If you are running a Google Ads campaign, and getting into the nitty gritty of it, you may have seen a setting that asks you if you want to run your ads on Google’s Display Network and if you also want to run ads on Google Search Partners. This last option means your ads and/or product listings appear on dozens and dozens of other websites besides Google.com and Google properties like Gmail. These other websites, or apps, are what Google calls Google’s Search Partner Network. Partners extend the reach of Google search ads to hundreds of non-Google websites as well as YouTube. Although YouTube is owned by Google, Google considers it a search partner.
When you create a new search campaign, Google signs you up for your ads to appear in the Google Display Network and Google Search Partners. This allows your ads to appear on properties owned by Google (like Google Shopping and Google Maps), as well as companies they have partnered with (i.e. Amazon and Walmart), and other websites that sell ad placements. You pay to be part of the Google Search Network, so some companies wonder if it’s worth the extra cost.
In this post, we’ll explain the differences between the Google Display Network and Google Search Partners, and how to tell if placing your ads is working or not. If you decide it’s not, we’ll explain how to make sure your ads don’t appear on these sites.
What’s the Difference Between Google’s Display Network and Google’s Search Partners?
Google’s Display Network includes ads on google.com, ads in Google Shopping, Google Maps, and Gmail.
Google Search Partners are anything outside of Google’s search engine that uses Google Ads. They can include text and videos. Some examples are:
- Search results and product pages on Amazon, Walmart, and Target
It is unknown exactly how many sites are in the Google Search Partners network, as Google doesn’t release a complete list of their Google Search Partners. Google partner websites follow Google policies regarding privacy in order to show ads. They receive a share of the advertising profits every time your ad is clicked.
Where Do Ads Appear?
Within the search partner sites, your ads and listings may appear on search results pages. Your ads will look similar to how they appear in the Google Display Network, although you may see some differences. You cannot pick and choose where you want your ads to appear among Google Search Partners. It’s all or nothing. However, you can opt out of the Google Search Network entirely. That means every cent goes to the Google Display Network and you don’t spend a penny on Google Search Partners. That said, before you pull the plug, check to see if the Google Search network is actually paying off for you.
A Few Examples to Help You Understand
Go to Google and search for “Geico.” Your results may look a little different than ours (Google results don’t look the same for everyone). But for us, the first thing that appears is an organic link to Geico, the insurance agency. It does not have the word “Sponsored” above it. So it’s a free, organic link. Geico didn’t pay for that position. However, beneath that, we see Google Maps locations displaying Geico agents. Those are ads.
Now go to Ask.com and search “Geico.” You’ll see product ads for Geico tents, and non-insurance agency Geico items, like posters on eBay. That’s because Geico, the insurance agency, has opted out of the Google Search Partner program.
Let’s try something else. Search for “Chicago yoga” on both Google and Ask.com. We don’t get products on either. But on Google, we get “Businesses,” which are part of the Google Display Network. They include various yoga studios near us in Chicago. On Ask.com, we get text ads for OrangeTheory, a fitness franchise, Bikram Yoga in the South Loop, and Equinox.
What accounts for all of these differences?
- Whether or not these companies have opted into or out of Google Search Partners.
- The keywords and phrases these companies are using.
- How much they’ve bid for these placements.
How Do I See if Google Search Partners Are Worth it?
For some companies, Google Search Partners pay off more than the Google Display Network. For others, Google Search Partners do nothing. In that case, you should opt-out. But first, check the effect.
- Go to https://ads.google.com/.
- Log in.
- Choose your campaign.
- Click on segment and network.
You’ll see results for both platforms.
How Do I Tell a Bad Result from a Good Result?
Many people assume that Google Display is always going to be the better performer, but it’s not for every industry.
You should pay attention to the conversion setting. Google Search Partners is worth keeping unless you see that you’re getting interactions and clicks but you’re no conversions. Conversions are what ultimately matter. Some common types of conversions include making purchases, signing up on a website, downloading something, subscribing to a service, or even using a section of software or app for a certain amount of time.
The conversion rate for Google Ads varies but most recent research shows that the average clickthrough (CTR) rate is 5.06%. These percentages may change depending on the type of business or industry you are in. If your conversion rate is way, way below this, the Google Search Partner option may not be worth it. If it’s above this, DEFINITELY keep the setting on.
How to Opt-Out of Google Search Partners
- Open the campaign settings for your campaign(s).
- Click the Networks section.
- Uncheck the box that says “Include Google Search Partners,” and click save.
What If You Only Want to Advertise in Google Search Partners and Not Google Display Network?
Sorry, that’s not an option. You can only use Google Search Partners if you also use Google Display Ads. You also can’t pick and choose which Search Partners you want to pay for and which you don’t.
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Whether you are new to digital advertising or not, we can assist your business. There is a lot that goes into creating and executing a great ad campaign. Because we have done so many of these campaigns over the years, we are one of the best at it.
- What is the Google Display Network?
- What are Google Search Partners?
- Where do ads appear on Google Search Partners?
- What’s the difference between Google Display Network and Google Search Partners?
- What is a good CTR on Google Display Network?