Law firms are constantly seeking new channels and tactics to expand their sources of leads. The aggressive ones are not afraid of spending big dollars to test marketing experiments and sit patiently to understand the true ROI from a campaign. However, not all attorneys and practices can afford to be so patient. There are some great avenues and methods you can employ on the Google Ads platform to generate results sooner than later. Specifically display ads.

How can attorneys generate clients quickly with Google Display Ads? Display Ads have a host of features. When configured correctly, your firm’s ads will be displayed in front of audiences most likely to need a lawyer, before they start actively researching for legal representation.

In this post, we’ll look at the features you should be most aware of for effectively marketing your practice online with display and banner ads. There’s a lot to get through, so pull out your legal pad if you want to take notes.

How to Get Clients Quickly with Display & Banners Ads

If you’re unfamiliar with Google Display Ads and the display network, not to worry. Simply put, if you’ve ever seen the image-rich and banner ads on third-party websites, then you’re already familiar with Google Display Ads.

This post will be centered around how to configure a campaign in Google Ads to generate leads for your firm as quickly as possible. From there, it will be your job to convert them into clients. Google’s advertising platform is massive and robust in features. This allows for great flexibility in customization, but can also lead to unintended consequences. We’ll go over the decisions there are to be made, as well as the do’s and don’ts for your purposes.

Responsive vs Image Ads

The first decision to make is between responsive and graphical image ads. Both can perform well in terms of generating clicks. The difference is in the design.

Above is an example of an image ad, created in a graphic design suite like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. The advantages with custom graphic designs is that you have much more flexibility in terms of creative, ad copy and they’re better for branding and awareness. Creating these custom graphics takes more work and planning up front. Unless you’re accustomed to a graphic design program like Illustrator or Photoshop, you’ll probably want to hire a designer to make these for you. 

Custom Google Display Ad Sizes

Furthermore, be aware that when going the custom graphics route, GDN (Google Display Network) has a list of recommended sizes for their ads. Have a graphic designer create ads for the top 6-10 sizes for best exposure and value for your graphic design budget.

Responsive Display Ads

The alternative to custom graphics display ads are responsive display ads. Two comparable examples shown above. These are easier for your ads manager to make themselves or if you’re looking to go the DIY route. 

Responsive Display Ad Requirements

The two responsive ads were generated automatically by the system after:

  • Inputting multiple Headlines (30 characters max.)
  • Adding Long headlines (90 characters max.)
  • Description text (90 chars max.)
  • Uploading Logo
  • Uploading Images

Ad Generation is Dynamic, Good for Testing

Notice that the left ad is only text-based. The right ad, while using the image and logo can be cumbersome to work with. First, you’ll notice that the logo in incomplete (we would never advertise this for our client, I drafted this to prove the point). The custom graphics ad has the full logo, whereas this only display the “H”. If you’re going the Responsive ad route, these are less costly to produce, but can cause issues in displaying your brand the way it should be. Also notice that the Long Headline text in the right ad is truncated.

So now you can contrast the two types of ads with each other. There are best practices to get the most out of each. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Primarily with custom, you know exactly what will be shown in your ad, but creating variations is more time consuming or expensive. Responsive ads are easier to create, the system is designed to dynamically create variations with the more text you input. This is great for testing effectiveness. However, you never know what the final result will be and it’s not great for catching the user’s attention.

Static vs Animated Ads

If you’re looking to go a step further and really capture your audience’s attention, then animated ads are worthwhile exploring. These ads will adhere to all the same ad size rules as well as pros and cons of custom graphic display ads, however, they’re animated of course.

These will of course come at a higher premium, but are a surefire way to capture a user’s attention and engage them in click through to your website. Because animated ads can have several scenes in them, you can control timing, animation options and have the ability to use more ad copy than static, custom graphic ad.

What to Choose for Fast Results

You can use any of the above and get decent results. Assuming you already know what your ad copy will be, or at least can plan it quickly, spend the extra money to get your ads done in a custom design. Start with static ads, get your audience targeting squared away (as we’ll learn about in the next section), then once you have your winning audiences, scale this method up by replacing your static ads with animated versions.

Targeting Ideal Legal Clients

Once you have your ad creative and messaging figured out, turn your attention towards your audience targeting. This is where you define where, when and to whom you want your ads to appear in front of.

Audience targeting is really the key to seeing results quickly. A poorly defined and monitored audience will make a great ad perform terribly, while a bad ad with the proper audience targeting will run laps around the former.

For most law firms, you’re going to want to take advantage of several targeting and audience features Google’s platform has to offer:

  • Location & Geo-Fence Targeting
  • Custom Audiences
  • Placements
  • Scheduling

Location & Geo-Fence Targeting

Most legal practices operate within a certain geographical boundaries. Each firm is different, from strategic locales and regions they market to (state-wide versus specific cities or zip codes), to where their lawyers are licensed to practice. More often than not, firms are going to use this feature in all their campaigns. 

There are three geo-targeting options. If you’re a smaller firm and interested in taking a conservative approach, use these two options selected for targeting and exclusions, respectively.

Custom Audiences

This is where display ads for lawyers really shines. Getting the audience targeting right here will yield the greatest impact on your campaign results. Simply put, you can target users based on their search behavior. Similar to search ads, you can target people based on the keywords and similar queries they search for in Google. Not only can you target people looking for lawyers, but things they’re likely to search for in advance to looking for a lawyer. The leverage of this can’t be understated. 

If you can approximate the purchase and search patterns of your target clients before they hire a lawyer, then you can unlock a treasure trove of leads. Proper targeting will produce an audience of people most likely to need a lawyer for the specific legal matters you offer in the near future.


We don’t recommend adding placements for your campaigns. Rather, you should seek to exclude placements that don’t make sense. These include kids and family websites and YouTube channels, games and apps that are clearly meant for children.

This sounds odd, but many unintentional clicks can be generated from children and you’ll want to monitor your placements and block them.


You can schedule your ads to match your business hours, business days or anything you want. This is ideal if you want to optimize for phone calls and your staff answering the phones rather than leads leaving voicemails. Our study found that weekdays and after hours were best for collecting lead form submissions. Until you know what works best for your business, it’s recommended that you keep this open at first, to observe your own set of data.

There are many other targeting and configuration options you can apply to your campaign. However, the four above will act as the main dials you want to monitor and control to get fast, significant results for your law firm. Below we’ll look at the common mistakes to avoid in Display Ads on Google.

Display Ads Budget for Your Law Firm

While I won’t go into specifics on budget as it will depend significantly on your market size, audience targeting and other factors, your budget will be a fraction of your law firm’s adwords budget. Depending on the type of law your practicing and your market’s competition, many firms can get decent and quick results with $1000 or less per month. Keep in mind that you want to optimize your ad creative and targeting as much as possible.

Display Ad Mistakes to Avoid

Age & Demographics

As you look at refining your audience and targeting, it’s tempting to control your age and gender demographics in Google. A note of warning, the ad platform has limited data on these demographics for users. Instead of targeting people that are known to fit within certain age and demographics that your firm wants to target, consider excluding certain groups from targeting instead. These will be people in age and gender ranges that do not fit your legal practice’s ideal client criteria.

Loose Targeting

It’s not recommended to display ads simply based on local geographic areas. This targeting alone is no better than mass media advertising, such as putting up a billboard or TV ad that broadcasts to a wide market. Your target audience, most likely to need your legal services today or in the near future are a small subset of your local area. Focus your budget on that subset as much as possible.

Beware Remarketing Audiences

Most law practices won’t want to rely on retargeting audiences. This is because Google may one day (sooner or later) shut your audiences down for violating advertising or privacy policies, based on personal health and suffering issues.

Stay Light on Ad Copy

Heavier ad copy can be a distraction. Keep your word count light and your ad’s message straight to the point.

Monitor Placements Closely

As mentioned earlier, you never know exactly who will see or interact with your ads. During the initial weeks of your display ad campaign launching, you’ll want to monitor where your firm’s ads are placed and exclude as much irrelevant channels, apps and sites as possible.


In this article, we explored the essential components to creating a successful display ads campaign for your law firm. Whether you’re a solo practitioner, small or medium practice, you can start generating leads and cases fast with the right ads and targeting. Best of all is the CPC is a fraction of the cost of AdWords.