Display Ad Networks vs. Search Ads: Which One Should You Choose?

Recently updated: February 19th, 2024

If you know about online advertisement, then you also know that there are many options for ads but two of the most popular are Display Ads and Search Ads.

Sometimes, it is difficult to connect with the right customer which is why advertisers must choose the right ad format. Different formats of ads help brands in making their customer aware of their products and drive them to make purchases.

Display ads and search ads both have different advantages that are very important for brands. The main difference between both ads is that display ads are considered as “push” advertising whereas, search ads are considered as “pull” advertising. So, display ads are paid and can appear anywhere on the website according to marketers. Search ads are also paid and appear when customers search for any desired product or service

However, when both are implemented properly, it will drive organic traffic and great results for your marketing campaigns

According to data, The average click-through rate in Google Ads across all industries is 3.17% for search and 0.46% for display.


click-through rate of all industry

Source: WordStream


In this blog, we will get to know about display ads and search ads and their usage to achieve marketing goals.

What are Display Ads?

Display ads are a type of online advertising that has images, videos, and visuals of banner ads that are displayed on different digital platforms. These are the ads that are very intended to grab customer’s attention and help them to reach out for their desired product.

Display ads are also known as display marketing and are usually used for increasing brand image, brand awareness, brand promotion, and promoting campaigns. This is a very popular form of advertising where brands pay to have their ads shown on web pages when a user searches for any related content.

Display ads can appear in different locations on social media. According to Google, display network sites reach over 90% of internet users worldwide.

For example: If you search for “What is Google Display Network” then in the blog you may find different display ads.


What is display ads

Source: WordStream


Display ads give you a broad reach for your website as they can be displayed on different platforms. This will help in building brand awareness among those who are not actively searching for your products.

Display ads have exciting visuals that include images, videos, and gifs, enticing customers to click on that ad.

Through display ads, you can target your audience based on their interest, geographics, and user behavior which will make targeting more precise.

Depending on your ad campaign’s goal, display ads can be priced on a cost-per-thousand-impression (CPM) or cost-per-click (CPC). CPM is very useful for increasing brand recognition and CPC is very beneficial for direct response campaigns.

Uses of Display Ads

As we discussed above, display ads are the digital posters that we see on websites that sell space to advertisers. These ads are designed to gain potential customers and build relations with websites and advertisers.

Platforms like Google Display Network sites group ads by category and offer advertisers as a package. Advertisers bid for their websites through these networks and the highest bids will show multiple times on the sites.

In addition to that, some advertisers also use remarketing to reach online users who have visited their sites in the past.

The main usage of display ads is that they are flexible. By this, you can create multiple ads in different sizes and images. You can be very creative with display ads, which can help your business to stand out in the online market.

The only drawback of display ads is that they are ignored easily sometimes. People who are visiting your site are not looking for a sales pitch, and they may jump to another website. So, set your display ads accordingly with proper formatting.

What are Search Ads?

Search ads, also known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM), are a form of online advertising. Advertisers pay to display their ads on search engine result pages. Google Ads is the most commonly known platform for search advertising services.

For example: If you search for “best SEO service Delhi” in Google, you may see many search ads on your mobile interface.


What is search ads


Search ads have three components: Headline, Display URL, and Description text. All are designed very creatively, which will convince users to click through rate. You can easily identify them as they are tagged with the term “Sponsored” above the brand name.

You can add an ad extension as well to provide users with additional information. Their rankings and cost per click (CPC) depend on the bidding and quality score.

Search ads are displayed when users actively search for specific keywords on search engines. This means online users have a clear intent to find information or purchase related to those keywords that’s why search ads are intent-driven.

Search ads do their targeting based on keywords, location, demographics, and so on. This will help you capture the audience who are interested in your product. This can generate quick results as they appear when users are actively seeking information.

Search ads work on a cost-per-click (CPC) model, which means you pay only when someone clicks on your ad. This can be cost-effective if you have a well-optimized ad campaign.

Uses of Search Ads

Display ads only appear on different websites across the internet and appear on search engine result pages. In search ads, advertisers select a list of keywords that are relevant to their business or products and can do bidding and optimization to have their ad show in search engine results when someone searches for those keywords.

To decide which ads should appear on search results pages, each search engine advertising platform puts a bidding process in place properly. The higher you bid on a keyword, there is more chance your ad will be shown to customers.

However, in Google ads, you do not have to pay every time. Instead, they use a pay-per-click model, where you have to pay only when someone clicks your ad. Pay-per-clicks increase your website traffic and drive engagement.

Comparing Display Ads and Search Ads

There are two major metrics for comparing display and search ads. The first is conversion rate and cost per click.

Conversion Rate

The average conversion rate across all industries is 0.57% for display campaigns and 4.40% for search campaigns. This shows clearly that in terms of conversion rates, search ads are very successful.

This is because that search network connects advertisers to customers actively looking for products with higher intent, so they’re naturally more likely to convert.


Conversion rate

Source: WordStream

Cost per Click

The average cost per click is also low in display ads as compared to search ads. The average CPC for display ads is $0.59 and around $2.41 for search ads.

There is a clear major difference between both of the ads. Search ads provide major benefits for advertisers as it is cost-efficient. However, every brand has a different business goal that’s why you should have proper knowledge of when to use which ads type for your business.


Cost per click

contextual display costsSource: WordStream

Cost per action

Generally, advertisers expect to rise in advertising over time, but the average CPA on the search network is lower now compared to the previous study. Whereas, display ad CPA has gone up.

The average CPA in Google ads across all industries is $48.96 for search and $75.51 for display.


Cost per action

Source: WordStream

Advantages of Display Ads and Why You Choose Display Ads

High-quality visuals

One of the most important aspects of display ads over search ads is that they can include images and video. This is beneficial for promoting business, as we all know visuals have a higher impact. This can give consumers a whole presentation about services and products like home décor, adventure packages, beauty products, and so on.

Display ads work well with digital assets like eBooks, infographics, etc.

Now, Google has made it very easy for advertisers to create video campaigns. This is an impactful option because people love to engage more with video content rather than image ads.

Creating awareness among people with different intent

Sometimes, people who are browsing websites and see display ads are not actively searching for a product. They are still in the discovery stage and searching for products and services without buying intent. Here, display ads can create an impact on your product. It will help to drive user attention towards those ads irrespective of buying intent.

Works for a longer time

Display ads are ideal if your product is not purchased immediately and therefore has a longer sales cycle. This is often the case for products with large expenses such as automobiles and enterprise software.

To make your brand presence strong across the platform, you must have acquired different digital advertising strategies:

  1. Cross-channel marketing which will display your ads across multiple devices on a variety of digital marketing channels
  2. Omni-channel marketing helps in providing a seamless user experience across all channels relevant to the user’s journey
  3. Through retargeting, you can show ads to anyone who has interacted with your brand in the past.

Reaches to small audiences

Display ads increase brand awareness as they are found on sites where potential customers are already present. This means you can easily target a small audience for your product.

Choose display ads networks for:

  1. Building brand awareness and reaching a broad audience.
  2. High visually appealing content, such as images and images to show
  3. Long-term brand-building strategies
  4. Flexible budget

Advantages of Search Ads and Why You Choose Search Ads

If your business has a small marketing budget, then you must go with search ads. Search ads allow more control over whom you want to reach without wasting money on people who are not interested. You can deal easily with the local market with high results.

Drive organic traffic

Search ads directly bring people to a solution much faster. This search advertising is a great short-term strategy while continuing to build your organic presence. Generating organic traffic will strengthen your presence in the market with a strong base and outcomes.

Capture high-quality leads

When you opt for search ads, you can use different keyword match types. This will help you to target users based on their search behavior. This will allow you to create your ads that exactly match with user intention.

Works great for a shorter time

If your brand has a short sales cycle, then search ads are a really good option to opt for. You do not need to continue different styles of advertising to people who have previously been influenced by your product.

Promote emergency products

Search ads are ideal for your product if you offer services like (plumbers, locksmiths, electricians, etc.). These emergency products are used widely and are most likely going to be searched for on a mobile device. To make it successful and simple for the users, you need to use some extension

Works well with a small budget

Search ads work great if you have a lower-budget campaign. You can bid on highly relevant keywords that will give you more control over whom you want to reach. It will produce more qualified leads, good ROI, higher conversions, and so on.

Choose search ads for:

  1. Capturing users with immediate intent
  2. Generating quick results and conversions.
  3. Specific keywords relevant to your business
  4. Highly targeted approach to reach potential customers.


Both search ads and display ads have their benefits and can be extremely useful in different situations. However, you must have clear knowledge of what and when to use these ad types.

When you select the format of your ad and create it accordingly, you must connect your ads to relevant landing pages for the best results.

Search ads are best for brands that are looking to capture audiences with clear intent that they are actively searching for. On the other hand, display ad networks have creative campaigns that are more suitable for brand building, reaching a broader audience, and creating visually appealing content.

Your decision should be based on your advertising goals, target audience, and budget. Many businesses and brands use both types of ads to promote their presence in the market and to achieve a balanced approach.

When it comes to display and search ads, they both have their importance in the online marketing industry. Choose the option that is best for your brand and can fulfil your goals.

Mridula Singh

Mridula is a seasoned content writer whose passion for words is matched only by her talent for creating compelling narratives. With a proven track record of delivering impactful content across diverse platforms, she has firmly established herself as an expert in her field. She excels in crafting web content that not only informs but also inspires. Her digital content strategies are tailored to optimize online presence, engagement, and conversion rates. She has a portfolio that includes articles, blog posts, e-books, and more, all characterized by her distinctive style and commitment to excellence.