Whether you are scrolling through your social media feed, online shopping, or listening to music, more often than not you run into some form of advertisement. You may come across a “display banner,” as we like to call, which comes into sight on the top, bottom, or side of your screen, and you either notice this and totally disregard it or accidentally click on it. Did you notice that the moment you leave or close a specific page and open a new one you start seeing an ad that was exactly what you were looking for not only once or twice, but multiple times? It may seem scary, however, it’s amazing how display advertisements play a significant role in our everyday lives and the impact that it has on our purchase habits.

What are Display Ads?

Display advertising is a form of advertising that utilizes custom or branded images, also known as “internet banners,” to reach a specific audience. While text ads typically appear in search results; display ads differ in the sense that they appear on several websites and come in a variety of formats and sizes.

In other words, display advertising is a specific form of digital advertising that uses creatives such as photos, videos, graphics, logos or other enriched media to attract users to click and be taken to a landing page. [1]

What is the Purpose of Display Ads?

The purpose behind display advertisements is to use innovative and engaging ways of interacting with potential buyers other than text ads. By targeting specific users who possess similar interests in that product or service, the likelihood of them visiting your site to take action such as filling out a form or making a purchase increases by 59 percent in conversion rates [2]. Digital marketers utilize the concept of display on ads to increase brand awareness, reconnect with users who have visited a website, and gain recognition of their ad amongst the competition.

What are Responsive Display Ads?

You can think of responsive display ads as a replacement or expanded version of text ads. Google built Responsive Ads for Display “to help your ads adjust accordingly to the increasing mix of screen sizes and different types of content that are available on the Google Display Network.” Ryan Skeet, Merkle: Periscopix [3]. By combining text you can edit or input just like with standard text ads, and images you get to choose and customize, it allows for optimization of your ads. What this means is that Google adapts the format automatically to suit the shape, size, and sometimes even the design of the page in which they are displayed.

Standard Display Ads Vs. Responsive Display Ads

The main difference between standard display ads and responsive display ads, is that responsive display ads are versatile. As mentioned above, responsive display ads automatically adjust their size, appearance, and format to fit into available ad spaces on that specific website. On the same note, responsive display ads allows you to optimize your ads, reach a broader audience group, save time, can be used with dynamic remarketing, and much more! Having control and flexibility over your display ads just got better. [5].

In addition, responsive ads can display in three main formats:

  • Text – Google’s Display Network upgraded version of text ads
  • Image – Comes with a combination of a short headline, relevant images, or brief description
  • Native – Less noticeable images that can match the style and color of the page, and the headline is usually longer

*Source adapted from [3].

How do Responsive Display Ads Affect Standard Display Ads?

Though standard display ads or banners have played a significant part on the Google Display Network, not all advertisers could benefit from these types of ads for a variety of reasons. With over 20 standard sizes available for banner ad units on the GDM, a team of designers is usually required to be able to customize the visuals to fit those exact dimensions. Most teams simply do not have the time, money, or tools available to create the large array of banner ads. On top of this, lots of inventory becomes unused on the GDM because many advertisers choose to opt into the top 5 banner sizes.

On the other hand, responsive ads have made it a lot more accessible for more advertisers to use. Not only do responsive ads fill every space on the Google Display Network, including text, banner, and native ad spaces; they respond to the space in which they appear by displaying one of many different types visual and text combinations. For advertisers, it simplifies our job and impacts the way in which the ads appear dramatically:

  • In limited areas, some text will be abbreviated
  • Based on available space, different text combos will be chosen
  • Depending on each ad unit, the images will be scaled to fit

Why Should We Be Using Them?

Along with the endless reasons discussed in this article of what makes responsive display ads truly remarkable and versatile, we’ve reviewed and tested their performance for ourselves.

display responsive ads figure

*Table- Michelle Morgan. The WordStream Blog. [4]


Responsive Display Ads optimize the digital advertising experience for both advertisers and consumers. It always keeps the consumer in mind, by its adaptive and personalized approach. Whether you completely disregard banners online or pay attention to them at times is a matter of how relevant and eye-catchy they are to you specifically. The right ad at the right time is far from easy, but with responsive ads, we have moved a step closer towards a more realistic and innovative approach.


  1. Pham, Kai. “5 Types of Display Advertising to Generate More Business.” Vertical Internet Marketing, 11 Jan. 2017, vertical.marketing/blog/types-of-display-advertising/
  2. Shirley, Anna. “Responsive Ads for the Google Display Network: 6 Months In.” Marketing Land, 11 Jan. 2017, marketingland.com/responsive-ads-google-display-network-6-months-203112.
  3. Skeet, Ryan. “Responsive Ads for Display: What They Are, How They Differ and Why You Should Be Using Them!” Periscopix, Merkle, 25 May 2017, www.periscopix.co.uk/blog/responsive-ads-for-display-what-they-are-how-they-differ-and-why-you-should-be-using-them/.
  4. Morgan, Michelle. “6 Best Practices for Responsive Ads on the GDN.” WordStream, The WordStream Blog, 23 July 2018, www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2018/07/23/responsive-display-ads.
  5. “About Responsive Display Ads.” Google, support.google.com/google-ads/answer/6363750?hl=en.

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