Google Display Network

Watch the Introduction video of Google Display Network here!

The Google Display Network (GDN) is a marketplace between Google sites (excluding Google search), YouTube, and Google partner sites. Users of all these sites can be targeted when showing ads via the GDN. The following article is structured as follows:

Types of Ads

The following display ad types are eligible to show on the GDN:

You can run the same text ads on display as you would on search. Up to three text ads can appear in a single block, compared to eleven ad blocks in GSN. However, the ranking methods in GSN and GDN are completely different. When you rank in the first position in GSN, you can expect a high volume of clicks. However, when you are first in a Google AdSense block, the outcome depends on the placement. Therefore, the average position within GSN does not necessarily have a positive effect on the performance of the same ad in GDN.
Image ads are static or animated images of various sizes that are displayed filling the entire ad block. There are restrictions on the maximum size of uploaded images (50 KB), on the maximum length of animations (30 seconds), on the appearance (no forcing a user to click or imitating a system message). The latter demonstrates a difference between GDN and classical display advertisement, where large advertisers define what is allowed and what is not allowed.
Rich media or flash animated ads allow you to more actively engage a web user than image ads. An example of a flash ad is a mini-game on a casino website. As our aim is to optimize CTR, rich media ads are preferred over image ads.
Video ads are commercials available only on certain websites carrying video content. There are recommendations for the playtime to be between 12 seconds and 3 minutes. The maximum size of the uploaded video is 1GB. Please note, other types of ads (text/ image/ flash ads) can be shown inside of video ads.
Mobile ads are basically an adaptation of common GDN ads to smaller screen sizes. Various shapes and sizes of ad blocks are eligible to display to mobile browsers, so make sure you have this coverage. You can advertise for mobile devices using text/ image /rich media and video ads. The mobile ad universe is much bigger than advertising with only classical formats. It also includes advertising inside of apps. (We will exclude mobile ads discussing ad block sizes.)

Ad Block Sizes

There are standard formats, which are identical for display channels and GDN. Normally for mobile ads, and sometimes for video ads, the height and width are decreased. The available sizes are:

Leaderboard (728×90) Small rectangle (180×150)
Banner (468×60) Vertical banner (120×240)
Half banner (234×60) Small square (200×200)
Button (125×125) Square (250×250)
Skyscraper (120×600) Medium rectangle (300×250)
Wide Skyscraper (160×600) Large rectangle (336×280)

Image ads may contain static graphics or images, animated content, or flash-movies. Google allows a maximum length of 30 seconds for animations and a maximum file size of 50 kilobytes. Video ads have no maximum play time, but are recommended to be between 12 seconds and 3 minutes. The maximum file size is 1GB and can be provided in any video file format supported by YouTube, such as .MPEG4, .AVI, or .MOV. A static image of less than 50 kilobytes has to be shown after the ad is loaded. Instead of an automated start, these ads must be Click-to-Play ads. This means the user can see the ad only after they clicked on it.

Categorization of Websites

There are generally two types of websites: large and small.

It is important to understand what the features of a website are, who the audience is, etc. For example, consider big newspaper websites like The Times, The Mirror, and The Sun. What do they have in common? They deliver information on a daily basis, and their audience is almost everyone. To sum up, large websites have:

  • Large readerships
  • Well defined demographics
  • Broad user interests

Imagine four people. Each of them have their own websites according to their specific interests: one about cats, one about dogs, one newspaper website, and one about cars. Limiting the websites to these specific interests, the market reach is decreased. So they are attracting users currently interested in the same subject, not more. To sum up, small websites can be characterized by:

  • Specific user interest
  • Attracting users at point of interest


The following table introduces the different types of targeting methods that are available on GDN.  Some of them allow you the usage of negatives in order to exclude specific triggering.



Contextual Targeting

Book keywords to your campaigns to make sure your ads are just shown on websites with content related to these keywords Use these keywords to keep websites out

Placement Targeting

Choose specific web-domains or subdomains, where your ads should be shown Exclude these domains/ subdomains

Topic Targeting

Choose from a Google-predefined list of topics and sub-topics of websites to show ads on them Exclude websites related to these topics

Interest-based Targeting

Based on the users interests and their surfing-history, ads will be shown to them if their interests matches your ads


Choose just people to (re)target, who have already been on your website

All targeting methods may be used in all possible combinations to define clearly which people may see these ads.