Creative GDN Strategies for Your B2B Business

As a boutique PPC marketing agency, we work with many B2B businesses. And while most B2B marketing teams are eager to grow their PPC campaigns on the Google Search Network, many are hesitant to wade into the Google Display Network (GDN).

Admittedly, the GDN has a mixed reputation. We’ve all heard horror stories of companies carelessly diving in and blowing a bundle with no tangible results.

But at the same time, there are good reasons for venturing into the GDN, such as:

  1. Lower click costs: Some of our clients pay $100 per click on the Search Network but only $2-3 per click on the GDN—and reach a lot more eyeballs in the process.
  2. Increase in brand presence: Having a good mix of GDN and remarketing campaigns can help with brand recognition and drive more targeted traffic to your website.
  3. Lift in Search Network performance: Time after time, we find that presence in the GDN results in mysterious improvements in Search Network performance.

GDN strategies

So how can your B2B marketing team dip into the GDN (and garner these benefits), without losing its shirt?

The answer, as you might have guessed, is to approach the GDN slowly and carefully. Just as you would dip a toe into an unfamiliar lake before jumping in with both feet, you take tentative steps, analyze the data it produces and then proceed cautiously from there.

And sometimes, that requires some creativity.

In this post, I’m going to share with you five creative strategies for dipping your toe into the GDN.

1. Get Specific With GDN Topics

One way to get more specific on the GDN is with GDN topics. With topic targeting, your ads are displayed on pages in the Display Network that have content related to your selected topic.

While most marketing teams are familiar with topic targeting, they don’t always realize how far they can drill down into different topic areas.

For example, if your target audience is likely to read content related to space technology, you can drill down to that specific topic:

GDN strategies - aerospace topics

Or, say your target audience is likely to read content related to fluid handling:

GDN strategies - fluid

Or coatings and adhesives:

GDN strategies - chemicals

As you can see, you can get very specific on the topic you want to target. If you’re concerned that even these topics are too broad, you can combine topic targeting with other targeting methods. (More on this in a moment.)

Learn more about topic targeting in the AdWords help file.

2. Location Targeting for Conferences

If you want to get even more creative, using location targeting for conferences is another intriguing strategy.

Say there’s a conference coming up that you know members of your target market will attend. You can use location targeting in the GDN to target the conference attendees.

For example, the Javits Center in New York City is hosting a cloud computing expo and conference in June. If your target market is likely to attend this conference, you can select New York City as your location target in the GDN. If you combine this location target with a few other targeting options, you’ve got a narrowly focused campaign.

I particularly like this tactic because of its limited duration, which can help minimize risk. But in that short period of time, it can also generate helpful data about which topics, keyword variations and custom affinities work for your target market.

If you need data to convince your CEO or client that the GDN is worth exploring, then this is a great tactic to try.

3. Placements in Online Publications

Once upon a time, many of our B2B clients purchased advertising in printed trade magazines. With print magazines on the decline, online publications are now the place to go—and you can reach them via the GDN.

Start by asking clients which online trade publications they subscribe to. Then, use the GDN’s managed placements targeting option to run your ads on those online publications.

As an added bonus, GDN ads on online publications can cost WAY less than print ads. And unlike print, you can collect data to see what’s working and what’s not.

See the help file on managed placements for more info.

4. Custom Affinities

To get even more specific with targeting, you can try custom affinities. Custom affinities combine URLs (i.e. a type of managed placement) and keywords.

So, for example, if you know your target market reads Scientific American ( ), and the keyword “mass spectrometers” is a good performer for you, you can combine the two using custom affinities.

For more on custom affinities, you can consult this Search Engine Land article.

5. Add More Layers

Now, if you want to get even more specific, you can layer on more targeting options.

For example, here are just some of the combinations you can try:

  • In-market audiences + keywords
  • Topics + keywords
  • Interests + custom affinities
  • Topics + interests + keywords.

The possible combinations are endless!

Aim for a More Robust Marketing Mix

While we don’t succeed in persuading every client to give the GDN a try, we find that when clients do allow us to dip our toes in, and experiment, the data we accumulate is hugely useful.

Not infrequently, we’ll uncover segments or strategies we might have missed otherwise.

Additionally, having a more robust marketing mix (one that incorporates multiple marketing networks and channels) fosters a certain synergy. When we bring in the GDN, our Search Network efforts often get a lift.

This is why we encourage clients to assign some portion of their PPC budget to the GDN. We call this our 80/20 strategy (a.k.a. a “wild card” strategy). So if, for example, your marketing team has $10,000 a month to spend on PPC, we’ll suggest putting $8,500 into the Search Network and the rest into GDN (or thereabouts).

Because PPC isn’t just about search. It’s about branding and presence and so much more. And when they all work together, so much the better.