Most PPC and search advertising makes use of just a few hundred characters of text, and every character counts. The Display URL is only about 25 percent of the display space but a huge part of the click through rate.
The basics of a display URL
The display URL is the text that appears on the bottom of a display ad that is supposed to give viewers a visual clue of where their click will be going. Display URLs must be a web address of some kind. Every search engine has different regulations for a display URL, but in general they are used to determine at least a part of the display score and PPC pricing.
Google and display URLs
The Google policy on display URLs is relatively cut and dry. The final destination URL and display URL must be the same domain with the same suffix. Vanity and tracking URLs are allowed, so a link that goes to www.google.com/adwordsresult123 can be posted with a display URL of google.com/results. This has been the policy since 2008, and the relevance of the display URL to the actual landing page is used to calculate a part of the cost of a clickthrough.
Bing and display URLs
The Bing policy on display URLs is very different; the display URL can be just about anything, and does not necessarily need to match the destination URL or the rest of the ad text. This allows for so-called “brand hijacking” or affiliate ad re-linking. This policy allows for much more variation in the way ads are displayed, but does not necessarily build trust with clickthroughs.
What this means for affiliates
For affiliate marketers, this difference in policy on display URLs in PPC ads actually means quite a lot. It is incredibly important to read the rules and regulations for the ads that you are running to ensure you are not violating the terms of the agreement. Brand hijacking or offering display URL options that are not genuine may be in violation of the rules of your affiliate agreement. For affiliate managers or businesses with affiliate programs, it is important to build regulations into your agreement that cover the possibility of vanity display URLs.