Commentary

Give Me More Leads

I seek instant gratification. I blame this on my over-zealous, hyperactive, espresso drinking (at least three shots) persona. This is why I am not always impressed with campaigns I launch on Google's Content Network. Sure, the impressions are there -- but where are my conversions? This is why I often recommend that my ecommerce clients look to content campaigns as a branding effort, first, and a sales-generating tool, second.

 

Mind Games

Where I have seen quite a bit of success with Google's Content Network, however, are with lead-generation campaigns. Why is this, you may ask? I believe it has a lot to do with the mindset of the user; most people viewing pages on the content network are not in the mind-set to "buy" anything. For instance, let's assume that I am reading an article on Brad and Angelina's plan to have their next brood of children in Zanzibar. To the right of the page, there happens to be an ad prompting me to click to receive information on affordable travel packages to the same locale. Considering that I, too, may want to have a brood of children off the coast of Africa one day, I click out of curiosity and fill out the lead generation form. If there was an ad on the same page, however, promoting $2,300 plane tickets to Zanzibar -- I would probably be less likely to "pay to play," the phrase recently popularized by Governor Rob Blagojevich. I mean, I can dream of going to Zanzibar...and maybe once I receive information on its benefits and vacation packages galore...I will make it there one day; but, in all likelihood (particularly in this economy), I would not buy a plane ticket on a whim.

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Free Press Well Done

Another aspect about lead generation campaigns and the content network to consider is the fact that it's an invaluable arena for businesses that are heavily mentioned in the news. For instance, many news reports and blogs have been cluttered with talk of the average American's credit card debt. Well, if you own a business that offers credit counseling and debt alleviation services - wouldn't it be beneficial to bid on keyword themes that would trigger your ads on sites with relevant content?

There was a Wendy's television commercial in the 1980's that featured three little old ladies staring down at a miniscule hamburger patty sitting upon a massive bun. After commenting several times on its "big bun," one of the ladies classically asked, "Where's the beef?" I believe that many e-commerce advertisers find themselves asking this same question in regards to Google's Content Network. Lead generation content campaigns, however, have plenty of succulent, hearty, juicy beef.

Separate but Equal Means Lots 'O Leads

In addition to search campaigns, affiliate programs and more, the content network is an un-tapped source for lead generation campaigns. I've actually had cases where the content campaign generates triple the amount of leads accrued within its search counterpart. As you go about testing the content network for lead generation, it's important to keep in mind that this sector of Google's distribution network is much different than the search network. The content network offers the ability to serve ads on a multitude of blogs, websites, news pages and more. Because of this, you'll want to set up your content program as a separate campaign.

The ad groups you create should represent "themes" that are relevant to the service, or product, being promoted in your ad and on your landing page. For instance, you wouldn't choose to have your ad group for financial services serve on a wine Web site, just because it attracts a lot of eyes. Also, the keywords housed within your ads groups should all be related to one another. If you were the credit and debt consultation firm I mentioned earlier, you'd want to have one ad group for credit counseling and a separate ad group for debt counseling. One caveat is to make sure to implement negative matches to deter themes you are certain would not be relevant to your ad - such as "credit counseling scams."

Since the people you're targeting on the content network are not specifically looking for your product or service when seeing content ads, you'll want to ensure that your ad copy conspicuously states your desired call-to-action. The beauty of this channel lies in the fact that it can be easily tested with little risk. You, too, can be instantly gratified because daily budget caps can be set and adjusted seamlessly. Plus, running placement performance reports, will allow you to opt out of inefficient and/or undesirable sites. Happy caffeinated testing!

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