Digital marketing is expansive and diverse. For businesses who are working to build their own presence online, knowing how to attract the right audience at the right time is key to success, but the number of options for accomplishing this leaves many businesses struggling to find the best strategy for their unique needs.

Part of the problem is that reaching out to audiences online is not a one size fits all process, yet many approach it as such. While X, Y and Z might all work to produce results, your business is sure to go through phases where one works better than the others. It’s at points like these that it’s crucial to assess whether it’s display or search ads that are going to meet your current needs.

But, wait. You’ve heard that if you really want to optimize your results that it’s better to use them together. In many cases, this is true. However, there are times when it’s more effective to choose one to really zero in on. To help you recognize when it’s time to focus your efforts, let’s talk about the differences and what can make each of them the right choice for your business today.

Display Vs Search – What’s the Difference

You can’t really make the choice between display and search ads without understanding how they are different. While they’re each paid, clickable advertising on a digital platform, they are distinct in several ways.

Let’s start with how the user comes in contact with your ad. Search ads are the clickable ads that show up in search results based on the contents of a user’s query. These are the types of ads that have you spending so much time trying to come up with the perfect keyword strategy. If you know about Google AdWords, then you know about search ads.

On the other hand, display ads are shown to the user regardless of the reason they’re online. They’re like little purposeful, digital billboards that show up when you’re least expecting them to – and that’s a good thing. The intent behind display ads is to keep your brand in front of your audience, even when they’re not thinking about you.

From a SEM perspective, both display and search ads have pluses and minuses. Leveraging the right strategy is about weighing the pros and cons and determining how they fit in your current marketing goals and capabilities.

The Seamless Search Experience

Search ads are an important component of search engine marketing because they’re extremely relevant to the user’s search and they blend into the environment. In fact, it’s estimated that about half of internet users can’t immediately identify a search ad among search results. In many cases, someone will be as likely to click on a search ad as they would a typical search engine result.

From a practicality standpoint, search ads are typically less of a strain on a marketing budget, which is key for smaller businesses who are just beginning to build their visibility and establish their footing in the digital world. You’re not paying for these ads unless a user clicks on them, and since your ad is directly related to their search, the potential of them being a quality lead is higher.

Search ads are great for capturing the attention of an audience with intent. Your ad meets them at the very moment they have a need or curiosity, even if their point of conversion is a while down the road. Search ads are also known for producing fast and measurable results. If there’s a downside to search ads it’s that you’ll be facing a good amount of competition and if you don’t approach it with the right keyword strategy you can end up with costly dead end clicks.

Search ads are perfect when you’re at a point where you’re ready to meet the consumer and address their pain points. While there’s some nurturing involved, you’re not automatically starting from scratch, so you should be at a point in your business development where you feel confident in seamlessly moving them along your sales funnel once a search ad draws them in.

Dynamic Display Ads

As we move away from the subtleness of search ads, we find display ads. You could say that display ads have more character and are more noticeable – in other words, they’re more dynamic. While we could go back to the above statistic to illustrate the cons of display ads, there’s really no need. Instead, let’s focus on when display ads might be the best fit for your business.

Say you get a fair amount of website traffic, but your conversion rate is still low. The problem could be that you’re just not managing to leave a lasting impression with your audience. Don’t feel too bad, there’s a lot of digital noise out there and it’s easy to slip into the background.

Display ads, which follow the internet user around and show up when they’re least expecting it, help to keep your business on your audience’s mind. Sure, they might not be online specifically looking to buy that pair of shoes they checked out on your website last week, but your display ad featuring an offer is enough to make them go back and take another look.

Where search ads are more about nurturing intent, display ads are about visibility and awareness. They can be costlier and not everyone likes them, but they’re also overachievers in generating the brand awareness and traffic that is essential for growth. If you’ve tried search ads and had unimpressive results, display ads will get traffic moving in your direction.

We’d love to talk to you about PPC management and which strategy is going to produce results for your business. We’re the PPC company that has the solutions you need. Contact J2O Designs today to learn more.