Understanding the different Google Ad Campaigns and Ad Formats

Google Ads campaigns, and their respective formats, come in all shapes and sizes to best suit your business’ goals.

You have likely seen them on websites, apps, YouTube and Google’ Search Result Page in the form of text, image, gif, or video ads. This article will help you to understand the difference between the various options available and their place in achieving your business goals. 

Google Campaign Types Available to Drive Digital Success & Their Ad Types

There are 5 different campaigns that are available on Google’s advertising platform, but we’ll look at the 4 most popular campaign types in SA: Google Search, Google Display, YouTube TrueView, and Shopping Ads.

Google Search Campaigns

These Google Ads appear on Google Search either above, below or next to the search of any Google platform including:

  • Google Play
  • Google Shopping
  • Google Image
  • Google Maps

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Text Ads

Text ads are exactly what they sound like they are: an ad made up of only text, with a limited word count.

While text ads may not be visually distinctive, they still carry the potential for a higher conversion rate when used strategically within a Google Search campaign and when coupled with SEO. Additionally, you’ll save costs because you won’t need a designer to create the ads or make minor changes to the ad content.

Because text ads are shown to users who are actively looking for your products or services, they tend to be the best tool for generating leads.


Display Campaigns

This is a broad term used to describe campaigns that places ads with a promotional message on third party sites. It can do wonders for your brand awareness and really makes an impression. What started as a direct partnership between a website owner and business has blossomed into something a touch more complex.

As the internet saw its true boom with Search Engines like Google taking centre stage, ads changed with thousands of websites being created with plenty of ad space to sell to the highest bidder. That’s exactly what Google did by creating what is now known as the Google Display Network.

Display Ads

Display ads are also known as “image ads” or “banner ads” that appear on other websites. Thanks to Google’s strict editorial rules, these ads don’t appear spammy in nature and are often helpful. (Remember buying that coffee machine on special thanks to a display ad?)

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If tracking is setup correctly on your website, you’ll be able to get a clear picture of the number of sales/leads coming through your display campaign.

However, display campaigns aren’t ideal as a lead generation tool but have been created as an affordable alternative to street pole and billboard advertising.  Like any push marketing campaign, it is difficult to measure the value they add to your brand, but they work extremely well when used in remarketing campaigns.

Know the difference: A remarketing campaign is a special type of display campaign where your ads appear to users who’ve visited a specific page on your website. Remarketing is one of many types of targeting methods available in Google’s Display advertising options.

 According to Neil Patel, an SEO and Google Ads Guru, remarketing ads campaigns have the possibility to increase visitors with over 50% and can increase conversion by up to 51% because of brand related traffic.

This, along with the fact that your CPC can end up being less, means that you should put just as much time and effort into remarketing campaigns as you do in your initial display ad campaigns.

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Google Shopping Campaigns

Shopping campaigns give a strong sense of the product on offer and allow the user to quickly see a photo, the price and the store name in one Ad. Remarketing using Display Ads have proven to be very effective by showing interested users products that match their previously used search terms and shopping cart. Data relating a user’s price range and taste are stored in the Merchant Centre as data that will inform remarketing campaigns in the future.

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YouTube TrueView Ads

The slogan for YouTube nicely sums up why one would want your ad to appear there: “Be seen where everyone is watching.” Approximately five billion videos are watched on YouTube each day!

YouTube TrueView Ads are excellent for businesses who want to strengthen their brand reputation or increase top of mind awareness.

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The Different Kinds of Video Ads Available on YouTube


  • TrueView Ads – These videos can be anything from demos to testimonials to advertise business’ products and services in their unique brand voice. This is an attractive option for many advertisers because they can target a relevant audience and only pay if the video is played for 30 seconds or longer or prompts the viewer to take an action like clicking through to the website.
  • TrueView In-Stream Ads – These are the ads that play intermittently in the duration of a YouTube video or within Google’s display network, like on an app or game.
  • TrueView Discovery Ads – These can be considered the display ads of the YouTube platform as they are the videos that pop up on your YouTube homepage as an ad in your recommended or related videos.
  • Non-Skippable YouTube Ads – As the name suggests, these are videos you can’t skip and are a maximum of 20 seconds. This is usually a focused, short video to get a message across, create intrigue or re-instill a brand’s image.
    • Pre-roll Ads – Seen before the YouTube video plays.
    • Mid-roll Ads – Play in the middle of YouTube videos that are 10 minutes, or longer.
  • Bumper Ads – These Ads appear at the end of a video and are a maximum of 6 seconds. These are fantastic when used as a remarketing tool.

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A combination of the above-mentioned ads can work perfectly when used in well thought out campaigns, making one no better than another.

How Much You’ll Pay For Your Ads

When it comes to paying for ads, Google makes use of an auction model to determine the price you need to pay to appear on Google’s search results, a YouTube video or a third party website.  Like any auction, you can set your bid limit, but it needs to be competitive enough to outbid your competitors, or your ad won’t appear in that auction. Keep in mind, if there is a lot of competition in your industry, you will need to have a higher bid to outrank all of the competitors.

Ad Rank also impacts the amount you need to pay for your ads to appear. It is a value that is used to determine your Ad position (where ads are shown on a page relative to other ads) and whether your Ads will show at all. Ad Rank is calculated using your bid and the quality of the ad selected for a specific auction. Your ad's quality is determined by the expected click-through rate, the Ad’s relevance to your targeting method and your landing page’s relevance.

A certified Google Ads agency, like Starbright, will be able to balance your bid limit and keep your ads relevant to ensure the lowest cost per click on your Google Ads account.

In Summary

Using a combination of Search, Display, Shopping and YouTube TrueView campaigns, you can make use of ad formats that strengthen your brand, increase sales and grow your business.