Search Advertising vs Display Advertising in 2017

Display ad on youtube

Digital Advertising has given the advertisers the opportunity to create targeted ad campaigns, which was not provided earlier by the traditional methods of advertising on billboards, television or radio. With the Digital advertising (Search advertising or Display advertising), the advertiser can keep a track on the ad campaign, measure results and even the conversion rate from the ad campaigns.

What is Display Advertising?

Display advertising is one of the best ways to create awareness of a product or a business online. Display advertising gives the marketers or the business owners the opportunity to advertise on a popular website as well as promote the business with images and videos.

Google’s online advertising service, Google AdWords, has been a leader in the digital advertising market. Google’s Display network is a collection of more than a million websites, smartphone apps, videos, and other online destinations that show Google AdWords ads. Google Display Network opens the possibility for the advertisers to reach out to more than 80% of all internet users worldwide.

Below is an image of a display advertising on Trusted reviews.

Display advertising example


The article is about the comparison of iPhone 6S and Samsung Galaxy S7. And on the right side is the display ad banner of Comcast internet plan for a mobile phone. The marketers know that person looking for reviews of a mobile phone is on a hunt to buy one, and he takes advantage of this fact and provides an advertisement of an attractive offer. Display advertising gives the opportunity to target the audience based on their interest.


What is Search Advertising

Search advertising, on the other hand, is the method of using ads that show up when a user on a search engine searches for a specific product or keyword. Advertisers bid on keywords that they believe the users on a search engine might enter when looking for products or services. This gives the advertiser the opportunity to display their ads on search page results. These search ads are mostly displayed at the top, above the fold, of the organic results in the search engines. As a result, there is a higher chance of conversion since the user is already searching for that specific keyword or product.

In the image below, the arrows indicate the search ads displayed by Google for the search query “buy water softeners online”. Four ad results are placed above the first organic result. Google also displays the image ads for this search queries in addition to the traditional text ads. All this gives the advertisers better chance of conversion. Search ads are great for lead generations.

Search ads example


Search ads are great for local businesses. Local business can benefit a great deal from the search ads. If we observe closely at the results in the image above, we can notice that the first result is the company based in Salt Lake City ( And since I searched for this query from Salt Lake City, this result was displayed first. Search ads are also shown based on the location of the user, giving more opportunity for the local businesses. But the PPC or paid search are expensive, so it is very necessary for the marketer to target the right keywords to get the desired result.
Display ads can create awareness, provide value to the users as well as help companies to generate brand recall. One of the approaches that marketers consider for a successfully display ad campaign is to first establish contact and trust by providing value and solution to the users. And ultimately convert these users to buying customers.

Consider a display ad seen on a blog:display ad on blog

The ad not only shows what the company offers but also tries to provide value by offering a guide, as shown by the arrow in the image above. This ad serves two purposes. It creates awareness about the company and also has a Call to Action. When the user clicks the “Download Guide” button, he is redirected to the landing page of the company.
Landing page

landing page example
Landing page of MuleSoft


This landing page asks the user for his basic but important information. Only when the user submits his information, he can download a copy of the guide. The company now has the email id as well as the phone number of the user, which they can use to send newsletters, information of their products as well as promotional material. And ultimately tempt him to buy their products or services.
Advertisers also provide First-time discounts, Free trials as well as discount coupons for offline sales using the display ads. The ROI takes time with display advertising, but it can help to create loyal brand following.

Retargeting has also revolutionalized the way display ads are shown. People were surprised in the beginning when an ad related to their activity on a travel website was seen while reading an article on another blog. This has been possible because of retargeting. Google AdWords ads, Facebook ads take advantage of this technology. Retargeting helps the user to remember you and improve your chances of conversion.

Display ads are also shown to users who are generally in research phase or have no plans of buying particular products. They are generally shown to the user when he is reading an article on a website or blog, watching a video on youtube or scrolling through his new feed on social media such as facebook.
Examples of display ads shown on Youtube and Facebook:

Display ad on youtube
Display ad on YouTube


Display ad on Facebook
Display ad on Facebook

Display ads are visual, and even interactive nowadays which catches the attention of the users. Strategic placement of display ads is critical. Placing display ads on sites whose content is similar to the ad campaign can make the ads relevant and increases the chances of getting noticed and clicked.

Display ads offer the advertisers the following ways to reach out to the right audience:

  • Demographic targeting: It lets the advertiser target specific areas based on age group, gender.
  • Contextual targeting: This gives the advertisers the option to place ads on websites whose content matches with the keywords selected by the advertiser for ad campaign.
  •  Audience targeting: Using audience targeting, the ads will be shown to the users based on their interest or retargeting.
  • Placement targeting: This allows the advertisers to show their ads on specific websites.

The advertiser can get the best results when he combines both the methods of advertising. If the advertiser is already advertising on Google search network for paid searches, he can use his search network keyword list to get his ads up and running on the display network. Google AdWords matches the advertiser’s ad to Display network web pages based on his keyword list and other factors such as demographics and audience interest. So using the same list of keywords the advertiser can show ads on search page as well as on websites. Display ads help in creating brand awareness, brand recall, and loyalty, while search ads help in quick consideration and conversion. Using both paid search and display ads in an integrated strategy can help to create a successful ad campaign and boost ROI.



Article Name
Search Advertising vs Display Advertising in 2017
This article distinguished between Search and Display advertising and talks about the advertising strategies for SEO in 2017.