Digital Marketing as a discipline encompasses a diverse range of subjects, including Search Engine Optimization (SEO), email marketing, social media, and more. This page is intended as a guide to biddable media topics and techniques! Click a link below to jump to biddable media topic:
- What is Biddable Media?
- Getting Started with Google Ads
- Paid Search Ads
- Display Ads
- Video Ads
- Shopping Ads
- Amazon Advertising
- Facebook for Business
What is Biddable Media?
You may be wondering what biddable media even is in the first place. To answer that, it’s important to distinguish between two important digital marketing topics: organic marketing and paid media.
Organic marketing is free and relies on optimization based on algorithms used by Google and social media platforms. With organic marketing, audiences find a business naturally. One tool for organic marketing includes both onsite and offsite Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques. Learn more in my blog post:
Paid Media is purchased by a company to deliver its message to audiences and potential consumers. Specifically, biddable media relies on auctions and bidding methods to purchase ads in marketing channels, such as Google searches, banner ads, and YouTube videos. The four main types of biddable media are paid search, display ads, video ads, and shopping ads.
Learn more about the difference between organic and biddable media in this video from Six & Flow.
Getting Started with Google Ads
Google Ads, previously called Google AdWords, is the most widely used network for paid media. Google Ads include Paid Search, Display, Video, Shopping, and App Ad Campaigns. We’ll discuss the first four types in more detail below.
Once you create a free Google Ads account for your business, you can start building campaigns. As with traditional marketing campaigns, your digital marketing campaigns should begin with a strategy and a goal. Google offers six preset goals: Sales, Leads, Website traffic, Product and brand consideration, Brand awareness and reach, and App promotion. Your chosen campaign goal will determine the available campaign types.
The benefit of using Google Ads for digital marketing over traditional marketing channels is that you only pay for results. With Google Ads, you only pay based on the bidding method. For example, if you are bidding based on Cost-Per-Click (CPC), you will only pay when users click on your ad. Thus, your marketing budget spent in Google Ads should be proportional to the results you see from the campaign. This makes Google Ads a viable option for any size business with various budget sizes.
Google Search Ads are text ads that appear alongside organic search results when users conduct Google Searches. The Search campaign type can be used for 3 of the Google Ads campaign goals: Sales, Leads, and Website Traffic.
Campaign Settings: Paid Search
There are several campaign-level settings for Google Search Ads, including location targeting, languages, and budgets and bids. Many of these options as well as options at the ad group level are discussed in my blog post about creating a successful Valentine’s Day search campaign:
When discussing biddable media topics and techniques, it’s important to mention Location targeting in Google Ads, especially for local businesses. Geotargeting ensures you get the most out of your budget by only serving ads to a relevant audience. Under Location settings, you can set the target location that is relevant for your business. If you select Advanced search, you can add lists of target locations or set a radius.
For example, if you owned Harry Miller Flowers in Dearborn, MI, you could set a 15 mile radius around the address of your business. Using your business’s address gives you even more precise results than just using cities or zip codes.
Ad Group Settings: Paid Search Keywords
Ad Groups for Paid Search Ads are made up of keywords and ads. For more information on coming up with relevant keywords, read my blog post about Keyword Research:
Another important biddable media topic is keyword match types. Using the proper keyword match types will increase your ad’s relevance to the search queries your ad runs on. You can also use keyword match types for negative keywords, which prevent your ad from running on search queries with those keywords. The keyword match types from most general to most specific are:
- Broad: Adding keywords without any symbols means your ad could show for search queries somewhat related to any of your keywords
- +Broad Match Modifier: Adding +keywords with a plus sign before means that your ad can only show for search queries that contain those words or close variations of them. However, other words can be between or around the mandatory words.
- “Phrase Match”: Adding “keywords” with quotation marks surrounding a group of words means that your ad can only show for search queries that contain those words in that order without other words between them. However, other words can surround your phrase.
- [Exact Match]: Adding [keywords] with square brackets means that your ad can only show for search queries that include the exact words in the same order without any other words. Google does allow for small variations, however, such as plurals and small misspellings.
Ad Group Settings: Paid Search Text Ads
When you create a Paid Search text ad, you can add up to 3 headlines and 2 descriptions. However, with Responsive Search Ads, you can enter up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions. When serving your responsive text ad, Google will select at most 3 headlines and 2 descriptions to display. This provides greater flexibility and higher performance because Google tests which combinations are most relevant.
Ad Rank: Paid Search
The next biddable media topics and techniques relate to Ad Rank. Ad Rank determines which ads show and in what order. For Paid Search Ads, there is a new ad auction for every new Google search query. Therefore, Ad Rank tabulates again every time your ad is eligible to participate in the ad auction. The three main aspects of AdRank are:
- Bid Amount: This is the maximum cost-per-click (CPC) you are willing to spend for your ad. Keep in mind, however, that the bid is only a portion of Ad Rank and high max CPC doesn’t guarantee the first ad position.
- Quality Score: Google rates the quality of your ad on a scale from 1-10 based on the Expected Click-Through Rate (CTR), Landing Page, and Ad Relevance. You can learn more about Quality Score in my blog post.
- Ad Format Impact: Google prefers ads that provide more relevant information for users, such as through Ad Extensions.
Google Display Ads go beyond text ads with the inclusion of rich media, such as images or videos. These ads also include headlines and descriptions. You can create Display Ads for all 5 of the main campaign goals, but they are commonly used for Brand Awareness and Reach. To create a Display Ad, first, you’ll need to create a campaign.
Campaign Settings: Display Ads
In this example, I will choose the Brand Awareness and Reach campaign goal. Similarly to Google Search Ads, you can change the geotargeting location and language settings at the campaign level. You will also need to set the Budget and Bid Amount.
Because the Display Ads are focused on brand awareness, we want the bid strategy to be based on the number of impressions our ad receives. Thus, selecting the Viewable CPM bid strategy will focus on getting the most impressions, defined as 50% or more of an ad being shown for 1 second.
Settings like Start and End Dates and Ad Schedule that we saw in the Search Ad campaign settings are also available for Display Ads. The largest differences between Search Ads and Display Ads come at the ad group level.
Ad Group Settings: Display Ads
The first thing you will notice when setting up your Display Ads is that, unlike Search Ads, Display Ads don’t depend on keywords. Although you can use keywords in Content Targeting, the main technique for getting your ads in front of the right people is through Targeted Audiences or Targeted Demographics. Learn more about how targeting works in Display Ads in my blog post about using target audiences in the tourism industry:
The aforementioned Content Targeting is another method you can use to control where your ad gets served. The options for Content Targeting are adding Keywords, Topics, or Placements. The most widely used of these is probably Placements, which allows you to select the specific websites, videos, or apps you want your Display Ad to run on.
When it comes to actually creating your Display Ads, you can choose to upload your own ad or create a Responsive Display Ad. With Responsive Display Ads, Google allows you to add up to 5 headlines and descriptions and up to 5 videos, if desired. Responsive Display Ads also require at least 1 square and 1 landscape image. From these, Google will use machine learning to combine your provided assets into different Display Ads. This creates flexibility and allows your ads to appear in various ad spaces of different sizes across the Google Display Network. For a tutorial on how to create Responsive Display Ads, watch this video from the Google Ads YouTube channel:
Google Video Ads provide businesses with the opportunity to reach potential customers through different channels than with display ads. With Video Ads, you can reach audiences on YouTube as well as on sites that run on Google Video Partners.
Video Ads are most commonly used for “Brand Awareness and Reach” or “Product and Brand Consideration.” However, you can create Video ads for any of the 5 main campaign goal types.
Campaign Settings: Video Ads
The Campaign Settings for Google Video Ads are similar to the settings for Display ads with a few additions. After selecting the campaign goal and the Video campaign type, choose a campaign subtype. The available subtypes change based on the chosen campaign goal. For Sales, Leads, and Website Traffic campaign goals, you do not need to choose a campaign subtype because your Video ad will automatically be set to Drive Conversions. Read more about the video ad formats in my blog post:
In addition to the Content Label and Type exclusions that we saw with display ads, Video ads also have inventory types, which control the type of content your ads get served alongside. You can select from Expanded Inventory, Standard Inventory, and Limited Inventory. For example, if you are advertising for a family-friendly brand, you may wish to change the inventory type to Limited Inventory, which would prevent your ad from running on content with repeated profanity or violence.
Ad Group Settings: Video Ads
At the Ad Group level, you can designate placements for Video Ads similarly to Display. Video placements allow you to choose YouTube channels or videos where you want your ads to play. Adding more placements increases the available impressions for your Video ads.
Based on the Video ad format selected, there are different options when creating your ad. For skippable in-stream ads, upload or choose a YouTube video to be your Video ad. Then, choose the final URL for the ad as well as the display URL. You may also wish to create an optional call-to-action (CTA), which includes both a headline and a URL, depending on your marketing goals.
Google Shopping Ads help retailers with both e-commerce and brick and mortar locations. With Shopping, retailers connect their Google Merchant Center account to upload store and product information through a data feed. For example, retailers upload photos, prices, and descriptions of items. Then, Google uses that information to create ads that include an image, title, price, and business name.
This is useful both for retailers looking to sell online as well as for brick and mortar stores. With local inventory ads, Google helps retailers take advantage of “near me” search queries. For instance, if someone searches for “lamps near me,” Google can show data on in-stock items nearby. Learn even more about Shopping Ad Campaigns from the Google Support page.
Beyond Google Ads
While Google Ads is the largest ad network for biddable media, there are other platforms out there. Businesses might use these platforms as alternatives or in combination with Google Ads. In any case, many of these other ad platforms are based on the Google Ads models for bidding and ad auctions, making them other forms of biddable media.
Amazon Advertising allows businesses to purchase ad units directly through the nearly ubiquitous e-commerce distributor, Amazon. This is a good option for small businesses with only a few products selling through Amazon as well as for large brands looking to increase their e-commerce sales. Amazon Advertising provides four “Self-Service Solutions” for businesses to consider:
- Sponsored Products: You’ve probably seen Sponsored Products while looking for items on Amazon. Amazon displays Sponsored Products alongside Amazon search results based on relevance to the search query. Using Sponsored Products can help your products get discovered and increase sales.
- Sponsored Brands: Sponsored brands works similarly to Sponsored Products, but allows sellers on Amazon to display a series of products rather than just one. These can help build brand awareness in broader product searches.
- Sponsored Display (still in beta): Sponsored Display ads provide more information about your products and will be available for placements both on Amazon and on other sites.
- Stores: With Stores, you can create a multi-page user interface for your business on Amazon. This gives you the space to tell your story, display all your products, and provide potential customers with your brand experience without even leaving Amazon.
Facebook for Business
Facebook for Business provides businesses the opportunity to reach audiences on Facebook and Instagram. The platform operates similarly to Google Ads and is based on marketing objectives much like campaign goals. These marketing objectives include traffic, engagement, and conversions.
Facebook also allows you to select an audience like in Google Display Ads. For example, you can target audiences based on interests and behavior, geotargeting, and demographics.
Furthermore, Facebook for Business offers several ad formats, including single images or videos, slideshows, multiple images, Facebook or Instagram stories, Messenger ads, and more. Therefore, businesses have a variety of flexible options for biddable media through social media.
To learn more about biddable media topics and techniques, check out the resources I have compiled in my blog post here: