The Different Types of Google Ads and When to Use Them

When advertising your products or services on Google Ads there are a wide variety of ad campaigns to choose from and within those campaigns even more ad types to choose from. Understanding the differences between these ads and when to use each one can be crucial for the overall success of your advertising campaigns.

The Different Types of Google Ads

There are five different kinds of ads that can be created within Google Ads. Each of these ads also corresponds to a different Google campaign type.

  • Text ads
  • Display ads
  • Shopping ads
  • Discovery ads
  • Video ads

When to Use the Different Types of Google Ads

Text Ads

Text ads are created within Search Campaigns. Search campaigns can be a crucial part of how you advertise your business. They allow you to specifically target people actively searching for your product or service. Search campaigns are incredibly easy to set up and are even easier to customize to your specific needs. Search campaigns will show your ads across a vast network of search results and will only show to people actively searching for your ads, meaning your ads will only show to people who want to see them!

Text ads are most commonly used to bring in more website visits, but they can also be used to generate phone calls or in store visits and, by proxy, sales. They are your bread and butter of campaigns, often being the easiest to set up and one of the first campaigns you’ll create for your business. Catchy headlines and well written descriptions can draw in prospective clients from all across the internet!

Benefits of using a search campaign and text ads include:

  • Easy set-up and continued maintenance
  • Relevant targeting with manually entered/excluded keywords

Within Search campaigns you can set up either an expanded text ad or a responsive search ad. Both of these are text ads, but they do have their differences. Expanded text ads are a combination of headlines and descriptions that will show in the order that you entered them in, while responsive search ads will ask you to enter many headlines and descriptions and will then use Google analytics and data to create the most effective combinations of headlines and descriptions to show to your prospective customers. It is recommended for best practices to include both expanded text ads and responsive search ads in your Search campaign.

How to Set up an Expanded Text Ad

  1. Enter your landing page URL. This is the page that your ads will lead to. You may want it to be the home page, or a much more specialized landing page depending on what you are trying to advertise.
  2. Enter up to 3 headlines (up to 30 characters each). Your headlines are typically only a couple of words and they are what your prospective customer sees first. This is where you want to use powerful language and sharp keywords to catch people’s attention.
  3. Enter up to 2 descriptions (up to 90 characters each). Your headlines are longer, roughly the length of a short sentence. This is where you want to describe the product you are selling, advertise free shipping or customization options, or other longer descriptions to help encourage people to click on your ads

Display Ads

As the name suggests, display ads are used alongside display campaigns. Display campaigns are designed to help you find the perfect audience for your product or service. They allow you to strategically show your ads to varying groups of people to target those most interested in what you have to offer. While search campaigns show people your ad while they are actively searching for it, display campaigns can show people your ad much earlier in the buying process before they even begin to search.

Display ads also appeal to your prospective customers in other ways, using images and videos to draw people in. This is where things can get tricky because you need the right images and videos to make people want to click on your ad and not scroll away from it. However, once you find those images and videos that work and speak to people, display campaigns require a lot less upkeep and effort to keep them going and bringing in more leads.

Benefits of using a display ad include:

  • Engage customers that have previously interacted with your brand
  • Find new customers based on audiences your current customers are in

How to Create a Responsive Display Ad

  1. Select Ads and Extensions from the left-hand sidebar
  2. Click the + button and then select the Responsive Display Ad option
  3. Insert the images and logos you want to use and select the desired sizing for each image (landscape, square, or logo)
  4. Insert the videos you would like to use
  5. Write your headlines (1-5 short headlines and 1 long headline)
  6. Write your descriptions (1-5 descriptions)
  7. Enter your business name and final URL

Shopping Ads

Shopping ads are used in conjunction with shopping campaigns, and also require a Google Merchant Center account to set up and run. Shopping campaigns use the merchant center to advertise your products in a more retail-centered way. Product attributes inputted to the merchant center are used to drive where your ad will show and who will see it instead of using keywords to trigger search results. Because it’s using your actual products and not generalized search terms to get results shopping campaigns require little maintenance to be successful.

Shopping ads work best to highly products in a singular fashion because they allow you to show the product with an image while also providing ad text to further describe and advertise the item. Shopping campaigns also give you much more precise data on which of your products are more popular. Unlike traditional ads that only tell you if someone landed on the page or not, shopping campaigns connect to the merchant center so they can tell you which of your products is more successful when it comes to ad sales. This information allows you to advertise those specific products more heavily based on what people are buying.

Benefits of using a shopping campaign include:

  • Better qualified leads
  • Retail centered campaign management
  • Broader presence
  • Strong reporting and reliable data

How to Set up a Shopping Ad

  1. Create a Merchant Center account
  2. Enter your business information
  3. Verify and claim your website URL
  4. Set up your user roles
  5. Upload your product feed
  6. Choose where your customers check out

Discovery Ads

Discovery ads are used within discovery campaigns, which are highly visual and inspiring in nature and allow you to reach a much broader audience. In addition to this, Google’s algorithm allows discovery ads to be shown to prospective customers at times when they’re most interested and ready to learn about new products or services. This means that the people your ad is being shown to are more likely to take an interest in it and click on your ad.

Google takes this ad placement very seriously, and analyzes a person’s watch history, latest searches, and most recent purchases to recommend the most relevant ad experience for that individual. For example, if you are selling bike helmets and Google sees that a prospective customer has watched a bunch of YouTube videos on mountain biking and then bought a mountain bike, your ad is highly relevant to that person so Google will make sure and put your ad in their path.

Benefits of using a discovery campaign include:

  • Reach a broader audience
  • Drive engagement by showing relevant ads to the right people
  • Visually rich ads naturally perform better across Google feeds

Video Ads

Video ads are used within video campaigns, which allows you to reach prospective customers on YouTube and on other Google video partners. There are several different ways your video can be shown to prospective customers. Skippable in-stream ads play before, after, or during other videos. After 5 seconds of the video, the viewer is given the option to skip it. Non-skippable in-stream ads also play before, after, or during another video but the viewer is not given the option to skip it. These ads must be 15 seconds or less. Video discovery ads will only play on YouTube and will appear in places that prospective customers are discovering new content. Outstream ads are ads that are shown on partner sites and not on YouTube itself. Bumper ads are the final type of video ad, they are a quick 6 second non-skippable video designed to spread brand awareness and reach customers on a broader scale.

Video ads can be an incredible way to reach people and when done correctly can be one of the most successful types of ads. However, this is not always the best option for smaller businesses or companies just starting out because the script writing and production of a high quality video ad isn’t always cheap. Many times businesses will make multiple different video ads and all but one of them will fail. It is a high risk high reward game that is well worth it for more established or larger companies.

Benefits of video campaigns include:

  • Easily reach the right audience
  • Engage people visually with short, exciting clips

Commonly Asked Questions:

What should my budget be?

While it greatly varies between different business and different campaigns, I tend to set most of my campaigns at a starting budget of $5. I watch my new campaigns closely and if they perform well, I might raise the budget. However, if they do not perform well, I make sure to quickly fix the problem or lower the budget if the campaign is hurting the overall account.

How do I know if my campaign is performing well?

While what is considered “good performance” greatly varies from business to business, there are a few things to look for when you’re first getting started. A CTR (click through rate) of 2% or higher is considered a good interaction rate with your website, and anything below a 1% is very bad. When looking at conversions, the best tool to use is the Conversion Value/Cost. This calculates your ROAS (return on ad investment) and a ROAS higher than 4 is generally considered good.

How many campaigns should I set up?

Start small, especially if you’re new to Google Ads. Set up one campaign at a time and then give that campaign a week or two to find its feet. If it’s performing well, great! If not, you know that it’s time to go back to the drawing board. From there you can start to determine which ads work for you and which ones don’t, the most effective way to market your brand, and which products or services to pay more attention to based on what your customers are actually purchasing.


Related Articles:

Everything You Need to Know About Google Ad Keywords

The Different Google Ad Campaign Goals and When to Use Each One

Google Ad Bidding Strategies and When to Use Each One

The Different Google Ad Extensions and How to Use Them

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