Paid Search Marketing Tips

Getting the Most from Google Content Match

It’s hard to find a website that doesn’t display a block of Google text ads anymore – AdSense ads appear to be everywhere. According to Google, this content network of websites reaches over 80% of the entire Internet population. If you are looking for additional volume beyond your standard placement in search engine results, the Google content network can certainly provide an abundance of traffic. Managed correctly, ads on the Google content network can be a boon for your campaign performance. Managed incorrectly, content network ads can quickly blow through your budget with little to show in returns.

Campaign Settings – Don’t Leave the Defaults

When creating a new Google account, your default settings will automatically allow the display of your ads on the content network. This is good. The ability to set content network bids separately from your search listing bids is not selected by default. This is bad. Get in the habit of changing this setting every time you create a new campaign. To make this change, select “edit campaign settings” for your Google campaign. In the upper right portion of the page, you will find options for which networks your ads will appear on. You need to make sure the box for “Content bids - Let me set separate prices for content clicks” is checked. Otherwise, Google will use your search bids, which are rarely what you will want to use for the content network.

Content bids are set at the Ad Group level. They are contextually targeted based on the keywords you have included in each ad group. When reviewing a list of keywords for one of your Ad Groups, you will find performance data for your content network ads separated at the bottom of your keyword list. If you have already made the campaign setting change recommended above, you will also be able to define an independent bid level for content network ads.

Once you have updated campaign settings to allow independent content bids for each ad group, you can optimize your bids to achieve an ROI metric of your choosing, such as Cost Per Action (CPA) or a Return On Ad Spend (ROAS). For example, if you see that your cost per lead is higher than you are willing to spend, you can lower your content network bid to pull cost per lead numbers back in line. For a more detailed discussion on how much to bid, you might want to refer to last month’s article, “Bid Management Basics.”

Site Placement Reports

For most search advertisers, the above is the extent of their content network optimization efforts. But you can dramatically improve performance by taking an extra, but important step. Google now provides a “Site Placement” report, which will show every website where your content ad appeared along with related performance data. Do a reverse sort by cost, and at the top of the report you will see the sites where most of your budget was spent. You should also notice that some sites have much better conversion rates than others. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could stop spending money on those sites that have low conversion rates and redistribute your budget to the sites with a high conversion rate? Well, Google provides a tool to do this too.

Site Exclusion

If you’re comfortable working with negative keywords, the ‘Site Exclusion’ tool will be a quick study. This tool lets campaign managers create a list of domains and directories where you do NOT want your ad to appear. . . just what we need to improve the overall performance of content network ads. By reviewing site placement reports and using site exclusion to remove all the poorly converting sites, you will likely provide a dramatic improvement in overall conversion rates from content network ads. And a higher conversion rate will lead directly to more sales and/or leads without an increase in cost.

The ability to run site placement reports and exclude poor performing sites has only been possible for a few months, and many search marketers are still not taking advantage of the new tools. So the faster you can get this process incorporated into your Google AdWords campaigns, the more of a jump you’ll be able to get on the competition. And keep your eyes peeled for Yahoo and other search engines to release similar features as well.

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