Measuring Successes on Google Content Network for Display

11/17/2009

- Sonya Wood, Manager of Paid Search

Have you ever wanted to participate in display advertising but realized how expensive it can be? For many advertisers, display or banner advertising is out of reach due to the high costs. However, there is an alternative to traditional media buys with display. Google offers a way for just about any advertiser to participate in display advertising at an affordable cost through the Google Content Network.

Google Content Network consists of thousands of web sites. Covering all industries, it is one of the largest ad networks available. The content network allows the freedom to run ads across all sites or selectively choose the sites best suited for a specific industry or product. It also allows for many formats including text, image, video and rich media. Although the content network offers flexibility, it is always still important to closely monitor and track the success of the network.

Using image ads can help build brand awareness since logos can be used. Image ads also tend to have higher click through rates than text ads and are more widely accepted than video ads on the content network. These ads can have specific offers, coupon codes and calls to action.

When monitoring the performance of content campaigns in Google, click through rate is just one metric in which to track success. Display ads will have a lower click through rate than search ads because people are not directly looking for you like they would be in search. That is why image ads need to be enticing enough to make people stop doing what they were doing and click on your ad.

Once your ad has a strong click through rate and you know your message is compelling, conversion rate is another metric in which image ads can be measured. Does your ad have a strong correlation to your landing page? Does what you offer in the ad appear on your landing page? Can the offer be stronger to get more conversions?

View-through conversion rate is a new metric offered by Google. Google will count a conversion if the display ad is not clicked on but a conversion occurred within 30 days of the last time the ad was displayed. If the ad is clicked on and a conversion occurs, the conversion will be treated as a click-conversion. The reason that this metric can be valuable is because it demonstrates the power of branding and repeated ad exposure. While someone may not click on the ad, the message can still resonate with an audience. The best part is that you will not pay for the view-through conversion if your ads are being served on a cost per click basis. That is virtually free brand building!

Be sure to test different ad messages with a variety of image sizes. According to a survey of marketers by AdJungle for MarketingSherpa, 300x250 tend to perform best, while 468x60 generally have lower click through rates. Different calls to actions or offers can also have an impact on the performance of image ads. Play around and test to see what is going to work best.

No matter if you just track one metric or all three, it is always important to monitor display ads on the Google Content Network. Placement reports should be run on a regularly scheduled basis to ascertain which sites are working well and which sites are not performing. Google allows the flexibility to exclude specific sites as well as topic level categories that may not be performing or bid higher for sites that work well to maximize advertising dollars.

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