Ready to delve into the two most popular ways to advertise online?
These are Search Engine Marketing and Display Advertising, and while both can really help your business, they’re also pretty different. Let’s look at how both kinds of ads work, where they show up, and what they look like so you know how best to use them.
Ok. Imagine you've recently gotten into cycling. Now it's been a couple of weeks since your last ride and when you get your bike out you realise you have a flat tyre and are all out of spare tubes. You open up a search engine and type in "Bike shop near me.”
What does this say about you? Well, we can see that you know what you want, and that you're actively looking for a bike shop this very moment.
With search engine marketing, advertisers use this insight to reach potential customers as they are actively looking for something.
So people tell search engines what they want online. And advertisers bid for their ads to show up against the searches that relate to what they sell.
For example, a person who is actively using a search engine to find a bike shop near them is almost definitely a potential customer for this service - for a bike shop owner, this is the perfect time to tell them about your store that's just around the corner.
Display advertising works differently. The person it targets isn’t necessarily searching for a business like yours, or actively showing interest in the products or services you offer.
The offline world equivalent might be billboards or magazine ads. Perhaps people didn’t actively seek out your product or service. But, you can choose where your billboards are located or the right publications to place your ads in, which can help you get in front of the right kinds of people who might have an interest in your business.
In the online world of display advertising, that means finding websites where your potential customers are likely to be spending time, or targeting people who have showed specific interests through the sites they visit or other online behaviour.
In our bike shop example, your ideal customer is probably reading news about the Tour de France, blogs about cycling technique or watching YouTube videos on how to service their bike. So those could be the places to show them your “billboard” online.
Here’s another difference between search and display: where the ads show up.
Let’s say someone searches for bike shops near them and your ad appears—but they don’t click it. Maybe they clicked on one of the other results instead.
With search engine marketing, your ad can only show up when people are searching. So when they’ve left the search engine and are browsing around the web, you can’t reach them this way.
But with display advertising, your ads can show up on any website that’s offering advertising space, and it means that you can tap into millions of additional websites beyond search engines.
There’s one last difference between search and display: the ads themselves. The ads on search engines are usually just made up of text. There’s typically some kind of a headline, some descriptive text, a link you can click, and maybe a few other things, like an address or phone number, depending on what options the search engine offers.
Display advertising, on the other hand, gives advertisers many more creative options: different sizes and formats, images, video, and more. This means there are heaps more opportunities to get a potential customer’s attention.
So now you can see how search and display advertising differ, but hopefully you’re also getting a sense of how these can work together. Grabbing someone’s attention with a dazzling display ad is a great way to get on their radar. Later on, when they’re looking to act or make a purchase, they’re likely to head to a search engine. If your ads then appear on their search, they might recognise you and click to visit your site instead of the competition's!
To sum up, search and display advertising can both attract new customers, just in different ways.
Knowing how they work, where ads can be shown, and what ad formats are available can help you get the right message in front of the right people no matter where they are online.
Search engine marketing and display advertising can both help you find customers and grow your business, but they work differently. Here, we’ll compare the two, explaining:
- how they both work
- where the different ads appear
- what those advertisements look like.