A Strategy Map for Google Display Network Success

fold-out-mapThe Google Display Network is vast with abundant opportunity to generate great results. However, with this much impression inventory, it’s also possible to generate a lot of spend with a poor ROI.

To avoid crashing and burning on the GDN you need to establish a solid campaign structure foundation.

GDN Campaign Structure Objectives

As with the Search Network, success stems from a thorough plan and persistent optimization. A well-executed campaign structure will achieve these objectives:

  • Tight distribution control: The inventory within the GDN is robust and your campaign structure should help maintain tight control on your ad distribution.
  • Superior ad specificity: When your targeting is precise, your ads can achieve a higher level of relevance. This will boost your click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate.
  • Easy reporting: Within GDN campaigns, you need monitor performance closely and thoroughly. A well-structured campaign will help eliminate clutter and confusion. This allows you to act faster.
  • Efficient optimization: When your campaign is structured properly you will be able to take proactive optimization actions faster.

GDN Targeting Methods

Luckily, we don’t have to define all of the targeting methods within the GDN; Alistair Dent did a great job in a previous article reviewing the core GDN distribution types. Below is a quick list and if you need descriptions of each type, you can check out Dent’s article:

  • Keyword (Contextual) Targeting
  • Placement Targeting
  • Topic Targeting
  • Category Targeting
  • Remarketing

GDN Ad Segregation

The GDN offers a wide array of ad types. These ad types include:

  • Text ads: Traditional text ads that run on the Search Network.
  • Image ads: Static or animated ads that can really grab attention.
  • Video ads: Mostly, you’ll use these on YouTube.
  • App ads: You can promote your mobile applications by linking directly to the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
  • Mobile ads: Focused toward mobile devices. Ad dimensions are different for these ads.

To attain the optimal level of control, you should segment each ad type. Performance varies greatly between ad types. In general, text ads have the best conversion rate, but image ads have the highest CTR. You can also utilize video ads to drive brand awareness and achieve product visibility.

GDN Campaign Structure Map

In the suggested structure map below you can see that we have segmented every targeting option, and we also suggest segmenting each ad type. Just to make the image legible, we included only text and image ads. If you utilize other ad types, those should be separated as well.


Targeting Prioritization

How should you prioritize the importance of the GDN targeting options? Seasoned GDN veterans should be utilizing all targeting methods. However, if you’re new to the GDN and aren’t sure where to start, here’s a quick list in hierarchy of conversion rate performance:


You may find that certain targeting methods work better for your campaign. Great! Keep focusing on what works best. The prioritization suggestion graphic is how the GDN has performed across many client campaigns.

GDN Strategy Diversification

If you plan to rely on the GDN for a significant portion of your SEM strategy, then diversify your targeting methods. For example, don’t just run keyword (contextual) targeted campaigns. Also utilize remarketing, topic targeting, and perhaps another targeting option.

GDN performance can fluctuate more than the Search Network. If you have a wide array of targeting methods within your account, then you will be able to mitigate any unstable times within one specific campaign as you implement tactics to get things back on track.


When you approach your GDN campaign structure with the objectives of controlled distribution and efficient optimization, then you’re already ahead of the game. Take the time to think all of the steps through before you active your first GDN campaign. Hopefully this GDN roadmap will help you find your way to success!

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