This month Google has announced another change to Google Adwords – the addition of a Display Network tab which will consolidate all display reporting and targeting in one place.

I’ve come to the conclusion that this is to increase the use of Google’s display network by making it easier to use, to keep up with competition and, of course, to make more money. 

Display network advertising through Google has seen a lot of improvements over the last year and they have been pushing it almost as much as their search advertising.

However, it has always been harder to grasp and easier to make mistakes on than the search network. Hopefully this update will help users be able to manage campaigns more easily so people can get better results for their websites.

Of course, making it more accessible to people who don’t really know what they’re doing enables Google to make more money out of it, but this is something we’ve had to get used to a lot recently. 

Aside from visual changes, the update is mainly to improve contextual targeting, which has always been hard to assess the value of, but probably one of the most commonly used targeting methods within the display network.

For those not familiar with it, contextual targeting is adding keywords to your ad group which are then found on websites within Google’s display network and your ads can be shown on these pages.

Contextual targeting has historically been assessed by analysing the placements (websites) that your ads have been shown on and adding any that don’t work well as negatives. Those that do work well can benefit from being split out into another campaign and set as a managed placement so that you can optimise performance.  

Previously, no data has been available for the keywords that led to ad impressions. Meaning the whole concept of contextual ads was hard to measure and hard to improve performance. 

The addition of keyword data in a new Display Network tab sounds very useful. However, I only hope that this data doesn’t come at the cost of something else. 

I’m a fan of combining contextual targeting with Audiences and Topic targets. This enables ads to be shown to users who are likely to be interested in your service at a time when they are looking at something related to it.

The conversion rate is often a lot better than you could achieve through contextual targeting alone. 

The screenshot of the new Display Network interface looks like it has very good potential for analysing keywords, placements, topics and audiences (interests and remarketing lists) with a simple button navigation between these and the same for exclusions below.

Google AdWords Display Network Tab 

Improving the contextual targeting while everyone is fretting over audiences and privacy policies is probably a clever move. 

Based on the research that says Display Advertising will overtake search in 2015, Google is in a competitive industry, alongside companies who are based on traditional media buying and offer ad space based on the number of impressions you want, all the way through to advertising platforms that show users what they added to their basket but didn’t purchase on another site. 

Since intelligent remarketing entered the market place I have been wondering how Google is going to compete with this level of technology, but it seems that it is improving what it’s good at and making AdWords the optimal choice of advertising platform for small businesses, leaving DoubleClick to compete with the more advanced ad platforms.

Rather than trying to compete with the companies offering complex targeting I think Google is sticking to its market and continuing to be the advertising platform for the masses.

This has been affirmed through the launch of AdWords Express, which at the moment is limited to search campaigns, and by the creation of a new intelligent ad builder which builds image ads for you based on your current ad text. 

I’m interested in hearing what other people think about these updates, do you think Google are making life easier for advertisers? Let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.