Google Advertising – Display Ads vs. Search Ads

Both display and search ads have their own importance. It is quite challenging and crucial to choose the correct one to avoid wasting a lot of money and time. When debating on Google display ads vs. search ads, it can be easy to make good and bad arguments for both sides. But is there one clear winner or loser? No. Both have their own pros and cons.

This is an extensive article where you will learn what are display ads and search ads, their pros and cons, and the difference between search and display ads on Google.

What are Display Ads on Google?

Google display ads are online paid ads that use websites, social media, and third-party platforms to promote a product or service. The ads include videos, images, and text directing consumers to a landing page to take action or buy a product.

They are just like any other paid advertisement. It is important to note though that this form of advertising is significantly lower on the whole, as it is not as targeted.

What are Display Ads on Google?

Display ads are highly beneficial. They get your product in front of the entire target audience. It is a highly effective way to make an impression on a large audience.

Pros of Google Display Ads

Here are three advantages of Google display ads:

1. Builds brand awareness

Display ads don’t target audiences with a buying intention. They reach out to people based on their interests. The brand identity will linger in the mind of the consumer. This makes it easy when they want to purchase a product because they already know the brand to turn to.

2. Lets you track results

With display ad campaigns, tracking results is simpler. You can see the most effective adverts, and the platform on which the conversion occurred, identify converted leads and monitor click-through numbers.

3. Provides targeting opportunities

With display ads, you can identify the demographics of your target audience to market to them directly. Determining factors can be their interests, interactions, behaviors, and language. This allows you to win back previous leads potentially.

Cons of Google Display Ads

Here are three disadvantages of Google display ads:

1. Ad blockers

Nowadays, it’s so easy for consumers to install ad blockers on their devices. Ad blockers are applications that can integrate with web browsers like Chrome or Firefox and block any pop up ads appearing from the website.

2. No reputation management

With display ads, you don’t control where they appear. So, if the advertisement appears on a platform irrelevant to your brand, you still have to pay. Unnecessary ads can also be frustrating for consumers.

3. Low conversion rates

Display ads have lower conversion rates relative to Google search ads. That’s because display ads build brand awareness. Google search ads on the other hand, usually lead to more sales.

4. Banner blindness

This is essentially just people ignoring ads. Online users have become used to seeing a lot of overwhelming ads. As a result, people have learned to subconsciously filter out ads from the content and focus more on the content they are interested in.

Related: How to Make Money From Google AdSense?

What are Search Ads on Google?

Google search ads are adverts that appear on search engine results pages (SERPs) relevant to the search query of a user. Search advertising is also called search engine marketing (SEM), pay-per-click (PPC), and cost-per-click (CPC).

The various formats for search ads are text (the most common), search tiles, product listings, or autocomplete ads. These are all the paid-for ads shown before search results relevant to the keyword/s being searched.

What are Search Ads on Google?

They allow advertisers to communicate with users in relevant searches that can help benefit their business.

Pros of Google Search Ads

Here are three advantages of Google search ads:

1. Unobtrusive

The visual similarity of PPC ads to organic results is amazing. Google has made it so they blend right in. This makes it difficult for users to distinguish one from the other. Most people can’t tell the difference, and there is a higher chance of people clicking on search ads.

2. Immune to ad blockers

Google search ads are normally quite useful and non-intrusive. Thus, ad blockers won’t work on blocking them out. This makes them more appealing to marketers relative to display ads. Most people don’t adjust the software to block out search ads.

3. Cure for poor organic traffic

For businesses with a poor SEO strategy and performance, paid-for ads on SERPs are a great way to remedy the situation. For newer businesses, if their budget allows, it is a good way to rank on the first page and quickly reach the desired audience.

4. Mobile marketing

Advertisers tried to escape the importance of mobile marketing, but they just couldn’t do it. Because search engines help with providing local results, paid search ads produce better results and more people are likely to see the ad.

Cons of Google Search Ads

Here are three disadvantages of Google search ads:

1. Highly competitive

This might be the most obvious obstacle with Google search ads. There are limited slots on SERPs, especially for popular keywords. The majority of these slots are available through bidding and are likely shared among many advertisers. This may make it difficult for you to get a ranking slot.

2. Larger reach means higher CPC

Paying more money for Google search ads can produce tremendous results. The broad reach that Google has is incomparable to other search engines. But, this wider reach will mean more money in the short term.

3. Do people click search ads?

Yes, they do. Organic results generally still generate more clicks. But, stats have shown that search ads aren’t useless. The stats show that when ads are paused, organic clicks don’t replace 89% of the traffic from search ads.

Related: What is Pay Per Click & How to Improve PPC Campaign Results?

Display Ads vs. Search Ads – Major Differences

Display ads have a wider space as these ads appear across millions of websites or social media sites. Whereas, Google search ads can be highly targeted and more reliable to a more specific objective.

According to Send Pulse, Google search ads appear on the SERP when a user types a specific keyword/s.

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Display ads appear online based on the product and a user’s interest. The 3 key differences are:

1. Identify if there is brand familiarity

When choosing which ads to use, you need to know if your target audience is familiar with the product or your brand. Check the search volume of relevant keywords. If the market is familiar with your business, choose search ads. If the search volume is low, invest in display ads.

2. Establish if brand awareness needs to be improved

Determine if you need to improve brand awareness. This is to get your brand’s name out and build a connection between your brand and your audience. Established brands can go with search ads. Newer and lesser-known brands should probably start with display ads.

3. Consider your budget

Breaking your company’s bank account won’t necessarily lead to sales. Display ads are more of a long-term brand building strategy and not likely to have positive ROIs. Search ads are better on a tighter budget and for immediate results. There is a higher chance of bringing in more profit and traffic conversion with Search Ads as compared to display ads.

4. Type of business

If you are a business selling local goods and services, then Google search ads are better. If someone needs a nearby grocery store or doctor, they are more likely to search and see your business rank highly on the SERP.

Related: How to Make Money Using Web Marketing Strategies in 2023?


It should be noted that Google search ads vs. display ads have somewhat different objectives. So, you need to assess exactly what it is that you want to accomplish and then choose.

Depending on what you are trying to do, you may need one advertising strategy more than the other. Using the best advertising strategy for your specific needs and advertising budget is the recommended way to achieve maximum results.


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