Google Display Network Continues Evolution With 4 New Features

Google’s Display Network has grown considerably over the past several years, and in 2011 is expected to surpass a $1 billion revenue stream – Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt is even envisioning $20 billion+ in display business. This growth has come from a combination of acquisitions, and product developments.

This month Google rolled out the latest features in the evolution of the product. These four features increase the transparency in display buying, and provide advertisers improved ways to optimize their programs. Let’s look at what’s new.

1. Relative CTR

This metric compares your CTR with other ads running on the same placements across the network. You can add this metric by selecting “relative CTR” in the campaigns and ad groups tabs (same steps for impression share, which I’ll talk about next). This is especially helpful because CTRs for display aren’t the same as search, and with many of these campaigns being run out of the same account it can provide context.

I looked at a few of our clients relative CTR metrics, and found that across all of these sample clients our total relative CTR was exactly the same. Could this be a coincidence, or just the newness of the metric? Hard to say, but I’ll be watching this closely over the new few weeks.

All online campaigns column filter

2. Impression Share

This has been in play for a few years in search, and is now available for display campaigns. This metric is used to better understand how frequently your ad is showing vs. available impressions, and what factors are limiting the ad from showing more frequently (rank or budget).

The impression share metric is a good directional tool. It helps you better understand how deep the market goes, and quantify the “how high is up” opportunity.

However, this is never a metric to be optimized against, similar to average position.
Optimization decisions should be based on conversion events, and not SOV metrics. One surprising thing about this metric is how much impression share can be lost due to rank even when the rank is in the top 3 (between 30 and 70 percent). Always remember how average position can be deceiving.

Lost IS rank

3. Content Ads Diagnostic Tool

Just like search, you have the ability to understand if your ads are running, and if not, why. This really helps in the display network where you can’t always find your ad out in the wild that easily. A simply click will allow you to see this data. Note: This won’t be available to all advertisers until July.

Ads running on this placement No

Showing ads right now Yes

4. Unseen Impression Filter

If your ad is shown below the fold Google is predicting if someone will scroll down the page. If Google predicts that your ad won’t actually appear on the screen, then it will filter that out from the impression count.

This has been a pain point for media buyers, and while “predicting” when someone will scroll down isn’t the same as only having above the fold placements, it’s a start. This feature is automatically enabled, and requires no action to set-up.


For Google, these changes are great steps toward the evolution and transparency of display media. The digital media world continues to move toward a “paid media” world where the lines and metrics around both search and display get gray. This evolution will allow marketers to make better targeting decisions to consumer throughout the funnel, and create a better experience for consumers.

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