The Five Different Types of Google Ad (and what you should spend on them)

Google ads split up their advertising into five major categories, which all work slightly differently and have slightly different approaches that marketers need to take. Today we’re breaking them down, so you can properly understand where your ad dollars are going.

Shopping Ads

Shopping campaigns are a PPC scheme that tend to cost more, but give users much more information about your product: users will get an image, a price, even product reviews and delivery information. If you run multiple shopping campaigns, you can have your products show up multiple times in response to the same search. A shopping campaign looks like this:


It’s right at the top, with a clickable image. These are gold, but unfortunately they cost it too.

Shopping campaigns aren’t based around keywords: they use the product data you submit in the merchant center to make sure your ads go out to the right people, and they’re generally pretty good at it.

Shopping ads are a huge visibility boost, and we feel it’s acceptable to take a slightly worse ROI if you’re getting the raw numbers, but even then you don’t want to go below 2x ROAS. $1 into shopping campaign clicks should be $2 of revenue minimum, and if you’re getting less than that, you might want to reconsider your merchant data and/or your investment into Google Shopping Ads at all.

Search Ads

You’ve seen these: they look like regular search results, but with a little AD badge out front, and they go at the top (and sometimes bottom) of a search.

There’s some overlap with Shopping Ads here: your Shopping Ads are also part of the search network, but for purposes of clarity, when we say Search Ads, we’re talking about the sort of text-only ad above. These ads use keywords for targeting, which you should hopefully be familiar with at this point.

For both search and display ads, we recommend a 4x ROAS minimum. 4x generally is a good low tide mark to stick to: don’t drop below that unless you’re getting some other benefits.

Display Ads

Placement ads will appear in designated spots on approved websites. They look like this:


They give you the most ability to customize the visuals of what users are going to see, and are much more like traditional newspaper advertising. They use two different types of targeting: Targeted, which uses things like keywords to choose when to show them, and Observed, which bases placement on previous user data.

Video Ads

Google Video ads are, well … videos. They appear during Youtube videos or on other Display-Network affiliate streaming services. These ads need to be very punchy: you’ve got about 30 seconds of ad time total but 3 seconds before users are allowed to skip—if you haven’t grabbed the average user in 3 seconds or less, then you’re wasting your time. And believe me, unless the ad is something really special, most users will skip as soon as possible.

Despite that warning (and their higher production costs), video ads can be an extremely powerful tool if handled correctly. Don’t make a video ad without proper preparation: it’s so easy to get wrong, and you want to make sure you’re as well-prepared as possible before you begin filming. Production costs should be factored into whether or not a video ad is successful, and you should aim for a better ROAS: it’s not crazy to get 5–8x on a good video ad. 4x is more usual, though that 4x should factor in other costs.


App ads

These are ads for apps, not ads in apps. They actually can appear in apps, to make things extra-confusing, but they’re specifically advertising for a particular app, and they use some of the app’s assets to construct their ad. You need to provide Google with ad text and assets from the app itself, and they’ll build and display the ads for you. Targeting and bidding are automated, which can be a blessing or a curse: Google are pretty good at hitting the mark, but it can be disappointing not to have the fine-grained control that we’re accustomed to.

I’ve seen some claim a reliable 6x ROAS in these, but I’m a little skeptical. The lack of control makes it harder to push above 4x unless you really get lucky.

Anything else?

Of course, these aren’t the only types of ways to get your content on a SERP or in front of users: the Google SEO 3-pack and Google Posts are both recent additions by Google that can help you get those critical ad clicks. If you are looking for a design company to create your ads for you, or a company to help you come up with a digital marketing strategy, reach out to the design and marketing experts experts at CodeClouds.