AdWords & AdSense Display Advertising: Watch This Space

Display advertising is getting a makeover! At the end of March Google announced they will soon launch a new Display Network tab to AdWords. They mention briefly how far display advertising has come, and now they are making it even better.

This is excellent news for us. Now we will have a Targeting Diagram to show us how different types of display targeting are overlapping, in addition to the new tab that provides keyword-specific data. Google calls it “Next-Gen Keyword Contextual Targeting” which presumably is only available due to the switch to the new privacy policy. With more knowledge of what is happening at the keyword level, we will be able to target our ads more efficiently and reduce waste in budgets.

Not only is Google making changes to the AdWords approach to Display, but they have just made it easier for AdSense account holders to hold our placement-targeted ads, and “make decisions on individual ads and control what appears on your site at a granular level” as they put it in an email announcing new efficiency changes.

AdSense is promoting other new controls as well. They now provide the capability to “view and take action” on any ads that have run on the account holder’s AdSense enabled pages no matter if they are placement-targeted, contextually-targeted, or interest-based. They are also offering ad blocking in bulk. This just means that we as advertisers need to be even more aware of our automatic & manual placements. If a manual placement was doing well for you previously, but has stopped receiving impressions, you can be sure it has been blocked by that AdSense user.

Ads can be held for review before appearing on the account holder site, as you may know. At the end of the email, AdSense reminds the account holder to choose the “run ads immediately” setting so bids don’t drop, and the account holder keeps higher earnings. Ads that are held for review don’t participate in the auction. My interpretation of this is Google is saying that more competition creates higher bids... Just another reason to not run display on manual placements alone.

Manually choosing where your ads run without having data to back up your decision is unwise. Automatic placements need a lot of refining (and can turn into manual placements), but will be more likely to convert traffic for you as your ads may work better on pages you don’t know about. Testing is Always Best.

These managed placements were pulled out of the long list of automatic placements. The lower CPC and higher CTRs improve the quality of the accounts and continue to make the display network cheaper.


Display advertising doesn’t have to stop at the placement data inside AdWords. If you are really getting a strong return (either view-throughs or 1-per-click conversions) from a website that has blocked your ads, you should consider speaking with your, or your client’s, outreach team about the potential this placement has for referring converting traffic. There is no reason you should give up on a converting lead. If you don’t have an outreach team, you should consider reaching out to the owner of the website and explaining how beneficial their placement was to your company and offer to raise bids slightly for their site in return for being un-blocked or ask to pay them directly for the advertising space. Everything is worth a try if the traffic was providing long-term customers.

In some ways, I feel Google is trying to promise the stars and the moon to every party involved: more earnings from AdSense, lower CPC for advertisers. Display advertising is as cheap as PPC comes. With more investment from Google to make the platform more reliable through AdWords and AdSense, we may be in for higher CPCs in the future.

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