Niche Digital Marketing 101
Enrollment Insights Blog

Display Ads – Digital Marketing 101

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This post has been updated to reflect Google’s decision to change Data Studio’s name to Looker Studio in the fall of 2022.

Part of the 101 series, an introduction to various topics for enrollment marketers.

What are Display Ads?

Display ads are paid digital creatives which can be placed throughout a display network on websites and apps. While Google is the largest, there are other display networks, including Microsoft and Amazon with multiple inventories. Many sites have their own accessibility through partnerships like Trade Desk. For the purpose of this blog post, we will focus on the Google Display Network. Placements for these ads include a group of more than 2 million websites and apps, like YouTube or Gmail, viewable on desktop, mobile, and tablets.

How to Set Up Display Ads

Choosing Creatives & Landing Pages

When setting up display ads, it is important to have a clear goal in mind. Two examples of goals could be to drive general awareness to the brand, or to get people to complete a specific action. Once an objective is established, choose the desired creative(s) and landing page(s) which will promote that objective. Goals may change and alternate cyclically throughout the year, so it is important to ensure current messaging plays into current goals.

When choosing a creative, it is important that the ad and destination are aligned with one another. If the goal of a digital campaign is to drive school enrollments, the ad’s messaging should be geared toward applying and the landing page should include application information. If it is not possible to come up with original creatives, Google Ads offers Responsive Display Ads, which can help automate the process and allow Google to do the heavy lifting.

To create a responsive display ad, upload the chosen assets (images, headlines, logos, videos, and descriptions), then Google will automatically generate ads to be shown on the Google Display Network with varying combinations of your inputs. In addition to minimizing the need to design ad creatives in-house and saving time, this option comes with a few other key benefits. The second advantage is that responsive display ads allow for machine learning and optimizations, meaning Google will determine which combination of assets will perform the best in particular slots, eliminating any guesswork. The third major benefit that should be considered is unlocking a broader reach. Google will produce ads in each of it’s possible dimensions, meaning the ads will have an increased number of locations and likelihood of appearing throughout the web.

Targeting the Right People

Now that the creative and landing page are chosen, it is time to determine the appropriate targeting for the display ads. Targeting is done to ensure that ads have the best opportunity for success, by being relevant and meaningful to those they reach. Audience, demographic, and location targeting are some of the many options Google provides which can help narrow down the pool of potential users who can see certain ads. Other digital marketing partners, aside from Google, offer similar features, though they may slightly differ from the following.

Audiences can either be imported from proprietary information (Remarketing) or simply selected from Google’s turnkey solutions which use the data Google collects on its users to determine their interests (Affinity Audiences). Other options provided by Google include Detailed Demographic Audiences, like Parental or Marital Status, and In-Market Audiences, which focuses on what users are actively researching, such as Apparel or Food. Any combination of the above can be used in order to further define the ideal audience.

Demographics can be additionally narrowed down based on the users’ Age, Gender, or Household Income, as Google is aware of. These factors can be manipulated to help Display Ads reach the people within a target market, without hitting uninterested users. For example, colleges often want to target people within the age group of 18 to 24 years, as they are likely to in the college search process.

Location Targeting can also be used to focus on, or exclude, certain geographic regions. Google allows location targeting to be done based on Country, City, Zip Code, or Radius around any combination of the aforementioned and more. For example, a public K-12 school may only be interested in targeting people within their district.

Managing Display Ads

Google offers a host of different tools which can help manage the performance of their display ads based on various key metrics. The most straightforward way to manage these ads would be in the Google Ads User Interface. Google also offers other resources, like Google Analytics and Google Looker Studio. Some of the most common data points used to measure digital ad performance include Impressions, Clicks, CTR, Avg. CPC, Bounce Rate, and Conversions, though there are dozens of others.

Impressions: How often an ad is shown across the Google Network.

Clicks: When someone clicks an ad, Google Ads counts that as a click, even if the person doesn’t reach the landing page.

CTR: The number of clicks that an ad receives divided by the number of impressions (times the ad is shown).

Avg. CPC: The average amount charged for a click on an ad, found by dividing the total cost of clicks by the total number of clicks.

Bounce Rate: The percentage of single-page website visits driven by a Google Ad, meaning users who left the destination site after viewing only the first landing page and taking no further action.

Conversions: Counts the number of a specific action(s) taken when someone interacts with an ad, such as an online purchase or a call to a business from a mobile phone.

Generally speaking, Impressions, Clicks, CTR, and Conversions are metrics that are better when higher, while Avg. CPC and Bounce Rate are two metrics that are better when lower. Though each campaign must be individually evaluated based on its initial goals.

When to Use Display Ads

Display Ads put your desired message in front of users without them having to find you first. This can help drive brand awareness and keep an institution top of mind. It is also important to understand other digital advertising options, like Google Search Ads. See this article to learn more about how they operate.

Display Ads with Niche

Partnering with Niche will allow you to get in front of your highest quality prospects and stay top of mind! Niche Intent-Based Remarketing displays ads across the web to prospects that have signaled interest in your school. We use our proprietary data to target users that are actively engaged in the search process. If you’re interested in learning more you can request a demo of our products.

Why is Niche Remarketing So Powerful?

We are able to ensure your ads are targeted to prospects that have signaled interest in your school, similar schools, or performed relevant searches on our site. We also make sure to serve your ads at the right time. Our ads are targeted to prospects while they’re actively engaged in the school search process, introducing your school during this critical period.

Larissa Cole is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Niche. She creates, monitors, and optimizes digital campaigns on behalf of Niche’s K12 and College clients.