How to Crush the Competition on the Google Display Network

Ever wonder how your competitors are setting up their ad strategy or where they’re getting their most valuable traffic?  If you don’t keep up with your ads and continually optimize your reach, the competition is going to swoop in and take what’s yours.  That’s why we’ve put together this simple 5-step guide on how to crush the competition on the Google Display Network.


  1. Do Your Research: Conduct a competitive analysis of your top competitors.  I’m sure you know about MixRank, since you’re reading our blog.  So, head to, search for your competitor’s domains, and export all of the text ads, banner ads, and traffic sources to understand where you stand in relation to your competitors. 
  2. Drive More Reach:  Based on the ads you exported from your top competitors, cross-reference their campaign strategy against yours.  If they’re running significantly more campaigns than you, you know you’ll have re-visit your ad budget and scale your campaigns on other relevant sites.  On the other hand, of you’re competition isn’t running as many campaigns, that’s a good sign too that you don’t have to increase your budget tremendously to reach more customers. 
  3. Don’t Miss Out On the Traffic: From the traffic sources you exported from MixRank, add any placements that you’re not currently bidding on to your managed placements.  Be strategic about which ad groups you target these placements on, as the relevancy will impact your Quality Score.  To get started, make sure to add every placement on the exported list. If your competitor is running ads on these sites, you definitely don’t want to be left out.
  4. Optimize Your Budget:  As you know, not all placements will perform the same way. So, since you probably have some type of budget for your ad spend, you’ll need to monitor the performance of each placement and adjust your bids accordingly over time.  If you’re considering adding negative placements, it may be worthwhile to check back on MixRank to see if your competitors are still running ads on that traffic source before doing so.  You can delete a placement as well, which would be less drastic. By deleting a placement, your ad may still show up on the site but only when ad group’s topic or keyword targets are relevant to the content on the site.
  5. Leverage Banner Ads: Similar to search ads, contextual ads on the Display Network appear right beside your top competitors’.  To eliminate the chances of a consumer clicking on your competitor’s ad completely, occupy the entire ad unit with a banner ad.  The nice thing about banner ads is that certain sizes will almost guarantee your ad will be above the fold on most sites.  The most popular sizes are 728×90, 160×600 and 300×250, but from my experience, 160×600 ads don’t perform as well as the others.  Here’s a visual of an ad unit, and how banner ads drive out the competition’s ads:




More Targeting Control With Flexible Reach On The Google Display Network

Last week, Google announced the new “Flexible reach” option on the Display Network.  This option will eventually replace Broad reach and Specific reach, the current targeting options available at the campaign level:


  • Broad reach shows your ads on pages that match the primary targeting method
  • Specific reach shows ads on pages that match all of your targeting methods


Flexible reach allows you to diversify your targeting at the ad group level.  With flexible reach, you can do the following all at the ad group level:


  • Select any combination of multiple targeting options
  • Combine different methods of targeting and bidding


For example, when adding placements to an ad group, you can either target only these placements or use these placements for bidding only.  When you only target these placements, you can set specific bids for these placements but your ads will only appear on these sites, eliminating your ads being shown anywhere else.  To use these placements for bidding only, you can also set specific bids on them, but this option also allows your ad to appear on other sites based on your keywords or other targeting methods within the ad group.


This new feature provides transparency into how your targeting selections are affecting the reach and impression volume of your campaigns.  When Flexible reach is enabled, by default, new ad groups will have the targeting setting selected when you add targeting methods to them, like placements. The same default setting applies when you add targeting methods to or delete targeting methods from your existing ad groups.




Are you ready to fine-tune where your ads appear by using the Flexible reach setting at the ad group level?  Learn more about using and enabling Flexible reach at the AdWords Help Center.


The Google Display Network’s Extreme Makeover

Just a few weeks ago, Google announced an incredible update to the Google Display Network.


1.  The Display Network Tab

First things first, over the next few weeks, Google will be rolling out a new Display Network Tab in AdWords. If you’re in the interface on a daily basis, you’ll find this news rather exciting. Display campaigns have always been managed in an interface that caters to search. Going forward, the Audiences, Topics and Networks tabs will now funnel into one place, allowing you to bid, target and optimize your display ads from a single location. Check out this screenshot of the interface provided by Google:


  • Where to manage targeting for your ads, view your reports, and set bids: On the Display Network tab, you can find the Display Keywords, Placements,Topics, and Interests & Remarketing tabs, the necessary tools to manage your display campaigns.
  • How to add or edit keywords for campaigns targeting search and display: If your campaign is targeting search and display, you can view display statistics on the Display Network tab. Similarly, the Keywords tab will show just search statistics. However, to add or edit keywords and bids, you must do so on the main Keywords tab.  Any changes you make to your keywords will affect both your search and display targeting.
  • Where to add or edit your targeting: In the Display Network tab, there is a Change display targeting button right above the graph where you can view the different targeting methods available for your campaign. From there, click the edit link next to the method you want to add or edit.
  • How to exclude a targeting method: Go to the Display Network tab, scroll down, and click the Exclusions link to where you can add exclusions to your ad group or campaign.


2.  The Revved-Up Contextual Engine

 Another update that deserves huge praise to Google is the “Revved-Up” Contextual Engine. This marvelous improvement takes targeting to the next level, using Next-Gen Keyword Contextual Targeting. This means you can now view data on a keyword by keyword basis on the display network, combining the reach of display with the precision of search. Say “Goodbye” to the old days of monitoring contextual campaigns at the ad group level and “Hello” to a better way to target and optimize your display campaigns.

Tips for using keywords for display ads:

  • Monitor your keyword performance. Pause keywords that have high costs, but very few conversions or low traffic to your site.
  • Increase bids on keywords that are performing well.
  • Add keywords similar to the ones that are performing well.


Keep in mind:

  • Any changes made to keywords in campaigns that target both Google search and the Display Network will also apply to search traffic. Before making any changes such as pausing keywords, make sure to check search performance.

3.  The Visualization Tool for Display Targeting

If that isn’t enough to inspire you, Google also introduces a new visualization tool that shows how reach is impacted from targeting across your display campaigns. Take a look:




With this nifty venn diagram, you can see how your targeting affects your reach. Targeting types include keywords, placements, topics, interests or remarketing.

  • Use-case for targeting diagram: When adding or editing your Display Network targeting, you’ll see a diagram that shows how your targeting methods, like keywords and placements, interact, and what method is used to target your ads.
  • Tip for advertisers with niche target markets: With a niche target market, you’ll want to get the most quality traffic and the cheapest cost. We recommend you have several targeting types, drilling down to very specific keywords, managed placements, topics and interests.
  • Tip for advertisers with large product catalogs: For large retail advertisers that want the most reach, we recommend using keyword targeting and automatic placements to start. Automatic placements are sites that your ads will appear on based on the keywords you’ve chosen. Over time, you’ll need to monitor the placements. Increase bids on placements that are performing well and exclude placements that are high in cost but generating low traffic or few conversions. However, keep in mind that if you exclude too many placements, you might significantly limit your traffic.


Whether you’re new at display advertising, or have been doing this for years, we can safely say that Google’s new and improved campaign management features for display means this much-needed change was brought on by a large amount of advertisers spending a lot of money on display ads and placements. Google would not invest so much time and resources to update the AdWords platform if it wasn’t already working perfectly for display advertisers. So, what’s this all mean? More advertisers today are investing ad dollars into display advertising. If you’re not already doing the same, you’re behind in the curve and you may want to start with a few campaigns. To save you time and money, try uncovering what type of ads your competitors are running with MixRank’s free intelligence tool here.