Monitoring and Optimizing the Content Network

- September 24, 2007

Contextual Advertising is a program in which advertisers’ paid listing appears on web sites containing content relevant to the listings. It’s another method of distributing paid listings by search engines as opposed to the traditional means of inserting them into search results. In traditional search, advertisers choose relevant keywords and then bid on them.

Searchers enter queries, and if the advertiser has chosen that keyword, then the ad is shown. This creates a one to one matching which is straightforward to monitor and optimize. This process is different for the contextual advertising. Here, the engine analyzes advertiser’s entire keyword list and ad text in an ad group, assigns a theme to that ad group and then matches this theme to sites in its network.

Ad group organization is crucial when advertising on a Content network. Because all keywords in the ad group are considered, it is especially important to create ad groups around common themes. In addition, ad text should closely match the theme that is outlined in the keyword list. Because users will be reached in a different part of the buying cycle, call to action phrases can be especially helpful in capturing user attention. Advertisers should also use negative keywords to prevent the ads from appearing on content pages with irrelevant themes. Moreover, for better control, bid management and reporting advertisers should create completely different campaigns for Search and Content.

Because bidding generally occurs at the ad group level and not at the keyword level for Content match, it is very important to set separate bids for Content and Search networks. Advertisers should always measure cost per conversion on
Content network and bid on each ad group based upon these metrics. In contextual advertising not all clicks are priced equally. Therefore, when examining metrics, items like cost per conversion are much more informative than conversion rates.

Another important consideration is monitoring your ad position. Most content sites display only two, three, or four contextual ads per page. To maximize a chance of appearing on these sites, advertisers should select a maximum cost-per-click that allows an ad to rank in these top positions. If you improve your keyword’s Quality Score by increasing the relevance of the ad and keywords to a Content site, you’ll also improve your ad position on network pages.

To further optimize Content network campaigns on Google, advertisers can use a placement performance report that allows them to see all the websites in the content network which are sending them traffic. The report also provides data like cost per conversion, total clicks, and total impressions from those websites. Non converting websites can be blocked using “Site Exclusion” tool. Also, if you find a web site that is sending a significant amount of excellent traffic, you can use AdWords’s Site Targeting feature to advertise more heavily on that particular site.

Furthermore, using different ad formats to achieve various advertising and branding goals is also helpful. For example, AdWords lets you display your choice of text, image, Flash, and video ads on the Content network. With these ad formats, you can catch the interest of prospects in different ways and maximize your chances of appearing on more Content network sites.

Content networks can help advertiser’s expand their advertising to reach a much larger audience than pure Search. You can use contextual advertising to create awareness, mostly for things like product launches or branding campaigns, or to extend the reach of regular Search campaigns. Even though it is not directly Search advertising, it is still a valuable method. However, advertiser’s need to respect the fact it is a different network and treat, measure and optimize it with its own rules.

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