Google Search Ads vs Display Ads – Know the Difference5 min read

Liquid Digital March 29, 2023
Google Search Ads vs Display Ads

As a business owner in today’s fast-paced digital landscape, it’s crucial to have a strong online presence and stand out amongst the competition. 

It’s not a secret that advertisers spend millions of dollars every year on Google Ads, and for good reason: they work. But the next question is, which type of Google ad is better to reach your marketing goals?

To help you avoid wasting your marketing budget, we’re here to explain the differences between the Google ads search network vs display network and how to determine which of these two ad formats is the most advantageous option.

Google Search Ads vs Display Ads 

When appropriately executed, combining display and search ads can yield better results than using just one of these ad formats alone. However, to effectively integrate them into your marketing strategy, it’s crucial to understand their individual strengths and how they can complement each other. Let’s dive in!

Google Search Ads 

Imagine having the power to put your business right in front of the eyes of your potential customers at the exact time they’re searching for what you have to offer. That’s precisely what Google Search Ads can do for you. 

This highly effective form of online advertising allows you to pay the search engine advertising platform (Google) for top placement in its search results. So every time someone types in keywords related to your products or services, your ad will pop up first on the results page. 

When to Use Google Search Ads:

For urgent needs

If your business handles urgent needs (such as plumbing, emergency dental, or veterinary services), search ads let you target those searching for these services.

When you have a limited marketing budget

Search ads are more cost-effective for businesses with a limited strategy budget. They generate conversions by targeting interested audiences and are easier to measure and report on for a return on investment compared to display ads.

To target a local audience

If your business is tailored to serve a particular local demographic, search ads can be an effective way of connecting with this audience, offering a more targeted approach than broader digital advertising campaigns.

To enhance SEO

Search ads are an excellent way to bring potential customers to your business and grow your online presence organically.

Google Search Ads Advantages:

Reach a wider customer base 

With targeted searches, you can ensure that your company’s ad reaches the right audience, allowing your business to gain a greater potential customer base.


Search advertising with Google is cost-effective, as it lets businesses pay only when someone clicks on their ad. 

Extremely customizable 

Best of all, there are numerous customizable features that allow you to measure how successful and effective your ads are in real time, enabling you to adjust them based on your desired results. 

Builds brand awareness

Google Search Ads provide businesses with an efficient way to build brand awareness while gaining high-quality leads – something every business should take advantage of!

Google Search

Google Display Ads 

In addition to traditional search ads, Google offers something called display campaigns. This enables advertisers to show their ads on a vast network of websites and apps, including news sites, YouTube, and social media platforms. These ads show up based on a user’s interests and other relevant criteria.

Display advertising comes in various forms, such as banner or image ads, that appear on websites via the Google Display Network. They work by connecting people to businesses in order to create an effective advertising campaign.

When to Use Display ads: 

When selling eye-catching products

For visually appealing products, video and image display ads can be more impactful than text-only search ads. Display ads are ideal for any new product launching strategy. They offer a greater chance to showcase your product and grab customer attention.

To build brand awareness 

Display ads are perfect for gaining brand recognition. They immediately garner interest in your product or service and reach new audiences through the extensive reach of the Google Display Network.

To target niche or luxury buyers 

Catering to a specialized audience can be tricky, and here is where display ads work like a charm. Display ads offer advantages over search engine-based advertising due to their ability to not only appear across search engine results pages, but also on websites and social media platforms.

Through thoughtful design, informative messaging, and targeting capabilities, display ads can help drive engagement and boost your brand’s awareness with the digital audience.

Long sales cycles

Display ads are a fantastic investment for long sales cycles, allowing you to stay top-of-mind while your prospects consider their options. Not only can you show off your brand’s best features long before a purchase is made, but once that purchase is on the horizon, you can easily retarget those same prospects with helpful messages about your product or service.

Display Ads Advantages:

Provide maximum visibility

Google display ads offer a great opportunity to reach customers at various stages of the funnel. Through the use of targeting parameters, they can be placed on search and display networks across millions of websites, giving your products or services maximum visibility. 

Enable a strong digital presence 

Google offers advanced research tools to tailor campaigns and assess the performance of display ads for different target audiences. These tools provide a way to determine the effectiveness of ads for specific customer demographics.

Google Display Ads vs Search Ads: The Winner Is? 

Ultimately, the form of advertising that will be right for you depends on your goals and budget. Google advertising takes the search engine optimization (SEO) process into account more than display ads do, which can help bring in more organic clicks and impressions. 

Display ads, on the other hand, can be shown across various websites and can be centered around specific topics like health, travel and lifestyle.

If you don’t have the budget capabilities, investing in a well-crafted display ad strategy can reap great rewards – just make sure to test regularly so that you can tweak what’s not working with your search ads as well.

And if you are still having trouble setting your marketing goals, check out Liquid Digital Agency’s article on How to Set Effective Marketing Goals for Your Business.