Grow your small business with the Google Display Network.

You may have already used Google’s search network to get your business to the top of the search rankings, but that’s not the only way to leverage the Google ecosystem. The Google Display Network (GDN) helps you reach potential customers wherever they are online – not just when they’re searching on Google.

The GDN gives you a broad customer reach and more options for how your ads look. And when we say broad, we mean it. Display campaigns can appear across 35 million websites, apps and Google-owned properties like Gmail, YouTube and Google Maps. That’s a lot of potential eyes on your brand.

Want to put the Google Display Network to work for your business? Here’s what you need to know.

What is the Google Display Network?

Using the Google Display Network means your ads pop up on a vast range of websites, apps and social platforms, reaching an incredible 90% of internet users in one way or another.

With search ads, you can only target people based on what they type into the search bar, based on keywords or key phrases. With the GDN, you can target your advertising by browsing behaviour, demographics, market segments and customer interests. You can even have your ads displayed on specific websites or apps related to your business.

The GDN platform is designed to be simple and user-friendly, with quick set-up tools and time-saving automations. Using AI, the platform picks the ad placements and formats best suited to your campaign goals, helping you get results without too much fiddling around.


  • Speed and simplicity
  • Precision targeting
  • Wider reach

RELATED: What is marketing automation and how can it help you?

Reach new audiences with the GDN.

While search ads generally target people looking for your product or service, display ads focus on customers at an earlier stage in the purchase journey. These users may have searched for a similar product in the past or even clicked through to your website, but they’re not actively shopping for an item when they see your ads. This is why display ads are often used for lead generation and building brand awareness rather than driving conversions.

Prospecting or remarketing?

There are two ways to target customers through the GDN – remarketing and prospecting. The approach you use depends on your campaign goals and your budget.

Prospecting: this approach targets customers with no knowledge of your brand or product. You create audience segments based on browsing behaviour and demographic information – for example, women aged 18-34 in Melbourne, or people who have searched for products in similar categories. If you’re keen to drive awareness and expand your reach beyond your established audience, prospecting can be a practical approach, but reaching brand new customers is almost always more expensive than nudging existing ones.

Remarketing: this strategy, also called retargeting, identifies people who have engaged with your website or brand in some way and feeds them ads based on that engagement. For example, a person who views a specific product on your website without purchasing will see ads for that product as they browse other sites. Setting up remarketing is surprisingly simple as you can use Google’s Analytics platform to create an audience based on specific actions, such as leaving a product in-cart or searching for a particular service.

RELATED: How to segment your audience for maximum impact.

Functionalities and features.

What does the Google Display Network offer? The platform is designed for ease of use, guiding you through campaign building, asset creation, targeting, analytics and optimisation. Even better, built-in automation does a lot of the work for you.

Here’s what the GDN can do:

Build your target audience.

You can’t advertise without an audience. GDN works – naturally – in conjunction with Google Analytics, helping you create target audiences for your brand or individual campaigns. There are a few ways to build an audience segment – affinity, custom and in-market targeting.

  • Affinity targeting lets you create audiences based on one or more affinities or interests, with users placed into groups based on browsing behaviour. These include categories like ‘runners’, ‘readers’ and ‘cooking enthusiasts’. Pick an affinity or affinities based on your product and brand and your display ads will appear to people in those groups. If you choose more than one affinity group, your ads will only appear to people in both groups – for example, runners who are also into baking – so be careful not to over-target and limit your audience.
  • Custom affinities let you hone in on a very specific audience. If you’re selling baby gear, you might want to target new parents. Select some keywords relevant to your audience – ‘baby gear’, ‘baby sleep’, ‘new baby’ – and run your ads on sites that contain those keywords. You can also add specific site URLs that you know your audience will likely visit.
  • In-market targeting goes a step further by targeting people already on the hunt for products or services like yours. These customers are already planning or considering a purchase in your category, making them more likely to buy. This kind of audience is based on actions like searching for a product, adding a product to a cart, watching product videos or reading reviews.

Optimise as you go.

Keywords, visuals, ad features, size and placement of ads – all these seemingly small decisions can have an impact on your campaign’s success. The GDN’s built-in campaign creation tools help you make the right decisions before you go live, with pop-up notifications that let you know if a setting or ad choice is likely to be an issue. For example, you might get a message that you haven’t included enough ads in a set.

Pick the ad type that works for you.

Standard image and responsive are the two types of ad offered through the GDN – each with a range of format options.

  • Standard image ads are, as the name suggests, pretty standard. They come in various formats with static images and text, and look the same no matter where they appear. Because they’re fixed images, this option gives you more control over the appearance of your ads.
  • Responsive ads are a bit different. Instead of creating a single ad, you develop a set of images or videos, short headlines and descriptions – along with your business name, links and other elements. These elements are shuffled and rotated depending on where the ad appears, with the tech automatically choosing the combination that will perform best with the look and feel of the site. So while you don’t get to decide how each ad format looks, you should get the best option for each ad space.

Flexible bidding options.

Bidding is about what you want your ads to achieve. On the Google Display Network, there are three bidding options: cost per click (CPC), cost per action (CPA) and cost per mille (CPM).

  • CPC means you’ll pay for each click on your ad. It’s the simplest bid option, particularly if your goal is to drive traffic to your website.
  • CPA is all about pushing conversions. Pick this option and Google will only show your ads to users who are likely to complete your desired action – for example, signing up to your site or purchasing a product.
  • CPM is the best tool if your goal is brand awareness. With this option, you pay for every 1000 views of your ad (also called impressions). Because this option doesn’t focus on likely conversions, it helps you take your brand to a broader audience.

Looking for specific budgeting tips and want to make sure you are not wasting your money or overspending on the average CPC? Check out this in-depth guide on digital display to make sure you are on the right track.

Our top 5 GDN tips.

How do you make Google Display work for you? If you’re a newbie, keep it simple with these five tips.

1. Create ads for every format.

Be sure to include an ad layout for every possible format. What happens if you don’t? Your ads won’t fit the space properly, or even worse, they may not appear at all.

2. Try remarketing first.

Remarketing is one of the simplest ways to target your display ads, so it’s an excellent place to start. You probably already have data about the customers who have been looking at your site or product – that’s a pre-built audience. With remarketing, you can ‘follow’ these customers around the internet and nudge them toward a purchase.

3. Keep it simple.

You may have plenty of clever ad ideas and punny headlines, but display isn’t the place to use them. Most internet users aren’t spending much time reading ad headlines or trying to figure out what you’re selling, so keep your ad layouts and language simple and readable.

4. Get organised.

On the Display Network, it can take a surprising 12 to 24 hours for new ads or changes to be approved and pop up in front of your customers. It’s essential to plan when creating a campaign – have all your assets ready to go before your launch date so a delay doesn’t set you back.

5. Test, tweak and test again.

Don’t just launch a campaign and leave it to run. Use Google’s analytics tools to test and tweak your content as you go. Even a few days’ worth of clicks and conversions can offer valuable insight into your target market and ad performance. From there, you can make small changes to your targets or ad layouts, and then monitor to see the results.

A bigger audience for less – why the GDN works for SMBs.

In the past, Google display ads were seen as an expensive option, out of reach for smaller businesses. That’s changed, and the display network is now more affordable – cost-per-click is cheaper than search in many cases. As we’ve seen, it also lets you create custom audiences and target with precision, helping you reach the right people and make the most of your ad budget.

But the benefits go beyond cost. For one, you get an infinitely broader reach. You’re no longer just targeting the limited number of people searching for your product or service but anyone looking at the millions of sites in the Google network. And unlike SEO optimisation, which can take a while to deliver tangible results, display ads get out in front of your audience immediately, with clicks, impressions and actions visible through your dashboard.

In terms of ad formats and content options, the GDN is also a cut above search. You can add video and expanded image options to your ads, leveraging your creative assets and hopefully pulling in more views. With a smooth, fool-proof user interface, it’s also reasonably simple to set up and create campaigns – ideal if you’re managing your marketing on your own.

It all adds up to a network that really works for small to medium businesses.

Ready to jump into the Google Display Network? Our Digital Display service can make it happen – click here to find out how.

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