What is GDN & why is it effective for car dealers?

We’ve been working hard to create as many guides as we can to fill our Learning Hub with plenty of useful information. We want to ensure that our dealers have as many resources as possible to enable them to make the most of all aspects of digital marketing.

This guide on The Google Display Network is the second one we’ve written on the topic of Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. To find out more about PPC, read our first guide called A Beginner’s Guide to PPC for Car Dealers. It’s filled with plenty of useful info, outlining the very basics of what PPC is, providing you with a great starting point.

What is GDN?

GDN, which stands for Google Display Network, is one of the online advertising options available from Google Ads. Unlike search advertising, where your adverts appear on a search results page, GDN adverts appear on Google’s network of websites and range from text ads to video ads.

Google’s Display Network reaches around 90% of all internet users , and your adverts can appear on any of them. You’ve probably seen some GDN ads whilst you’ve been browsing the internet today, you just didn’t realise.

The first example below shows the standard responsively designed ads, which can include an image and a call-to-action (CTA) button. Don’t be fooled into thinking you need a designer to help craft you an eye-catching ad, you can do this all within the Google Adwords GDN set up. Google simply pulls images, colours and text from your landing page – the page you want to direct users to when they click on your advert. You can then switch the images, modify the text and play with the appearance of the ad if you wish.

The next example shows a slightly different ad, known as a text ad. It’s designed to look more natural on the page so doesn’t feature any images.

As with all PPC advertising the advertiser bids an amount they are willing to pay for every click the advert receives (Or impression). But the price you pay for a click on the GDN can work out much cheaper than what you pay on the search network, which is why it is such a popular advertising platform for the budget-conscious.

Why use the Google Display Network?

The Google Display Network consists of over 2 million websites with endless potential for your online advertising campaign. Used correctly you can create exposure for your car dealership of up to 90% of all internet users and it could cost you next to nothing compared to if you wanted the same brand exposure from TV or Radio advertising. That’s because the Google Display Network tends to be much less competitive than a search advertising campaign, which is why it tends to cheaper per click.

Search and display network advertising both work in very different ways, as you’re discovering through these guides. Whilst search advertising can be used to target users who are searching then and there for your service or product, display network advertising reaches users who are browsing a website, or perhaps researching the product or service you offer – catching them right at the top of the sales funnel. This is why many dealerships might use this channel for brand exposure, getting the name of your dealership in front of users whilst they’re researching the best used hatchback on their favourite motoring website or blog.

Advertising options on GDN

The great thing about the Google Display Network is that there are so many different advertising options and targeting options to ensure your ads are seen by the right people. There is a lot of flexibility within the types of ads you can choose to run on your campaign including:

  • Text ads
    These have a similar appearance to search network ads, consisting of a headline and some text – as per the example above.
  • Image ads
    These are the most widely used ad type on the platform. These ads are designed to fit every possible ad space on a website. You’re able to upload your own ad design, or alternatively use the built in ad builder which will pull your brand colours and images from the landing page you have selected. These can be edited and amended as you wish to create an eye catching ad.
  • Rich media ads
    These use interactive elements, such as animations and product carousels, to create eye-catching ads to draw a user to your site.
  • Video ads
    Video ads are the adverts which appear before and during YouTube videos. Video ads can appear in YouTube search results, during videos, on the YouTube mobile homepage and on other video partner sites within the GDN.

Targeting options on GDN

As well as having a huge range of ad types to pick from, advertisers can also get down to really targeting their audience with display ads, from specific keywords your target audience are using, through to targeting a specific site your target audience visit regularly.

Managed placements

These allow you to pick and choose which websites, videos and ads you would like your adverts to appear on, so long as they are part of the Google Display Network. Within Adwords you will be given a list of all the potential placements and a gauge of each of their audience reach. So for a car dealership you might choose some local sites, such as local news sites and automotive websites, to reach your target audience. Some advertisers prefer this method to keep control on where your ads are appearing and ensure they are not appearing where it is not a good match.

Topic targeting

This is much more generic than the above two options, focusing on users who are interested in a particular topic rather than a specific keyword or website. Using this option your ads will appear on content which relates to your selected topic.


Remarketing allows you to only show your ads to users who have already visited your site, but left without converting. By this we mean they didn’t complete an action, such as fill in a contact form or make a purchase. So you can craft adverts targeted at users who have been browsing your site, perhaps offering them something for free in order to encourage them to return.


Audience targeting allows you to show your ads to users that have been fit into certain groupings by Google. The primary audience types are affinity, and in-market. Affinity audiences aim to act like wide scale top of funnel advertising, with extremely cheap traffic and mass impressions. In market audiences are more defined and allow you to reach people who Google have defined as in the market for a certain product.

Let us take care of the work for you

If you have any questions about GDN or PPC in general then be sure to get in touch and we can offer some answers. If you feel that this fantastic marketing method is worth trying out, but don’t have the time to do the work yourself, then get in touch and we can take care of all of the work for you. For more information about the PPC package on offer here at Spidersnet, click here now.