How Google Display Network (GDN) can scale your lead gen campaign

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Most online advertisers start with Google Search and rightly so. You are reaching out to potential clients who have expressed a direct need for your product and are likely to become consumers soon. Google Display Network is often regarded as an expensive way to generate leads and most advertisers either get to it later or use it primarily for branding, not lead generation.

However, there are certain situations where Google Display Network is more efficient than Google Search:

1. If your product is a niche product and not applicable to a large audience

Using Google’s keyword planner you can get an idea of how many people are looking for your search terms in your target geography. If this number is in a few thousand, search will never be able to scale for you.

Google display network - Use keyword planner to estimate search volume

2. If the competition is very high

Google’s bidding algorithm prices impressions, clicks and leads based on the competition. If you are in a space where competition is high, it’s likely that your cost per click or acquisition is similarly very high. Moreover, if your product is not very differentiated, your lead is likely to evaluate several search results leading to lower closure rates and a high overall cost per lead through search.

3. Your product is an impulse buy product

Suppose your product is something people don’t really have a strong need for but when people see it, they would like to buy it, you can reach a much wider potential audience through display than search.

4. Your product is targeted to a large number of people of a specific demographic

Take for example a gym subscription or a Men’s magazine subscription. The search volume for either of these is unlikely to be very large but these apply to a large but specific demographic. A high-end gym may want to target mid-high income level consumers in the age group of 25-40 while a men’s magazine would probably want to target men in the age group of 35-60 who are interested in reading.

Google display network gives you a very wide reach and hence is a much more scalable lead generation mechanism than search in the above instances and many others. However, when you do lead gen campaigns on Google display network, your targeting has to be airtight otherwise your cost per lead can become very high.

Targeting options in the Google Display Network

So let’s first understand some of  the key targeting options available on Google Display Network:

  1. Demographic profile – Age and gender targeting options are available on the Google display network but are Google maps a minority of all users to these tags because they don’t really have this much information. Hence, it’s better to use if it makes sense for your product or service but don’t expect it to be very accurate.
  2. Locations – Google Display lets you target based on country, city, region, or postal code so you can target people who are likely to buy your product. For example, a gym can show ads based on pin code so they don’t waste money showing their ads to someone living too far away.
  3. Device types – You can target people based on the handset they are using or the operating system they are using. So if you are selling an iPhone accessory, target iPhone users. If you are marketing an Android game, target Android users. You can also decide to show people ads on either mobile, computers, tablets or a combination of these.
  4. Interests and behavior– You can target people based on their interests online. So if you have a financial product, you can target people who are interested in finance. Google compiles this data based on a user’s activity online so when a particular user consumes a lot of financial content, he will be targeted with your ad in this example. You can also target people who have certain behaviors like purchasing online.
  5. Publishers and categories of sites – Suppose you know your audience visits certain websites. For example, if you are marketing a cricket game, you can target people who visit certain cricket sites or all cricket related sites.
  6. Publisher affinity – Suppose you want to target people who visit moneycontrol but are not getting enough inventory on moneycontrol for your bids or the actual inventory available on moneycontrol is too less. You can now target people who visit moneycontrol on other cheaper websites as well.
  7. Text targeting – Target people based on keywords on that page. So if you want to sell an inventory management software for example, you can target pages where the words “inventory management software” show up.
  8. Custom lists, remarketing – You can also target people based on your email list or people who have visited particular sections of your website.

There are a lot of other targeting options like dayparting available on Google Display Network too. A good targeting strategy involves 3 steps:

1. Know your user intimately

You may have multiple demographic groupings your users will fall in. The best practice is to use different campaigns for each grouping along with a separate set of targeting options, separate ads and a separate landing page.

2. Layer targeting options

Layer targeting options on top of each other till you have neither a broad reach nor a very narrow reach. The more well defined your targeting options are, the lower your cost per lead is likely to be.

3. Constantly refine targeting based on feedback

It is nearly impossible to get the targeting right as soon as you create a new campaign. Most likely you will notice a mix of high and low quality leads as well as high and low-cost leads. Your lead management solution should be able to track each lead to the campaign, landing page, ad group and ad for you to be able to identify which targeting criteria are working and which are not.

Finally, we come to some Do’s and Don’t to maximize the ROI from your display campaigns:

  1. Bidding strategy – Use “Cost per Acquisition” bidding strategy because Google then looks for people who are likely to convert based on past conversions.
  2. Don’t target mobile apps – Unless your offering is a mobile app or game, you are likely to get very cheap impressions from mobile apps but very high cost per lead numbers.
  3. Start with narrow targeting – Your Google algorithm learns based on the leads that are generated. If you start with a narrow targeting, you’ll get highly relevant leads. Then you expand your targeting options to target more people and now your Google algorithm is looking for similar people in a much larger set. If however, you start with a wider targeting, you will get less relevant people and when you narrow down your targeting based on a feedback of low quality, your algorithm is still looking for similar less relevant people but only in a smaller segment now.
  4. Make sure your campaigns aren’t competing – If multiple campaigns target the same set of consumers, you have a situation where a user sees more of your ads in a day than you want him to. He may click on the ad of one campaign and not in the other campaign. The second campaign’s algorithm now thinks that this user is not relevant making it slightly more inaccurate in the future.

Training the Google display network algorithm is tricky because there are several ways to go wrong and once you do, you have to start a campaign from scratch and you lose valuable time in optimizing the campaigns. On the flip side, a well-trained Google display campaign can generate high quality leads for months at scale without much involvement and should be a serious consideration for any business looking at lead gen campaigns online.

Do you need assistance with your Google Display Network campaigns? Get in touch with us today.

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About Author

Anuraj is an IIM Lucknow alumni with over 10 years of experience in marketing and strategy. He has set up multiple business units for startups and scaled them to sales of over $15 million a year. He is also a marketing expert who has led large marketing teams and handled budgets of over $3 million a year.

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