Google Ads Display Ad Sizes: Which Ad Sizes Are Best for Your Campaign?

If you’re thinking about running a Google Ads display campaign, it might seem that the size of your ads is an unimportant detail.

It should be as easy as submitting a few ad creatives that will stand out on most web pages, and then you can sit back and watch the traffic to your website climb, right?

Not quite.

Ad size can have a significant effect on the performance of your campaign, and part of unlocking the power of Google Ads comes with understanding the basics.

Today, we will look at why it’s so important to know the ins and outs of different display ad sizes, as well as some useful tips to get your Google AdWords campaign off the ground.

What Are Google Display Ads?

First, keep in mind that Google Ads includes all of Google’s advertising tools, including Search and Display.

Now, let’s take time to remind ourselves how to define Google Display Ads. A good way to do this is to make it clear what Google Display ads aren’t.

Google Search Network: These are the ads that appear on the Google search engine results page (SERP). Unlike Google Display Ads, which are image-based, Google Search Network ads are made up entirely of text.

NOTE: At the time of this writing, Google is starting to roll out image ad extensions to search ads, so we may soon see some richer visual search network ad results that aren’t just text.

Programmatic Ads: This is made up of many ad exchanges (not including Google) that use algorithm-based technology to sell ad placements. This covers over 95% of the internet and uses third-party data to offer greater targeting possibilities. Programmatic ads can take many forms like video, GIF, and images.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s hone in on our definition of Google Adwords Display Ads:

  • Google Display Ads is a pay-per-click (PPC) platform (where the advertiser only pays when someone clicks on your ad).
    You can create ads that appear on websites, apps, and YouTube. These sites are part of the Google Display Network, a network that covers 90% of internet users.
    Using Google’s targeting capabilities, you can serve your display ads to relevant users based on interests, demographics, and more.
  • Many of the banner ads you encounter every day are part of the Google Display Network. The ads introduce you to new brands and products or retarget you to remind you about the pair of jeans you were looking at last week.

Most importantly, these ads drive results!


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The Benefits of Display Advertising

The main benefits of display advertising can be boiled down to two main concepts: targeting and reach.

“Reach” in digital marketing typically means the total number of unique users who see an advertisement. With advertising on the Google Display Network, the reach of your ad is immense, covering 90% of internet users worldwide on two million high-quality websites and apps.

This is far superior to any offline advertising method. It’s also better than other display ad networks in some ways since the list of sites that ads can appear on is so well-vetted to ensure that users are actual people who will click on ads they are interested in.

Targeting has to do with how Google decides who gets to see your ad. The options here are almost endless. You can ensure that your ad budget is being well spent by choosing the right users to target based on the following parameters:

  • Demographics: Age, gender, parental status
  • Psychographics: Hobbies, interests, and desires based on browsing history
  • Remarketing: Targeting users who have already visited your site

This is just the beginning of what’s possible with audience targeting. There is much more that can be explored!

Along with these concepts, Google Display advertising has a strong reputation due to Google itself. Few companies have access to the kind of data Google does, and the company has managed to make its advertising capabilities accessible and easy to use for anyone willing to get started.

Now that we are all up to speed on everything Google AdWords, let’s get back to the main point of this article: finding out why Google Display Ads sizes are so important!

The Top Performing AdWords Banner Sizes (According to Google)

There are many different ad sizes that you can use for online advertising.

But realistically, you can save time and money by focusing on the most common ones.

Here are Google’s top-performing ad sizes, along with an image of how they look when compared to each other.

Also, keep in mind that these dimensions are measured as width by height.

  • Medium Rectangle: 300×250
  • Large Rectangle: 336×280
  • Leaderboard: 728×90
  • Half Page: 300×600
  • Large Mobile Banner: 320×100

These ads have made the “Google Display Ad All-Star Team” because they are easy to work with, grab the user’s attention as they are scanning the page, and are compatible with a significant percentage of the Google Display Network.

Now that we know which ad sizes are seen as the gold standard in the industry, let’s talk about the fun part: how to create ads!

How to Create Google Display Ads

When you’re thinking about building your ads, it’s a good idea to scout out competing sites in your niche and see what formats they run. This gives you a good idea of what already works in the industry!

Thankfully, you don’t need to click around aimlessly on the internet waiting for your competitor’s ads to show up.

Instead, you can use a free tool like the Moat Ad Search, which can be used to crawl the web for recent display ads from a competing company.

This isn’t limited to Google Display Ads – it can also include ads found on programmatic ad networks. But it is a great place to find inspiration!

If you aren’t a graphic designer, starting with a well-made ad is much easier than starting from scratch. Here’s an example:

Let’s say that we are part of an up-and-coming cycling accessories company. Using Moat, we can “spy” on an established competitor called Assos to see what kind of ad creative they have been running lately.

From this quick search, we get a general idea of which ad sizes stand out from the rest.

With these insights in mind, we can finally move on to creating some ads.

What Are Responsive Display Ads?

When you are uploading your ads to the Google Display Network, you will be given a couple of options: uploaded or responsive ads.

Uploaded ads are specifically meant for advertisers who already have existing ad creatives in the suggested size or have the design capabilities to create them. If you have an in-house designer or are experienced with creating ads, and you want full control over how your ads appear, this is probably the right option for you.

However, responsive ads are great for everyone looking to maximize their ad placement, because more ads can be placed if your ad can fit any size ad space. If you want Google to step in and take care of image optimization for you, then you can go the responsive display ad route.

All you need to do is upload a few image and logo samples, some lines of basic ad copy, and your business name. Then Google will test and create ads for you that automatically adjust to different web page ad size requirements.

Ever heard of the expression “work smarter, not harder?” Until you become experienced with what kinds of ads work in your industry, this is definitely the easier option.

But for best results, we recommend running at least one responsive ad and one uploaded ad per ad group. It’s always better to have more options for testing to see what’s performing best.

Building Your Ads

There are several different platforms you can use to put together your ad creatives.

At the high end, we recommend Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator tools. However, these are expensive and difficult to learn from scratch.

If you don’t have experience with either, you can save a lot of time and energy by using Canva. Canva is user-friendly, and the free version is definitely good enough to create basic ads.

Canva has default settings for several different online ad formats. Once you choose your size (for this example, we will be using the “medium rectangle” 300X250 size), it is pretty straightforward to add in text, images, and other graphic effects.

Just like that, we have the beginnings of a display ad.

Sure, this one could use a little work, but it only took 20 minutes. Now we can have a chat with someone a little more design-savvy for some tips, or move right along to running it in a campaign to see how it performs.

Running a Display Ad Campaign

We will go into much greater depth on running a Google Display Ad campaign in a dedicated article later on.

But in the meantime, it’s important to focus on the following concepts:

Take Advantage of Your Top Keywords

When you set up your campaign, you will be given the option to submit your top-performing keywords as part of the ad targeting process.

You should know what your website’s top organic search keywords are. If you don’t, follow this guide to learn how to find this information using Google Analytics or other tools.

Driving Referral Traffic

If you are reviewing your site’s Google Analytics, you can also spend time analyzing your referral traffic report (which can be accessed under the Acquisition > All Traffic menu).

This shows how users are ending up on your website. If you are receiving traffic from other websites, it should show in this report and you can then use the same sites as ideal places to serve your display ads.

Less is More

There are a lot of creative and crazy things you can do with Google Display Ads.

Along the way, there will be plenty of temptation to start trying out animations and eye-catching visuals. But we are going to recommend that you keep things simple.

Most internet users loathe online display advertisements, but this is because so many ads are intrusive and slow down web page speed. And many are just plain ugly.

Aim for ads that share your unique value proposition concisely and with impact. Short copy is better than long, and honesty goes much further than clickbait-style headlines.

Examples of Display Ads That Work

Still need some creative inspiration for designing your Google Display Ads? Here are a few campaigns that stand above the rest (and why we found them so effective!).

Ridge: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Clicks

This ad creative for Ridge’s RFID-blocking minimal wallet is the perfect example of why ads should be visual-first.

The ad focuses directly on a common pain point that many wallet buyers face and gives them a perfect solution with only four words of text.

For smaller businesses looking to get into online advertising, this is a good reason to have a decent selection of photo assets on hand (either stock or professionally taken images can work), especially when they show your product or service’s key benefits.


Harry’s: Minimal, and Effective

This ad from razor subscription service Harry’s uses a clean, minimal design that grabs the viewer’s attention with some offbeat copy and shows off the design of the product.

This ad is great for remarketing purposes – when you are targeting a customer who has already visited your website. It is a great way to keep your product top of mind and give recent visitors an extra push that convinces them to try it out for the very first time.

Google Display Ads Sizes Wrap-up

We hope that you have the tools you need to take control of your Google AdWords Display Ads campaign with confidence.

Keep an eye on our blog for more practical advice on SEO, digital marketing, and growing your business online! And to find out if we can help you achieve your business goals, book a strategy session right here!


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Head of Paid Media

Sam Medlicott

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