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 Google.com 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.