Google Display Network aka GDN Ad Examples That Made Millions

Google Display Network aka GDN Ad Examples That Made Millions

Understanding the Benefits and Challenges of GDN Advertising for Businesses of All Levels

Published by: Team AdSkills
May 22, 2023

There’s one ad network that the top 1% of ad buyers use and almost no one else.

It is the same ad network our founder, Justin Brooke, cut his teeth on with a paltry $2/day ad budget. Which he then doubled his money on for 11 months in a row, making his first 6 figure year online.

In this article I’m going to try to explain why the top 1% of advertisers like Justin, love GDN, but also why everyone else has a bad experience.

GDN aka Google Display Network is not like other ad networks.

What Makes GDN Different From Other Ad Networks

You have to think a little differently about the way you do your campaigns on GDN. If you can bend our mind, this ad network can literally send you hundreds of thousands of clicks a day.

The other great part about GDN is it is one of the last ad networks where you can still get sub $0.50 CPC’s.

If you’re looking for a place where you can get lots of cheap clicks, but still have highly targeted quality visitors, then GDN is the ad network for you.

However, in order to win on GDN, you’ll have to let go of the mentality that you’ll be able to win in 24-72 hours. Today ad networks like Facebook and TikTok ads have skewed the minds of advertisers because of clever tricks with their algorithms.

They learned that if they show you a few quick wins in the first 24-72 hours of your campaign you’ll be far more likely to go deeper. You may even get so far pulled in that you completely ignore the fact that every time you try to scale your ads past $100/day things go south.

With GDN you should expect your first 2 weeks to be scary. Your first two weeks will likely be completely unprofitable, but if you can get past this initial testing period you stand to have a million dollar ad campaign.

The #1 Difference Between Facebook Ads & GDN Ads

Modern ad networks like Facebook ads know that if they don’t give you a quick hit of dopamine, then 99% of you will take your money elsewhere. That doesn’t make you a “bad” advertiser, it’s just part of the process of gaining experience.

What Facebook does is they use the first portion of your money to show it to people super highly likely to buy. They can do this because of all their massive data. Plus, they can do this because all the ads happen in a feed which they can control.

GDN ads happen on web pages all over the web. Literally, over 2 billion individual web pages, all owned by millions of different companies. It’s impossible for them to “give you a quick hit.”

Instead with GDN the veterans know that your first two weeks are spent aggressively pruning thousands of ad placements. Similar to gold mining in Alaska, where they first have to remove 10-20 feet of “overburden” dirt that has no gold in it, to get down to the “pay dirt” which does have gold in it.

If you can adopt that gold miners mindset, you stand a chance to create a million dollar campaign on GDN. Which, by the way, is the largest ad network in the world. No other ad network can compete with the amount of impressions available, which makes GDN the #1 ad network for high volume campaigns.

The 3 Step Process For Success With GDN Ad Campaigns

Step #1

Our founder likes to start off with keyword targeting, this means your ads will show on pages related to the keywords you choose. This is one of the highest quality targeting settings on GDN, which is why Justin loves to start here.

Instead of relying on luck with just one ad, one landing page, and one keyword, you should consider following his 5x3 method (taught inside AdSkills).

The 5x3 method simply means creating 5 ad groups with 3 ads each. This will ensure you get a proper initial testing period so that you’ll learn something from your ad budget instead of relying on luck.

If we are selling bananas we might create one ad group with keywords about bananas, one ad group with keywords about fruit, one with keywords about vegetarian diets, one with keywords about plant based diets, and finally one with keywords about smoothie drink recipes.

Then we are going to make 3 different ads (start with text ads) for the same product - bananas. The same 3 ads in all 5 campaigns, not 3 new ads per campaign. Three ads copied 5 times, not 15 unique ads.

What’s going to happen is Google’s then going to show your ads on pages relative to the keywords you chose. In a typical 5x3 setup like this you can expect Google to show your ads on 15,000 - 150,000 different pages (called placements in Google).

Set your budget to something you can afford to run for a week without stopping it. Justin recommends at least $50/day, and to think of it as an investment not a cost. You are investing into a million dollar ad campaign.

Step #2

After 7-14 days (longer the better) your ads are going to accumulate thousands and thousands of impressions. Most of these impressions will be unprofitable though. However, we can’t find the bad “dirt” aka placements unless we let Google run its experiments.

By letting Google run all these impressions you are effectively identifying all the bad placements, which you can then exclude from your campaign.

This is the whole key! PAY ATTENTION HERE!

In this step you are going to the placements tab in your GDN ad campaign, filtering by cost, and excluding thousands of placements from ever running your ads again. This is like when gold miners remove all the over burden dirt with no gold in it.

Do this every 72 hours until you cannot find any more bad placements.

Bad placements are defined as having more than 10,000 impressions with a cost/conversion that is 3x your desired cost/conversion. If it doesn’t yet have 10,000 impressions it’s too early to delete it.

THIS is why 99% of people hate GDN, but the top 1% stay. Most people cannot handle this process emotionally. They can only see money being spent. They can’t seem to adopt the investors mindset. Which is too bad because in step 3, millions are made.

Step #3

Now that you’ve pruned away and excluded all the bad placements you should start seeing a handful of good placements. These are placements where you have greater than 10,000 impressions and your cost/conversion is at or below 1x your goal.

One of our masterclasses inside AdSkills teaches how our founder, Justin Brooke, was able to get 10,000+ leads per day for under $2 per lead while following exactly this process.

The whole process you’ve done until now is a discovery process. Step #1 & #2 were designed to discover these few good placements you are left with. A good analogy is you started out betting on all the race horses, but with each round you moved your money to the better horses, until the final round where all your money was on the top 3 most winning horses.

Once you’ve removed all the bad placements you can start increasing your ad spend. After 100 conversions switch your campaigns from CPC bidding to CPA bidding. Then after another 100 conversions you can turn on display campaign optimizer which is going to let Google use all your conversion data to go find you thousands more conversions.

Perry Marshall, another GDN expert, calls this the “jet stream” and it’s when your ad campaign stats shoot off like a rocket up and to the right. Giving you that nice upward scale you’ve been after.

However, to get here you have to persevere through that emotional swamp of spending money to identify all the bad placements first.

Also, at this point you can start making image ads instead of just text ads. Since you now know which ads and which placements work best.

What Are Some Examples of GDN Ads The Made Millions

The bulk of the information collected in this post was done with AdBeat.

In my experiences AdBeat is roughly 80% - 90% accurate. And if you ask around, these companies and the ads in this document are widely known successes.

What is AdBeat?

It's a software that lets you analyze ad campaigns. To find proven winners that have made millions I used these factors for sorting…

  1. Ads were running for 300+ days (clearly winners)
  2. Ad spends totaling $1mil+ in the last 180 days (most likely made over $1mil)
  3. I had insider knowledge from peers, personal experience, or they were past clients

Example #1:

torso image revealing muscle beneath, titled 3 veggies that fight abdominal fat

This company is arguably one of the most imitated (ripped off) advertisers in the health space.

The owner of the company, Mike Geary, is one of the best media buyers alive.

He buys ads for a lot of the top health offers and if you can land him as your affiliate it's like winning the lottery or having Oprah mention your product.

Landing Page:

Example #2:

They are the leader in cloud-based computer backup.

The way it works is you install their program on your computer and it just always keeps everything backed up for you.

They had a few different campaigns in the millions, but I chose this one because I liked the "not too late" angle. I felt like a lot of businesses could use something similar.  All of the ads had similar look and style.

Landing Page:

Example #3:

The company behind this ad is no stranger to million dollar ads.

This ad is for a product by AWAI, a website with courses for writers to be better more wealthier writers.

However, if you know who the man behind the curtains is, then you know this is run by Mark Ford aka Michael Masterson & Bill Bonner who also runs the Agora companies. Which spend hundreds of millions on ads every year.

Landing Page:

Example #4:

Harry's is so successful with their ads that you're probably tired of seeing their ads.

They spend most of their money on native ads actually, but it's the same message.

I chose to use a banner ad for them instead, because the messaging, imagery, and spend were very similar.

Landing Page:

Example #5:

I'm sure you've heard of this one. MotleyFool is one of the premier websites for stock market tips and research.

They pioneered this style of ad and use it for most of their offers. Of which they have many!

They have very unique landing pages. Pretty much just a headline and an opt-in box. This is just one of their many offers and they spend tens of millions online every year.

Landing Page:

10 Tips For More Profitable GDN Ad Campaigns

I asked our founder for his best tips, and he said these are his top 10 tips for getting higher ROI with GDN…

Tip #1 = Always separate mobile and desktop campaigns.

Mobile users and desktop users have different objectives and frame of mind when browsing on their devices which means your strategy for one may not necessarily work for the other.

Remember also that mobile devices often have less space for ads so it’s important to design them accordingly. You can also check the Quality Score of your ads as well as the estimated first page bids so you’ll know where your ads will appear on the screen.

Tip #2 = Know where you can turn off mobile targeting.

This is especially helpful if you don’t want your ads to appear on mobile apps or if your campaign is specifically targeting desktop users.

There are three different spots where you can do this. First, in the settings under the devices tab; second, by excluding “” in the campaign placement inclusions; and finally by disabling the “gmob mobile app interstitial.” In the sit category options.

Tip #3 = Avoid serving a ton of junk ads.

Remember to turn off error pages and parked domains the site category exclusions section.

Tip #4 = Tightly focus on your target visitors no matter what niche your business is in and no matter what your product is by combining placement and keyword targeting.

If you’re selling protein powder and your ads are running on then you can set your ads to appear only on pages about “protein” or “muscle building”. This this laser-focused advertising allows you to reach your ideal audience even if they’re not yet in “buying mode”.

Tip #5 = Leverage GDN’s powerful interest and affinity targeting feature.

Sure, Facebook has a similar feature but Google’s is much better. Boost your campaigns performance by targeting audiences that have a specific interest in the products and services you are selling even when they are just browsing websites, using apps, or watching videos that are related to your business. This is because Google knows buying what and where online.

Tip #6 = Split text and image ads into separate campaigns.

While text ads have the upper hand compared to image ads, both have their merits. I once doubled a client’s sales overnight just by running separate campaigns for image ads and text ads.

Tip #7 = Size Matters.

The size your display ads come in can and will affect the impression it leaves on your target customers. The sizes that typically perform well are 728×90, 300×250, and 160×600. However, we’ve noted that 300×250 pulls the most weight while 300×600 is an up-and-comer doing pretty well for me and some of my media buying friends.

Always remember to use the size that best complements your pages.

Tip #8 = Don’t make your ad look like an ad.

Do away with designing ads that look like banner ads from the olden days. Instead, make your ads look like an article teaser featuring relevant images, a great headline, a description, and a call to action. Most importantly, if you don’t want your ad to look like an ad then do not use buttons.

Tip #9 = Know where your ads are performing the best and stick to those places.

Make your campaign increasingly more profitable by using placement and keyword exclusion lists. Check the list of keywords and placements that are not profitable and exclude these so your ads won’t show there anymore.

Tip #10 = Know which aspect of your campaign to optimize first.

Start off by optimizing for more and cheaper clicks. When you’ve reached 50 to 100 conversions then you can switch to optimizing for conversions. Once you’ve had 500 conversions, you can then switch over to aggressive targeting or display campaign optimizer (DCO). Remember that at each level, Google gets smarter and smarter about finding you more and more customers.

There you have it.

Everything you need to be successful on GDN from the mindset, the 5x3 campaign structure, million dollar examples, and 10 best practices.

You should now re-read this article and take some notes. Make an action plan and a checklist, but if you want video tutorials consider joining today. We’ve got masterclasses and step-by-step walkthrough videos to help you master any ad network inside.