The Google Display Network (GDN) is the largest ad network in the world. Users spend 95% of their time on content websites. So, if there was ever any doubt about needing a display campaign – the answer is: “you absolutely do!”

Choosing keywords for a Display Network campaign is different from choosing keywords for a search campaign. Yes, they’re both paid search, but the keywords for the Display Network will not trigger your ads like they will on the Search Network. On the Display Network the keywords are there to help Google direct your ads to the most appropriate websites, or placements, as Google likes to refer to them.

Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when choosing keywords for your Display Network campaigns:


1. The keywords in the Display Network are used to place your ads next to matching content. However, you don’t necessarily need keywords because ad groups on the Display Network work with either keywords and other targeting methods (such as placements, interests or topics) or just one of the display targeting methods.


2. The Display Network does not calculate keyword quality scores the same as they do on the Search Network. So, go head and add any keywords you think are relevant (for example, if you think Barak Obama is relevant keyword to your target audience, go for it).  Create a set of 5- 20 keywords that relate closely to each another, to the ad groups they are in, and to the ads themselves.  Choose keywords that relate to the websites your customers might frequent, but don’t be afraid to experiment.


3. An entire website may be considered a placement, or just a subset of that site. The more precise the keywords are in an ad group, the better the placement you get on the Display Network.  If you create an ad group with managed placements and you have specific keywords, the ad will appear only next to relevant content on that placement.


4. Use the Contextual Targeting Tool (a tool built specifically for the Google Display Network) or the Keyword Tool (that now has all the features of the Contextual Targeting Tool) to get ad group and keyword ideas or to see potential placements.


5. Placement reports are an extremely important resource if you’re running a campaign on the Display Network.  Despite setting up campaigns with specific keyword targeting or even audience targeting, you still might show your ads on irrelevant sites or sites with the wrong types of prospects. When you do identify a site that’s been under-performing, you can quickly correct the situation by either reducing the bid or excluding that placement permanently. Don’t let it run up your cost.


6. Keyword exclusions are only for Display Network campaigns and are similar to negative keywords on the Search Network. If you add a keyword onto your exclusion list your ad won’t show when people search for those terms or visit sites that contain those terms. You can choose to exclude keywords at the ad group or campaign level. Excluded keywords on the Display Network aren’t as precise as the negative keywords are on the Search Network.  They also don’t have match types since they’re all “Broad.” Additionally, even though you’ve added those keywords to a list, you still need to review the website you are being exposed on and manage your placements carefully.


7. Follow a broad to narrow strategy – add generic or general keywords to your campaign, so your ad will be eligible to appear on a large number of websites. Once it does, you can start managing placements and pick the ones that are working best for you. Add specific keywords – that directly relate to your product or service.