The Impact Of Google Display Network Magazine Ads

In May, Google officially launched a new format for text ads on the Google Display Network (GDN) called magazine ads. Have you taken the chance yet to analyse what has happened to your text ads traffic since?

Here’s what they look like:


I’ve looked into a few accounts to spot what key differences we’re seeing now that this new format has been out for a month.

The Impact On Click-Through Rate

One of the placements I’ve been analysing is Devour, a video content site that came up as a placement for a Travel client targeting the USA.

You can see from the image below that the text ad has been made to look very prominent now, taking the entire advertising space which would have been made available for an image ad. It is also appearing more appealing to browsers due to the nicer text and large green arrow acting as a call-to-action.

devour placement

This one on the telegraph site looks even better with the stylish formatting when expanding the text ad out to really fit in as a magazine-style ad. This area is prime real estate on the telegraph site, bearing in mind that text ads previously were relegated to the bottom of the page!

telegraph placement

The ability to appear in these more prominent positions has led to an increase in click-through rate in many cases I checked into. Clickthrough rate went from 2.23% in April to 3.78% in June for the devour placement above!


The Impact On Cost-Per-Click

Interestingly, cost-per-click has actually decreased for this placement, as well. This could be down to changes in competition for the advertising space or the impact of the higher CTR’s being gained.

Of course with the GDN, there are too many factors that could have caused this, so we’ll never be able to put our finger exactly on what caused the decrease here; but, it is something I’ve seen across other accounts, as well, which is clearly a good sign for magazine ads.

CPC for magazine ad placement

Impact On Traffic

As text ads can now compete for the whole box where Image ads often appear, they’re having a bigger impact, and this is leading to a knock on effect in terms of the incoming traffic they are generating.

They’re now able to compete in what were previously image only slots, and where text ads were often given side stage in odd places on websites, they can now start appearing more frequently in centre stage at the top of the page!

In the example I was using above, traffic increased 38% from May to June, and that’s only using data for half of the month June! The text ads in this display campaign have seen an increase in click conversion rate of 27% from April to June and part of this will be down to the impact of the new ad formats!


I really like the layout of these new magazine ads, but they do come with a couple of drawbacks.

The website URL is not shown until you hover over the arrow in the ad, so users might not actually know which website they’re being taken to until they arrive there, which could result in some higher bounce rates! In some cases during my research, I couldn’t see the website URL even when hovering over the arrow, so I actually had to go to the site blind. It’s needless to say I was one of those people causing a high bounce rate for that site!

Sometimes the full text of the ad is not shown and the text gets cut off at the end. This unfortunate scenario rarely occurred previously with the standard text ad format; however, I’m sure it will be improved over time.

For now I would keep an eye on your placements and try to see how your ads are appearing, as it could be that you need to shorten the text for certain placements.

Independent Magazine Ads

What Next?

I am, of course, only using a small sample of data to draw conclusions, but early signs show that now’s the time to start using text ads again on the GDN, if you aren’t using them already.

They look slicker, they’re yielding better click-through rates, and the cost-per-click doesn’t appear to have increased hugely in order to take over a whole banner (of course, this depends which placements you’re going for).

If you’re already using text ads, take a look back at data for certain placements and see what trends you’re seeing. Feel free to leave any comments and share your feedback!