Search vs display advertising

Search advertising and display advertising are both search engine marketing (SEM) techniques. Search advertising is done via search engines; search traffic refers to search queries that are entered into search queries and ads, or sponsored listings, that appear as search results when your search query matches the advertiser’s keyword list. Both search and display advertising are reliant on strong PPC expertise to know how to build and structure a campaign, as well as tweak bids on specific keywords.

Display advertising is done on publisher sites outside of search engines; display traffic refers to ad impressions from banner ads or embedded media players on third-party websites. Google generates about 90% of its revenue from online ads with nearly 63% coming specifically from search advertising. More than 98 million searches are conducted every day in the US alone, where clicks on paid ads account for more than two-thirds of all clicks online. This means there are a lot of potential customers out there that can be targeted by search or display ads.

Search vs display advertising

Future search or display ads help you search and find things online. Top search or display ads are the ones that pop up alongside search result pages, where one can easily be found while searching on Google. The search advertising is usually highlighted by a search engine (Google) search results page as sponsored links like the image below.

Display advertising

Display advertisement refers to an ad that appears in publisher sites which are neither search engines nor linked web pages among other search engines. These advertisements could be from banner ads, embedded media players or video advertisements.

Advertisers put their ads in another website which aims to attract traffic through showing content and services of those advertisers. The methods include distributed media buying, contextual advertising and behavioral targeting. In distributed media buying, advertisers will bid on space of search engines or on search terms.

In contextual advertising, the network search will place ads that relate to search results and which are more relevant for users search queries based on their search history. In behavioral targeting, search engine algorithms will capture information from browser cookies in order to deliver targeted advertisement.

Search ads

Search differs from display ads because of the type of viewers those ads attract. Search attracts online shoppers who are looking for products and services available in different sites through search engines like Google where comparison shopping is easy since advertisers pay extra money to rank higher than other advertisers’ bids. When a shopper clicks on a paid ad, he/she is directed to the advertiser’s website where they can buy clothes, electronics or even donate blood.

Advertisements via a search ad will also show up in search engine results pages, which can be displayed as text, banner and/or rich media (video or flash). Typically though they’ll show up at the top of search results page. What search advertising does not do is target you based on how you browse other websites. Say, if you search for a car using search engines and show up in the ads like “cheap cars,” search advertising will use that information to display similar ads while browsing other sites/pages (i.e., banner ads).


Search Advertising  targets shoppers based on what they’re searching for so they’ll see an ad if they search online or via mobile phones. Display Advertising shows advertisements wherever users are browsing without real knowledge of what the shopper may be looking for because the advertisement’s job is to gain attention and interest from potential buyers even before knowing what is happening.