Battle of the PPC Campaigns: Paid Search v. Display Advertising

When it comes to marketing, several mediums fight for your attention. With budgets restricting what you can use and leaving little room for error, you as a marketer have to consider the pros and cons of different channels. For online marketing, that means making the choice between two rivals: paid search and display advertising.

To help you decide, we've put pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns toe-to-toe with display advertising so you can decide which would work best for you. Let's get ready to rumble!

Paid Search

In one corner we have paid search, a PPC method that displays an ad at the top and sides of search engine results based on targeted keywords. Since 48 percent of consumers start online mobile research with a search engine, you can reach them in the early stages of the buying process and drive them to your content. Let's see what paid search brings to the ring.


Paid search allows you to have control over your brand perception. This means you're able to manage the impression of your brand to consumers when they are actively searching for services you offer. You choose what keywords pull up your ads and what the ads say about you, so for the most part, you'll get action from people who are genuinely interested in the specific products or services you offer.


To get consumers to see your brand, you must bid the highest for your targeted keywords (in addition to having a killer quality score). Paid search can get expensive for your marketing team if it's not approached properly. Fortunately if you optimize your keywords and continually measure your results, you can maximize your investment and therefore your ROI.

Signature Move

Paid search has a secret skill that gives it a boost: negative keywords. If there are certain keywords you don't want to trigger your ads (e.g. "free"), you can add them to your negative keyword list. This allows you to significantly cut down on irrelevant searches and accidental click-throughs. Negative keywords provide an added level of control that helps ensure your ads attract as many relevant leads as possible.

Display Advertising

In the other corner we have display ads, which are graphic ads that appear on consumers' screens after they search for a product or service. They target consumers that have already begun perusing certain companies' websites, which means they're further down the sales funnel and therefore closer to making a purchase. Google's display ads now reach 80 percent of global internet users and are optimized to reach relevant customers based on previously visited sites. Let's see what display ads have to offer.


Display ads have the upper hand when it comes to brand awareness. Since display ads appear repeatedly to consumers when they visit relevant sites, these ads a great way to get people to consistently see your brand and recognize your company name, logo and graphics. The more you advertise, the more awareness your brand receives.


The major downfall of display ads is the clickthrough rate. Weighing in at a dismally low 0.1 percent, they don't seem worth it compared to paid search campaigns. However, that is just an average and your company could find through testing that display ads work better than paid search advertisements.

Signature Move

Display advertising's secret weapon is remarketing. This impressive maneuver occurs when a cookie tracks users that click on your ad so you can advertise to consumers while they browse the internet for products relevant to what you offer.

And the Winner Is...

Well, you tell us! Consider the strengths and weaknesses of both paid search and display ads and let us know which one you decide is better for your company!