The Google Display Network offers a wide variety of advertising features, formats, and targeting options; your ROI largely depends on how well you can utilize these options. The Display Advertising tool lets you leverage competitive analysis to improve your audience and content targeting.
Step 1: Find New Audience Targeting Opportunities
Look at your strongest competitors, and explore the gender ratio, age composition, and interests of their audience in the Display Advertising Overview report. If you are analyzing a specific advertising campaign, set the location/device and time period accordingly.
Compare the collected data to the Topics, Interests & Remarketing, Age & Gender reports (Acquisition -> Google Ads -> Display Targeting) in your Google Analytics and try to spot groups that are too narrow, uncovered segments, etc.
Step 2: Leverage Competitors’ Placements
To find new effective placements for your display ads, browse your rivals’ lists of top publishers and their categories. You can also find these in the Display Advertising Overview report.
The full Publishers report can give you even more insights as it features the ad categories (Image/HTML/Text), monthly visits to the publisher’s website, the date of the first ad’s publication and the number of times it was displayed by the specific publisher. Exclude the placements that don’t fit into your PPC strategy and export the remaining list for further use.
Step 3: Test Your Hypothesis
Now it’s time to develop win-win custom targeting combinations. Switch to your Google Ads account and check whether you targeted any placements from the publishers list in the past and gave up on them.
If yes, prioritize placements based on the traffic and conversions they brought in the past (Acquisition > All Traffic portion report in Google Analytics), then try to find the reasons why you gave up on them. One of the most common causes of poor performance is when creatives are not adapted to the specifics of the placement.
Solution: Compare the ads you used to run against those of your competitor using the Ads report of the Display Advertising tool and check if you chose the optimal format, text, image, etc.
Run test ad campaigns for the placements you put on the top of your list, taking into account the strong points of your rivals’ creatives.
If no, prioritize the placements list based on the number of monthly visits or the number of your competitors' ads and run test campaigns with different custom audiences.
Step 4: Measure and Adjust
Switch to your Google Ads account to evaluate the tests’ results in relation to target metrics (brand awareness, ad engagement, direct response, etc.). If the experiments were successful, just adopt your competitor’s audience targeting and content targeting. To do so, optimize the experimental campaigns for your own goals and start monitoring their performance on an ongoing basis.
If the experiment failed, try to understand why and rerun it with a different funnel stage (bottom-of-the-funnel instead of top-of-the-funnel) or a different metric (clicks instead of impressions, etc.).