Google Ads for Apartments: Search Vs. Display

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One of the important things to understand about how Google's ad platform works is that they actually have multiple ad networks. What "advertising on Google" looks like is going to vary considerably based on which ad network we're talking about.

To begin, there are two primary ad networks: the Search Network and the Display Network. Google divides their vast advertising network into these two sub-categories.

  • The Google Search Network includes Google's own wildly popular search engine as well as other search sites, such as AOL.
  • The Google Display Network includes Google properties other than the search engine (e.g., Gmail, YouTube), as well as thousands of websites that partner with Google to display Google ads on their own websites.

Here is what Search Network ads look like:


This is a generic Ads ad. It shows up on Google search result pages.

Here is what it looks like in context:


Now, here is a Display Network ad:


Here is a display ad in context:


As you can see, display ads are basically classic banner ads that are displayed on sites which agree to let Google display banner ads on them in exchange for a portion of the money Google makes from the ad.

There are benefits and drawbacks to each network, so you need to strategically think through how to use the strengths of each in your Google Ads advertising. To get started, here are a few pointers on best practices for each network.

Google Ads for Apartments on the Search Network

The key to advertising on the Google Search Network is keyword targeting. The Google Search Network selects the ads to run based on the specific keyword phrase that the user searches. Then, it compares that keyword phrase against all of the other advertisers that are bidding for ad placement to find the most relevant ads to run.

Google calculates relevance on the Search Network from a wide range of factors. So, here are the top tips for a relevant, successful campaign on the Search Network:

1) Be specific. Take time to think through the specific keyword phrases you are targeting--especially, think through what people might search at various buying stages.

2) Work to make your ad text and landing page relevant. You can't control user behavior, but you can control these factors--and these factors alone significantly affect your Quality Score.

3) Pay attention to user behavior. Use experiments and Google's A/B testing options to find the best results for your Google Ads for apartments campaigns, and then make adjustments accordingly.

Advertising for Apartments on the Display Network

The main value of advertising on the Display Network is branding. While the Search Network only allows text-based ads, the Google Display Network also allows image ads, rich media (animated/interactive) ads, or even video ads. While these advertisements cannot show up on Google's search engine, they can run on a variety of other websites.

So, the strength of the Display Network comes by reaching prospective residents through different media channels on different websites at different times. Through text, images, rich media, and video, your company can leverage the Google Display Network to build your brand.

That being said, banner ads are so common on the internet that many people have become very good at ignoring them, a phenomenon called "banner blindness." The average internet user sees 1,903 ads per month and 63 ads per day. But that's not a good thing—one report found that only 8% of users account for 85% of all ad clicks and, according to another study, 54% of users don't click banner ads ever.

For these reasons, we do not advise most communities to put a ton of money into ads on Google's Display Network. That said, if you really want to pursue this kind of advertising, here is what we advise doing.

So, here are the top tips to building a successful branding campaign on the Google Display Network:

1) Consider Google Analytics Remarketing. Google Analytics Remarketing allows you to target your Display Network ads to people who have already visited your website, which can help to remind them of you after they leave your website.

2) Evaluate whether brand-building is right for you. Building a brand is a long-term strategy that will pay dividends tomorrow; you simply won't get as many direct leads now from using the Display Network. If you need leads immediately, consider investing more money in the Google Search Network.

3) Build engaging advertisements. If you are going to spend money to run your ads, make sure you spend your money building your ads. Attractive, thoughtful, clear advertisements will make your ad spend go a lot further. Remember: Content is King!

4) Target Display Network websites selectively. Find websites that your target audience are likely to use (e.g., locally based websites) and target those websites specifically through your Managed Placements list. Then, use site and category exclusions from your Automatic Placements list.


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