Last month, Google quietly rolled out a significant new feature to Adwords: SNDS.

No, not Smart Network Data Services or the Society for News Design Scandinavia, but a new type of campaign that replaces one of the industry’s pet peeves: the default combined Search & Display Networks campaign type.

The problem with the default campaign type

Combined Search & Display Networks was the default setting for any new campaign – which worked directly against Google’s own Quality Score algorithm, resulting in 99.9% of all new advertisers on Adwords unwittingly getting terrible Click Through Rates, terrible quality scores and therefore paying more per click and making Google’s shareholders very happy indeed. Google was giving on the one hand and taking away on the other.

SNDS, or Search Network with Display Select, is Google’s replacement for this terrible default setting.

It is Google’s answer to Search Advertisers who would like some of the extra benefits from display but can’t be bothered building out and performancing Display Campaigns.

It is also proof that Google continues to suffer from Awful New Feature Naming Syndrome (RLSA being another recent offender).

Why it Matters

Different to the criminal combined Search & Display campaigns, SNDS has smarts built in.

Search Network with Display Select will:

  • Incorporate Conversion data and Click engagement signals to understand traffic ‘quality’
  • Prioritise budget towards Search and only allocate leftover/additional budget towards display
  • Make best efforts to obtain additional, incremental traffic from Display that behaves similarly to Search
  • Require no additional Display Network work (yay!)


Although only just out of beta, Google claims that compared to combined Search & Display Network campaigns, switching to SNDS has seen:

  • An average increase of 10-15% more conversions, and
  • 35% better CPA

Quite remarkable claims.

Is it worth making the switch?

The answer depends on what your current account structure looks like:

  • Already have Search & Display networks in separate campaigns? Why are you reading this? You already know what you’re doing and there’s probably no reason for you to consider SNDS for such accounts.
  • Only have combined Search & Display Network campaigns? Bad advertiser! You should have separated these out long ago. It most probably will be worth switching, however you need to take into account a few factors: Do you have quality ‘signals’? (ie. Do you have good conversions defined with solid historical data?). Also, how dependent are you currently on the Display Network component of your combined campaigns? Be careful, because SNDS will prioritise Search so be prepared for a drop in Display click/conversion volume if you are currently obtaining majority of your traffic from Search.
  • Only have Search campaigns? Yes! You are the target market. You should most definitely switch your campaigns over to SNDS to test if you can get incremental gains from the new Display Network smarts built in.
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