If you have a website, you’re probably well aware that you need to start running search engine marketing (SEM), also known as PPC or Google and Bing Ads. And if you don’t have a website, I suggest you get one…

SEM, PPC, Google Ads, Display Network.

These are all buzz words you’ve probably heard and seen over and over again from your marketing friends, business peers, or sporadically on the internet. You’ve probably even heard or read that you should be running Google ads on AdWords. Seems simple enough.

Although when terms like “Google Display Network”, “Remarketing”, “CPC”, or bid adjustments start getting thrown around under that umbrella, it can be a little overbearing.

You’ve got enough on your plate running your business to worry about than dive head first into a digital advertising interface. In this blog, I’ll briefly go over the basics of what AdWords is and the different ads that can be served.

AdWords Express

AdWords Express is a simple, user friendly application by Google to get your business up and running with Google Text Ads ASAP. Just write some copy for an ad and let Google do the rest. Placing your ad only on search engine results pages (SERPs) like in the example below:

Google text result ads for lawn services near me

Google will pick keywords, set your bid amount based on your overall budget, and run your ads for you.

It’s a really easy way to get going on ads right away. Although a quick fix, this isn’t something you should be doing for a long period of time.

The transition to AdWords needs to be made just like that spare donut on the driver side of your car needs to be replaced with the right tire.


AdWords is Google’s interface that lets you place ads on Google search results, local listings, and partner sites, including YouTube, utilizing the Google Display Network.

However, the Google Display Network is not available in AdWords Express. Google Ads are divided into two networks. The Search Network and the Google Display Network.

The Search Network encompasses those text ads you see at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). The Google Display Network is the combination of all those banner ads you see on website as well as video ads on YouTube and other sites.

When Google places an ad, depending on which format you’re going with, there are a number of factors that goes into the algorithmic decision making to place the ad.

These factors include:

  • Quality of the landing page (which Google determines based on a number of factors)
  • Maximum bid
  • Likelihood to convert (how likely it is that a user will take an additional action on the site)
  • And even how fast the site loads

Competing ads in the “ad auction” then receive a “quality score” based on these factors. The quality score determines which ads are placed in the number 1, 2, 3, and so on spots, or not at all when a user types in a search query.

Keep in mind, bids and landing page placements are not adjustable in AdWords Express.

Assigning a quality score versus giving the number one position to the highest bidder prevents big spenders from simply paying their way to the top. It forces marketers to provide relevant information to searchers, giving businesses a chance to be on top.

Check out this fantastic video by Google on how the Ad Auction works.

The Search Network

The Search Network is comprised primarily of two types of ads: text ads and product listing ads.

Text Ads

You may have seen some of these when conducting a typical Google search. See the search I conducted below:

Google search for lawn aeration services near me

You’ll notice the very top link is an ad. Text ads, not utilizing the Google Display Network, usually appear at the top of the “organic” search results. That is, results that are not paid. Organic search results are ranked based on a multitude of SEO ranking factors.

The ad at the top is just a standard text ad with a few ad extensions like, “Get a Free Quote”, Contact Us”, and “Kansas City Lawn Care”. This helps the user take less clicks to get to the desired page they’re looking for.

This is a good tactic when you’re trying to get to the top of Google fast.

Notice how LawnStarter isn’t listed in the Local 3-Pack? That means Google doesn’t find their site as relevant as the three in the Local 3-Pack because they aren’t optimized for local SEO in that area. So LawnStarter saw an opportunity to capitalize on the top position of Google using text ads.

Product Listing Ads

Product listing ads (PLAs) are ads on SERPs that are obviously not text ads. They appear as more of a shopping feature that link to direct products that can be shipped from a brick-and-mortar location to a customer.

See the search result below of “Echo Leaf Blowers”:

Echo leaf blower product listing ads

Although not ideal for the landscaping and lawn care service industry, it’s always beneficial to at least know what they are, what they’re called, and how they get up there in the first place.

Google Display Network

The Google Display Network can feature all of the following: Display / remarketing banner ads, video pre-roll, TrueView, and in-stream ads, and even text ads.

This network is going to be beneficial primarily for impressions, or rather, being shown to customers who have interest in a product or category, but are not necessarily looking.

Think of the Google Display Network as a “targeted billboard campaign”.

Display Ads

Display can range from side banners, top banners, or in-text squares within a website. Typically these ads are used to gain awareness of a brand, product, or service.

With display ads, you can target specific websites to place banners on, sites that contain specific keywords, or even sites about a certain topic.

A good example of a display banner is like what you would see on LawnSite like the example below:

John Deere Google display ads on LawnSite

Notice the John Deere banner at the top.

This is a typical display banner. In this case, it’s a pretty good idea for John Deere to put an ad up showcasing new features on this year’s ZTrak mowers on a site where people regularly buy lawn equipment to run their business.

These are best at building awareness rather than making someone take a specific action simply because the customer may not be in the “interest” or “decision” part of the sales funnel quite yet.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t get interactions.

Remarketing Ads

Have you ever gone to Deere’s website, then two days later, you got back on your computer or phone, and started noticing ads for that new 1023E model everywhere?

It isn’t sorcery. John Deere is using Remarketing with Google AdWords. This tactic utilizes the Google Display Network and targets users that have previously been to their site.

These ads would appear in the exact same places and sizes that display ads appear in. The only difference is the way in which they’re delivered.

If a site has a remarketing tag on it and you land on it, that tag places a cookie on your browser. That cookie will follow you until it expires. It could be minutes, hours, days, or even months… or until you clear your cookie cache.

Cookie Monster deleting cookies on computer

When a remarketing campaign is activated, it sends ads to people with that specific cookie embedded into their browser. The campaign can be as general as “anyone who’s landed on the site” to as specific as “users who started to fill out a form on a specific page but didn’t finish.”

I don’t know why I’m getting ads for this… I swear I’ve never been on that site….

Video Ads

If you’ve been on YouTube recently, you know all too well of the short ads that play before all the “FAIL” and “Instant Karma” videos you watch. Just like standard display ads, these videos can be targeted using similar targeting options, such as: location, keywords, or placements.

Remember when I mentioned how you could pick specific sites your display ads could appear on? Like John Deere on LawnSite.

Well you can do the same thing with video ads. You can place them on sites that are a part of the Google Display Network, before specific videos on YouTube, or even on specific YouTube channels.

Here are a few types of video ads:


Pre-Roll videos are those :15, :30, or :60 second ads that play before the video you want to watch. Pre-Roll ads mimic actual commercials, as in, you can’t skip these.

When running a Pre-Roll campaign, you pay only when a user clicks on your ad. This is more of a Brand Awareness campaign. It’s essentially being exposed to anyone that starts watching without them being able to skip it. They have to watch your brand video.


TrueView ads are broken down into three categories: In-stream, video discover, and bumper ads.

In-Stream ads

In-stream ads are the skippable ones. These are the ones you breath a sigh of relief when you see that countdown in the lower right hand corner of the video. After 5 seconds of the ad, you can hit the skip button and move on. You may think that a majority of the people just skip the ads.

But I can tell you… that you’re absolutely right. 78% of users skip these ads. However, the remaining 22%, have shown clear interest in your brand, product, or service. They have stayed either until the end of the video or 30 seconds (whichever is less) or have clicked on your ad.

Truview ads have yielded a 2.8 times higher engagement in terms of user interaction compared to impression shares of Pre-Roll.

Video Discovery ads

These are those ads on top of the playlist to the right of the video. Like this:

Example of video discovery ad on YouTube

See that ad to the right? That is a video discovery ad. The same thing works with this. If a user clicks on the ad, you’re charged.

Bumper Ads

Bumper Ads are those odd 6 second ads that play at the beginning of videos. You don’t have an option to skip these.

The main difference in how these are charged is they are not based on a Cost-per-Click (CPC) like most traditional ads. These are billed on a Cost-per-Thousand Impressions, or CPM (damn Europeans…).

Essentially, instead of being charged when someone interacts with the ad, you’re charged when the ad is shown 1,000 times. However, the bidding feature still works the same.


And that’s the very, very basic description of AdWords.

It’s a shame I couldn’t explain all the different types of ads in less than 1,700 words.

But don’t worry, if I started to lose you with some of the abbreviations and industry related words like CPC, impressions, and CPM, just know that there will be more of these blogs coming that will dive deeper into their meanings.