Google search vs display: Which is better?

This blog post explores the two main advertising options on Google Ads: Search Ads and Display Ads. It explains the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Digital Marketing
April 17, 2024

Conquering the digital battlefield requires the right tools. In the world of Google Ads, your two main weapons are Search and Display campaigns. But which one should you be wielding?

Search Ads: 

Imagine a customer with a burning question: "Where to buy the best running shoes?" Search ads are like a well-placed billboard on their way to the answer. They target users actively searching for keywords related to your product or service.


  • High conversion rates: People searching are closer to buying, making conversions more likely.
  • Measurable results: You can easily track clicks and conversions to see your return on investment (ROI).
  • Great for short sales cycles: Perfect for products or services with immediate purchase decisions.


  • Higher cost per click (CPC): Competition for keywords can drive up the price.
  • Limited reach: You only reach people actively searching, missing those who might be interested but haven't started their research.

Display Ads:

Display ads are like colourful flags waving in the digital wind. They can appear on websites, news articles, and even YouTube videos. They're a great way to grab attention and build brand awareness.


  • Broader reach: Reach potential customers even if they're not actively searching.
  • Brand building: Keep your brand at the forefront of their minds.
  • Retargeting: Showcase ads to users who have already interacted with your brand.


  • Lower conversion rates: People seeing your ad might not be actively looking to buy.
  • Difficult to measure: Tracking ROI can be trickier as conversions might happen later or offline.
  • Lower click-through rates (CTR): People are less likely to click on an ad that isn't directly relevant to their current need.
  • The Verdict: It's Not Either/Or

The best approach often uses both Google Search and Display Ads.

Start with Search Ads:

If your budget is tight, target high-intent customers for faster conversions.

Add Display Ads for Brand Awareness: 

Expand your reach and keep your brand visible to potential customers throughout their buying journey.

By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each type of ad, you can choose the right weapon for your digital marketing campaign and conquer the online battlefield.

Let's build something good together

If you have a project in mind, we would be happy to have a chat about how we can make it happen.

Ben van Rooy

Strategy Director

Nick Brown

Marketing Director