Google Display Ads Tutorial

Getting started with Google Display Ads can seem like a monumental undertaking, but Surfside PPC has developed a series of YouTube Tutorials and articles like this to help you get started on the right foot. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about Google Display Advertising; with tips, strategies, and information on conversion tracking, campaign creation, and targeting. We want to help you get the most bang for your buck with your Google Display Advertising campaigns.

Google Display Ads


Google Display Ads Tutorial

Before we begin, we invite you to view our YouTube Google Ads Tutorial and read the corresponding article. We provide in-depth coverage on how to create your Google Ads account and focus on different types of conversion data. We also walk you through how to link your Google Analytics account. If you are not familiar with Google Ads, the tutorial contains a good wealth of information.

Google Display Ads help you promote your business when people are browsing online, watching YouTube videos, checking Gmail, or using mobile devices and apps. The Google Display Network reaches 90 percent of Internet users worldwide, across millions of websites, news pages, blogs, and Google sites like Gmail and YouTube. Targeting options let you strategically show your message to potential customers in the right place and at the right time.

Before you begin; you need to ensure that your Google Analytics and Google Ads accounts are linked. In your Google Ad Words account, view the “Linked Accounts” section under the Tools menu on the top of your screen. Here you will double check that the account link is completed, and your Auto-Tagging is enabled. By linking your two accounts, it will make it much easier to track conversions in order to optimize for leads, sales, and revenue, rather than just website traffic.

Next you will want to import your conversions from Google Analytics into Google Ads for tracking. If you go in your Tools menu and click on “conversions” and use the “Add a New Conversion” button to review your options – you can see website, app, phone calls and import. When you click on “Import”, you will see a list of sources available to you.

For example, in our previous tutorial we were using our Farmhouse Décor affiliate site as an example. We selected the goals of Duration and Page Views, marked both and clicked “continue”; importing those two goals into Google Ads. This is an incredibly important step to complete; as conversion tracking will help you optimize your Google Display Ads campaigns and utilize your budget more effectively.

Create a New Google Display Campaign

Once you have your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts linked, and your conversions imported from Google Analytics into Google Ads, you are ready to get started. To begin click the plus (+) sign to create a new campaign, and choose Display as the Campaign Type. Once you have done this you will want to select sales or leads, depending on what you want to optimize. You can choose some of the other Google Display Ads campaign goals as well, but generally those goals will not perform as well as the sales and leads goals.

As an example in this tutorial, we will be setting up a Standard Display Campaign; which we have selected. We will then enter our Farmhouse Goals URL at the bottom of the page. Adding your URL to this location in the set-up process will assist with your audience targeting in the next step.

Next, you want to name your campaign and select what locations you would like your campaign to target. You can run your ad across the whole U.S. or various DMAs, regions and selected radius locations; all the way down to the city and county level of every state.

With Display Campaigns, location targeting is extremely important, especially if you are only serving a specific location. You want to make sure you are targeting the right people; which is why you also have the option to select or exclude individuals who might not be located in your area but are interested in it. We will go through some more of these options in detail on future tutorials on the Surfside PPC YouTube Channel.

From the same screen you can also set your language targeting. For this option, you want to enter all of the languages your targets speak.

Your next step will be choosing a bidding strategy; which is an extremely important part of your campaign. You will want to tailor your bidding strategy to your conversion goals. You can choose between bidding strategies such Target CPA, Target ROAS, Maximize Conversions, Maximize Clicks, Manual CPC, Enhanced CPC, and even Viewable Impression bidding. We prefer to use Target CPA or Target ROAS, but since we are setting up a new account in our tutorial; these bidding strategies will not be available to us until our conversion activity increases. We will set our conversion goal to clicks and start with a small budget until we can get enough traffic to switch over to either Target CPA or Target ROAS.

Target CPA, under the conversions selection, is a bidding strategy that sets bids to help get as many conversions as possible at the target cost-per-acquisition (CPA) you set. While setting this up, you will need to enter a monetary amount that indicates what a conversion is worth to your business. Your ultimate goal is to get your Target CPA down over time. For example, you may start with $10 per conversion; but if you continue to monitor that amount will go down.

Target ROAS, under conversion value, lets you bid based on a target return on ad spend (ROAS). Your bids are automatically optimized at auction-time, allowing you to tailor bids for each auction. For this strategy, if you set it at 100 percent, for every dollar you spend you will gain a dollar in revenue. So, we typically start around 110 percent when beginning a profitable campaign; and we will scale up from there. While you are setting your bid strategy initially; you need to make sure you are keeping an eye on your results and making updates to the settings are your campaign progresses.

Once you have your bidding down, you will move to the budget section, you can choose either standard or accelerated delivery. For our example campaign, and for most that we run, we will select standard; which will spend our budget more evenly over time.

Next, you can choose some additional Google Display Ads settings. For example, you can select how you would like to optimize your ads with Ad Rotation. For this setting we highly recommend you choose the Optimize setting, which will show ads that are expected to get more clicks and conversions.

You can also set-up Ad Scheduling, choose the ad start and end dates, change the Device Targeting, frequency capping, campaign content exclusions, and more. We will note that with frequency capping, you can set a limit on how many times one individual user will see the same ad. Also, campaign exclusions can help if you want to avoid content that doesn’t fit your brand; including sensitive social issues, profanity, etc.

Ad Groups & Targeting

Next, you will name your ad groups and set-up your ad targeting. Once you have these completed and running, you may see a majority of your initial conversion activity in your first ad group; that’s okay. Just make sure to keep an eye on the other groups. At Surfside PPC we sometimes pause our first Ad Group to give the following groups time to increase activity.

You can choose ad targeting like Affinity Audiences, Custom Affinity Audiences, In-Market Audiences, Custom Intent Audiences, Remarketing Audiences, Similar Audiences, and Demographics including Age, Gender, Parental Status, and Household Income. Typically, we don’t recommend putting a ton of targeting into one group. It’s good to separate activity into different groups in order to maximize your budget.

Remarketing Audiences will typically perform the best for you since those are people who have already interacted with your business in some form. But regardless, you want to select a set of Audiences and Demographics that will perform best for your organization. We will go through remarketing in more detail in an upcoming tutorial.

Affinity Audiences are best for brand awareness and reach; and are useful to advertisers who are looking to raise awareness and drive consideration among affinity groups that have a strong interest in their products. Add affinity audiences to your audience targeting to reach people based on their specific interests as they browse pages across the web.

Custom Affinity Audiences are also good for brand awareness and reach. When using Custom Affinity targeting, enter the interests your audience is likely to have, and then Display & Video 360 will intelligently define an audience without unnecessarily limiting the scale of your campaigns. So, for our Farmhouse site, Google has already defined several farmhouse décor interest areas for us.

In-market Targeting (also known as “interest category marketing”) is useful to advertisers who are looking to raise awareness and drive consideration among people who are “in-market” to purchase a particular type of good or service. For example, if you are looking in banking services, you can go as targeted as aiming your ad to consumers who are interested in opening a new checking or savings account. And if you can’t find your audience in the list, you can enter a search, phrase or URL to locate the correct audience for your campaign.

Custom Intent Audiences allow you to go beyond Display & Video 360’s predefined In-Market categories and use your own keywords, URLs (websites), and apps to reach specific people as they are making a purchase decision related to your product or service. When we type in Farmhouse Décor, we can create custom audiences related to our set of keywords and URLs. Google recommends including at least 50 areas of interest. And we recommend that you keep these areas very specific. For instance, if we choose very specific Farmhouse décor related key words and then add “home décor” as a key word at the end; we are broadening our reach too much.


When you are selecting your demographics for your audience; we do recommend that you log onto your Google Analytics account and review the demographic information available. For example, for our Farmhouse site, our demographics are predominantly female, ages 25-64. So, when we go back into our audience targeting, we have the option of selecting those demographics in order to reach the customers who are looking at our site the most. If you view your Google Analytics and your gender is more 50/50 and no age range stands out, you can leave these settings more open. We typically do not use the unknown age settings; as we want our targets to be above the age of 18.

Content Targeting

Next, you can choose to narrow your audience by Content Targeting. You are basically telling Google Ads where you want your ads to show on the Google Display Network. You can narrow your reach with Keywords, Topics, or Placements, but we don’t use Keywords or Topics very often with Content Targeting.

We will sometimes utilize Placements if we have a very broad audience; but if your audience count is already on the small side; you can significantly limit your reach with Placement targeting on websites, YouTube channels, videos, apps, and more. When you are using demographics and interests to target your audience; you are already reaching people who are interested in your content.

Additionally, you can also use Targeting Expansion to increase your reach based on the positive targeting you have already selected. In essence, you can reach more users by letting Google look for high-performing audiences similar to your target. We generally recommend starting low in this setting and increasing the expansion as your campaign progresses.


Lastly, we come to one of the most important parts of your campaign—creating your ad. When you reach this point in your set-up, you will have the choice between uploading Display Ads and creating Responsive Display Ads.

When you are uploading Display Ads, you will need to follow certain specs. Supported files format include GIF, JPEG, and PNG with a max file size of 150 KB; so, no large images can be used. There are quite a few size options available when uploading; and if you have the creative capability, we recommend designing and uploading every size. if you don’t have the knowledge or time to create these ads on your own; we recommend you outsource your talent through a site like For more information on ad sizing, we encourage you to view our YouTube Tutorial.

Once you have uploaded your ads, you will click on “Add to Ad Group”. In this stage, you can also add Responsive Display Ads. Responsive display ads are the default ad type for the Display Network. They automatically adjust their size, appearance, and format to fit just about any available ad space. To create these ads, upload the different ad assets, including headlines, logos, images, and videos into a single creative.

For image sizes for Responsive Display Ads, we recommend starting with 800 x 800 and 1200 x 628. You can do smaller sizes, but these typically perform the best. In addition, you will want to upload two versions of your logo – 4:1 rectangle and 1:1 square. Once you have uploaded at least two images (we usually do 3 to 4) and your logos; Google will then render your ads and serve them across the Display Network, optimizing them to build a high-performing ad at the time of the impression. Using Responsive display ads leaves the work of creative testing and optimization to Google and enables you to focus on better ad performance so you can get the most out of your budget.

If you want more information on creating Responsive Display Ads, we have a tutorial available on our Surfside PPC YouTube Channel.
Once you have entered all of your headlines and corresponding information, including a call to action text, you can choose to send traffic to a final URL or use different landing pages to test what ads are driving the most sales. You can also personalize your color choices to create a more engaging ad.

When you have added all of this information, you will need to review the details on your confirmation pages. Once you have double checked your information, click on “Create Campaign”. You can now look at your campaign in Google Ads, add different Ad Groups and test out different audience targeting options. We highly recommend testing as many aspects of your campaign as you can; you never really know what will work best for you until you have tried different options.

If you would like more information, including more tutorials on Google Ads, we invite you to subscribe to the Surfside PPC YouTube Channel.

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