Regardless of our deep appreciation for AdWords, we are the first to admit that setting up your very first PPC campaign isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Sure, it’s not rocket science, but unless you know a thing or two about the different campaign options, you could find yourself a little overwhelmed.

First things first. Meet the three main campaign types:

1)       Search Network Only

2)       Display Network Only

3)       Search Network with Display Select

Introductions complete. Put simply; these networks make up the places where your ads can appear. Because each campaign type offers a different set of benefits, it’s important that you choose a campaign that complements your advertising objectives.

If you are gunning for more clicks, you’ll find that the Search Network option is more suitable or alternatively, if you want to propel your brand into the spotlight you’ll be better off choosing a Display Network campaign.

In this post we’ll break down the three campaign types and hopefully give you a better understanding of this somewhat complex realm we PPC nerds operate in:

Search Network Only

So what is the Search Network? The Google Search Network is a collection of search-related websites where your ads may be placed. This includes Google search sites as well as Google search partners.

Ad placement: If you choose the Search Network campaign, your ads will appear throughout the Google network, including: Google Search, Shopping, Maps, Images, Groups, and Google search partners like AOL.

But how does it work? Your ads are matched to the search results page (SERP) based on the keywords or key phrases that appear in the search query. Therefore, a user who searches for flower delivery services Sydney will see an ad that includes those keywords. This campaign type primarily supports text-format ads.

P.S. If you’re starting to feel comfortable with your Search Network campaign, remarketing is an additional feature you could consider.

Essentially, this feature operates in the same way a stalker would: when people leave your site without converting to leads, the remarketing list (which you can customize) programs your ads to pop up while your ex-visitor continues their search in Google.

Who should use the Search Network? If you are looking for immediate conversions then a Search campaign may be right for you. If someone is looking for your services, and your ad shwos up at the right time, and you take them to a relevant landing page then the chances are good that they could convert.

Display Network Only

What is the Display Network? The Google Display Network is a selection of more than a million websites, videos and apps where your AdWords ad can appear.

Chances are you’ve been browsing your favourite news site, found a bunch of ads relevant to you and thought what the heck? THAT is the power of the Google Display Network. 

Ad placement: The Display Network works in such a way that your ads can be automatically matched to websites and other platforms that feature content related to your keywords.

To put the cherry on the sundae, you can also target specific sites, specific topics, demographic groups and more.

How does it work? This campaign options lets you display your ad to prospective customers at the right place at the right time. How? In a number of magical ways. The best part is that you can choose for yourself.

Reach users by keywords and topics using contextual targeting, choose a specific site or page with managed placements or discover users who are already interested in your product or service by creating a remarketing campaign or adding interest categories. 

Is Display Network the right option for me? Because the set-up is quite intricate, this option is best suited to more experienced AdWords advertisers. The ROI is usually not as high a Search campaign. So, we strongly recommend cutting your teeth in Search prior to venturing into Display land.

While incredibly effective in many ways, you should consider Google AdWords training before sprinting into this somewhat competitive arena.

Display Network campaigns are a fantastic option for advertisers with the following marketing objectives:

  • You want to build brand awareness by displaying ads across a multitude of channels
  • You want to feature rich multimedia ads with striking images or video content 
Search Network with Display Select 

What is the Search Network with Display Select: This is a relatively new campaign upgrade option that essentially combines Search Network with Display Network visibility. This addition promises to help you reach new customers by sharing your PPC budget across both networks.

While your ad will appear on both networks, there are a couple of key differences between Display Select and simple Display Network.

What are the key differences?

  • Your ad will only appear on the Display Network when the ad impression is most likely going to lead to a purchase
  • The maximum cost-per-click (Max CPC) bidding is automated and optimized by Google. This is not ideal if you like to be in complete control of your campaign.

Ad placement: Your ad will be shown on the Search Network, search partner sites and when relevant, within the greater Display Network.

These placements include: websites showing relevant Google ads, Video, Apps, Google Mail, YouTube, Blogger, and Google Finance. 

How does it work? This campaign will target your prospect through typical Search Network keywords as well as managed website placements, remarketing (for search ads only) and by selecting site categories.

Should I choose this option? In a word, no. While Google tends to recommend this option for AdWords newbies, we can’t help but disagree. When kicking off your first AdWords campaign, you want to have as much control as possible – this option takes away that control. 


When it comes to discussing campaign types, we’ve only just scraped the surface of this Google-deep iceberg. There are many features which allow you to further customize your campaigns as well as a new kid on the block known as the Shopping Campaign. That in itself is another story we are looking forward to exploring.

It really comes down to this though; new AdWords advertisers need to have a firm grip on their advertising objectives before picking a campaign type.

Don’t be an eager beaver! Starting off with the simple Search Network Display option is the best way to kick off your foray into paid advertising.

Determine your business goals first, and set your campaign budget. Then test, test and test some more.



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