top of page
  • Writer's pictureJanina Key

A Guide To Google Ad Campaign Types

So you’ve heard that Google Ads is a great way to advertise your business online – but what exactly are Google Ads and how do they look like? Often, the term ‘Google Ads’ is associated with search ads that people see when they search for something on Google. But did you know there are four other ad types all managed within Google Ads? Let’s break them down and find out what they are, how they look like and who should use them.

The five Google Ad campaign types are:

  • Search ads

  • Display ads

  • Video ads

  • Shopping ads

  • App ads

Image source:

Google Search Ads

What are search ads?

Search ads appear on the top and bottom of the Google search results page. They are text ads marked with a little black ‘Ad’ sign and consist of headlines, description lines and ad extensions which are extra bits of information like your business’ phone number, USPs or services provided. Search ads are triggered by users’ search terms that match the keywords you’ve set up in your search campaigns.

How do they look like?

Screenshot of a google search ad for Western Australia
An example of a search ad on the Google search results page.

Who should use them?

Search ads are the most common Google Ads type since they’re a good fit for almost every type of business. Think about the last time you searched for something on Google – most likely you were looking for a service, product or solution and you were ready to take action in that particular moment to solve whatever needed to be solved. As a business, this is your chance to provide a solution to a customer’s problems right in the moment they are looking for it.

There are no extra assets like images or videos required but only a few well-written ad copy options combined with thorough keyword research to match your customers’ search queries. Search ads are a must-have for every comprehensive digital marketing strategy and a good entry point if you’re new to Google Ads.

Google Display Ads

What are display ads?

Display ads are image or video ads that you see across the web, for example on blogs, online articles or any other website that allows ads on their pages. They come in different formats and sizes and are embedded into the page to look like they are part of the page content.

The most common form of Display ads is retargeting. These are ads of websites that you visited and that follow you around the web trying to bring you back to the original website.

The second type is summarised as prospecting where you try to reach potential new customers by targeting specific interests, demographics, page content or user behaviour. For example, if you sell baby clothing you can target parents with babies, show your ads on newborn baby blogs or reach people who actively research baby clothes.

How do they look like?

Screenshot of an Air Bnb ad on a travel website
An example of a native display ad on a travel website.

Who should use them?

Retargeting is a great way to remind people of your business and get them back to your website to complete whatever you want them to complete. This could be to complete their purchase with the products they left in their shopping card, book an appointment or sign up for your mailing list.

Prospecting offers a variety of targeting methods and is a good tool to expand your existing customer audience. Since these people don’t know your brand yet, it is a top-of-funnel approach with the purpose of brand building and increasing website traffic. Once on your website, you try to engage them with relevant content, maybe get them to sign up to your newsletter, later retarget and eventually turn them into paying customers.

Google Video Ads

What are video ads?

Video ads are shown on YouTube before or in the middle of a video. They come in various lengths and can be skippable or non-skippable. Video ads are a great way to tell the story of your brand and ideally, you have multiple video ad versions that build upon or relate to each other.

The targeting options for video ads are similar to display ads. You can retarget your website visitors or use prospecting to target people based on their interests, demographics and more.

How do they look like?

Screenshot of a Kitchen Aid video ad on YouTube
An example of a video ad on YouTube.

Who should use them?

Video ads are an important part of a holistic digital marketing strategy and a great tool for branding and storytelling. However, having good video assets is crucial and not every business has the capabilities to create suitable videos. If your business can’t provide good video material, another good option for branding and retargeting are display ads.

Google Shopping Ads

What are shopping ads?

Shopping Ads are sometimes confused with Search ads because they often appear above Search Ads. Additionally, they also come up on the Shopping tab. Shopping ads include a product image, price, short headline and optional promotion messages like ‘free shipping’ or ‘15% off’. In addition to Google Ads, you need a Google Merchant Center account that processes your product data and sets it up for Shopping Ad campaigns.

Shopping ads can be used only by websites that sell products online and require a shopping feed which is a list of your product details. The shopping feed can be either an Excel file with your product data or some CRMs like Shopify allow importing product data directly into Merchant Center.

How do they look like?

Screenshot of a Google shopping ad for running shoes
An example of a Shopping ad.

Who should use them?

Shopping Ads are made for e-commerce stores and require you to sell products online. They are a great way to showcase your products with the two most important pieces of information: an image and the product price.

Google App campaigns

What are app campaigns?

App campaigns promote your app in the app store or the Google Search results page. This is not to be confused with image or video ads that appear in apps (these would be set up with a display campaign). When someone searches on Google for an app, your ad can appear in the search results and users will be directed to the app store to download the app. Ads in the app store appear either in the recommendation tab or when you search for an app that is similar to yours. You can use app campaigns to promote both iOS and Android apps.

In addition to app downloads, app ads can also help you to increase engagement within your app. Sometimes people download apps and forget about that – that’s where app engagement ads come in to encourage people to come back and use the app.

How do they look like?

Who should use them?

If you have an app, using app campaigns is a great way to increase downloads as well as in-app engagements. The app store is a competitive space and running app campaigns (even just short a short time) can help grow downloads when you’ve just launched or feel that downloads are stagnating. For mature and well-developed apps, engagement ads can help to reach people who downloaded the app but haven’t used it in a while.


There is much more to Google Ads than just Search ads and an effective digital marketing strategy should include various campaign types. While not every ad type might be relevant for your business, different ad types can benefit each other and help to target users throughout the stages of their customer journey. If you would like to find out the best strategy for your business, get in touch for a free initial consultation.

24 views0 comments


bottom of page