B2B Marketing – How to Run Lead Generation Ads on Display

Are you looking to create awareness about your new product or service, get your brand in front of your potential customers or ensure top-of-mind brand recall? 


Display advertising on Google Display Network (GDN) might just be the solution you are seeking.

GDN is an arm of Google AdWords which lets you target people outside of the search engine. Unlike search ads wherein your ads appear in Google’s search results and are heavily dependent on the keyword selection, display ads are showcased across a network of 2 million websites and over 650,000 apps that your potential customers visit and use frequently.

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Why Advertise on Google Display Network?

As a B2B marketer who wants to generate high-quality leads, GDN poses ample opportunity to get your product or services out in front of your potential customers. 

Whether it’s capturing someone’s interest early on in the buying cycle or reminding past visitors to return to your website – there are multiple ways to create awareness and generate leads by targeting the right people at the right time at the right website. 

Here are 3 key reasons why it makes total sense for B2B marketers to run display campaigns – 

1. Massive reach

The Google Display Network reaches 90% of Internet users worldwide, across millions of websites, news pages, blogs, and Google sites like Gmail and YouTube.

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Impressive, right?

Truth is, people are always “online” – they are either watching videos on YouTube, browsing websites, using mobile apps or checking their emails on Gmail and GDN has the potential to reach your prospects on all these platforms. 

Whether you are aiming to generate awareness or boost conversions, the best part about display advertising is that it lets you influence every stage in the buyer’s journey.

2. Ability to segment and target users

The success of your display campaign predominantly depends on how specific and relevant your targeting criteria is. 

Unlike search advertising, GDN gives you various options to segment and target your users to ensure you reach the right people who would be genuinely interested in your product/service. 

These are the targeting options you have – 

  • Placement targeting – you choose the website you want to run your ad on.
    Eg. if you are a PR agency, you can choose websites that target PR professionals such as PRWeek.com, HolmesReport.com and SpinSucks.com among others to place your ad
  • Contextual targeting – ads are placed on websites related to the keywords you provide
    Eg. if you are a B2B furniture retailer, you can target keywords such as ‘office furniture’, ‘hotel furniture’, etc. and Google will place your ad on relevant websites matching these keywords
  • Topic targeting – ads are placed on websites basis your selection of pre-assigned topics
    Eg. if you are an automobile manufacturing company, you can select topics such as ‘Auto & Vehicles’, ‘Business & Industrial>Transportation & Logistics’, etc. to reach that particular group of websites
  • Interest targeting – ads are shown to users who match certain interests
    Eg. if you are a real estate exhibition company, you can select interests such as ‘Real Estate’, ‘Arts & Entertainment>Events & Listings’ to target users who have shown interest in these categories
  • Remarketing – ads are shown to users who visited your website earlier
    Eg. if a potential customer viewed the pricing or product page on your website, you can choose to serve ads and re-engage with them

3. Acquire Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)

You might argue that why spend on display ads if you can run search ads and get high quality leads. You are right, that’s what search is for – to cater to people with specific intents but that does mean you turn a blind eye over display advertising. 

Display ads are great for creating a demand. So, if you are running a webinar or selling an eBook, you should consider running display campaigns and acquire MQLs. 

How to Set Up a Display Campaign for Lead Generation?

From banner and static image ads to video and rich media ads – display ads come in various formats. When a user clicks on the ad, they are directed to your lead generating landing page. Your ad needs to be visually appealing with a clear call-to-action to attract clicks. 

pasted image 0 (1)-6Display ad on a third-party website

pasted image 0 (2)-6After clicking on the ad, the user arrives on a landing page like this 

Let’s take a look at how you can set up a display campaign – 

Step 1: Create Campaign

1. On your campaign manager dashboard, select ‘Campaigns’, click on the ‘+’ sign and ‘new campaign’

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2. Select ‘Leads’ and click ‘Continue’

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3. Select ‘Display’ and click ‘Continue’

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4. Select ‘Standard display campaign’ for your ad to be showcased across a wide network of websites. If you just want your ads to run exclusively on Gmail, you can select ‘Gmail campaign’. For this example, let’s go with the first option

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5. Enter your website’s URL and name your campaign

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6. Select locations, languages, bidding strategy and budget. Locations will help you target ads to a specific area, languages ensure your ad is shown to users with the same language settings

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When you select ‘manually set bids’, you are setting an exact amount you will be spending for ad clicks. On the other hand, selecting ‘automatically maximize clicks’ will let Google automatically adjust the bids to maximize conversions

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7. ‘Ad rotation’ is best set at ‘optimize’ so people don’t end up seeing the same ad twice

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8. Choose the start and end date of your campaign

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9. ‘Devices’ lets you select the devices you want your ad to appear on

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10. ‘Frequency capping’ lets you select the number of times you want the user to see your ad – it’s best to let Google optimize this

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11. Under ‘Content Exclusions’, you can choose the kind of content/pages wherein you don’t want your ad to display

pasted image 0 (15)12. Once you have made your selections, you can proceed to create your ad group. A campaign can have multiple ad groups which can all target a different set of keywords

Step 2: Select Targeting

This step involves selecting the audience that you wish to target with your ad. 

1. The’ Audience’ tab displays the 3 types of audiences you can target with your ads – 

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  • Custom affinity audience – create this list by selecting interests/industries that would pertain to your audience from the drop-down list. You can also further customize this list by adding URLs, keywords, and apps that would be relevant to them

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  • In-market segment – this lets select topics related to a product/service that your audience is actively searching for

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  • Remarketing – select this when you want to target people who have engaged with your business earlier. For instance, website visitors or people who have downloaded your mobile app

2. Narrow your list further by selecting the demographics of your target audience based on their age, gender, household income and parental status

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3. That’s not all, you can enhance your targeting list and make it more specific by clicking on ‘Content’ and narrowing it down further on the basis of Keywords, Placement and Topics

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4. The ‘Targeting Expansion’ options lets you drive more conversions at the same average cost per acquisition (CPA). This lets Google maximize reach and performance by displaying ads on relevant websites. You can view the weekly estimate of increased reach by using the slider 

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Step 3: Create Ad

Now that the technicalities are taken care of, let’s get down to creating the display ad.

Responsive display ads are the default ad type for display campaigns. They save the time spent on creating different versions of the ad as they automatically adjust to the size, appearance and format of the ad space on the Google Display Network. 

1. Click ‘New Ad’

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2. Enter the elements and design your display ad which can be previewed (on the side) as you proceed

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  • Final URL – URL of the website that people clicking the ad will be directed to 
  • Images, Logos and Videos – this is where you will upload the images, 30-second or less videos and brand logo. It is recommended to have multiple visual assets as it gets easier for Google to optimize your ads
  • Headline and description – short headline needs to 30 characters or less which appears in tight spaces. The long headline is 90 characters or less and appears when there is enough space for it. The description may or may not always appear and is meant to build on the headline, urging users to take action

3. Make sure you look into Google’s Ad Strength tool to check the relevancy of your ad before going live

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4. Once done, click ‘Add to Ad Group’ towards the end of the page. It’s a good practice to include 3 to 4 ads with different visual assets and text to see which one resonates best with the target audience

How to Optimize your Display Campaigns and Get Quality Leads?

You have created multiple ads that will be shown across a wide network of websites and apps. Here’s how you can ensure you get your money’s worth and set you display campaign up for success –


1. Remarket to similar audiences

Remarketing is when you target people who have engaged with your website in the past. 

Similar audiences take this a step further and targets people who have not only visited your website before but also share similar interests, demographics and online behaviors as the people already on your remarketing list.

The marriage of the two is a powerful way to drive new traffic, generate more qualified leads and boost conversions. 

2. Use category exclusions 

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Million sites are part of the Google Display Network and there will be many that will be completely irrelevant to your brand and may even contradict its core values. This is where you must look into using category exclusions.

You can prevent your ads from displaying on sites with sexually suggestive content, profanity, sensitive social issues and any other undesirable site that contradicts your brand. 

You can also continually view which websites are displaying your ad by clicking on the ‘Placements’ and ‘Where Ads Showed’ and track their performance. 

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Identify websites with a poor conversion rate or those that might go against your brand health and remove them from the list. 

3. Add call-to-action extensions

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Google recently introduced a new call-to-action extension for YouTube video ads which is displayed while the ad is running. This helps increase website clicks and drive conversions. These are only applicable to TrueView in-stream video ads. You just have 10 characters for the CTA button so make it short and effective.  

4. Create Managed Placements campaigns

Managed placements let you choose the websites, videos and apps you want your ad to be displayed on. You can assign a unique bid to a specific web page and if it performs well, you can increase the bid for better performance. This can be accessed under the Audience tab, click Content > Placements

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Now that you know how to set up and optimize display campaigns, here’s an example to help you understand the concept better. 

Let’s say you’re the marketing manager of XYZ, a time-tracking and productivity tool that wants to target decision makers in remote companies and generate leads through a display campaign. 

Select the location as ‘all countries and territories’ and language as ‘English’. Under Audiences, start entering keywords related to your business such as freelancers, remote jobs, time tracking software, etc. This will help you narrow down on your custom intent audience. 

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Select the demographics as per follows.

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Choose the topics and keywords you want to target.

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Once you have selected the audience, you can proceed to design the ad with the appropriate image, message and call-to-action, as stated above. 

Final Thoughts

The core idea behind running display campaigns is to be part of the user’s journey without intruding. 

Unlike search wherein people are actively looking for information, display is more subtle but that does not make it any less powerful in generating leads considering the vast variety of targeting options it offers to reach the right audience on the right websites.

So, if your digital marketing agency has not explored digital campaigns yet, you now know what you’re missing out on. 

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