What’s the difference between Paid Search Ads and Display Ads?

Display advertising

Display advertising is everywhere online. Every website you visit has ads that showcase products for sale. But have you ever noticed you keep seeing the same ads on your social media feeds and the like?

That’s because display advertising tracks a user’s behavior in order to put the right ads in front of the right customers. Display ads are also sometimes known as banner ads.

Search advertising

Search advertising, or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, is an easy, low-budget way to reach the right audience. You’re able to control who sees the ads with nearly instant results. The PPC ads are shown directly on search engine websites after a keyword or phrase has been searched.


In digital marketing, two strategies to get advertisements
in front of and interacting with potential clients are often discussed: Display Advertising and Paid Search Advertising. Without any more information about these two kinds of advertising, the difference between them might be confusing. However, they are unique from each other in a few specific ways.

While they are both forms of digital advertising designed to drive traffic to your website (which can be tracked through the impressions, click through rates, and conversion rates on ads and advertising campaigns) the advertising formats differ in placement and appearance. Paid Search Advertising works within popular search engines to make it so that your text-based ads appear within search results for specific keywords, typically at the top, bottom, or side of the page. Advertisers pay for specific keywords and then bid for placement on the page.

Display Advertising looks a bit different. Instead of relying on only the text to drive traffic, Display Ads use other forms of media like pictures, videos or sound. These forms of media are used to catch the attention of the potential customers who is not necessarily on a search engine looking for things related to your business

. These advertisements are also found in slightly different locations, like on specific webpages that have been selected because they relate to your business or are frequented by your target audience. In both cases, the purpose of the ads being created is to elicit clicks and drive traffic to your website. Differences in the appearance and location of these ad types means that each kind of advertisement might perform better for different kinds of businesses within different industries.

Bing Ads & Adwords Paid Search ads typically have a higher average CTR than Display Ads when all industry CTR averages are combined. Although, what is considered a good CTR is different for each strategy. A good paid search CTR is about 2% – 5%. Meanwhile, the average CTR for Display Ads is about .25% and anything above that is good. Taking this into account, when the average CTRs for each industry are compared, the variance in effectiveness becomes apparent.

Paid Search CTR for Customer Service, Dating, Education, Finance and Real Estate industries is significantly higher than their Display Advertising CTR. For example, Customer Service had a 2.40% CTR in Paid Search and a .20% CTR in Display Advertising while Dating had a 3.40% CTR in Paid Search and a .52% CTR in Display Advertising. Industries such as Legal and Advocacy have what are considered to be better CTRs in Display Ads and lower ones in Paid Search Ads. For example, the Legal industry had a 1.35% CTR in Paid Search but a .45% CTR in Display and the Advocacy industry had a 1.72% CTR in Paid Search and a .52% CTR in Display. Therefore, creating a successful advertising strategy for your business will rely heavily on your industry.

It might be more effective for you to use Paid Search, Display Ads, or both when attempting to draw more traffic to your business. At Direct Placement, LLC we have Google Certified and Bing Ads Accredited professionals who are ready to help you determine what strategies and campaigns would be most effective for driving relevant traffic to your website. Contact Direct Placement, LLC to find out more about what advertising strategy would be best for your business and begin transforming your business one click at a time!