How to Create Google Display Ads

Published March 21, 2017
A Google Display Ad is a pre-designed ad that appears on one of the websites in Google’s extensive network of participating websites. These ads have the ability to appear in front of users while they are shopping, doing research or even watching videos of dogs doing tricks. They appear in front of potential customers where they are actively browsing online and can be very effective in gaining attention and clicks.
But, only if they are done well.
In a previous article, we covered how to build a successful display Google AdWords campaign. In this article, we’ll delve more deeply into how to create the display ads that run within your campaign, while also providing advice for the most effective ads.


Creating Display Ads


Creating a New Display Ad

Let’s start with the basics. To launch a Display Ad campaign, first, navigate to the campaign and the ad group where you want to create a new ad. Click the red “+ Ad” button.


Create Ads


From here, select the ad type you’d like to use. You can upload your own pre-designed ad or work within one of Google’s templates.

There are a few different types of ads you can work with that have different properties, advantages and limitations.

Responsive Ads

Responsive ads, introduced by Google in late 2016, allow you to upload one image and enter text for an ad that can be shown in a variety of sizes and formats. This process simplifies the need to create multiple image ad files in different sizes and allows you to easily reach a wide range of website placements.

However, you have no control over how Google chooses to display the ad, and text may be cut off in some instances. You’ll also want to upload an image that can easily represent your business at various sizes (avoiding too much text in the image).


Responsive Ad


Image Ad

Using this option, you can either upload pre-designed ads or auto-generate ads, pulling images and copy from your site. If you’re using the automatic option, you can choose from a few templates and edit the ads that Google creates. To ensure brand consistency, you can modify text, imagery, and color schemes.

Of course, keep in mind that you’re still limited to Google’s own templates. Below, see examples of ads generated for Megalytic’s site.


Automatic Image Ads


If you’re planning to run pre-designed ads, first make sure your files meet Google’s specs. All ads should be saved as a .jpg, .png, or .gif with a file size of 150kb or less. If you’re using HTML5 to create animated ads, save the file as a .zip. Reference Google’s guidelines for more details.

Use the Upload option and browse for the files on your computer, noting that you can select multiple ads at a time. Finally, define the URL where you want to point and finalize the upload.


Upload Image Ad


Ad Gallery

Next, you can find more AdWords templates for building your own ads under the Ad Gallery. Google offers a number of static and animated templates that incorporate text and imagery you specify. As with other templates, these allow you to quickly cover multiple sizes via a simple setup.


Ad Gallery


App/Digital Content Ad

Finally, you can promote mobile app downloads using either an image- or text-based ad. You’ll need to specify the App ID in the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Once you populate text and/or imagery, your ad can now appear on mobile and tablet devices, directly linking to an app install page.


Mobile App Ad


Ad Approval Process

Once you’ve created and saved a new display ad, it will initially show an “under review” label. Google’s team reviews any display ads before they are allowed to run. Generally, ads will be approved within 24 hours, although the process can take longer for new accounts or sensitive industries like pharmaceuticals.

If the ad is approved, it will automatically begin to run, accruing impressions and clicks. If an ad is not approved, you’ll receive an email with a reason for disapproval, in addition to a warning notification in the interface.

Common reasons for disapproval include:

  • Lack of a clear “border” around an ad that has a white background
  • Broken landing page
  • Use of a trademarked word for which you haven’t gotten approval cleared through AdWords
  • Use of certain terms related to “sensitive” fields like medicine or gambling (note that some “false flags” can happen here at times)

You can reach out to AdWords support for further explanation about ad disapprovals.

Tips for Effective Display Ads

Now that we’ve covered creating and uploading ads, let’s talk about some tips for effective ads. Since users are overwhelmed with a constant barrage of display ads, it can be difficult for brands to make their messages to stand out. However, there are a few techniques that can help your ads make an impression beyond the “impression.”

Keep Text Simple

People will glance at a display ad for at most a second, or a fraction of a second, before deciding whether or not to click. You need to quickly convey a concise message that will attract eyes without overwhelming the viewer. In the examples below, note how the Geico ad at the top communicates a simple message about savings. The loan fund ad, on the other hand, crams excessive text into a graphic, which a viewer is likely to gloss over while reading an article.


Ad Examples


Use a Call-To-Action Button

Every ad should include an obvious call-to-action (CTA) enticing the viewer to do something. Often this will be a simple action like clicking through to the site. Messages like “Get a quote,” “Contact us” or “Sign up for a free trial” are common and contain effective verbiage. Placing this CTA in a highly visible “button” generally helps to increase clickthrough rate. For example, the Geico ad contains a yellow “Click to quote” button, while the loan fund ad has no clear CTA.

Keep the Experience Cohesive with the Landing Page

Make sure your ad lines up with the messaging and imagery on your landing page. If you’re promoting a 50% discount in your ad and you land users on a product page that is not clearly mentioning that discount, you’ll likely lose potential purchasers. If possible, use an image in your ad that will also appear on the page, whether that’s an image of a product or a smiling person.

Use Faces

While effective imagery varies between businesses, in general, showing a person’s face will tend to draw the most attention. For instance, see how different ads for the same brand contrast in the examples below. The ad showing the person is much more likely to stand out than the one that is comprised primarily of text.


Ad Image Comparison



When you’re planning to run a display ad campaign, review the options for ad types and decide what best fits your approach and your resources. Do you have graphical assets ready? Can you design standalone ads yourself, or do you have a designer handy? In the process of creating ads, whether you’re using Google templates or Photoshop, keep in mind the principles for effective ads. Focus on creating conversions, and test different styles to ensure you get the best results from your display campaigns! Advertising in all of its forms is an art, and Google Display Ads are no different. Challenge yourself to stand apart from the crowd with compelling creative.


When the client first came to you, you talked up the value of Google Analytics. You emphasized the importance of seeing where your traffic was coming from. You went on and on about how Google Analytics can show traffic sources to pinpoint whether people came from search, social media or a specific site referral, and how valuable this data was. You sold them on it, so much so that your client looked forward to receiving that first report, the magical day when they would finally understand where visitors were coming from.
But then the report came, and it looked like this:



It showed that 10% of your client’s traffic came from “(direct)/(none)”. What does this label mean? How do you explain Direct traffic to your client? Better yet, how do you explain “none”?
Let’s take a closer look at understanding Direct traffic in Google Analytics and how we can address it with clients.
Digital marketers spend a lot of time focused on PPC and SEO campaigns in order to drive desirable traffic to a website. The phrases we’re ranking for and bidding on get meticulous attention, so much so that we often forget about some of the other ways that visitors find us.

We put a tremendous amount of the effort we put into reviewing organic search data and PPC campaign performance in analytics. But how closely do we monitor referral reports?

If that’s not a channel you review regularly, you may be missing out on seeing traffic that is coming directly from links you’ve obtained around the web, local business listings, news mentions, and more. Many times, links are only considered as a means to an end, a metric that Google uses in determining how to rank sites in the SERPs (search engine results pages). But the fact is, many of a site’s links may be directly contributing to its traffic.

In this article, we’ll review how to look at referral reports in Google Analytics, and some of the many ways to use that data to better inform your web marketing decisions.


Remember how your mom told you not to stand too close to the television because it might hurt your eyes?

The same rules can apply to data. If you’re too close, you may miss the patterns and trends that are crucial to understanding your website’s performance. You can’t judge a site’s performance looking at data in the bubble of a single day, you must consider any day’s traffic compared to the days before and after.

Google Analytics makes it fairly easy to analyze trends over long periods of time. But it also allows you to stand right in front of that TV, to look at more granular levels of time, right down to the hour.
There’s a better way to get that close to the data, without burning your retinas. We’ll cover how to analyze traffic effectively in today’s post.