A Look at the Search Network with Display Select Campaign Type

By Tinuiti Team

Search or Display? A lot of advertisers are left wondering which network is best for their business. The Search Network offers keyword-specific targeting while the Google Display Network (GDN) is decided by site-relevance. Each serve a purpose, but there isn’t really an end-all be-all type of answer. Campaigns respond differently to different strategies and it’s really going to depend on your objectives and goals.

The interesting thing, though – it doesn’t have to simply be a matter of choosing between Search or Display. Fumbling around through AdWords, you’ll notice there’s an additional campaign type: Search Network with Display Select.

Free Guide: The Brand Manufacturer’s Retail Search Portfolio

A lot of campaigns tend to focus on one network over the other or have separate campaigns for each network. But with the combination in the Search Network with Display Select option, it raises the question of how effective the campaign type can actually be.

What is the Search Network with Display Select Campaign Type?

From a conceptual standpoint, it’s pretty straight forward. The Search Network with Display Select option is essentially what it sounds like; your run-of-the-mill Search Network placement with the addition of a few Display Network sitesplacemnts thrown in as well.

Taking a step back, it’s important to distinguish the difference between the two, separately, before jumping into the combination campaign type. The “Search Network only” option encompasses ads with placement in Google search and affiliated search partners. The “Display Network only” option includes  partner websites of the GDN.

The “Search Network with Display Select” option is a mix of the two, and what Google claims as being the “best opportunity to reach the most customers”.

How Search Network with Display Select Works

So how does it work? You’ll manage your Search Network with Display Select campaigns the same way you’d manage a Search Network only campaign. You’ll need to set your budget, designate relevant keywords, and create your ads. That’s about it. The rest is taken care of for you and no additional work is network with display select

Once your campaign is up and running, ad placements will be seen in a few areas. Ads can appear when people search for queries that match your keywords on Google search and search partner sites.

In addition to placement within the Search Network, ads can also appear on relevant pages across the web on the Google Display Network (GDN). However, placement within the GDN takes an automated approach and does not give you as much control.

Ads within the Display Network are shown selectively and bidding is automated, hence the Display Select label in the campaign type. You’re not going to be accessing all sites within the GDN, just a few of them.

Below are the comparative differences between the “Search Network only” campaign and the “Search Network with Display Select” campaign types.

search network with display select

Once your campaign has been created, your budget is then split between the Search and Display networks. However, as placement within the GDN happens in a more limited capacity, the majority of your budget will be allocated toward ads in the Search network.

The, somewhat restrictive, frequency of GDN ad placement will be determined based on site relevance in relation to your designated keywords, as well as to how likely Google determines customers are going to click through on an ad and convert.

As indicated in the chart above, Search Network with Display Select campaign types are accompanied by two subtypes: standard and all features. The major differences between the two are really only evident in the ad format and targeting options.

It really just comes down to how in-depth you want to be with your campaigns. The options offered within the all features section gives advertisers more advanced capabilities to customize their approach.

The Best of Both Worlds or A Shot In the Dark?

It has its pros and cons, but the biggest question, as it is with any AdWords feature, is whether or not it’s going to be effective and suitable in driving value.

In theory, depending on your objectives, there’s a lot to like about Search Network with Display Select. search network with display select

“The Search Network with Display Select campaign type is really designed for, and geared toward, advertisers who want to extend their advertising efforts to both networks, but perhaps don’t have the resources or management needed to scale both sides separately,” said Lewis Brannon, Paid Search Manager at CPC Strategy.

Your ads will immediately have access to both networks, basically expanding the reach of your audience by a fairly significant amount. You’ll have various formats and placements in the Search Network and on relevant sites across parts of the Display Network.

“It’s really just a way of trying to offer a more streamlined approach to advertising on both Search and Display. But with a lot of it being automated, it gives Google more control over the campaign as well,” Brannon went on to say.

Being able to hit both networks within a single campaign seems like a no-brainer, but the Search Network with Display Select campaign type has a few, potentially deal-breaking, caveats that should be considered.

One of the biggest reasons, perhaps, is that advertisers usually stand to benefit more by keeping Search and Display campaigns separate from one another.


All in all, separating campaign types is going to permit more sophisticated targeting and help in defining what your costs are.

“We haven’t really used the campaign type that much. We prefer being able to segment our Search and Display budgets separately from each other. It makes it easier to report on and gives us a more accurate look into the effectiveness of our spend,” Brannon noted.

The Search Network with Display Select campaign type is a good option for businesses looking to test the waters of both networks, but it might not be as viable of an option for those that are willing to invest the time and effort needed to build more robust campaigns.


For more information on the Search Network with Display Select campaign type, please contact [email protected]


Additional Resources:

Measure the Impact of Display Advertising with Assisted Impression Reporting

RLSA Strategies: Target and Bid versus Bid Only

The Most Popular AdWords Announcements of 2016

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