The first step to creating a well-targeted content network campaign, much like any other campaign, is keyword selection. Some content networks, like AdSonar or Business.com, allow advertisers to select categories where they would like their ads to be shown. Others, like the Google's content network, are keyword driven, meaning that keywords supplied are matched to page content to determine where ads will be delivered. Because of this matching technique, keywords can be altered to allow better placement of ads in the network. For example, if XYZ Company sells digital cameras, then adding the keyword "digital camera review" to the keyword list will result in exposure on review type sites, where it is very likely that visitors are going to buy. Using this method, it is possible not only to target the type of content site desired, but also the type of searcher, with some creativity.
Another important consideration when deciding on a keyword list is match type. The broad matched (for Google) or advanced matched term (for Yahoo) "digital camera review" could be read by an engine as "digital video camera," or "digital movie review," which would be inappropriate categories for XYZ's ads to appear under. For this reason, it is important to exactly phrase-match content terms for best results. An exception to this rule would be a company that wants to gain unlimited exposure to introduce a new and unheard-of product.
Just as in search, keywords need to be separated into themed adgroups and used in ad copy in order to create relevance and ensure a high quality score. An ad like "The XYZ 500 Receives High Ratings In All Digital Camera Reviews. Learn More!" could be very effective in receiving discounts and great positioning on sites for the phrase "digital camera reviews." Using the term "Digital Camera Reviews" as an ad title could lead to erroneous clicks from searchers looking for additional review sites, so avoid using keyword insertion and use care with placement of the term in ad copy. Similarly, if advertising in a category-driven content network, the category should be mentioned.
There are higher and lower bid options available in most content networks. Category-driven content networks are often billed at a flat rate, while keyword-driven content networks run off a CPC model similar to AdWords in Google. Take advantage of all price points and use an analytics tool to see if a 39 cents bid is as effective as a $3 bid. The key to content is not to determine conversion rate, but instead to consider the cost per conversion and use that to decide if this kind of campaign offers a good ROI.
Content names have earned a bad reputation for low-quality clicks over the last few years, but they have been working to improve the quality of their partner sites and provide a better experience for advertisers and Internet users. Most recently, Google has started working to ban sites that are created solely for content clicks, which should lower content click volume while raising quality. Understanding profitable content network strategies now will give advertisers the upper hand, as the popularity of these networks continue to grow.