Why Google display advertising is like dating

Ever wonder what makes display advertising work? Ever wonder what makes for the perfect date? Well you’re in luck! Here are some of my tips and tricks to keep in mind when looking to win those moments that matter!

  1. Context/ Environment — Even if your personality doesn’t sparkle with rays of sunshine, with the right environment even you stand a chance at romance!
  2. Category — Do you go for quaint dinner? Do you go for a playful day out? Your category will send out certain signals of affiliation and intent.
  3. Interest — Sharing common interests is always a great way to develop a relationship and lead a conversation.
  4. Persistence — Being smart about this is key! Not too little, not too much, but just enough to send the right message that you’re interested.
  5. Value — Whenever we make a decision, whether it be buying a product or finding a partner, we seek out value that reflects our perceived ideal. We have to be able to demonstrate this value effectively to succeed.

For display advertising, understanding the role and interchange between these principles will lead to success at the lowest possible cost. In dating terminology, winning your partner over with as few dates and little expense as possible because you’re just so spell-bindingly awesome!

Environment, environment, environment!

In the SEO world content is king. In display context is king. Using contextual targeting, meaning targeting publisher websites based on the actual content people are reading, is the best way to speak to someone in the right place at the right time. Contextual (keyword) targeting is regarded as one of the best targeting methods in order to drive performance like Click Through Rate (CTR) and conversions.

This targeting method has become all the more powerful since Google recently updated its contextual display engine, bringing the precision of search to display advertising. What this means is that you can bid on specific keywords, which Google automatically matches to display your ads on the websites with the most relevant content. Nothing beats the right environment, not even bad dress sense!

Category or Topic:

Your category, or topic targeting could be construed as very similar to “context”, but its not, it’s more of a broader grouping around a particular theme. Essentially topic targeting allows your ads to be eligible to appear on any pages on the Google Display Network that have content related to your selected topics.

Google display technology group’s publisher content into thousands of different topics, and by targeting these topics, you can make sure you don’t miss out on being visible on the right websites. This helps when you don’t have an extensive list of keywords that you want to target and/ or are not sure what the best websites related to your business are. For example, by targeting the “Autos & Vehicles” topic, you enable your ad to appear on any Google Display Network website that includes content about cars or other automotive themes. You can also select more precise subtopics, such as Trucks & SUVs, Commercial Vehicles, or Motorcycles. Google does the work for you by placing your ads on these websites.


Having a common interest is the best and easiest way to engage in a conversation. From interest comes insight and passion and this is critical in building a real relationship.

Interest-based targeting on the Google Display Network (over 1 000 interest categories) has become particularly effective, due to being able to speak to people who share a common interest, and that are not bound by content.

What do I mean? Well, using cookies, Google builds interest-based profiles of people who browse the web. For instance, Google can deduce that I’m really interested in the latest electronic gadgets because I’m always on gadget related sites and similarly that I love football based on my browsing behaviour.

Interest based targeting means you could serve me an ad about the latest electronic gadget while I’m surfing a football site. Now that’s awesome. Serving ads to people based on interest means you can achieve broader reach by being visible on websites beyond your direct demographic or relevant content. This also helps in driving cheaper traffic as you bid for placements in less competitive environments. Speaking to a common interest could cut your date time down significantly.


As the old adage would have it, if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again! Re-marketing, which has now become one of the most effective ways to re-engage with potential customers, addresses this very concept.

How re-marketing works in principle is that you can target specific web browsers based on interactions with your site. For example, if someone reaches your quote form but doesn’t complete the process, you know they are interested and might just need a nudge to complete the action. The next time you could show those particular people a different ad about a new promotion or how much easier the quote process has become.

You can also cross-sell and upsell based on successful interaction too. Another exciting way to target your audience is through something called “Negative Re-marketing”. Now this is by no means negative, what it means is that you can target people specifically who have never visited your site! That is super fantastic, as you know what ever you spend and what ever your message, it is all in aid of driving new business.

Being clear about your value, communicating it effectively, and not wasting any time doing this is paramount to positioning yourself as someone with intrinsic value worth pursuing. We all know first impressions count, so it’s worth rehearsing or constructing a strategy to demonstrate this value. Example: you are really good with kids, so take your date to the park, get one of your friends to coincidentally be there with his three-year-old, and orchestrate a three-way Frisbee game. Value = great with kids; long-term prospect = tick!

Display advertising, like dating, is all about winning those moments that matter. By tapping into technology that works together, across your business needs you can really come up with a winning formula. Just like there is the right person for everyone, there is the right ad for everyone. So what better time than the present to test it out for yourself?

Good luck on your date!

Stats about the Google Display Network:

  • 85% Online Reach
  • 7.2bn Page Views (monthly)
  • 69% of inventory above the fold

Source: Google Adplanner

All articles posted here are my personal opinions, which are not affiliated to my employer in any way.



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