Search vs. Display Ads: Definitions and 5 Key Differences

At its most basic, search ads consist of three main parts: a headline, a display URL, and a description text. These advertisements aim to persuade viewers to click through by using inventive pairings of keywords and headlines. Ad extensions can also be used with search ads to give users more details about your company or product, and they have been shown to increase click-through rates (CTR).

One of the best features of the Google Ads platform is the ability to precisely target your audience to maximize your budget, no matter how big or small, and gives you the power to only serve ads to people who are interested in what you have to offer. The platform is also very flexible, allowing you to limit your daily spending by setting a maximum bid budget and only paying for clicks.

Display ads, unlike search ads, aren’t constrained to appearing in just one place (in this case, the SERPs). These advertisements run on millions of websites in the Google Display Network, allowing you to target users based on audience affinities, in-market segments, and custom intent keywords. Additionally, you can decide which web placements, like banner ads and other interactive formats, are most appropriate for reaching your target audience.

Google search ads and display ads differ primarily in that search ads are a type of “pull” advertising and display ads are “push” advertisements. This means that while display ads are paid placements that appear based on various targeting parameters, search ads only show up to people who are already looking for your product or service.

Difference Between Search And Display Ads | Adwords Search vs Display

What are display ads?

Display ads are areas you can buy to display your advertisements. Websites typically sell this real estate to businesses looking to display banners with text or other forms of advertising. You can typically place a bid for the space where you want to feature your content, similar to search advertising. You can submit a bid for an advertising network to take into account. In order to increase the likelihood that your audience will see your brand when browsing websites they frequently visit, the highest bidders may be awarded spaces on the banners of websites that are most relevant to your brand.

Display ads allow you to create various sizes of a single advertising concept to display on various platforms in keeping with the look, feel, and theme of the website. This enables you to create more innovative, captivating, and attention-grabbing advertisements that may stand out and successfully grab viewers’ attention.

What are search ads?

Paid advertising, also referred to as “search advertising” or “paid-per-click advertising,” allows businesses to place their marketing materials next to the search engine results for particular keywords. Their advertisements may show up at the top of search engine results when users enter keywords related to the business’s goods or services. Since these advertisements are relevant to the audience’s searches, it’s possible that they will be interested in the good or service you’re promoting, making them good prospects for the sales team to pursue.

Typically, only after you choose a list of specific keywords for the advertisement to appear alongside, do search ads show up on search engine results. When a user searches for certain phrases or words, businesses choose which keywords their ads will appear next to and can bid for their ads to appear at the top of the results page. Other companies typically bid for their advertisements placement as well. The desired search engine placement goes to the business with the highest bid amount.

Search vs. display ads

While both search and display advertisements are crucial paid strategies to include in your marketing plans, try to grasp their primary goals, appropriate times to use them, and ways to best take advantage of each. Common differences between search vs display ads include:

Brand awareness and leads

The majority of businesses with recently established brands frequently use display advertisements to market to their audience and increase brand recognition and awareness By directing your ads toward websites that, according to your research, your audience frequently visits, you can increase the likelihood that they will see your ads on those websites on a regular basis. This will help them become more familiar with and remember your brand, which will result in strong first impressions.

It may be simpler to reach a more relevant audience who may be looking for a business or product similar to yours since search ads focus on specific keywords. Because of this, search advertisements are frequently more successful at generating quality leads with a higher likelihood of making a purchase or learning more about the good or service you offer.

Marketing efforts

Each of these digital advertising options can improve your marketing efforts in various ways. By displaying your promotional materials to an audience that has already interacted with your brand or product, display ads let you recycle and remarket your materials. If a user clicked on an advertisement to view a blog post, for example, you can show them a similar advertisement for a different content item or format, like a white paper, on the same website you most recently used to target them.

When your target audience searches for related keywords, search ads let you display these various marketing materials right on search engines. You can use search engines to showcase your low-ranking pages or those with fewer clicks or visits so that they show up on page one. This gives you the opportunity to increase these pages’ visibility and aids in creating an organic presence for your marketing materials.

Cost for placement

If you’re on a tight budget, search ads are typically a better option than display ads. Search ads typically yield a higher return on investment because they are targeted toward a more specific audience and have a higher likelihood of leading that audience to learn more or make a purchase of the product, even though more businesses may place bids for them, pushing up the rates.

Visual elements

In contrast to search ads, which frequently only contain text to highlight their content marketing, display ads can also include graphics or images. This enables you to create an advertisement with more creativity to draw in and compel your audience to click and find out more. To better fit the website you’re featuring them on, display ads commonly come in a variety of formats, such as videos, text, or distinctive graphics.

Niche markets and audiences

Because you can look for websites that are similar to the brand or item you’re selling, display ads make it simpler to target a more precise audience. You can look for websites where audiences frequently visit and make an advertisement that corresponds to the information on those pages or the interests of the consumer. For instance, you could advertise lawnmowers on a website that offers advice and solutions for lawn care.


Are display ads cheaper than search?

Meaning that search ads are paid placements that only show up to people who are already looking for your product or service, whereas display ads are placements that show up based on different targeting criteria.

What is the difference between search and display network?

Search ads are probably the best starting point if your budget is tight. Building your brand with display ads will typically require a much larger budget and is unlikely to produce a favorable return on investment. Due to the fact that search ads typically have higher conversion rates, an increase in budget is justifiable.

What are disadvantages of display ads over search?

While the Display Network acts as a demand generator (your ads raise awareness), the Search Network acts as a demand harvester (your ads capture the intent).

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