scientist and attractive woman side by side

Simple answer:

  • Search ads are text-based ads that appear only on Google's or Bing's search results pages.
  • Display ads are visual ads that can appear anywhere on the internet on a websites someone is visiting.

Answer with a little more detail:

  • Search ads show on search engines results page (SERP) when your prospects are actively searching for your product or service using keywords. They're far enough along in their research to be seeking to contact your business. And since they're further along the proverbial sales funnel, it means Search ads cost more than Display ads.
  • Display ads follow people around the web after they've already searched for anything from shoes to cars, from homes to plastic surgeons. You've no doubt seen a visual ad pop up on any number of websites after you'd searched for something specific.
  • Display ads can be targeted to reach those who have already been to your website, who have been to your competitor's websites, or have conducted an online search using the keywords you've designated.

And now that our phones are always listening, even when you talk about something that interests you, an ad for that product or service might appear on any number of websites you visit.

Two ways to appear on the search results page.

  • You can pay for ads, which are shown with the word "Sponsored." This gets you on page one on day one.
  • You can appear in the organic results below the sponsored ads, but this takes a long time, and a serious effort, to happen.

One study shows the first organic result gets 18x more clicks than the #1 paid result.

screenshot of search ads for plastic surgeons

The difference in cost... is huge.

Search ads

Someone finding a link to your website on a Google or Bing search dramatically increases the chances they'll go to your website. The direct connection of a Search ad  to your company is what makes the cost higher.

The costs associated with Search ads are:

  1. Cost per Click (CPC). It depends on your market, but if you're a home builder, each time a prospect clicks your link might cost you between $5 and $10. Google tells you how much you need to spend per click to appear in the top position, so your CPC is never guesswork.
  2. Total spend per day. Say your daily budget is $100 and your CPC is $10. After the first 10 clicks your ads goes away because you'd have reached your daily limit.
  3. Ads management. Managing your Google Ads is not for the inexperienced. It requires a deep dive into Google's data to know how to set the parameters, and how to analyze the engagement rates. Plus, in order to keep current, your ads need to be monitored constantly and tweaked based on the data.
Display ads

Display ads could cost as little as 5 or 10 cents per click. Of course, there are a lot of variables that determines this, but with a limited budget, display ads would be the way to go.

The ad management costs associated with display ads are the same as search ads. Ads management isn't something you should take on yourself unless you have a lot of time on your hands to both learn, and monitor, the activity through Google Ads program.

All ads are based on a series of targeting parameters.

Google writes about setting up parameters, and there are lots of them. Things like identifying those who click on your ads, whether they're on a laptop or using using their mobile device, where they were located when they clicked your ads, and much more such as:

  • The interests of the people clicking your ads
  • The products and services they're searching for
  • The different types of websites they browse
  • The apps they use.

Google has to approve your display ads.

We've run ads for ourselves to try to connect with both home builders and plastic surgeons.

We created an ad series using images that are used on plastic surgeon websites like this:

young woman in lingerie sitting by window

However, the ad was rejected because it was too suggestive containing too much nudity. So we ended up running this ad, which was much less suggestive.

ad of woman standing in distance on beach

If this information has you feeling a bit overwhelmed, one simple call might make things easier.  Or drop us an email here, so we can talk about how we can help you with your Google ads.