What Is Display Expansion & How You Can Use It

What is Display Expansion?

Search Network with Display Expansion (formerly known as Search Network with Display Select) is a campaign setting in Google Ads where you can in effect combine your Search and Display campaigns into one.

This was previously very difficult to accurately do as placements would show on a number of irrelevant sites and conversions would remain low, so traditional Search advertisers would actively avoid using a combined approach.

However, Google have helped combat this issue with Display Expansion, which in essence allows you to take a Keyword Search campaign and start showing ads on very select sites or audiences on the Display Network.

Rarely do accounts use a combined approach but, when they do, I always recommend splitting up campaigns based on their network targeting; this allows for tighter targeting and cost control and also makes life easier in terms of analysing your performance.

How it works:

According to Google, your ads can appear when people search for terms on Google Search and search partner sites that match your keywords. They can also appear on relevant pages across the web on the Google Display Network. However, your ads are shown selectively on the Display Network and bidding is automated, helping you reach users who are most likely to be interested in the products and services you’re advertising.

Search Network with Display Expansion uses improved signals and methods for predicting when and where your ads are likely to perform best, and sets a higher bar for when to show them. This means your ads are more likely to be shown to a smaller number of prospective customers, who are more likely to be interested in your offerings.

Google applies it’s Enhanced CPC framework to the Display Network in order to help advertisers feel more confident that their budget is really going to work for them.

“Display Expansion” allows an advertiser to quickly and easily show text and image ads on the Google Display Network to users based on their search intent.

  “Search Network only” “Search Network with Display Select”
Ad placement Standard & All features
Google search results,
search partner websites
Standard & All features
Google search results,
search partner websites,
Google Display Network websites and video
Ad formats Standard
Text ads*All features
Text ads*
Shopping ads
Dynamic search ads
App/digital content ads*Includes keyword insertion
Standard
Text ads*All features
Text ads*
Image ads
Display ad builder ads
App/digital content ads*Includes keyword insertion
Targeting Standard
KeywordsAll features
Keywords
Remarketing lists for search only
Standard
KeywordsAll features
Keywords
Placements
Remarketing lists for search only
Website category options
Bidding Standard & All features
Manual and automated bidding
for the Search Network.
Standard & All features
Manual and automated bidding
for the Search Network.
Automated bidding for the
Display Network.

When to use Display Select:

We don’t recommend turning on Display Expansion for all your campaigns right away; in our experience this can cause detrimental spikes in impression volume , traffic and costs but not always sales. Like any technology, it can work amazingly for some clients, industries or campaigns but not others. So test the setting with one or two campaigns first, analyse the results over a few months, and if the results are positive keep expanding until all campaigns are updated or tested.

Test brand and competitor campaigns first; this campaign setting is perfect for developing brand and product awareness and can have a positive effect on the overall performance of the account. Where users are actively discussing you or your competition, click-through rates and conversion rates will be higher.

How to Optimise Display Select:

As with most Google “Enhanced CPC” technologies, you should leave them to it to get the best results. This is mostly the same in this case, but there are a few things you can and should do:

Negatives

  • Review SQR reports weekly or monthly and make sure that irrelevant or poor performing search terms are excluded by adding them to the negative keyword lists

Placements

  • Review placement data to exclude poorly performing websites

Rotation Settings

  • Make sure your campaign ad rotation settings are set to an optimised choice

Similar Audiences

  • Add similar audience lists to the campaign with 20% or 30% positive bid modifiers

Bear in mind: If you’ve been running “Search Network only” campaigns and are switching to “Search Network with Display Select”, you should notice an increase in conversions (15% on average) at a higher cost (15% in most cases).

Conclusion:

Display Expansion is a Super useful way to quickly, easily and cost effectively expand the reach of the account, developing more impressions (eyeballs), traffic and sales with minimal effort.

If you’re not comfortable running Display Only campaigns this is a great way to test the network, grow brand recognition and improve the account.

If you would like help setting up Search Network with Display Expansion campaigns then please get in touch for a free account review.

 

For help with Display, Search & other PPC tech please do get in touch.

Written by Rick Tobin Managing Director at Circus PPC Agency

Rick Tobin
Managing Director

Over 15 years dedicated PPC experience working with some of the world's biggest brands.


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