Using Placements To Boost ROI On Google's Content Network

The Google Content Network -- comprised of hundreds of thousands of third-party Web sites -- reaches up to 80% of Internet users worldwide.  Yet many marketers don't put enough advertising dollars into the Content Network because they lack the tools to effectively measure, manage, and optimize performance down to the site and placement level. Limiting your ROI in this important channel ultimately means less budget and clicks -- which equals a missed opportunities for revenues and profits.


Why do you need a different approach for the Content Network? Google's most popular ad network --the Search Network -- is a query-targeted network, allowing advertisers to bid on keyword ads that appear next to organic search results on and other partner sites. The Content Network, on the other hand, allows marketers to place their ads on publisher Web sites that have content associated with specified keywords, sites, or placements. Many advertisers assume that the two networks operate the same way, allowing them to use their Search Network campaigns on the Content Network. 



But the reality couldn't be farther from the truth.  Because targeting on the Content Network is contextual as opposed to just query-based, your Content Network campaigns need to be structured and optimized differently.

If you play your AdWords cards right, the Content Network can help you boost conversions and ROI across your entire advertising program. This begins with the ability to measure the performance of Content Network campaigns down to the keyword, site, and even placement level.  Once you have the right management tools in place, the key becomes how you manage.  Here are a few tips to get you started:

Think thematically. Instead of creating exhaustive lists of keywords with exact matches, misspellings, plurals, etc., organize your ad groups into themes. Google will seek to match the keywords you choose to the thematic content on Web sites in the Content Network. For example, if your theme is Valentine's Day Favors, choose a set of keywords like "Valentine's Day candy," "Valetine's Day Party ideas," etc. By anchoring your terms around a specific theme word, you will help Google zero in on what you are after.

Use placement-level targeting to improve traffic quality. Evaluate where your ads are being delivered to make sure that the publisher sites are relevant to your brand. Using a profit-per-impression metric to measure the performance of referring sites will allow you to quickly differentiate between the good and the bad placements.  Boost your bids on high-performing placements to acquire a larger share of quality traffic.  For poor performers, add negative placements to your campaigns.  As your list of negative placements grows, the quality of traffic from your campaigns will grow with it.

Leverage your learnings.  Try to think beyond search to leverage the insight you gain from the content network. As you build a robust list of both negative and positive placements, you build an asset for targeting high-value customers and understanding where they spend time on the Internet. By knowing where your customers are on the Web, you can target them through other channels such as social media, display, and sponsorships on publisher sites.

The bottom line: Don't be afraid of the Content Network. With a little planning and ongoing management, your Content Network campaigns can sometimes deliver more ROI than your Search Network campaigns.

3 comments about "Using Placements To Boost ROI On Google's Content Network".
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  1. Sarah Grant from adMarketplace, February 8, 2010 at 1:35 p.m.

    Google tries to do two different things - search, and content. Yes, Google is a major traffic source for many advertisers, but there are other companies out there (including adMarketplace) that focus solely on the content space and how to improve performance for advertisers on contextual traffic. Content converts differently that search, and the fact that text ads haven't changed much over the past 10 years isn't doing much to improve the way text ads perform on content. Yes, there are tricks for squeezing the best performance out of content placements through a traffic provider that is primarily focused on search; but, it makes more sense to separate the two entities entirely. Before I get off my soapbox, adMarketplace recently launched a new version of a unit that effectively changes the way text ads look and work on content sites - An interesting, new take on how to get better advertiser performance and add value to publishers.

  2. Josh Grossman from Springpad, February 8, 2010 at 1:49 p.m.

    The content network can certainly work, but don't forget that you need to experiment with both image and text based ads, and then you need to effectively measure the results by tracking performance with Google's tracking pixels and Google Analytics. Also, many marketers forget to experiment with other ad networks. There are plenty of places to control costs and target users, especially Facebook.

  3. Chip Lan, February 12, 2010 at 3:23 a.m.

    We have used the adwords content for multiple wow gold selling website such as But it seems that's not effective. any idea about virtual currency marketing?

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