Display vs. Search Ads: When to Use One or the Other

Jun 5, 2018 | Marketing

When it comes to digital marketing, every business should consider pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. With its ability to have precise control over who and where you serve ads to as well as the flexibility to alter your budget at any point, PPC advertising is a great tactic to add to your marketing arsenal. PPC marketing is divided into two categories: display advertising and search advertising. If you are thinking about implementing PPC into your marketing plan, which of these tactics do you choose? Both are great for marketing, but they also perform two very different functions. Understanding more about display and search advertising will help you choose which tactic is right for your practice.

Display Advertising

Display advertising shows digital ads on third-party websites cooperating in Google’s AdSense program. (For an example of what that looks like, see the image below — ads are highlighted with red boxes.) This is a great strategy for brand awareness purposes. When a user (and perhaps a potential new patient) is browsing the web, we can target websites to show ads branding your practice. The main focus is to have your practice name always in the back of the user’s mind while they aren’t actively searching for a service you provide. You can have a call to action with display advertising, but conversion rates are much lower than with search advertising.

Your ads are placed on websites based on one or many factors you can choose from, like matching similar keywords between your ad content and the website, demographics, audiences, topic matching, interest targeting, and placement targeting. A lot of these targeting methods can violate HIPAA regulations, so when we do display advertising for a Member, we are very careful when targeting to ensure the Member’s practice isn’t breaking any rules.

Display Ad Example

Search Advertising

Search advertising targets users by keywords. When someone does a search on Google’s platform, there are ads that show up at the top and bottom of the search results page alongside organic search results.

Search Ad Example

Search advertising is great for finding people who have already done their research and are ready to make a decision. The goal is to be one of the first results on Google, so when someone wants to act on a service you provide, you are one of the first options visible. Smart Sight’s article mentions that Google had 74.54% of the search engine market share with 1.2 trillion searches made in 2017. This is a huge area of opportunity for anyone who wants to invest in their digital marketing.

Push vs. Pull

A marketing explanation that fits well with display and search ads is the “push vs. pull” concept. Display ads are considered “push” marketing because you are putting your ads in front of the user when they aren’t actively searching for your services. Display ads are meant to always be in front of the users you are targeting so that when they do need a service, your business is at the top of their mind.

Search advertising is considered “pull” marketing because the user has an idea of what they want and are actively searching for a solution to their needs. These ads must speak to the user and quickly give them the information they need to click on the ad, since other competitors are trying to draw the user to their ads as well.

Which Should Your Practice Use?

Now that you have a better understanding of the difference between these two types of advertising strategies, which would benefit your practice more? The answer you might be anticipating is that it depends on what your marketing goals are. Remember, display advertising is typically for things like brand awareness. As an example, if you have a new location in a new area, display advertising would be great for building it some brand recognition. Search advertising is used to capture a share of the users who are searching for a service you provide. This is generally a great tactic for most members to use to bring in more patient flow. Many members find success running both display and search advertising at the same time. If you have questions about how paid search can help your practice, contact our team to learn more!