Ask the Experts: Google Display Network Preview

by Gradiva Couzin on September 25, 2013

Q: Hi, I am running online advertising for a client and am using Google’s Display Network. I have the client asking for verification that the display ads are running, but Google does not provide an ad preview tool. How can I preview Ads for my client in order to send them a screen grab?

A: Unfortunately, Google does not provide an Ad preview tool for the display network as it does for search, nor are we aware of a third-party tool for this job. Below are two possible workarounds:

(1) AdWords “Preview”

To “preview” the Ad within AdWords, you’ll be confined to looking at just the ad itself without the context of placement in the display network. For basic text ads, this will involve taking a screen clipping of the ad itself. Since one normally uploads image ads, there is no reason to take a screen clipping of this within AdWords as it will be the same as the one you uploaded. If you are using animated ads, you may have an additional option to preview: In the “Ads” tab click the “View Full Size Display Ad” link beside an ad and then in the pop-up click “Create External Link” button which you can send to your client to preview the ad(s).

(2) Live Verification

If your client needs to see the ad in context of a website, you’ll need to view one live. To see the list of sites that are showing your ad, visit the “Display Network” tab and then “Placements.” This section of AdWords will tell you most of the sites that Google is showing your ad on. Visit the sites and refresh the page repeatedly until you see an example of your ad on display. You’ll need a bit of patience as the ad may not show immediately. Also be aware of the following factors:

  • If you are only running remarketing campaigns, be sure to visit the page(s) that contain the remarketing code so you become a member of the audience, otherwise the ad won’t display for you.
  • If you are using geo-targeting and you are not in a targeted location, you’ll either need to broaden the target for a brief period, or attempt to “fake” your location for Google. Google determines a user’s location for the display network using several factors.  There is one that you can easily control: If you have a Google account, you can change your declared location and you may be served ads from that location. You can change your Google account location by clicking this link.
  • Be sure when checking for the ad that your budget did not max out for the day.
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