Google Seach Ads vs. Display Ads: Choosing the Right Path for Your Business

When it comes to Google advertising, a common question arises: which type of ads can generate better results and take your business to new heights?

Today, we want to shed light on two powerful tools in the Google Ads arsenal that can significantly benefit your business: Google search ads and display ads. We will explore the key features and benefits of both ad types, accompanied by real-life success stories. So sit back, relax, and join us on this enlightening journey!

Become Familiar with Search Ads

Search ads are text-based ads that appear at the top or bottom of Google search results. They are triggered by keywords entered by users and are highly targeted to match their search intent. These ads allow you to capture the attention of users who are actively searching for specific products or services.

Become Familiar with Search Ads

Benefits of Search Ads

There are numerous benefits that differentiate search ads from display ads. Let’s explore some of them. 


Search ads can precisely target users who are actively searching for specific products, services, or information. This targeting ensures that your ads are shown to a highly relevant audience, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversion. 

Higher Click-Through Rate  

Search ads have a distinct advantage over display ads when it comes to click-through rates (CTR) due to their placement within search engine results. By appearing when users are actively searching for information, search ads tend to generate higher engagement. According to Wordstream’s statistics, search ads have an impressive CTR of 1.91%, in stark contrast to display ads, which have a comparatively lower CTR of 0.35%. 

Higher Conversion Rate 

Search ads tend to have higher conversion rates than display ads. Statistics show that the average conversion rate for search ads is 4.4%, while display ads typically yield a lower rate of 0.57%.  

The reason for this stark difference is user intent. Search ads are strategically displayed to users who are actively searching for specific products or services, making them more likely to click on relevant ads and take desired actions, such as making a purchase or filling out a form. These users are already in a conversion-ready mindset, increasing the effectiveness of search advertising in driving tangible results for your business.

Lower Cost Per Conversion 

It is well known that search ads often offer a lower cost per conversion than display ads. According to statistics provided by WordStream, the average cost per conversion for search ads is $56.11, while the average cost per conversion for display ads is $90.8. This significant difference highlights the cost-effectiveness of search ads in driving conversions and reinforces their value as an advertising channel. 

Cost Control

Search ads give you the flexibility to manage your budget effectively by allowing you to set maximum bids for specific keywords. This level of control allows you to optimize your advertising spend and achieve a favorable return on investment (ROI). 

Keyword Insights

Search ads provide valuable keyword insights, revealing which keywords drive the most clicks and conversions. This data can be used to refine keyword strategies, optimize landing pages, and improve overall campaign performance. 

Competitive Insights

Search ads provide valuable competitive insights through the Auction Insights section in Google Ads. This feature allows you to see your competitors and find out how your ads are performing compared to their ads in the same auctions. You can gain insights into their impression share, overlap rate, position above rate, top of page rate, the absolute top of page rate, and outranking share. 

Understanding your competitors’ strategies can help you refine your campaigns, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions to stay ahead of the competition.

Become Familiar with Display Ads

Display ads are visual ads that appear on websites, apps, or social media platforms within the Google Display Network. These ads use images and videos to capture the attention of your potential customers as they browse the web. 

Benefits of Display Ads

Display advertising has numerous benefits that make it a valuable marketing tool. Let’s take a closer look at some of these benefits. 

Broad Audience Reach

Display ads offer an exceptional opportunity to reach a broad audience across 35 million websites, apps, and Google-owned properties within the Google Display Network. This extensive reach can significantly increase your brand’s exposure and visibility.

Brand Awareness

Display ads can effectively increase brand visibility and awareness by reaching a wide audience across multiple sites and platforms. This type of advertising allows you to introduce your brand, products or services to a broader audience and create brand recall.

Visual Appeal

Display ads use rich media formats, such as images and videos, to capture users’ attention and engage them visually. By using these visually appealing ads, you can effectively communicate your messages and increase brand recall.

Remarketing Opportunities

Display ads allow you to re-target users who have previously interacted with your website or shown interest in your products or services, increasing the chances of conversions.


Display ads can be cost-effective. This type of advertising offers flexible pricing models, such as cost per click (CPC) or cost per thousand impressions (CPM), and allows you to optimize your budget based on your goals.

Creative Flexibility

Display ads offer more creative freedom than text-based search ads. You can experiment with different ad formats, sizes, designs, and visual elements to create compelling and visually appealing ads that resonate with your target audience.

Top-of-Funnel Engagement

Display ads are particularly effective at capturing users’ attention during the awareness and consideration stages of the marketing funnel. This type of advertising can generate initial interest and attract potential customers who may not be actively searching for specific products or services at that moment. 

Google Search Ads vs. Display Ads: Which Is Right for Your Business

Now that we’ve discussed both types of advertising, it’s time to address the question of which type of advertising is right for your business.

The answer, however, is more complex than a one-size-fits-all solution. The right choice depends on several factors specific to your business and marketing objectives. Let’s explore some key considerations to help you make an informed decision. 

Advertising Goals

Define your primary goals. Search advertising is an ideal choice if your goal is to increase immediate conversions and drive direct responses from potential customers. On the other hand, if your goal is to increase brand awareness and create a lasting impression in the minds of your target audience, display advertising is an effective solution.

Target Audience

Analyze your target audience’s behavior and preferences. Are they more likely to actively search for your products or services, or are they more receptive to visually appealing ads? By understanding your audience’s online habits and preferences, you can tailor your advertising strategy to their needs.

Budget & Resources

Assess your available budget and resources. Search ads and display ads can vary in cost and resource requirements. Determine how much you can afford to spend on advertising and whether you have the resources to create compelling visuals or optimize keyword targeting. 

Testing & Experimentation

Remember that advertising is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It often requires testing and experimentation to determine what works best for your business. Consider running small-scale campaigns or conducting A/B testing to gather data and insights on the effectiveness of different ad formats. 

Industry & Competition

Assess the nature of your industry and the level of competition within it. Research the advertising strategies of your competitors to gain valuable insights. By understanding their approaches, you can identify opportunities and make informed decisions to improve your advertising strategy. 

Comprehensive Approach

Consider integrating both types of advertising. A comprehensive approach that combines the strengths of both search and display advertising can yield synergistic results. Search ads can attract highly targeted users who are actively looking for your products or services, while display ads can increase brand awareness and reach a broader audience.

By considering these factors and carefully weighing the pros and cons of each advertising option, you can make a more informed decision about which type of advertising is right for your business.

However, it’s important to remember that flexibility and adaptability are key when it comes to online advertising. 

A “set it and forget it” approach may not produce the desired results. Instead, it’s important to regularly monitor and analyze the performance of your advertising campaigns. 

Keep a close eye on key metrics such as click-through rates (CTR), conversion rates (CR), and return on investment (ROI). By staying vigilant, you can identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to your advertising strategy. 

Google Search Ads vs. Display Ads: Case Studies

Before concluding this article, we wanted to share some real-world case studies that illustrate the real-world use and success of Google search ads and display ads. These examples provide valuable insight into how businesses have used these advertising strategies to achieve their goals.

Case Study 1: Washington Wizards – Driving Ticket Sales with Google Search Ads 

The Washington Wizards, a professional basketball team, wanted to increase ticket sales and attract new fans. Using Google Ads, they launched search advertising campaigns. The results were impressive: 

  • Return on ad spend (ROAS) increased by 293%, indicating a significant return on their advertising investment;
  • Remarkably, 72% of ticket purchases came from new fans reached through their Google Ads campaigns. This demonstrates the ability of search ads to expand the team’s reach and attract new customers.

Want to get a full understanding of this case study and dive deeper into the details? Check out the full article

Case Study 2: BuildDirect – Building Awareness and Driving Sales with Display Ads  

BuildDirect, an online home improvement retailer, wanted to build brand awareness and drive sales. They used display ads as part of their advertising strategy. Through careful targeting and visually compelling creatives, they saw significant results:

  • Display campaigns accounted for 15% of the company’s leads and 10% of revenue;
  • Remarketing played a critical role, with 68% of display-based revenue coming from remarketing efforts;
  • The combined efforts of display and paid search advertising had a significant impact on their business, contributing a substantial 30% of their total revenue. 

To delve deeper into the specifics and gain more insights, explore the article.

We have shown the effectiveness of search and display ads separately, but we believe in the power of integrated search and display campaigns. If you’re interested in seeing the impressive results that can be achieved with this approach, we invite you to explore our own set of case studies:

By reviewing these case studies, you will gain a deeper understanding of how integrating search and display advertising can amplify your advertising efforts and deliver outstanding results for your business. 

Final Thoughts

In the dynamic world of digital advertising, the choice between Google search ads and display ads ultimately depends on your specific business goals, target audience, and budget. 

Both ad formats offer unique benefits that can contribute to your overall advertising strategy.

Search ads are ideal for capturing high-intent users who are actively searching for your products or services. With precise targeting and cost-effectiveness, search ads can drive conversions. 

On the other hand, display ads provide an opportunity to reach a broader audience, increase brand awareness, and engage in remarketing efforts. Their visually appealing nature and wide reach make them effective for building brand recognition and influencing customer behavior.

However, choosing the right ad format for your business can be challenging. That’s where Visible Webs can assist you. Our dedicated team of PPC specialists has a deep understanding of search ads, display ads, and other digital marketing tactics. We are here to help you select the most effective ad format for your business.

So, don’t waste another minute trying to navigate the complexities of PPC advertising on your own. Time is money, and our PPC experts are here to save you both! 

Take the next step toward optimizing your online presence and driving meaningful results. Contact Visible Webs today to discuss your PPC needs, and let us create a customized strategy that will maximize your advertising success.