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5 Steps to Cracking the Google Display Network Code

November 29, 2012 By Marc Poirier
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Display advertising is often seen as just an exercise in branding — i.e., something done to promote brand identity, with the understanding that there's a high possibility of a negative return on investment in that channel that will influence a higher rate of return via search — that ultimately exchanges a loss in one channel for returns in another.

It's not wrong to treat display as a branding exercise or to use it as a means to increase branded search results. However, by exercising control over five areas of Google Display Network (GDN) optimization, one can also begin to see positive ROI from display on its own.

What's critical to success is consistent monitoring of these items. Using a tool to automate these processes is the ideal situation, but in the absence of such a tool the solution is to roll up your sleeves and dig deep into the aspects of your campaigns that you can control to steadily bring down your cost per acquisition (CPA) while simultaneously increasing the number of daily conversions.

Addressing the following five controllable but sometimes unstable, inconsistent and even capricious aspects of display advertising allows you to gain control over this channel and achieve that often-elusive positive ROI on a display network.  

1. Keyword lists. The keywords of a GDN campaign are, in effect, directing your ads to pages that the GDN algorithm deems to be relevant to the keywords you've selected. Assessing the terms that individuals might search in order to find your products is the right starting place.

Establish keyword lists that can be tested against each other to find the ones that are the most successful. Keeping a close eye on the efficiency of specific lists allows you to reach prospects in the most relevant way and eliminate lists that aren't performing well.

This isn't a strategy that should be used only during the launch phase of an account. Be they general or very specific keyword lists, it's essential to the success of your campaigns that you continue to test and retest to find the most successful lists.

2. Ad placement. Your keyword lists are the starting point for placement. Now it's time to dig into the actual domains and pages where your ads will be displayed and begin eliminating the spots where you're not achieving success.

 

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