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Search and Display Ads on Mobile

Know the difference between search ads and display ads.

When it comes to search ads vs. display ads, it’s so important to understand the difference between the two ad formats. Select the wrong type of ad and you can quickly blow through your budget, sans results (ouch!). On the other hand, get it right and you can successfully build a brand and boost conversions with your target audience. Let’s look at what makes search and display advertising stand out from one another.

Location, Location, Location

The primary difference between search ads and display ads is their location on the web.

Search ads only appear on search results pages. When someone searches for a keyword you have bid on, it triggers your ad to appear in the “Ad” section of the results page (on Google, the very top and very bottom).

The great part about search ads is they are shown to people who are looking for your products or services. The user types in a keyword that is relevant to your ad, which allows you to reach an audience more likely to sign up, download a demo, or make a purchase.

Display ads, on the other hand, are shown to your audience when they are on other sites, but are not looking for your products or services. For example, the user could be reading a food blog or researching vacation spots when your ad appears on the page. The content they’re consuming doesn’t have to relate to your brand for your ad to be shown.

What’s great about display advertising is it helps introduce or remind your audience of your brand, even when they aren’t thinking about your brand. It’s a strategy that can be used to build brand awareness or keep your brand in front of established customers, all while they’re spending time on their favorite websites.

Making the Call: Search Ads vs. Display Ads

Now that you know the difference between search and display ads, you can determine which ad type best meets the goals and intent of your campaign. You may even want to combine the two ad types to make an even bigger impact…but that’s another blog post.

Sheila Hart-O’Connor is a word geek who is passionate about all things digital. She specializes in advertising and marketing copy, with a lean toward SEO, social media, and blogging.