Over 87% of individuals perform an online search when they’re trying to find information about a business. Another fact: over 100% of businesses want to be that business the customer finds and chooses.

Since we live in a world of information-based mental maps that guide even the smallest of our decisions, the opportunity to show up in search results and, consequently, get clicks, online sales, phone calls, or in-person visits, has tremendous value.

Why We Need to Understand Google Ads

Introducing Google Ads. Formerly known as Adwords, Google Ads is the most common advertising tool that exists on the internet. Google Ads’ reach extends across over 2 million websites, with the power to access over 90% of internet users, if you do it right. If you’ve ever browsed the internet (which, since you’re reading this article, I think it’s safe to assume you have), there is a 99.999999999% chance you’ve seen Google Ads.

Not only is it interesting to understand the information you’re being fed online, why you’re seeing it, and why it appears where it does (not to mention how well it seems to understand you), but it’s a powerful tool for staying informed in your decisions for online marketing and understanding what Google Ads can offer your business.

For starters, here are some basic terms you’ll need to know. (Don’t worry, we’ll explain all of them- but here are a few big ones for your future reference.)

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Search Engine Marketing & Display Advertising

In brief, there are two basic categories of how Google Ads (or Adwords) appear around the internet: Search Ads & Display Ads (hence the term Search & Display Marketing). Search Engine Ads, which appear around the Google Search Network, are pretty much ads that show up in search results. Display Ads (ads on the Display Network) are pretty much everything else, including visual, non-text-based or responsive ads you see across Google partner websites.

While some types of ads can appear across both networks in both (like Ads with Extensions), others, such as text ads, appear only on Google’s Search Network while other ad types, like Video Ads, can only appear on the Display Network due to the nature of the format.

Search Network

Search Network: Google Search Network targets users typing search queries directly into Google. Ads that are shown on the Search Network appear in Google search results, Google-owned websites, and on other partnering search websites.

Display Network

Display Network: A network of over 2 million websites across the internet. These websites range from The New York Times to Youtube to Reddit.com. Display network ads include image ads, rich media ads, responsive ads, app promotion ads, and video ads.

These are the types of ads you’ll notice when you’re browsing virtually any website. The website these ads appear on has a bit to do with targeting (sometimes)- for example, users of that website might be interested in the kind of services you offer or those users might be part of your target demographic (that’s why it’s important to optimize your ad campaigns and make sure you’re targeting ads correctly to get the most out of your ad spend).

The Different Types of Search & Display Ads

Here are the basics.

Text Ads

Text Ads: Text ads look a lot like other items in search results. Text ads, sometimes called Search Engine Ads, appear in search results alongside organic (non-paid) results. These ads include a headline, URL, and brief descriptive text (sometimes informative and sometimes including a call-to-action)

With keywords, you can set parameters for which queries (from which locations) you want your ads to appear (although it’s definitely a bit more complicated than that) so your search ad appears when a user types in a relevant query (such as “barber shops near me,” if you’re a barber).

Ads with Extensions

Ads with extensionsAds with extension take text ads to the next level. Extensions can also be added to different types of ads across the Display network. Ad extension includes call extensions (a link to your phone number) and location extensions (show a link to your business page, address, and Maps directions to your business based on user location).

Other types of ad extensions include message extensions (links to text you directly), callout extensions (additional text with offers or discounts), sitelink extensions (directing users to specific pages on your website such as product inventory with text such as “Shop Now”), and more.

The extensions that are best for you (if any) depending largely on your goals. Are you trying to drive clicks to your website, incentivize users to shop online, drive more customers to your physical store, or simply raise awareness of your brand? All of these factors determine not only which type of ad extension or Google Ad type is best for you, but also inform your entire campaign strategy altogether.

Call-only Ads

Call-only Ads: Call-only Ads appear in search results as pretty much just your business name and phone number (sometimes brief info and additional links), and a prominent Call Now button that allows customers to call your business directly from the search results page without any additional navigation. Call-only ads (due to that “only” factor), only appear in the Google Search Network and in search results pages.

Shopping Ads

Shopping Ads: Shopping ads appear in the “Shopping” tab of the Google search home page, as well as occasionally on other Search partner websites. These ads are best for e-commerce stores who are ready to target users already in the latter stage of their purchase decision-making process (which means targeting is key).

Shopping Ads work entirely differently from other ad types, with separate parameters for bidding and negative keywords. In fact, Google pulls most information (including product title, product price, product category, and in-stock or out-of-stock status) directly from your website via Google’s Merchant Center. For Shopping Ads, you don’t have to write new descriptions or product information. But it is important to make sure your on-site descriptions, pricing, and photos are high-quality, keyword-rich, and accurate.

Image Ads

Image Ads: Image ads feature, well, an image. These ads appear across various websites on the Display Network.

Rich Media Ads

Rich Media Ads: Rich Media Ads are like image ads, but a step further. Website banner ads with animations, interactive elements of any kind, or simple games are examples of rich media ads. Rich Media Ads involve some kind of “rich media” (or media that’s more than just an image), and therefore can only be displayed across Display Network websites.

Responsive Ads

Responsive Ads: Have you ever been reading news headlines or scrolling through your social media feed when you see something that looks like a news article or a post from your friend but you realize, upon closer examination, that it’s actually an ad? These ads, which are “responsive” to the formatting, design, and layout of their surroundings, take on the text size, style, embedding, and format of other elements on the website. Responsive Ads, therefore, make it more difficult to distinguish ads from organic website content, meaning viewers are less likely to feel disrupted by the ad and a percentage of viewers will likely scarcely notice it’s an ad at all.

Video Ads

Video Ads: These are pretty much summed up by the name. Ads on Youtube videos, called TrueView ads, have their whole entire separate system of measuring engagement, reach, and impressions. We’ll get to that in a later article.

App Promotion Ads

App Promotion Ads: These ads can appear in both Search and Display Networks. App promotion ads feature a deep link that will immediately bring you to the app in the app store (or even a link directly to the app itself) if a user clicks the ad in search results.

An Online Ad Type for Every Goal

The options are truly almost limitless with Google Ads. If you want to get noticed in the online world, advertising is a must- and thankfully, with tools like Google Ads, we have a rich variety of tools to utilize in order to craft the results of our goals.

However, the vast majority of your ad campaign success doesn’t just come from choosing the right ad type: you need to solidify your campaign strategy, refine your targeting, choose the cost model that’s most efficient for you, select your keywords, and consistently monitor, modify, and tweak your strategies for best results.

It’s important to remember that these ad types are more descriptors than reductive categories- there isn’t a paint-by-numbers manual of checkboxes when it comes to creating your perfect ad campaign. Everything, everything is customized. That’s what makes online advertising so powerfully effective, and that’s why it’s important to understand the spectrum of options we have at our disposal. You probably won’t use all of these ad types- in fact, it usually wouldn’t make sense to. But now you know these options are there, and the rich diversity of information dissemination methods that sculpts the landscape of our online world proves we live in a golden age of content, where anyone’s message can be heard and anything, even reaching someone 1,000 miles across the world, can be possible.

Learn more about search engine marketing & how to rank in search results: If you’re interested in getting found online, learn more about Search Engine Marketing. You can also check out the key way to rank in search results without spending a dime on paid ads: Search Engine Optimization. Check out our resources on SEO and sign up for our Newsletter to get our $89 SEO Insights report for free. We’ll analyze your major SEO ranking factors and give you step by step actions items to improve your ranking.

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