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Google Ads funnel

Types of Google Ads: Ad Formats, Campaign Types & Best Practices for 2023

1. Choosing the Right Ad Type for Your Business:

Are you looking to expand your business’s reach and drive more targeted traffic to your website? If so, Google ads can be a powerful tool in your digital marketing arsenal. This article is designed to help you understand the different types of Google ads available and determine which ones work best for your specific needs. As a professional Google ads management service provider, we have extensive experience helping businesses achieve their marketing goals through effective ad campaigns.

Google ads are an essential part of any digital marketing strategy, as they allow businesses to reach a large audience and drive targeted traffic to their website. There are various types of Google ads available, each with its unique features and benefits. By understanding the different types of ads and how they work, businesses can create more effective campaigns and achieve better results.

In this article, we’ll explore the five main types of Google ads: Search Ads, Display Ads, Video Ads, Shopping Ads, and App Ads. We’ll discuss the benefits of each ad type, how they work, and provide examples of successful campaigns.

2. Search Ads (Responsive Search Ads, Dynamic search ads and Call-only ads)

Search Ads are a type of Google ad that appears on the search results page when a user searches for a specific keyword or phrase. They appear at the top of the search results page and are marked with a small “Ad” label.

There are different types of search ads available, including:

What are Responsive Search Ads: Responsive search ads allow advertisers to enter multiple headlines and descriptions for their ad, and Google Ads automatically tests different combinations to determine which perform best.

What are Dynamic Search Ads: Dynamic search ads use website content to target ads to relevant searches, generating headlines and landing pages based on the content of the website.

What are Call Only Ads: Call ads are designed to encourage people to call the business and only appear on devices that make phone calls.

Search ads are popular with businesses that want to reach people who are actively searching for products or services like theirs. This includes industries such as healthcare, travel and tourism, food and beverages, lawn care, real estate, roofing, cleaning, and automobile, among others.

A. How Search Ads Work

Responsive search ads allow you to create multiple headlines and descriptions that can be assembled in various combinations by Google Ads. This helps to match your ad content more closely with your potential customers’ search queries, which can improve your ad performance. Unlike expanded text ads, you can provide up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions for a single responsive search ad.

Google Ads selects a maximum of 3 headlines and 2 descriptions to show in any given ad in different combinations and orders. Parts of your ad text may appear in bold when they match or closely match a user’s search query. Over time, Google Ads will test different ad combinations and learn which ones are the most relevant for different queries. This allows your ad to adapt to your target audience and improve its effectiveness over time.

In addition to responsive search ads, there are other types of search ads such as dynamic search ads and call-only ads, which serve specific purposes in a search campaign.

B. Benefits of Search Ads

The benefits of using Search Ads are numerous. Firstly, they allow businesses to target specific keywords and phrases that are relevant to their products or services. This means that businesses can reach users who are actively searching for what they offer.

Additionally, Search Ads can drive highly targeted traffic to a website. As users are actively searching for specific products or services, they’re more likely to engage with an ad that appears at the top of the search results page.

Furthermore, using responsive search ads can provide you with a variety of benefits, such as:

  • Flexibility: You can create ads that adapt to different device widths, allowing you to convey your message effectively on any screen.
  • Time-saving: With multiple headline and description options, Google Ads can show the most relevant combinations to your target audience, saving you time and effort.
  • Customization: You can tailor your headlines and descriptions to suit your audience’s location, regular locations, or interests.
  • Increased Reach: By providing multiple headline and description options, your ads have more opportunities to compete in auctions and match relevant queries, increasing your potential audience reach.
  • Improved Performance: Responsive search ads can attract more clicks and conversions, helping you to compete in more auctions and improve your ad group’s overall performance.

Finally, Search Ads can be a cost-effective advertising option. Advertisers can set a budget and only pay when someone clicks on their ad. This means that businesses can control their advertising spend and only pay for the traffic they receive.

C. Successful Search Ad Campaigns

Here are some examples of successful Search Ad campaigns:

A local bakery uses Search Ads to target users searching for “wedding cakes” in their area. By using targeted keywords, the bakery was able to drive more traffic to their website and increase sales.

  1. A software company uses Search Ads to target users searching for “project management software.” This resulted in more signups for their product, helping to grow their business.
  2. A clothing retailer uses Search Ads to target users searching for specific clothing items. This resulted in increased online sales and helped the retailer reach new customers.

D. Best practices for creating search ads

To create effective Search Ads, here are some best practices to follow:

  • To optimize your responsive search ads, it’s recommended to have only one ad per ad group with at least ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ Ad Strength. Remember that there’s a limit of three enabled responsive search ads per ad group.
  • If you have specific text that needs to appear in every ad, add it to either Headline position 1, Headline position 2, or Description position 1.
  • To make your ads more relevant to the keywords you’re targeting, include at least one of your keywords in your headlines. Also, focus on creating unique headlines that highlight additional product or service benefits, solve a problem, or provide shipping and returns information.
  • Providing more headlines gives Google Ads more options to assemble your messages into relevant ads, which may increase your ad’s performance. You can also create variations of the headlines you’ve already entered to add more headlines and test different calls to action.

F. Comparison of search ads to other ad types

Ad Type TargetingFormatPlacementCostBest For
Search AdsKeywordsTextSearch Results PageCost-per-ClickBusinesses targeting users who are actively searching for their product or service
Display AdsDemographics, Interests, PlacementsImage, Video, TextWebsites and AppsCost-per-Impression or Cost-per-ClickBusinesses looking to build brand awareness or target specific audiences
Video AdsDemographics, Interests, PlacementsVideoYouTube, Websites and AppsCost-per-View or Cost-per-ClickBusinesses looking to engage users with video content
Shopping AdsProduct Attributes like features & descriptionsImage, TextSearch Results PageCost-per-ClickE-commerce businesses looking to promote their products
App Ads
Demographics, Interests
Text, Image, VideoGoogle Play Store, Google Search, YouTubeCost-per-Install or Cost-per-ActionMobile app developers looking to promote their app

When compared to other ad types, Search Ads offer a unique set of benefits. For example, they allow businesses to target users who are actively searching for their product or service, which can result in a higher click-through rate and increased conversions. Additionally, Search Ads can be a cost-effective advertising option, as businesses only pay when someone clicks on their ad. However, it’s important to note that Search Ads may not be the best option for all businesses and that other ad types, such as Display Ads or Video Ads, may be more suitable depending on the business’s goals and target audience.

3. Display Ads

display ads

A. What are  Display ads

Display ads are a type of online advertising that uses responsive display ads. These ads are designed to automatically adjust their size, appearance, and format to fit into any available ad space and improve ad performance. To create a responsive display ad, you can upload various assets such as images, headlines, logos, videos, and descriptions in Google Ads. The platform will then select the optimal combination and size of assets to display the ad across websites, apps, YouTube, and Gmail.

Google Ads also offers a library of images that you can use at no extra cost. Responsive ads are beneficial for both new and advanced users because they appear as “native” ads and blend seamlessly into the font and feel of the publisher’s website, making them less intrusive to the user’s experience.

B. How display ads work

The Google Display Network is a platform that allows businesses to display their ads to a wide range of potential customers across various websites, apps, YouTube, and Gmail. To target the right audience, the Display Network offers various targeting options that strategically display your message to potential customers at the right place and time.

There are different ways to target your audience with Display ads. For instance, you can use audience segments to find new customers or engage with existing customers. Google Ads provides various segments such as Similar and In-Market segments that can help you find new prospective customers based on their interests in your products. Moreover, you can also use data segments to re-engage with people who previously visited your site.

Another way to target your audience and drive more conversions is through automation. Automated targeting helps increase conversions by finding high-performing audience segments based on your existing audiences and landing pages. Google Ads can learn which audience segments work for you over time and automatically optimize them. Additionally, automated bidding adjusts your bid to meet your return on investment. Smart display campaigns combine automated targeting, bidding, and creatives to maximize conversions on Google Ads.

C. Benefits of using display ads

There are several benefits of using display ads for online advertising:

  • Increased brand awareness: Display ads can help increase brand awareness by reaching a large number of potential customers across various websites and apps.
  • Targeted reach: Display ads allow advertisers to target specific audiences based on their demographics, interests, and behaviour.
  • Increased website traffic: Display ads can drive traffic to a website by encouraging users to click on the ad and visit the website.
  • Retargeting options: Display ads allow advertisers to retarget users who have previously visited their website or engaged with their brand.

D. Best practices for creating display ads

Creating effective display ads requires a combination of audience understanding, ad design, and testing and optimization. 

  • Use high-quality images to help users understand your business, products, and brand, which are critical to creating effective ads.
  • Avoid overlaying logos on top of images, as this can be repetitive in certain ad layouts. Incorporating the logo into the photograph is allowed.
  • Avoid inserting text on top of an image, as it can make your messaging repetitive if it’s too similar to a headline. Overlaid text can also be unreadable in smaller ad sizes. Instead, use images where the text is naturally embedded or incorporated.
  • Don’t use buttons that promise non-existent functionality, such as “play,” “download,” or “close,” as these violate Google Ads policy.
  • Ensure that your product or service is the focus of the image, with blank space taking up no more than 80% of the image.
  • Use single images instead of collages.
  • Avoid displaying products over digital composite backgrounds, including an all-white background. Instead, use high-quality photographs that have physical settings with organic shadows and lighting.
  • Avoid using logos with unsupported aspect ratios, extra “flair,” or colorful backgrounds. Instead, use high-quality logos that have been cropped and adjusted appropriately.

Additionally, selecting the right bid strategy is crucial to achieving a successful campaign. Suitable bid strategies for display ads include:

a. Cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) bidding: 

This bid strategy is based on the number of impressions or times the ad is displayed on the website or app. Advertisers using this bid strategy pay a fixed rate for every 1,000 impressions.

b. Viewable cost-per-thousand-impressions (vCPM) bidding: 

This bid strategy charges advertisers only for ad impressions that are deemed viewable by Google’s technology. This bid strategy is suitable for campaigns that prioritize ad visibility.

c. Cost-per-click (CPC) bidding: 

This bid strategy charges advertisers only when a user clicks on their ad. CPC bidding is suitable for campaigns that prioritize website traffic and conversions.

d. Cost-per-acquisition (CPA) bidding: 

This bid strategy charges advertisers only when a user completes a specific action, such as filling out a form or making a purchase. CPA bidding is suitable for campaigns that prioritize conversions and sales.

E. Examples of successful display ad campaigns

Successful display ad campaigns often use eye-catching design and targeted messaging to capture the audience’s attention. Here are two examples of successful display ad campaigns:

Example 1: Targeted banner ads for a fitness app – The fitness app created a series of targeted banner ads featuring motivational messages and images of people exercising. The ads were displayed on fitness-related websites and apps, targeting users who have shown interest in fitness and healthy lifestyles. The campaign resulted in a 25% increase in app downloads and a 15% increase in monthly active users.

Example 2: Retargeting ads for an e-commerce website – The e-commerce website used retargeting ads to target users who have previously visited their website but did not make a purchase. The ads displayed images of products the users have previously viewed, with a discount code to encourage them to make a purchase.

F. Comparison of display ads to other ad types

Google Ads funnel

Display ads can be compared to other ad types based on the following factors:

FactorDisplay Ads Search Ads
ReachWider reach can be targeted to a broader audienceLimited to search engine results pages
CostGenerally cheaper, but may have lower returnsGenerally more expensive, but can provide higher returns if done correctly
Ad FormatMore flexible in terms of format, can include images, videos, and interactive elementsLimited to text ads with a small image
PurposeGenerally used for brand awareness and reaching new audiencesUsed for targeting specific keywords and driving direct conversions
Ad PlacementCan be placed on various websitesLimited to search engine results pages and partnered websites
Best ForBrand awareness and reaching new audiencesTargeting specific keywords and driving direct conversions

Ultimately, the choice of ad type depends on the business’s goals, target audience, and budget. A combination of different ad types can also be used for a comprehensive and effective advertising strategy.

4. Video Ads

A. What are video ads

Video ads are a form of digital advertising that use video content to promote a product, service, or brand. They can be displayed on various platforms, including social media, websites, and video streaming services.

B. How video ads work

Video ads work by grabbing the attention of the viewer with engaging visuals and messaging. You can use a variety of ad formats to create effective Video campaigns that engage customers in different ways on YouTube and through Google video partners.

Skippable in-stream ads can be played before, during, or after other videos. Once the ad has played for 5 seconds, viewers have the option to skip it.

Non-skippable in-stream ads are designed to ensure customers see your entire message and are 15 seconds or less in length.

Bumper ads are a brief video ad format intended to increase brand awareness by using a short, memorable message. They are only 6 seconds or less, and viewers cannot skip the ad.

In-feed video ads appear exclusively on YouTube and are seen by people as they browse for content. The ad’s appearance will vary depending on the ad sizes and formats supported by content publishers. Clicking the thumbnail for the ad will play the video on its YouTube watch or channel page.

Outstream ads appear on websites and apps running on Google video partners. These ads are only available on mobile and tablet devices and make it easier for users to play your video by tapping on it. Outstream ads can help increase brand awareness by extending your reach beyond YouTube.

C. Benefits of using video ads

Higher engagement: Video ads have the ability to grab the viewer’s attention and convey a message in a more memorable and emotional way than other ad types.

Increased brand awareness: Video ads can help increase brand awareness and recognition by showcasing a brand’s story, values, and products.

Better targeting: Video ads can be targeted to specific demographics and interests, ensuring that they are seen by the right audience.

High ROI: Video ads can provide a high return on investment if done correctly, as they can lead to increased website traffic, conversions, and brand loyalty.

D. Best practices for creating video ads

Keep it short and sweet: Video ads should be concise and engaging, with a clear message that can be conveyed in a short amount of time.

Focus on storytelling: Video ads should tell a story that is relevant and meaningful to the target audience, showcasing the brand’s values and products in a compelling way.

Use high-quality visuals and sound: Video ads should have high-quality visuals and sound to grab the viewer’s attention and convey a professional image.

Call to action: Video ads should include a clear call to action, encouraging the viewer to take a specific action, such as visiting the website or making a purchase.

E. Examples of successful video ad campaigns

Here are some examples of successful video ad campaigns:

Old Spice: Old Spice created a series of humorous video ads that targeted a younger male demographic. These ads featured a man with a deep voice and comical messaging, which resonated with the target audience and resulted in increased brand awareness and sales.

Apple: Apple’s “Shot on iPhone” campaign used user-generated content to showcase the high-quality camera on their iPhone. These ads were highly effective in showcasing the product’s features and benefits.

Dollar Shave Club: Dollar Shave Club created a video ad that was humorous and engaging, showcasing their product and value proposition in a creative way. This ad went viral and helped increase the company’s brand awareness and sales.

F. Comparison of video ads to other ad types

Video ads can be compared to other ad types based on the following factors:

Engagement: Video ads have a higher engagement rate than other ad types, as they can convey a message in a more memorable and emotional way.

Cost: Video ads are generally more expensive to produce than other ad types, but can provide higher returns if done correctly.

Ad format: Video ads offer more flexibility in terms of ad format, as they can include visuals, sound, and interactive elements.

Purpose: Video ads are generally used for brand awareness and reaching new audiences, while search and display ads are used for targeting specific keywords and demographics.

Ad placement: Video ads can be placed on various platforms, including social media, websites, and video streaming services.

As with other ad types, the choice of video ads depends on the business’s goals, target audience, and budget.

5. Shopping Ads

A. What are Shopping Ads

Shopping ads, also known as product listing ads (PLAs), are Google Ads that feature product information such as images, prices, and descriptions. They appear on Google search results pages and the Google Shopping tab. Shopping ads allow businesses to showcase their products and attract potential customers with visually appealing and relevant information.

If you run an online or local retail business, you can utilize Performance Max campaigns together with a Google Merchant Center feed or Standard Shopping campaigns to promote your inventory, drive traffic to your website or physical store, and attract more qualified leads. The first step is to submit your product data to Merchant Center and create a campaign in Google Ads. Then, Google will use your campaign and product data to generate ads on Google and other relevant placements across the web, depending on the type of campaign. Shopping ads, which feature a photo of your product along with a title, price, store name, and other information, can be created from your product data. These ads provide users with a visual representation of your product and help to ensure that the leads you receive are more qualified.

B. How Shopping Ads Work

Shopping ads use the product data you provide through Merchant Center to determine when and where to show your ads, rather than relying on keywords. This data includes information about the products you sell, which is used to show the most relevant products to users searching for them.

You can manage your Shopping ads through Google Ads using either Shopping or Performance Max campaigns. These campaigns allow you to easily promote your product inventory within Google Ads. Performance Max is a campaign type that helps you meet your business goals by optimizing your campaign performance based on factors such as your budget and product feed.

C. Benefits of Using Shopping Ads

  • Better qualified leads: By featuring product information directly in your ads, users can make informed purchase decisions, making them more likely to complete a purchase on your site. This means that by the time a user clicks on the ad, they are further down the purchasing funnel compared to the average web user.
  • Easy retail-centric campaign management: Shopping ads use the product attributes you defined in your Merchant Center data feed to show your ads in relevant searches, instead of relying on keywords. You can browse your product inventory directly in Google Ads and create product groups for the items you want to bid on.
  • Broader presence: More than one of your Shopping ads can appear for a given user search, and a Shopping ad and a text ad can also appear at the same time, increasing your reach with users for a single search.
  • Powerful reporting and competitive data: You can see how your products are performing at any level of detail, and use benchmarking data to gain insights into your competitive landscape. You can also identify growth opportunities with impression share data and the Bid Simulator tool.
  • Access to new inventory: With Performance Max, you’ll gain access to new inventory and automation insights. Performance Max ads are eligible to serve on YouTube, Display, Search, Discovery, Gmail, and Maps, helping to unlock new audiences across all Google channels and networks.

D. Best Practices for Creating Shopping Ads

Optimize product feed: Include relevant and accurate product information such as titles, descriptions, and images to improve the chances of the ad being shown to relevant audiences.

Use high-quality images: Clear and high-quality images can attract potential customers and improve the overall look of the ad.

Use negative keywords: Exclude irrelevant search terms to prevent the ad from showing to users who are unlikely to convert.

Implement bid adjustments: Adjust bids for specific products, locations, and devices to improve ad performance.

E. Examples of Successful Shopping Ad Campaigns

One example of a successful shopping ad campaign is that of H&M, a multinational fashion retailer. H&M used shopping ads to showcase their latest fashion products to potential customers. The ads featured high-quality images and relevant product information, resulting in a significant increase in click-through rates and conversions.

F. Comparison of Shopping Ads to Other Ad Types

Compared to search ads, shopping ads feature product images and information, which can be more appealing to potential customers. Shopping ads are also cost-effective, as businesses only pay when someone clicks on the ad. However, shopping ads require businesses to have a Google Merchant Center account and a product feed, which can be time-consuming to set up. Compared to display ads, shopping ads are more product-focused and appear only when users search for relevant products, making them more targeted and effective for e-commerce businesses.

VII. Choosing the Right Ad Types for Your Business

A. Factors to Consider When Choosing Ad Types

When selecting the best ad type for your business, you should take into account several factors:

Business Goals: The ad type you choose should align with your business objectives. For instance, if your goal is to increase website traffic, search ads or display ads may be the most suitable.

Target Audience: Different ad types may be more effective for specific target audiences. For example, video ads may be more engaging for younger audiences, while search ads may be more effective for older audiences.

Budget: Your budget will play a role in determining which ad types are the most cost-effective for your business. For instance, search ads or shopping ads may be more budget-friendly than display ads or video ads.

Industry: The type of industry you operate in may also affect the effectiveness of different ad types. For instance, businesses in the healthcare industry may benefit more from search ads or shopping ads, while businesses in the travel and tourism industry may benefit more from display ads or video ads.

Here are some additional considerations for choosing different ad types:

Why choose Search campaigns:

  • Sales and leads: Drive online sales and signups, especially for businesses with shorter sales cycles. For businesses with longer sales cycles, consider using leads.
  • Easy setup: Simply write text ads and choose keywords, without any special files or assets required. You can also try Smart campaigns for an even easier setup.
  • Highly specific targeting: Reach people who are actively searching for what you offer.

Why choose Display campaigns:

  • Sales and leads: Use visually engaging call-to-actions to drive sales and signups.
  • Awareness and consideration: Create memorable ads to make people aware of your brand or consider your product.
  • Reach: Target people beyond search results while they’re browsing websites and apps.
  • Your data segments: Follow up with people who have already viewed your ads or visited your site.

Why choose Video campaigns:

  • Awareness and consideration: Use video ads to make people aware of your brand or consider buying your product.
  • Sales and leads: Use the “Drive conversions” campaign subtype to set up action-focused video ads.
  • Expand your reach: Target people beyond search results while they’re on YouTube.
  • Your data segments: Follow up with people who have already viewed your ads or visited your site.

B. Examples of Businesses That Benefit From Each Ad Type

Here are some examples of businesses that can benefit from each ad type:

AD TypeExamples of Beneficial Industries
Search AdsReal estate, roofing, cleaning, automobile, healthcare, education, finance, legal services, and more
Display AdsFood and beverages, lawn care, travel and tourism, home decor, fashion, beauty, entertainment, and more
Video AdsHealth care, travel and tourism, automobile, education, finance, technology, and more
Shopping AdsRetail, electronics, home goods, sports and fitness, pet supplies, automotive parts, and more


Choosing the right ad type for your business can make a big difference in the success of your advertising campaigns. By considering factors such as your business goals, target audience, budget, and industry, you can determine which ad types will work best for you. In addition, reviewing examples of businesses that benefit from each ad type can help you make an informed decision and create effective ads that drive results.

As a Google Ads agency, we understand that setting up and managing campaigns can be challenging, especially for those who are new to digital advertising. That’s why we’re here to help. If you need assistance with your Google Ads campaigns, contact us today. Our team of experts can guide you through the process and help you create effective ads that reach your target audience and achieve your business goals.

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