dollars on ad spend.
At the end of the day, automated ads are limited by their technology and aren’t able to think creatively and strategically as an ads expert can. Automation also lacks human connection, which can make it harder for your business to resonate and make emotional connections with potential customers.
The types of Google ads you should choose for your business depend on what you’re hoping to achieve.
If you want to be found when high-quality traffic is searching for your goods and services, use search ads. If you’re looking to drive more product sales, you should consider shopping ads. However, if you want to get your name out there and increase your brand awareness, consider launching display or video ads. For businesses, don’t underestimate the power of performance max ads.
Either way, we know that there is a lot to consider when choosing which ads are best for your business in the long run. It’s not an easy process and there is really no black-and-white answer, but that’s where we come in! We have a team of experts who are here to help you make your decision. If you don’t know what you should do or need more guidance: reach out!