Except that Google Display Network Costs will spiral out of control if you aren’t careful, there’s nothing in the world that matches the might of The Google Display network.
Nothing remotely comes close in terms of real estate for ads (Facebook operates and works on different principles, so it’s not to be compared here).
As far as simple inventory for display ads go, Google Display Network is unsurpassed. Because of that, it’s a beast.
It’s a beast that you have to learn to tame.
You have to tame it, nourish it, nurture it, and help yourself make your campaigns more profitable. Here’s how you do it:
Do your setup right
If you just run with the default settings Google recommends, you’ll end up paying Google more than you’d ever make.
A few basic rules will help you setup your campaigns the right way:
— Stick to one country per campaign. You can always duplicate campaigns and target another country when you have to.
— Use two ads of the same size (say, 300 x 250 or 728 x 90) to begin with.
— Choose “Rotate evenly for 90 days” option to test your ads instead of “Show ads most likely to convert”
— Don’t go all in with all options available to you on GDN. That is, don’t pick “keywords”, “topics”, and “placements” all at once.
— Start with “keywords” for instance (and Google automatically starts placing ads on a few relevant websites (also called automatic placements). Then, tweak the keywords, manage your placements, and manage your bids.
— Don’t choose CPC bids for Display unless you know what you are doing. I found better results (and a much lower CPC) with Google’s manual CPM bidding.
— If you aren’t sure, just pick automated bidding types such as VCPM (Viewable CPM)
Start with low budgets, to Start Lowering Google Display Network Costs
Always start with a small budget in the beginning because there’s a lot of testing that you’d need to do initially.
If you don’t know what you are doing on Google Display Network, then you’d also need some time to figure out how your settings, bid strategies, ads, and everything else in your workflow “works”.
Because this is The Google Display Network, you’d be mostly bidding on CPM (cost per thousand Impressions).
Always bid high
Most newbie affiliates obviously want to make their budgets stretch. Usually, this means that they start off campaigns with small budgets (recommended) and also very low bids (not recommended).
When you bid low, you are basically forcing Google to start showing your ads in “less than premium” ad spots on the publisher network.
It’s the premium ad slots on all those websites that gets the best of the related traffic you are targeting.
Do yourself a favor; don’t skimp on bids.
Opt out of Ad Placements You Don’t Need
By default, Google would pick almost any kind of a website or web property (like mobile web or app) that is relevant to the criteria you’d set while setting up your campaigns.
Google will also care less whether or not your ads show up on the right kind of website or the right placement on a website.
To lower your costs, choose “campaign exclusions” option to determine how exactly and where your ads should show.
A few popular choices (given most niches) are opting out of placing ads below the fold. Also, opting out of Bizarre, Military, Crime, and Adult (unless you are in the adult niche which means you shouldn’t be using GDN in the first place)
If you only had to pick one single point to bring down your costs, use retargeting.
Launch a separate retargeting campaign by choosing to target audiences you’d create by building lists
[Shared Library > Audiences > Create an audience]
More often than not, you’ll be paying drastically less per click when compared to your regular campaigns.
Focus on Quality
In time, you’ll be outbid on the network. You’ll start to see your conversions going down even though the traffic is coming through. Yet, there’s more to it than just the traffic source and the traffic.
Insist on A/B testing everything — ads, landing pages, and even your workflows (if you use those automated emails, resultant thank you pages, etc.).
Do you use the Google Display Network? How are your campaigns going?