How to choose between Search and Display ads

Search vs. display advertising campaigns

The challenge

Google Ads has two main networks: Search and Display which, together, span over two million websites, reaching over 90% of people on the Internet.1 Basically, Display advertising campaigns push and search advertising campaigns pull. The challenge is knowing which to use when.

Your aim

To know whether Search or Display ads will best support your international campaign objectives.

How to go about it

The Google Ads network is designed to help you find the right audience across millions of websites globally. It lets you be strategic and put your message in front of potential customers at the right place and right time by using the Search, the Display, or both the networks. Users seeing your Search ads are already looking for your product, while users seeing your Display ads have been targeted after web browsing, via emails or watching a video. So, the question is, which will best meet your needs? Here’s a quick guide to deciding.

Google Ads Search Advertising Campaigns

Search reaches people when they’re already searching for specific goods or services. Use a Search campaign if:

Your product or service has a high keyword search volume

Search volume is the number of searches for a particular keyword in a given time. If this is high, people are already searching for what you offer, so building awareness is not a priority. You can use Keyword Planner to determine search volume.

Your initial budget is limited

If you are testing a new market and don’t want to commit a large budget to begin with, a Search Network campaign will help drive direct conversions, keeping costs low and making it easier to measure. When results give you the confidence to commit, begin your Display campaign to help build brand awareness, which will lead to an increase in search volume for your brand.

Find out more about creating a Search ads campaign

Google Ads Display Advertising Campaigns

Display helps you capture attention earlier in the buying cycle, with a variety of ad formats across the digital universe. Use a Display campaign if:

There isn’t much keyword search volume for your product or service

You can use Keyword Planner to determine search volume. Take a look at the data for your market. A Google Ads Display campaign will help you build awareness and therefore search volume by scanning websites for keywords that reflect your offering so you’re actively reaching out to customers who are interested in what you have to offer.

You want users to engage with your brand

If you're interested in increasing engagement with your brand, the Google Ads Display Network lets you connect with customers at the right time and in the right place on thousands of websites worldwide. You can use placement targeting in Google Ads to help reach a relevant audience for your brand, using rich-media ad formats and CPM bidding.

You want to stay front of mind

If you offer an expensive or luxury product, for instance, quality jewellery or watches, Display ads are the ideal way to show them off. The additional benefit is that, since users consider carefully and comparison shop before buying more expensive or luxury goods, the Google Ads Display Network is a brilliant way to also keep your brand front of mind, through a remarketing campaign.

You’ve invested in video localised for your new market

If you've already produced a video ad, you can set up a free YouTube user channel and customise its design to reflect your brand and your export market preferences. This gives you a valuable brand hub on the Internet's most popular video site.

Find out more about creating a Display ads campaign


The best of both worlds: Google Ads Search Network with Display Select lets you expand your reach through the potential of the Display Network, without compromising the effectiveness of your search campaigns. It’s a user-friendly way to extend your search campaign onto the Display Network and benefit from increased high-quality clicks and strong ROI without the hassle of additional optimisation work. It works by accurately predicting where your ads are likely to perform best so they’re only shown in locations relevant to your ideal user. Find out more.