2021 Martial Arts Google Display Ads Martial Arts Marketing

The Ultimate Guide To Martial Arts Google Display Ads (Updated For 2021!)

Need a quick tutorial on all the basics of Martial Arts Marketing? The Martial Arts Marketing Foundations Guide covers the nitty gritty from our detailed Marketing Playbook, and ensures you hit the ground running!


What Is The Google Display Network?


Before we dive into the specifics of how the Google Display Network can help you grow your business, it behooves us to answer the question: what the hell even is the Google Display Network? (aka: the GDN). 


The GDN is a patchwork of advertising networks that cover the entire web (pretty much anyway). If ever you’ve been to the BBC, or CNN or any basically any blog ever, you’ve likely seen a display ad (also known as banner ads). 


By the way, according to AdEspresso, the GDN contains well over 2 million sites across the web. That’s a significant amount of digital real-estate you can start making a dent into. 


There are multiple ad network providers, (see our comprehensive guide here to alternatives to Google Ad Sense), however the 800 pound gorilla in the room is the Google Display Network. Virtually every site, every YouTube video, every app is connected to the GDN. 


More than anything, the GDN is a platform that connects Advertisers to Publishers. If you’re on the advertiser side, you use Google Display Ads to advertise your business. And if you’re on the publisher side, you use Google Adsense to monetize your site or blog. 


Our goal with Martial Arts Marketing is to turn you into both an Advertiser and a Publisher, to both maximize your reach and maximize your revenue. Without going on a complete tangent, the 21st century (and esp since 2020 onward), is an insane time to be alive, as effectively for the first time in human history, you’re able to play both sides of the coin – to Advertise and Publish. Maybe it’s just us, but we get super excited by the possibilities this allows (The Perpetual Ad Machine is a dream project, that we’ll be revisiting in greater detail before long). 


But we digress – what you need to know is the GDN is one more weapon in your Marketing Arsenal to inexpensively advertise your business, make sales, and get new clients for your dojo. Sound good? Let’s get into it. 


This video by WebFX explains the basics what what exactly the Google Display Network is in under 5 Minutes:



Martial Arts YouTube Ads: Why Advertise On The Google Display Network?


Okay, so now that we know that the Google Display Network is huge – why specifically should we use it for our Martial Arts Marketing Display Ads? 


The beauty of the fact that it is so massive means a few important things for you as an advertiser: 


  1. First, the amount of available inventory from that many websites (and all the sub-pages each one contains), means there’s a massive amount of inventory out there. All of those millions of people who visit each site, need to be served an ad, and with such high volume it keeps the costs down. 


  1. Second, because there are so many users surfing the GDN, it also means that your target audience is there. Without being facetious, let me ask you this: does your ideal client surf the web? Yes? Cool, then it’s time you advertise on the GDN.


  1. Third, you have massive amounts of control – you can choose your max bids, which websites you do or do not want to advertise on and who exactly your ads are getting served to.


  1. Fourth, and this is why we love digital advertising: you can get started even if you have no budget. Literally you can start advertising on the Google Display Network at just a penny per day. Trying buying a billboard or a full page magazine ad for a penny. Exactly.


  1. Fifth, it’s shockingly simple. Google designed their platform to be beginner friendly. You don’t need to be a great copywriter (the person who writes ad headlines and words), or a great photographer or videographer. You don’t need design skills, and you don’t need technical coding skills. You just need a credit card and a ‘can do’ attitude, and you’ll be up and running in no time. 


Further, if you’re still wondering why advertise on the Google Display Network, this video by Shash Singh breaks down all the differences between Google Display Ads, Google Search Ads and YouTube Ads – what makes them different, what makes them unique, and the reasons to advertise on each:



Martial Arts Google Display Ad Strategy


The strategy here quite simply is just to get up and running. Without beating around the bush, that’s basically it. 


Now, as we’ve said before, if you’re new to advertising and you’re just getting started, we do recommend Facebook Lead Ads for you to break the ice and attract your first customers. However, if you’ve already got those up and running, and you’re looking to expand your advertising to the next level, then let’s jump into your Martial Arts Google Display Ads Strategy. 


Our goal here is simple: get in front of your ideal client, and get them to visit your website. Once visited your website, the aim is to have them sign up for your classes, and failing that, we’ll have still cooked them in our remarketing audience and with any luck they’ve also signed up to your newsletter. 


Then the strategy here is to target the kinds of websites and pages that your ideal client visits. We’ll dive deeper into placements later, but one of the fantastic features of the Google Display Network, is your ability to target specific sites, specific placements, specific demographics and specific audiences. This platform lets you get hyper specific. 


This video by the Surfside PPC breaks down some of the biggest strategies on the Google Display Network in 2020 (Note: we’ll update when we find a more up to date one in 2021):



Additionally, here are 11 more awesome PPC strategies to run Google Display Ads by The Surfside PPC:



What You Need To Get Started With Martial Arts Google Display Ads:


One of the great things about Google Display Ads, is how quick and easy they are to get setup. In fact, you don’t even need to have photos because Google has excellent stock photos available for free right on the platform. 


Here are the basics you need to get started:


This 25 minute tutorial by The Surfside PPC gives you a comprehensive step-by-step guide to the Google Display Network, and how to setup and optimize your Martial Arts Google Display Ads:



And for an alternative view, this video by Ivan Mana gives you an excellent 35 minute breakdown of how to get your new Google Display Ads setup and running:



A Google Ad Account


Let’s start with the basics, before you can run your Martial Arts Google Display Ads is a Google Ad Account. And yes if you’re wondering, the same Google Ad account can run your Google Display Ads, your Google Search Ads, and your YouTube Ads – it’s an extremely versatile platform that essentially let’s you advertise to the entire world. Pretty cool right? 


Here’s the link to Google Ads to get started – and usually you can even find a $150 credit for setting up your first account. 


Photos (Optional)


When we initially laid out the framework for this article, we’d listed photos as mandatory – however we had a braingasm and realised that photos are absolutely optional – YOU DO NOT NEED PHOTOS TO GET STARTED – ahem. Excuse us, we got excited. 


Not only are there plenty of free, royalty-free, copyright-free photos available from sites like Pexels and Unsplash, but the Google Ads platform is also directly linked up with a whole library of stock photos you can use. Can you say easy? 


Now obviously, for hardcore advertising and branding, you’ll want to ditch the stock photos and use real photos from your actual gym, with actual students, and actually you, BUT when you’re just starting out and haven’t snapped those first few photos yet, there’s nothing stopping you from grabbing a free stock photo. 




One of the great features of Google Display Ads is they require minimal copy. We’re not sure about you, but we’re not huge fans of writing long and complicated copy (the length of this post not withstanding…). 


Don’t get us wrong, there is nothing wrong with long copy, but sometimes when you just want to get an ad up and running, trying to agonize over the perfect words and perfect headlines and trying to tell the perfect story can be a headache and a nightmare all wrapped up into one. 


We like keeping it simple. 


Google Display Ads basically give you 3 headlines of 30 characters each, and 2 descriptions of 90 characters each. You can add more headlines and descriptions if you choose, but it’s not necessary. 


So what do you write about? Again keep it simple. In a few words, mention the name of your gym, something unique about you (“find out why our students won 10 gold medals last year”), and a reason to join (aka the Irresistible Offer – a 30-Day Free Trial). 


That’s it. Write that out in a few different ways in a few different variations, and now you’ve got some ads you can A/B split test against each other to see which perform best (ideally based on conversions, if you’ve got conversion tracking setup). 


This video by the Surfside PPC breaks down in more detail exactly how to write your copy and setup your Responsive Display Ads:



Video (Optional)

Video is another one on the optional list. And while we do highly recommend video and all the glory it has to offer (people do love watching video after all – just look at YouTube), it’s not necessary when you’re just getting started. 


Like we’ve said, we love simple – start simple. Start with photos, and in 3-6 months if you’ve started recording some video from your dojo, then absolutely start posting it up. 


Irresistible Offer


When I talk about the Irresistible Offer – visions of the Godfather might have started dancing through your head, and making ‘an offer he can’t refuse’. And you know, that’s not far off (except for the murder and death part). 


The Irresistible Offer is all about knowing your target audience, and knowing what it would take to spark a fire in their minds, get them to take action, get them walking into your gym, and get them whipping out their credit card. 


Our staple is the 30-Day Free Trial. Hate it all you want, but nothing will get people into your gym faster than a free trial – and once they’re there, you can wow them with your magic and martial arts prowess. They’ll be hooked, and like Hotel California, they enter, but they can never leave (keeping everything ethical and non-murdery of course). 


This video by Dan Henry breaks down exactly how to structure your Irresistible Offer, so clients can’t help but sign up and buy from you:



As a quick aside (just for the lulz) – here’s a rap vid by Dan Henry again showing you how to Book & Close those high ticket sales:



Landing Page


With Google Display Ads it is essential to have a landing page (aka your website). Google Display Ads don’t have a way to natively capture lead data on the platform (unlike Facebook Lead Ads or LinkedIn Lead Ads), meaning you need a site to send people to. 


Now if you’re reading this far, we do hope you already have a website. If you don’t we recommend However if you’re looking for something more user friendly, or Wix or SquareSpace or Weebly should work for you. 

Keep it simple, keep it basic. Don’t stress too much about your website at this point, but do ensure it details the following:


  1. Your gym name
  2. Some basic details about your gym (how long you’ve been around, how many students you’ve got)
  3. Photos and video of your gym
  4. Basic contact details (address, phone, contact form)
  5. Your Irresistible Offer (why should someone sign up with you. 
  6. And most importantly an easy and frictionless way to sign up with you – if you take bookings to register students for your first classes, then make sure you’ve got a link to your calendly so students can book a time directly. 


Remember: keep it frictionless. Anything that stops someone from signing up with you, will hurt your business. 


That could be a confusing website that’s too cluttered, and just a slow website that takes forever to load, or a site without a clear CTA (call to action) that leads users to that next logical step to sign up with you or buy from you. 


When it comes to conversion rate optimization and really maximizing your landing pages to convert, Pepe Laja (pronounced ‘pep laya’), is godfather. In this video he breaks down exactly how to optimize your site or landing page to convert:



This video by MOZ dives into answer the question of whether your landing page should be optimized for SEO or for Conversions or for both:



And this video by Neil Patel breaks down the anatomy of a high converting landing page and how to tell whether you page is designed to convert:



Google Analytics (Optional)


Another optional weapon in your Marketing Arsenal, but we do recommend if possible setting up your Google Analytics. This is a great (and free way) to start tracking user behaviour on your site. 


One of the most frustrating things about setting up a website, is feeling like it’s this mystical black box. You know that you invest huge hunks of time developing your site and producing content, but you don’t really have any feedback to know whether someone is visiting it or not, or what they’re doing.


Humans are pattern recognition machines, and we love being rewarded for our good behaviour. If we do work, and get rewarded with big spikes in traffic and people signing up for our Martial Arts classes, then we’re going to feel excited and compelled to write more content. 


Humans really are pretty basic. But enough of that tangent – we recommend getting Google Analytics setup on your site so you can track the performance of your Martial Arts Google Display Ad Campaigns. Additionally to user traffic and behaviour, we highly recommend setting up conversion tracking (for newsletter signups, eCommerce purchases or class registrations), so that you know exactly how effective your marketing is. 


We’ve lost count of the number of clients we’ve spoken to who’ve said something like “look my marketing budget is unlimited if you can prove to me this works”. And it’s true, if your marketing is generating for you (profitable) revenue – all you have to do is crank up your ad spend to scale that further and faster. 


Google Tag Manager (Optional)


Again optional, but as a next level to Google Analytics, we recommend setting up Google Tag Manager. Google Tag Manager (GTM) makes managing all your tags (Facebook Pixel, LinkedIn Insights Tag, Google Analytics Tag) way, way (WAY) simpler, as you don’t have to keep going into your websites backend and adjusting the HTML. 


Also, GTM lets you setup all sorts of conversion events, and should be a big part of your conversion tracking. But this is way out of scope of this guide. 


Julian from MeasureSchool is a god when it comes to you analytics and GTM, and in this video he explains what exactly GTM is and why to use it:



And in this video he breaks down exactly how to get GTM setup on your site in an easy to follow step-by-step guide:



Google Display Ad Formats


Here’s the good news: Google has made this whole ad building process super simple and super beginner friendly. I mean think about it – Google wants to make it as absolutely simple as possible to get you advertising so that you happily start spending your money with them. 


If it’s overly complicated, and you need designers and developers and technicians and graphic designers, you aren’t going to do it. To put it bluntly, Google wants your money, so they make it super easy for you to start spending your money. Capiche? 


With that said, there are a few technical specifics you need to know:


This video by the Surfside PPC outlines all of the different ad formats and styles on the Google Display Network, and the exact specifications you need to know when choosing your content:



This article by WordStream details exactly how to spec and size your Google Display Ads.


Photo Specs


Photos on Google Ads basically come in two flavours: square (1:1 ratio) and landscape (16:9 ratio). That’s it. 


Now, if your photos don’t fit in those aspect ratios, don’t sweat, Google Ads has a cropping tool that allows you to crop your photos to those desired aspect ratios. 


Now, ever photo is different, so if after cropping you’re not loving the look (especially if you have a tall photo, cropping will likely come out awkwardly), you may need to grab some new photos. Again, not to fret, you can grab some great 16:9 ratio photos off of free stock photo sites. Again – good enough to get running. 


This article LinearDesign gives you a detailed breakdown of exactly how all of the display network ad sizes work, what they’re called and how to use them


Now while this information is helpful, we say don’t overthink it. Just upload a photo, crop and go. 


Text Specs


We said it up above in the section about copy but we’ll say it again: we love the simplicity of Google Display Ads when it comes to text and copy. You get:


  • 3 headlines of 30 characters
  • 2 descriptions of 90 characters
  • 1 long headline of 90 characters
  • A business name
  • And that’s it


Now, there is the option to add additional headlines and descriptions to give Google more raw data to work with in its massive machine learning algorithm, but not necessary. Keep it simple. 


This article by Wordstream breaks down exactly how many characters you can use for your headlines and descriptions in your Martial Arts Google Display Ads:


Google Display Network Placements:


Have you realised yet that we love the Google Display Network? A big part of that is due to the shear volume of targeting and placement options at your disposal. Literally, as a tiny advertiser, you can have your business looking like one of the big boys for pennies on the dollar. 


Let’s get into the nitty gritty of what you can do with this platform:


This video by the Surfside PPC details exactly how to setup your ads targeting and placements:





Primarily we’ll be using the Google Display Network to target websites. These could be general news sites like the BBC or CNN, or could be more targeted niche sites specifically about Martial Arts, Karate, Muay Thai, Brazillian Jiu Jitsu. Now, there’s two ways to do this. 


The first would be to target the websites specifically. This means compiling a list of 20 to 100 ideal websites, and specifying your placements in the Google Ads Platform. 


The other way, which is broader and gives you less direct control, would be to specify a topic, say ‘gyms & physical fitness’ and your ads will show up on all sorts of sites related to that topic. 


The up side of doing this is a) it’s faster, and b) you’ll likely get cheaper Clicks, as Google will find you those niched websites with high inventory but low cost. 


The downside however is that you have less control, and your ads may start showing on completely irrelevant pages and sites (Google is human after all….err, wait). 




Many gym owners don’t realise this, but YouTube is also part of the display network. Photo ads can run as overlays on videos, or can show up in the side panel. 


If you wanted, you could specify your ads to only show up on certain videos or channels. Say you were super into Joe Rogan, and you felt that your ideal client was watching Joe Rogan right this second. 


Great, through the display network you can choose to sponsor the Joe Rogan channel (and hey look at you – and official Joe Rogan sponsor!). 


Mobile Apps


Now if you are advertising on the display network, especially to mobile devices or tablets, you’ll likely quickly find that the majority of your ad spend is being spent on mobile apps. 


This is both a gift and a curse. The gift is that the app network is HUGE with millions of users at any second who are just waiting to be served their next ad, meaning that inventory is high and prices are dirt cheap – seriously, a penny per click kind of cheap. If your budget is $20 per day, you could have 2000 users to your site. Cheap, cheap cheap!


However, there’s always another side to the coin, and the down side here, is these people aren’t as likely to convert. They’re too busy playing bejewelled to care about your stupid business. They might click on your ad, but they’re likely to quickly bounce. 


If you find mobile app traffic is not converting for you, then ditch it, turn it off and forget about it. However, if you can find that magic to make it convert – you’ve just hit a goldmine. With traffic that cheap, the world is your oyster. 




Last point on this thought is adding exclusions. We generally recommend when starting out to be looser and more flexible with the sites that you choose your placements on, however if you’ve been running ads for a few months, and you’re finding again and again that certain websites or apps or YouTube channels just don’t convert, you can add exclusions to kick them out of your life. 


Simply create the exclusion and they’re gone for good. 


You may also find that your ads start showing on non-english speaking sites (despite specifying english as the language), and these will be ripe for exclusions. Also, if you’re advertising martial arts, but your ads are showing on a website about non-violence, it probably isn’t reaching your ideal client. EXCLUDED!


While you don’t want to go crazy with exclusions (it’s a big web out there, have fun excluding it site by site), we do recommend using exclusions smartly to better spend your budget. By being more efficient and better reaching your ideal client, you’re better able to actually get butts in your gym and credit cards in your payment books. 


This video by the Surfside PPC shows you step-by-step exactly how to exclude mobile apps from your Martial Arts Google Display Campaigns:



Targeting Options:


The Google Display Network has an absolute plethora of targeting options available to you (above and beyond what we’ve already talked about!). These allow you to narrow and niche down even further to really drill in and find your ideal client. 


Old School advertising was all about spray and pray. Buy big billboards, buy magazine spots, buy newspaper spots, buy TV, buy radio – buy all those major media spots and hope and pray the right people saw it. 


But we live in the 21st century. We have tools at our disposal. We can do stuff that our grandfathers would salivate over if they knew it was possible. Yet what do most people do? They shrug their shoulders and say ‘meh’. 


Maybe we’re just wired differently, but we LOVE what the internet and Google and Facebook have opened up in terms of online advertising opportunities to grow and promote your business. 


This video by the Surfside PPC gives you a comprehensive overview of all of the detailed targeting options within the Google Display Network:





Let’s switch it up and start the with broadest targeting option here: Topics.


Topics allow you to go after large swathes of the internet that fall within certain industries or niches. For example you could target blogs about sports, blogs about fitness, blogs about healthy eating, blogs about health, blogs about medical research, blogs about employment hunting or even blogs about fishing – for every major industry and interest out there – Google has a Topic you can target. 


Now a word of warning: Topics are great if you’re a massive brand and have big bucks to burn. Not so great for the little guy whos bootstrapping his way to the top. 


The great thing about topics is your can reach huge numbers of people, likely very inexpensively. The downside is you’ll likely be reaching lower quality people, or people who aren’t actually really interested in your niche, or even advertising on a blog that has nothing to do with martial arts, but maybe used the words ‘martial arts’ once as part of a joke, and suddenly google thinks the blog is about martial arts (Despite how smart Google is, it is still a machine afterall…). 


We recommend that if you’re just starting out, you’ve got a tiny budget and you’re trying to make it stretch, that you stay from Topics. Leave these to the big boys. You’ll have much more luck if you target specific websites or YouTube channels. 


Topics are a great way to burn a hole through your wallet, and if you’re anything like us, you value every single hard earned penny you have to your name. 


So why do we even talk about Topics? We also believe it’s good to be informed, we want you to know of all the options and tools and weapons available in your Marketing Arsenal that you have to work with. We’ll come back to Topics when your site is bigger and more advanced, or you’ve exhausted all other marketing options. 


Custom Intent Audiences 


These are pretty cool. As we all know, Google is the largest search engine in the world – everyone goes to Google to solve their biggest, toughest questions. However what you might not know, is that by default you can’t target Google Searches in either a Display Ad Campaign or a YouTube Ad Campaign. Bummer right? 


Enter the Custom Intent Audiences. These allow you to build audiences based on a number of options, but the two biggest ones are Search Terms and URLs. 


By selecting Search Terms, you’re building an audience of users who have searched those terms in Google. So for example you could built a Custom Intent Audience based on all the users who’ve searched for:


  • Martial arts classes
  • Karate classes near me
  • Beginner karate classes
  • How to start BJJ
  • Brazillian Jiu Jitsu for beginners
  • How to get good at muay thai
  • Etc


You get the point – you can then target this audience in your Google Display Campaign, and further refine by users specifically in your target location, correct age, income level and device. Pretty cool right? 


Your other option is to target by URLs. Now this option is really powerful, but also be aware that it is somewhat broad, or rather, that it puts a lot of power and decision making in Google’s hands, so you’ll need to test it out for yourself and see whether it works or not. 


The second option is to target by URLs. What you’ll do is collect the URLs for 5-10 competitors or major martial arts sites that your ideal client would be visiting. You then enter these URLs, and Google creates a list of people SIMILAR to those visiting those sites. 


Meaning, you can’t target the visitors of those sites directly, however Google is able to find for you the types of people who would visit a site like that. See what we mean? It’s both very powerful, and very vague – how are we supposed to know how good Google really is at determining the characteristics of these people. 


The answer? As always, don’t take our word for it – go and test it yourself. If you find a great Custom Intent Audience that converts strongly for you, great, congratulate yourself and pat yourself on the back – you made it to the marketing elite. 


This video by The Surfside PPC outlines exactly step-by-step how to get started with your Google Custom Intent Audiences:




Breaking things down further let’s talk about demographic targeting. This lets us get into the Age, Gender, Household Income, and exclusively just for the Display Network: Parental Status. 


As an aside: we’re not exactly sure why the Display Network knows a user’s parental status, however the Google Search and YouTube networks don’t have access to that information. Seems strange. But anyway. 




Super self-explanatory – choose the specific ages you want to advertise to. If your ideal client fits within a certain age (18-45 for example), then stick to advertising just to them. 




Also explains itself – we generally recommend advertising to all genders, unless you run a gym that is specifically focused on one gender or another. Or perhaps, you’ve got too many men in your gym, but you want to attract more women, you could switch your advertising to advertise to women only, or vice-versa. 


Household Income


This one is pretty powerful – keep your advertising only to those with high incomes. It sounds petty, but we’ve seen the evidence to suggest that users from higher household incomes, spend more and convert at higher rates than those in low income. 


Our motto is: do what works. 


Parental Status


Depending on your industry this could be extremely powerful. If for example, your goal was to advertise to unmarried men aged 18-45 with no kids, you could exclude anyone with a known (or unknown) parental status. 


Conversely, if your audience was young mothers, you’d target 18-35 women with kids. See how granular and specific we can get here?




Let’s keep peeling back that onion on the layers of our targeting options. And ps: that is a great metaphor to think of the targeting options that Google gives you – each one is another layer of complexity and depth, which helps to further refine to narrow down to your target audience. Each one builds and improves on the last. 


So with that mini-rant aside – what are audiences? Remember that Google is a massive machine learning tool – and it is constantly gathering information on what people like, what they’re into, what kinds of activities they do over and over again, and even what they’re likely to buy in this current moment, based on their recent search history and purchases. 


That was a nerdy way of saying: Google knows what people like, and you can narrow your targeting to only those people who like (or are likely to like) what you’re selling. Nothing in life is ever 100%, but this helps you get closer. So with that said, there are some further nuances to audience setup:


This video by the Surfside PPC breaks down in excruciating detail exactly how to setup your audience targeting to maximize impacts on your marketing efforts:



Affinity Audiences


Affinity audiences are kinda like your basic bread and butter kind of audiences. Personally, we recommend starting with In-Market audiences as there is higher intent to buy (more on that shortly), but it is still important for you to understand how Affinity Audiences work and why they’re important for you. 


Essentially, Affinity Audiences are people who like…stuff. Clear?


Okay, we’ll try again – Affinity Audiences are those people who’ve shown over a long period of time that they really like a thing – say for example: foodies, travel enthusiasts, car lovers, comedy movie lovers, gardeners, fitness geeks – these are people who over many months or years, Google has observed that they’re really into that thing. 


This is important if your target audience fits into one of those categories (say, fitness geeks), however, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re looking to buy anything right in that moment. And this brings us to In-Market audiences: 


In-Market Audiences


These are powerful. These are the people that Google has identified through their recent actions as looking to buy something right now. The classic example is In-Market for Travel – this person has been looking at expedia, reading travel reviews, maybe booked a hostel, maybe booked a flight – but they’re showing behaviour that right in this moment they are in the headspace of purchasing travel related products or services. 


How does this relate to you if you run a Martial Arts Gym? Well there are In-Market Audiences for users looking to buy fitness equipment, or buy gym memberships, or buy diet and exercise related stuff. 


Unfortunately there is no In-Market Audience for users ‘looking to sign up for Brazillian Jiu Jitsu classes’ – that would be great – and who knows maybe Google will introduce levels of even more granularity in the future – but for now your best bet are fitness and gym related audiences. 




Now, we’re going to add another layer of nuance here. Because sometimes when you’re just starting out, you don’t know exactly who your target audience is, so you need to do some experimenting – nothing wrong with that, we love experimentation here. 


This is where you’d use the ‘Observation’ setting on your audiences. First of all, we recommend going through and adding every single audience. Yes this takes some time and elbow grease, but put on a good song and in 10 minutes you should be done. 


Great, now that you’ve added every single Affinity and In-Market Audience to your roster – now you can set the ‘mode’ to Observation. 


This means that Google won’t prioritize any one audience, they will all be available for use, but you will start collecting valuable ‘observation’ data. Once you’ve run your campaigns for a few months and you have some strong conversion data, you can start to see which audiences are performing for you, and which are complete duds. 


Now for the audiences which aren’t working out for you, you can either reduce their bid adjustment (say you’re only willing to spend 50% or 30% on a low performing audience), or you can shut them off entirely by switching to Targeted Audiences:




Targeted Audiences are just that – this is where you target the specific audiences you want to go after, and ignore everything else. 


If your target audience is people In-Market for gym memberships, and you’ve proven that audience to be successful and converts – great focus all of your marketing dollars on that one audience. 


Now depending on the size of your geographic location, and the radius of how far you’re targeting, there may not be enough people in one single In-Market audience to feed your business. 


This is where you may need to look at expanding out to other successful In-Market Audiences, OR, if you’ve started to exhaust all of your options with In-Market Audiences, this is where it starts making sense to start adding back related Affinity Audiences, and expanding out your targeting. 


Remember – it is amazing that Google let’s us get as granular at the same time, however at the same time it is also possible to over optimize and we go so narrow that we kick ourselves out of the game – find that balance for you. 




Location is pretty self-explanatory. This is the target location that you’re targeting. If you run a local gym attracting local residents, then you’ll probably look to focus on a 5-10km radius around your gym. 


Alternatively, you can also target by specific post codes or zip codes, if you know there are certain neighbourhoods nearby that you specifically want to target. 


Also, if you run an eCommerce story, or maybe you run a larger chain gym with locations all over the country, you could then look at running a national or even international campaign. Doors really open up when you start targeting the entire world (it’s a big, big world out there). 


Lastly, you can also exclude locations. So for example, let’s say you want to target a 15km radius around your gym, but you know there are just certain neighbourhoods that never convert. These people, just never sign up, for whatever reason – great you can exclude them. You can add a post code or zip code exclusion, or use the radius exclusion to exclude them from your targeting, so that you can focus more intently on those users who do actually want to walk into your gym and sign up with you. 




Again pretty self-explanatory but pretty cool nonetheless. For people who don’t live in the marketing world it may come as a bit of a shock and a surprise that user behave completely differently, depending on which device their on. 


But it makes sense when you think about it. First of all, people on computers tend to sway older, while people on mobile tend to sway younger. But more than that, users on computers tend to have more patience, they have larger screens, they can see more, they have a keyboard, it is easier to fill out forms, internet speeds are faster, and chances are they’re more invested in actually taking the time to do the thing you want them to do (sign up with you. 


Compare that to someone on mobile, they’re on the go, they’re on the bus, they’ve on a quick smoke break, they doing a quick bit of research, their connection is slower, their screen is smaller, they’ve got fat thumbs and its difficult to fill out your complicated forms (seriously – stop making overly complicated forms!!! – rant over). 


Users on mobile devices have no bandwidth and no patience for a bad user experience (computer folks are slightly more tolerant, but don’t take it for granted). If your site is slow, if you’ve got tiny text, if your site isn’t responsive then PASS – your mobile user experience will be terrible. 


So how does this tie back into targeting options? Well if for some unfortunate reason your site just blows when it comes to the mobile experience, you can fully turn off mobile devices (by applying a negative 100% bid adjustment), so that you’re just focusing on users on computers. 


Conversely, if your mobile experience is fantastic, you can capitalize on cheaper CPCs. Mobile as a platform still hasn’t been optimized to the n’th degree by internet marketers, meaning the generally you can get clicks on mobile for 30%-50% cheaper than desktop. Not bad if you want cheap traffic and you’ve got the platform that can convert them. 


Lastly, there’s tablet. There’s not much to say about tablet other than to experiment. Tablet is this odd device that is somewhere between a computer and a mobile, but isn’t really either. Tablet is growing as a percentage of overall traffic, so it is important and shouldn’t be ignored, however, there’ isn’t really much to say about it. 


Test it out, experiment, see how your user experience is on a tablet. Then make bid adjustments accordingly. If you find that tablet is converting excellently, then great, increase your bid adjustments, if it’s terrible, great, drop your bid adjustments. Don’t over think this stuff. 




Scheduling may or may not be important for your business. If you operate specifically during business owners (say, operating a gym) then you may want to set your ad schedule to run only monday to friday, 9am-5pm. This means that users will only see your ad and call you during business hours. 


Important Metrics To Measure


Look we get it, advertising is marketing is confusing (if it makes you feel better, it confuses us to). There are so many words and acronyms and buzzwords and things to know, it can be difficult sometimes to cut through the noise. 


I’m not sure if this is the best analogy, but sometimes I see marketing as kind of like giving birth: giving birth is a beautiful and wonderful experience, however the actual moment of the birth can be a little bit messy. 


It’s similar with marketing. Marketing can do amazing and beautiful things for you, but sometimes the industry is a little bit messy (and shady). 


Birthing analogies aside, here are the essential metrics you need to know to finally get a handle on all that marketing jargon, and take control of your marketing and your results. Let’s dive in:


This video by Market & Hustle breaks down the top 7 Digital Marketing Metrics, you need to measure as part of your Martial Arts Google Display Ads Campaign:





Let’s start with the basics. An impression is basically every time your ad is shown. Every Time someone has an opportunity to see your ad, you my friend, have just served an impression (oh they grow up so fast…). 


Now, question: how do you identify a scuzzball marketer? Because they put way too much emphasis on impressions. They go on and on and on about how many ‘brand impressions’ they got you and how they’re really building you a lot of ‘awareness’ and how much they’re ‘driving engagement’ (puke). 


Sure, impressions are an important metric, just like it’s important to breathe, but don’t let somebody try to sell you oxygen when it’s all around you. 


Frequency Capping


Growing off of impressions, let’s talk quickly about frequency capping – which isn’t so much a metric to measure, but this felt like a good time to talk about it – Frequency Capping is when you set a limit on how many times someone can see your ad. 


This article by WordStream outlines a best practice that your ads should be capped at between 15 and 60 impressions per month. Now this is obviously not set in stone and you need to experiment with what’s best for you. But as a safe rule when starting out we recommend setting a max of 30 impressions per month (roughly 1 per day). 


This video by CourseNode shows you exactly how to get your frequency capping setup and running:





Last metric on the impressions theme: CPM or Cost Per Mille or Cost Per Thousand Impressions. When you’re buying ads, this is how much you’re paying for a thousand impressions. 


Now every platform and every situation is unique, so it is very difficult to give you a ‘standard’ CPM value – however if you’re seeing values in the range of $5-$50 CPM, you’re probably in the right ballpark. 


Don’t put too much stock in this metric, it’s kinda cool to know, but also kinda meaningless in our humble opinions. 



Now we start getting into some of the more juicy stuff. Impressions are neat, but clicks are when real users start actually landing on your website. This is when the marketing boys start becoming marketing men. 


When you’ve got a click, this is when your marketing goes from just being a hypothetical concept, to something real and tangible. Now you’ve got a user on your site – don’t panic – but we hope you’ve got a great user experience! 




CPC or Cost Per Click is a big term in the digital advertising space. In fact, CPC has kinda become a short form for talking about any form of online advertising. If you’re doing internet marketing, then welcome to the world of CPC. Also known as PPC (covered below). 


CPC is simply how much you’re paying for each click. Now, we do need to explain an important concept here in the real of digital advertising: this is not TV, this is not Radio and this is not a magazine ad. 


In those (outdated) formats, an advertiser would pay to get exposure (impressions), but they had no real idea how many people actually saw their ads or who took action. 


There’s a famous quote in the advertising world by John Wanamaker (1838-1922), a department-store magnate, who once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”


Now welcome to the beauty of digital advertising. Now you can track exactly (to the penny), how many people click on your ads and how many take action. Not to belabour a point, but this is a quintessential paradigm shift in the course of human history. Welcome to the future. Success never smelled so sweet. 




PPC aka Pay Per Click has really become the name of the industry. You’ll see people over the net labelling themselves as ‘PPC gurus’ or ‘PPC ninjas’. No disrespect to these people, but our concern is if you only focus on the PPC – you can miss the entire big picture of what you’re actually trying to accomplish with your marketing. 




CTR aka Click Through Rate is one of those useful metrics, however again, most marketers overplay their hand when it comes to CTR. Yes a good CTR is important (Google has a quality score that actually rewards you with better CTRs), but it’s not the be all and end all. 


Case in point – let’s say you have an add that’s getting a low CTR, so you make some copy changes and you double the CTR – great news right? Okay, but what if your conversion rate dropped by half – and now you’re actually making half the revenue off each click. 


See what we mean? CTR is good to know – but never take your eyes off the prize: Cost Per Conversion. 


Cost / Conversion


We’ll just say it: Cost Per Conversion really is the gold standard. At the end of the day, if you’re a good business owner, you don’t  give a flying f*ck about impressions, awareness, clicks, time on site or any of that nonsense – all you want to know is did your ads convert and make money – right? 


This is simple basic math, if you invested $5k on advertising and you earned $15k in revenue, and your margins leave with you some strong profit – then what is your marketing budget? Ans: infinite as long as it keeps scaling or you hit capacity in your gym. 


Marketers who try to blow smoke up your ass with all the impressions and awareness they got you, are simply too scared to face the facts that they couldn’t convert your ads for sh*t. If you’re starting to see the world from a new lens, then excellent, we’ve done our job. 




CPA aka Cost Per Action or Cost Per Acquisition is really just another way of saying Cost Per Conversion – so let’s not waste time repeating ourselves. 




ROAS (pronounced ‘row-as’) stands for ‘Return On Ad Spend’ and is simply a quick calculation to get a sense of how well your ads are performing. This does not however take into account your expenses, margins or overheads, so it’s possible to have a high ROAS and still be losing money. 


To calculate ROAS, simply use: Revenue / Ad Spend. 


If you earned $1k and spent $200 = $1000/$200 = 5 = 500% ROAS




Now we get to the king of them all – ROI – aka Return On Investment. Now on a personal note we do believe that marketers and business owners alike put way too much emphasis on ROI – however that is a rant for another day. 


In the meantime you just need to know that ROI may be one of the most important metrics for you to know, as it tells you whether your ads and your campaigns are being profitable for you or not. 


To calculate ROI simple use: (Revenue – Ad Spend – Expenses) / Ad Spend


Which to continue our example from above, let’s say we have $1000 in revenue, $200 ad spend and $500 of expenses and overhead.


ROI = ($1000 – $200 – $500) / $200 = 1.5 = 150%.


Your ROI would be 150% as you made $300 of profit ($1000 – $200 – $500 = $300) off of a $200 ad spend investment. Nicely done mate. 


Bidding Strategies


We’re getting into some advanced territory here, and it may be easy to overwhelm you with a lot of unnecessary and irrelevant data. 


So let’s just stick to the important stuff: when starting out, stick to the Manual CPC bidding strategy. This really gives you full manual control over your ad campaign. 


With Manual CPC you specify the most that you’re willing to pay for each click, and that’s it. 


Google does have a whole range of advanced and automated bidding strategies using its vast Machine Learning capabilities. But that is beyond the scope of this document. However, for reference, this video by the Surfside PPC gives you the most detailed and comprehensive guide to Google Display Ad Bidding Strategies:



Google Display Ads Conversion Tracking


Conversion tracking is a rabbit hole. However it is also extremely essential for your business. And while we see Conversion Tracking as optional in the early phases of setting up a new ad campaign (it is more important just to get started), it is absolutely not optional in the long term running of your campaign. 


Let me say this again, because it is that important: when you’re running a serious marketing campaign, you NEED to have conversion tracking setup and running. This is how you know to the penny whether your marketing is working for you, or whether you’re just pissing dollars down the drain. 


So what conversion events should you be tracking? Here’s a short list:


  • Newsletter signups
  • eCommerce purchases
  • New leads
  • Booking a call / consultation
  • Ebook downloads
  • Clicks on your phone number or email


There’s an endless list of actions you can track, but these really are the most essential and basics to get started. 


This video by the Surfside PPC channel explains how to get your Conversion Tracking setup for your Martial Arts Google Display Ads:



Advanced Martial Arts Google Display Ads: Remarketing


We are definitely entering advanced territory here. But first, for the uninitiated, what is remarketing?


Essentially remarketing is a way to get back in front of your users again and again. And why would that be useful you ask? 


Here’s the harsh truth you’re going to learn after you’ve been marketing for a while: very few people buy the first time they see your ad. And that makes sense, how many times have you seen an ad for a brand new product and immediately gone out and bought it? Unless it was some freak impulse buy, I bet it’s pretty much never right? Exactly. 


Business is built on relationships, and relationships take time and trust. By using remarketing you’re able to ge back in front of your target audiences many, many times, bring them back to your website, show them more of what you have to over, and in time build their trust, and have them buy from you, or walk into your gym. 


Cool right? Let’s get into the specifics:


This video by the Surfside PPC gives one of the most comprehensive, detailed, step-by-step guides to setting up Google Display Remarketing Audiences that we’ve ever seen:



Super Advanced Google Display Ads: Cross-Platform Remarketing


Warning: thar be dragons here. 


Cross-Platform Remarketing is not for the faint of heart – but this really is where you grow out your ultimate marketing machine. This is for the seasoned pros who’ve be advertising for over a year or more, have setup their funnel, are getting conversions and have been profitable with their marketing. 


As always, we advocate keeping things as simple as possible, and Cross-Platform Remarketing is anything but simple. It is extremely messy and there are many moving parts. However, this i not meant to discourage you, but simply to prepare you! 


You can build a marketing machine here that will completely dominate your local niche and leave your competition in the dust, however it must be constructed properly. 


Let’s cover some of the basics first – what even is Cross-Platform Remarketing? 


Cross-Platform Remarketing is when you unleash the firestorm of what your ultimate marketing machine can achieve. This really is the culmination of all the weapons in your Marketing Arsenal. 


In essence, Cross-Platform Remarketing is when you remarket to your audience on every single platform, and every single (digital) medium you can reach them at. We’re talking:


  • Google Search
  • Google Display
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • TikTok…


You get the point. 


How do you get it setup? Firstly, get tags on your website. You’ll need the Facebook Pixel, LinkedIn Insights Tag, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Pinterest Tag, Twitter Tag – ALL THE TAGS. 


Then on each platform, set up their corresponding audiences. So on Facebook, create an audience for all your website visitors, then on Google create an audience for all your website visitors, then on YouTube create an audience for all your YouTube viewers. See how this work?


Then, be patient and give it time. Depending on the platform you’ll need need about a thousand users in your remarketing audiences before you can use them. This is why we recommend the concept of ‘build it before you need it’. 


Build those remarketing audiences early, even if you’re not planning on using them anytime soon. 


Once all of your remarketing audiences are populated, you’ll then be set to unleash an absolute firestorm on your users, by being there on any and every platform they use. 


Note: we do recommend setting a frequency capping of 30-60 impressions per month. While we do want to be everywhere, we also don’t want to harass people. Be kind, you are after all trying to get their credit card details. 


This video by IgniteVisibility gives you the rundown of what Cross-Platform (or Cross-Channel) remarketing is all about:



Martial Arts Google Display Ads Conclusion


And there we have it, another 9,000 epic masterpiece (well, we hope anyway). 


This has been the most comprehensive guide to Martial Arts Google Display Ads we could muster up the courage to produce. However, with that said nothing is ever complete or finished. 


Many of the resources in this guide will unfortunately likely become obsolete in a not-too-distant future – we will strive our best to keep it up to date, and release yearly updates with the latest techniques and video tutorials. 


As of this writing, it is May 2021, and we’re already looking forward to the updated version in 2022. 


If you have any questions or if anything was unclear, leave your dirtiest, nastiest comments down below, and we’ll get back to you as best we can! No joke: we do love hate mail. So if you’ve got something on your mind, hit us with your worst – and we’ll respond with bemused love. 


To your success on your journey.



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