Every digital marketer faces the dilemma of choosing between search ads or display ads or the combination of two within their digital marketing ad campaigns. But unfortunately, there is no tried and tested formula that works for any digital marketing campaign. You need to try multiple ways and find the one that best fits your campaign.

Whether you have just entered the digital marketing world or you are a genius in it, we have come up with some tips and tricks that can help you go a long way in making profits.

Search and display ads are two of the salient approaches that you should have expertise in when it comes to digital advertising. Before you decide what works better for you, let’s dive into the topic and analyze the factors that will determine whether search or display advertising will lend itself better to your PPC goals.

What Are Search & Display Ads?

Search Ads

Paid search is one of the key forms of PPC advertising which lets the brands pay to display above and below the organic results on the Google Search Engine Results page.

Search Ads have three main components which include the headline, the description as well as the display URL. Sometimes it also consists of Ad Extensions that provide users with some additional information.

Your quality score decides the ranking of your ad, the cost per click as well as how often it appears.

Display Ads

Even though google display advertising operates differently from paid search, still it exists within the Google Ads interface.

To begin with, display ads are not confined to the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) like you would find with search adverts. Instead, display ads appear across the entire Google Display Network, which consists of over 2 million sites & reaches over 90% of online users.

Display adverts let you put your ads in front of your potential customers without having them look for you. This helps the brands to draw further in the “awareness” and “interest” stages of the marketing funnel.

Display adverts help brands build awareness rather than targeting people who are ready to purchase the product right at a particular point in time.

One major advantage of display advertising is the flexibility that comes with it. You can use a wide range of sizes and a collection of images which lets you use greater creativity which further helps your brand stand out among the competitors.

Push (Display) Vs. Pull (Search) Advertising

One of the key factors that differentiate display and search advertising is the technique used in them. Display ads use the push technique whereas search ads use the pull approach.

If you put it in simple words, then it implies that search ads will only be shown to people who are already searching for the type of products and services that are offered by your brand. On the other hand, by using display ads you can approach your desired target audience using different parameters that include watching a video, reading emails, browsing the web.

Several tools like Google Adwords planner and Google tools help you determine search volumes that give you a brief on how familiar searchers are with your products and brand.

If your search volume data reveals that your brand’s products and services already have notable searches, then you should start with a search ad campaign. But in case the high search volume is not high, then it would be better to emphasize display advertising first so that you can spread some brand awareness for the products and services you offer.

Comparing Metrics

Majorly, the two metrics that you have to consider with display and search ads are the conversion rate and the cost per click.

Average CVR

The average conversion rate for search campaigns goes around 3% whereas in the case of display campaigns it is 1%. The reason behind this difference lies in the fact that the search network deals with audiences who are ready to make a purchase so they are more likely to convert than those who are at an earlier phase of the buyer’s journey.

Average CPR

Since the average conversion rate is low for display adverts, it must also be noted that the cost per click is also significantly less (about three quarters less). This makes it a viable option for the businesses that have budget constraints but it is advised that you should choose a strategy that best serves your business goals.

When Should You Use Search Ads?

If You Have A Limited Budget

If you are someone who is new to digital marketing or creating low budget constraints, then search engine advertising is the best to start off. When you bid on highly relevant keywords, you are able to have more control over who you reach, which helps you produce more quality leads, hence, more conversion rates. This leads to a better return on investment (ROI).

It is easier to measure the success of search campaigns. When your search campaign is refined, it makes it easier for you to request more of a budget and to expand into Display Advertising & the Google Display Network.

Use It When You Have To Advertise Emergency Products

If you are someone who offers an emergency product or service such as a plumber, doctor, or mechanic, then there are chances that people are using the search engine to find you there and then. Hence, it is better to start with search ads, as you are looking to captivate this audience with the purpose of making a purchase.

Odds are that people are searching for such services on mobile phones. So, in order to make it convenient for the searcher to contact you, you should try implementing call extensions within your search ads, which will give you an edge over your competitor.

When Your Target Audience Is Local


If your target audience is local, search ads are better for you than display ads as display ads are used to target audiences over a wider area. You will get the best return on search ads when you are targeting a smaller and more specific audience. Just like emergency services, people are probably searching for local businesses to use their products and services right then and there, so search ads are the best way to capture the attention of the local audience.

When To Use Display Ads?

Use It For Visual Products And Services

If you have a huge collection of photos and videos of the products and services offered by you, then display advertising is the best way to promote your business. This stands true especially if your business relies on making an impression on the viewer with how it looks. Examples include home décor, photography, etc.

It is notable that Google has made efforts to encourage people to make use of the video content within their campaigns. It is a known fact that people are more likely to engage with video content than the typical text and image ads.

Make Use Of It To Create Brand Awareness

If you are someone who is new in business or is involved in selling products and services that are unique to the industry, your prime focus should be on building your brand and its image.

The Google Display Network offers you a great opportunity to display your brand in front of potential customers.

Chances are people are opening the browser to watch videos, read blogs, or to keep them updated on the news and might not be interested in digesting all their adverts of the day. But with display advertising, you can target your audience based on their demographic as well as the keywords & content they are entering into the search engine. You can also plan to target specific websites that your audience spends time on.

It is not necessary that the viewer is currently in the market for the product or service provided by you, however, they might be in the “conversion” or “consideration” phase of the marketing funnel. There’s a good probability that they will remember your brand.

An amusing way to measure the effectiveness of any branded display campaigns that you are running is to create a search campaign that only targets branded terms. This is more likely to show you an increase in impressions for your brand name.

This points to an interesting fact that in this way you can use a push approach to create a pull for your brand and its products/services.

Use It For Longer Sales Cycle

As it has been highlighted previously, search ads are suitable for businesses that have a shorter sales cycle without much need for retargeting. But if your brand offers products and services that are not purchased immediately, then you must make sure that your brand remains in the forefront position in the minds of the potential consumers whilst they are in the consideration and purchasing stages.

Ensure that you retarget the customers who have interacted with your brand in the past.

Bottom Line: What Suits You – Search Ads Or Display Ads?

It is obvious that display ads and search ads both offer their own benefits to your business, but practically, determining what best suits your business depends on different cases. However, we have attempted to simplify the factors that can help you reach a decision on what is best suitable for your brand.

Team IdeaClan

Team IdeaClan

A martech company with 10+ years in the market that is engaging technology and media buying skills to transform the face of digital marketing