The 7 Major Google Search Advertising Tactics Every Digital Marketer Should Understand

Google is certainly the daddy of Pay-per-click advertising. We can all agree on that. But when you’re first starting out in digital marketing my guess is that you are probably not all that familiar with all of the Google search advertising products offered under the Google Adwords umbrella.

And if you do understand, at least, the basic principles of the main Google search advertising techniques then you will be in a great position to impress your interviewer and hit the ground running in your new job.

The 7 Google search advertising products we are going to cover here are:

  1. Search Ads
  2. Display Ads
  3. YouTube Ads
  4. Gmail Advertising
  5. Re-marketing
  6. Google Shopping
  7. Customer Match

1). Search Ads

Probably the most common and well known type of pay-per click advertising are search ads. They are commonly known as Adwords (although Adwords is also the name for the tool or system that manages all of the 7 advertising types in this article). Search ads are text ads that sit above or below the organic search results…

The top 4 listings on the search results page are Search Ads identified by the green ad tag.

Search ads are used for brands to ensure there business appears on page one of the search engine results page (SERPs) for their brand terms and highly relevant keywords. They add credibility and support to your organic listings and give you a greater share of the search engine results page (i.e. if you have two listings rather than one, you are doubling your chance of a click) and crucially as with all pay-per-click advertising you only pay when the user clicks on your ad.

Search Ad Extensions

Search ad extensions are the extras that accompany the search text ad. They essentially “extend” your ad. Some of these extensions can be added manually by you via the Google Adwords platform and some are added automatically.

There are a range of extensions available including:

  • Call
  • Site links
  • Reviews
  • Ratings
  • Call outs
  • Download app
  • Location
The bottom 3 lines (2 x grey and 1 x blue links) are all forms of Search Ad Extensions.

Search ad extensions are used to improve the visibility of your ad, they give the ad greater real estate ownership on the page and they also work to improve your click-through rate. Just like the text ads, you only pay when the user takes the desired action which in this case may not always be a click – it could be a call or an app download.

2). Display Ads

Display ads are a visual ad format of various sizes that can be text, image or video and they are displayed on other relevant websites around the internet that are part of The Google Display Network.


Website publishers who want to get paid for carrying advertising on their websites sign up to the Google Display Network and make the ad slots on their site available to Google who serve the ads into the slots based on the advertisers preferences.

Display ads are usually used for brand campaigns and to raise awareness of a brand, they will rarely be used as a direct sales tactic. Once again they are only paid for when a user clicks so they can be a very useful way to promote and reinforce your brand without paying a lot of money for ad impressions (views).

3). YouTube Ads

There are two types of YouTube ads. The first type known as ‘in-stream’ appear when you click on a video and you are given the option to skip it after 5 seconds.

And the second type known as in-display appear on the right hand side of the search results on YouTube.


The benefits of these types of video ads are you only pay when someone has watched your video for 30 seconds or more and if you bear in mind that videos now appear more and more on page one of the search results page; your ads can get great visibility. Like display ads they work best for branding and awareness rather than directly driving the sale.

4). Gmail advertising

Gmail ads sit at the top of the users browser in gmail just above the first email in the inbox and they are specially designed to look like an email and because of this often get clicked by users who think they are genuine emails. They are expandable ads that when clicked open up into email sized display ads that can include video, images and text.

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

The ads are targeted to users based on their gmail account profile settings for example their location, their job title, or their interests. It takes two clicks for the user to arrive on your website as they have to first click the ad to expand it and then click the expanded ad to reach the site. This double click means that you will rarely get mistaken clicks reaching your site, so they can be a very effective ad format. You also only pay when the user takes the second click.

5). Remarketing

Remarketing is a tactic that Google developed to allow you to target ads to people who have already visited your website. You install the remarking code on your site that cookies the user who visits your site. This allows Google to know when the user visits another site that is in their Google Display Network. If the user meets your advertising requirements Google will show them your ad to bring them back to your site again. And we all know that people are more likely to buy or take action on repeat visits.

Image courtesy of TheSEMarket
Image courtesy of TheSEMarket

Remarketing is a great way to reinforce your advertising message. Or you can tailor your message to the user depending on the action they took on your website. Businesses use remarketing ads to great effect when they know someone has left something in their shopping cart, or abandoned the sale at the last minute.

Two additional features of re-marketing are dynamic remarking and RLSAs.

Dynamic remarketing

Dynamic remarketing allows you to vary the product or message the user sees on the ad depending on what product they have viewed on your website. For example if a user viewed food processors on the John Lewis site but didn’t buy one, John Lewis would be able to find that user again when they are browsing another site and remind them of the specific food processor that they were viewing previously. Whilst these are a form of display ads they are used further along the customer journey to directly encourage the sale.


RLSAs are essentially a feature that allows you to run remarketing search ads. It stands for Remarketing Lists for Search Ads and means you can tailor your search ads for someone who has previously visited your site. Crucially you can also bid more for people who search for one of your relevant keywords and who have visited your site. This allows you to be even more targeted with your search advertising and make the most of your ad spend.

A good example of this is where a very generic keyword is normally too expensive for you to bid on as it could generate a lot of irrelevant clicks and traffic, but you can afford to bid on it when you know the person has already visited your site once, as they are more likely to convert.

6). Google Shopping

Shopping ads sit above or to the right of the organic search ads and they show photos, ratings, brand and prices of products for a particular search. They are great for driving the sale when a user knows exactly what it is they are looking to buy. And if you have a specific promotional offer on a product that you want to get in front of a keen buyer before the competition, it’s a great way to do that.


7). Customer Match

Customer match allows you to find your existing customers or leads on Google by uploading a list of their email addresses that can then be matched to people signed into Google via their Google accounts. For this to be effective and worthwhile you really need to have a large database with many email addresses and if you have a high percentage of gmail addresses on your database it is definitely worth you giving it a go. Once you’ve uploaded your list you can then use the list to target search ads, YouTube ads and Gmail ads.

Image courtesy of Resolution Media
Image courtesy of Resolution Media

This is a good way to convert a lead into sale or sell more to an existing customer. You can even exclude the list from campaigns to make sure you don’t waste any ad spend targeting old prospects.

Similar audiences is a feature of customer match and this allows you to create lists of people with similar characteristics (according to Google) to those people on your customer list. So essentially meaning you can find more of the same (or similar).

So there you have it, Google’s 7 major advertising options. Knowing about these options will certainly give you credibility in a digital marketing interview.

If you want to learn more about search engine marketing our Search Engine Marketing Training is 100% online and is available now – check it out!

About post author

Hello. My name is Lucy Smith. I recently quit my full-time Marketing Director role at a tech start-up in London, (after 13 years hard graft getting there), in favour of starting up on my own. Why? The journey from graduating with a 2:1 in Media and Cultural Studies to Marketing Director hasn't all been plain sailing, but is has been challenging and tremendous fun. A career path that I heartily recommend to anyone who will listen. Digital Marketing For Graduates is my brain-child. I'd like to give something back, as well as have the experience of starting my own business. I will give it my all. Provide and source the very best information I can, but I know I can't do it all alone. For Digital Marketing For Grads to evolve I will need some help. Please get in touch if you'd like to be part of the idea.
Posted in Working in Commercial Roles