Google Display Banners – Why Do They Look Like That?

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We are regularly asked questions from customers about their Google display banners and how or where they are shown across the Google Display Network. Common questions we are asked include:

  1. Can we remove the layout red tag that shows “price drops” and “hot items”?
  2. Can we align the Google display banners to match our branding?
  3. Why do my Google display banners look different to what I uploaded?
  4. Why are my Google display banners showing on certain websites?

These questions can be answered by explaining the difference between what Google controls compared to what we (or yourself) can control when it comes to Google Display.

What You Can’t Control With Google Display Banners

Location of Google Display Banners

The Display Network reaches over 90% of global internet users expanding across 2 million sites, appearing on the Display Network, Youtube, Gmail and Maps. Where Google display banners are shown on websites depends on the assets you have uploaded (in most cases size) and the website itself.

There are a wide range of different banner sizes to choose from, otherwise, there are templated Google Display Banners which you can utilise.

Depending on the size, the Google Display Banners uploaded have the ability to show anywhere on a website. The image below shows two display ads of different sizes, one at the top of the page, and another one on the side.

Format of Google Display Banners

Layout tags

Price Drop Layout Tags

Google shopping campaigns can show red layout tags like “new”, “hot” and “price drop” in display ads. These are automatically added by Google based on the pricing sent through to the Merchant Centre. For example, a product was listed as $120 and was recently dropped to $90. Due to this, Google may or may not automatically show ads saying “price drop”. The system is highly automated.

Including colours and fonts

For shopping ads in the display network, Google provides templated banner ads that you can upload assets to. These ads are native and Google will choose the colours and fonts by default. However, for colour, there is an option in the Google Merchant Centre to implement a main and accent colour. These two colours are used to align your ads with your branding preferences automatically by Google based on its algorithms and the website it is shown on.

Logos / Brand Name

A logo and brand name can be uploaded to the Merchant Centre and Google will use this in shopping ads automatically.


Google combines the provided assets in various ways, and combinations with the highest performance will show more often

Why Does Google Do These Things?

The format of Google display banners and where they show are controlled by Google as Google has access to a host of signals and data. Google works in your best interest by trying to find people who matter most, by reaching customers who are most likely to convert or be interested in your product. Targeting the ‘right’ customer at the right time, on the right website with the best combination of assets is important to give you the best performance. Google’s signals allow for this.

For example, ad formats such as the layout tags may be used in your Google display banners as they have proven to result in more conversions or clicks based on your past history. Understanding this, Google will continue to use these layouts. As mentioned in a Google Support article, Google may also experiment with other types of layout tags in order to drive better performance.

What you can control?

Budget & Bidding

You are able to control how much your Google display banners spend through the use of a daily campaign budget. As a general rule, Google has the ability to spend double your daily budget to capture heightened traffic if available. If this occurs, Google will even spend out over a 30 day period to keep inline with your set budget.

To achieve the goal associated with your campaign you can control the bidding strategy applied. For example, if the goal of your campaign is a certain return on ad spend, you are able to set a ‘Target ROAS’ bid strategy. This will optimise your campaign to that specific ROAS level. Learn more about setting the right goal for your digital advertising.

Uploaded Assets

One of the main things you can control are the brand assets that you upload for Google to use. Assets that can be uploaded to Google for Google display banners include:

  • Logo – You may upload a square and/or rectangular logo for your business
  • Short Headline – usually 25 Characters or less
  • Long Headline – usually 90 characters or less
  • Description – Adds to the headline and invites people to take action (usually 90 characters or less)
  • Images – Rectangle and/or square images (each ad format has slightly different requirements)
  • Videos – These must be first uploaded on YouTube

The assets required for each type of display ad format can differ so please check by visiting the below relevant links:


You are able to control aspects of the targeting for your ads on Google’s Display Network. Google provides certain audience types you can utilise to engage both remarketing and prospecting audiences to your website.

Under remarketing audiences, Google allows you to target people who have already interacted with your website such as website visitors and cart abandoners

These remarketing audiences also allow Google to create new ‘similar audiences’ to target people with similar profiles to those included in your ‘website visitors’ and ‘cart abandoner’ audiences.

Prospecting audiences are broader audience lists and include in Market Audiences, Affinity Audiences and Custom Intent Audiences

These audiences help engage people who have not previously interacted with your website but perhaps are in the market for your service or product, or have a specific interest in what you sell.

Geographic Locations

You can also control the country and or city/state location targeting for your Google display banners. You may wish to target different locations for different campaigns, you can control this as well. Google’s location targeting can be as specific as a postcode in some instances or as broad as entire countries (see below image). Google also allows you to create location exclusions if you wish. This means that your display ads will not show in certain geographic locations. Once again, these specific locations can be as specific or broad as you like.

URL Exclusion Locations

If there are certain websites you do not wish your Google display banner to show on you are also able to create URL exclusions. Meaning Google will not place your ads on these certain websites. As a general automatic rule, Google will exclude your display ads from showing on websites which contain explicit or graphic content.


In summary, display ads come in a variety of formats and each have aspects which either you can control or Google controls.

  • What Google controls: ad format layouts and where display ads show
  • What you control: bids and budgets, uploaded assets, geographic and audience targeting

Understanding the differences can help you decide what formats work well for your business goals and brand image.

If you have any other questions about display ads or Google Ads in general, please contact us today.

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