Back to blog

Maximise the Performance of Your Google Display Campaigns

8 August 2022 | David Bannerman – Paid Media Manager at Tag Digital

If you have been browsing the internet, it is likely you have been served an image ad somewhere on the page of the website you were on. This was an ad on Google’s Display Network.

The Google Display Network is made up of over 200 million websites and apps like YouTube and Gmail, reaching 90% of global internet users. When running Google Display campaigns, your ads will show across these websites to users that fall within your audience targeting.

We can reach high-intent users at scale, making this campaign type ideal for awareness-based strategies. Another benefit of the Google Display Network is that the auctions are, on average, less competitive than Google Search network auctions, so we can expect to pay less per click.

There are two main types of ads we can run on the Google Display Network – Responsive Display Ads (RDA) and standard banner ads.

A common client question that the Tag Digital team gets asked is ‘should we run image ads (also known as standard banner ads) or Responsive Display Ads?’. 

This blog shares the benefits of Standard Banner Ads and Responsive Display Ads. Focusing on best practices to maximise the performance of your Google Display campaigns.

What are Responsive Display Ads?

Google Display ads can have up to 5 headlines, 5 descriptions and 15 images, a video, and a business name. Images can be two different aspect ratios, 1200 x 628px (landscape creatives) and 600 x 600 px (square creatives). The maximum number of images that can be displayed is 15, a requirement is at least 2 images and one landscape. Also, a square logo is necessary in 600 x 600 px.

Google will take all the elements submitted and create multiple ad combinations by testing different headlines with different descriptions. The machine learning then optimises to show the combination that performs the best more often.

Responsive Display Ad Examples:

Google’s machine learning will optimise the ads to show the combinations that have performed best. The performance of ads cannot be measured based on metrics such as Click Through Rate (CTR). Instead, you can see the best-performing image and text-based combinations.

The responsive nature of RDAs only requires all images in 2 sizes – 1200x628px and 1080x1080px. However, multiple sizes of standard banner ads need to be created based on their placement.

Responsive Display Ads Best Practices:

  • Avoid text-heavy imagery – descriptions and headlines run alongside the creative which eliminates the need for copy to be on the creative.
  • The images used should be easy to digest when both large and small. Adding text to images runs the risk of the copy being too small to read when the image adjusts to fit the smaller ad space.
  • Using event or conference images often performs strongly. These types of images help provide more context to the event and they are more likely to capture their attention.
  • Test different combinations of ads to optimise the best-performing ones. It is important to provide all 5 descriptions and headlines to give Google’s machine learning more variety to test.

This will help achieve the maximum performance from your ads. It is worth noting that the headlines and descriptions have character limits, which must be adhered to. The Tag Digital team would recommend utilising as many of the available characters as possible.

When creating descriptions, try to avoid using branded names e.g Apple, Netflix, etc, as these can be disapproved by Google due to trademarks. 

Graphic explaining three benefits of responsive display ads - more reach, optimised ads and quick set up.

What are Standard Banner Ads?

Standard banner ads are uploaded banners that appear in the Google Display Network but only in ad space which is the size of the banners that you upload. When browsing websites, these are most likely the banners you have seen. These banners can be uploaded as images and html5 files.

There are 20 standard banner sizes that can be uploaded however, the 9 most common sizes are:

Graphic illustrating the 9 most common size of standard banner ads.

Benefits of Standard Banner Ads:

  • More control – They don’t appear alongside any copy and descriptions and no combinations are tested by Google. This means that what is in the image is what the user sees when they are served the ad. You can control the branding of the banner as well as how the image shows in each ad size.
  • More visually appealing – The creative output is completely controlled by a designer. This makes the ads more impressive on screen, and the copy and image are on brand.
  • GIFs are available – RDA allows the use of videos. However, the option to add images in GIF format is not available. This option is available to standard banner ads which is a unique way of grabbing the user’s attention.
  • Animated ads allow for the ad to tell a story with copy appearing as part of a GIF.

Example GIF (Click here to see the GIF)

GIF example from campaign ran by Tag Digital for LEAP in Saudi Arabia.
  • More visibility on performance – We have the ability to report on what is performing well and what isn’t using metrics like Click Through Rate (CTR), Cost Per Click (CPC), Conversions, etc. This isn’t available with Responsive Display where we can only report on top-performing combinations. 

Standard Banner Ads Best Practices:

  • Include your logo and branding to increase your brand awareness. If you decide to use GIFs, make sure the logo is applied to every frame to keep branding consistent.
  • Test variations of creative – We don’t have the luxury of applying different variations of copy to run alongside creative as combinations.
  • Tag Digital would recommend that multiple images are tested with different copy applied as well as different image types. This allows more visibility on what is working (image, copy, or ad size).
  • Include a call-to-action (CTA) in all images. This gives the user clear instructions on what you want them to do when they see the ad.

Strong Performing Banner Examples:

Graphic showing example high performing banner ads from campaigns by Tag Digital.

Need help with creatives? Take a look at Tag Digital Creative Service here.

‘Should We Use RDA Or Standard Banner Ads?’

When it comes to deciding what type of google Display ad to use, we would recommend that you consider the context. 

If your objective is to get as much reach as possible with your ads, RDA is the option that would suit your campaigns best. 

However, if you are focused on how the end user views your ads or if you want more insight into what call to action or copy is performing better, you should opt for standard banner ads.

A display campaign on Google can contain both RDA and standard banner ads. Using both allows you to get both the reach with machine learning optimised ads as well as targeting users with more visually appealing ads. 

We understand adding standard banner ads in the sizes required would require a lot of time from your design team. If this is an issue, Tag Digital offers a creative service that can create all of your display assets for you which will follow best practices that we have seen from previous campaigns.

If you are interested in learning more about our Creative Service, the Tag Digital team is here to guide you through the best options based on your objectives – get in touch today or get started by requesting a proposal here.