How Google Makes Display Palatable for Small Businesses

7/28/2010

- April Nelson, Director of Strategic Accounts

How Google Makes Display Palatable for Small Businesses
When talking with new clients about their AdWords campaigns, our conversations often head down the path of contextual advertising. When asked whether content has been part of prior PPC efforts, responses range from a simple “yes” or “no” to a categorical, “Never again!” In the olden days of AdWords, allocating ad dollars to content was risky and many times resulted in short-lived “test” campaigns for advertisers that had not seen a hard return on ad dollars. With more ambiguity than transparency and limited reporting options, Google’s publisher network was not super-appealing. As such, there are a number of savvy advertisers today who have not been taking advantage of opportunities that exist in AdWords to target potential customers.

Today, the AdWords publisher network is significantly different than it was in 2003. From complete transparency to sophisticated reporting, AdWords does an excellent job of equipping advertisers with the necessary tools to help build micro-targeted display campaigns. Here is a run-down of how Google has made “media buying” and “display advertising” workable for small businesses through flexible targeting and advanced campaign management tools.

1) Bid and Pricing Model
Google now offers the options to bid by CPC (cost per click), CPM (cost per thousand impressions) or CPA (cost per acquisition). By providing these three options, advertisers can choose the model they are most comfortable working with, versus being forced into a straight CPM model, which is the traditional model with most direct media and display buys.

2) Display Ad Builder
A variety of ad formats can be created on the fly with easy to use Display ad builder. Don’t have two weeks turnaround time to produce new creative? Hundreds or even thousands of budget dollars (eating into advertising spend) coming off the top for creative fees? Google’s Display ad builder answers these common objections / barriers to entry that many small advertisers (or skeptical advertisers giving content another chance) face. This free tool uses template-based designs with editable regions where advertisers can upload a logo, one or more images (template-driven), and customize ad text. The wide range of templates is organized by industry-based categories (retail, technology, finance, etc.) and also by popularity or newness of designs added to the template gallery. Final ad creative is produced in six sizes, and since not all publishers accept all sizes, it helps to have as many ad formats and sizes as possible. Some cool templates include click-to-play video ads and Google Image Search ads.

3) Total Transparency…Before the Auction Starts
With the introduction of Google AdPlanner (now DoubleClick AdPlanner) Google exposed its publisher network in an easy-to-use tool. Simply enter the URL for a website you want to target and Google will provide detail on the type of advertising that is accepted (ad formats, sizes, etc.) along with suggestions of other websites to target. Being able to dictate in advance where ads will be placed has been alluring to advertisers of all sizes. While there had been access to this type of information before the formation of AdPlanner, it was not easy to find a central location. You could run reports after the fact to see where ads were placed – then request that “non performing sites” get excluded from your campaign.

4) Enhanced Content Campaigns
The introduction of “enhanced” content campaigns gives advertisers the ability to layer on keywords to placement / website-targeted campaigns. Rather than show up sporadically on the run of a large news site, an advertiser in the travel industry could narrow the distribution of their ads to travel-themed content by adding keywords like Miami hotels, family activities in Miami, etc. This is especially attractive for advertisers who in the past may have fallen victim to an embarrassing collaboration of content / ad text under the old-hat algorithm Google used to match ads with content.

5) Demographic Bidding Options
Do you only market to males between 36-47? Every one else can be easily excluded from seeing your ads using demographic exclusions. On the flip side – you can also choose to bid a higher cost per click to have a better shot of showing up in front of your target demographic (age and gender). OK, so it’s not that simple. Keep in mind, demographic data is tied back to the user defining herself / himself to Google (think YouTube, Gmail, personalized browser settings, etc.).

6) Granular Reporting & Campaign Optimization Options
Another huge improvement is the addition of Placement Reports (the contextual equivalent of search queries) and ad network details in the user interface. The Placement Report was rolled out first, giving transparency down to the URL level where the ad was placed. Using this valuable data, individual websites (or entire categories of websites) could then be excluded from serving ads. Today, this detail is easily accessible in the campaign management portion of the user interface and lets the user make exclusions on the fly.

7) AdWords Integration with Google Analytics
On top of the transparency AdWords provides, even more intelligence can be garnered via Google Analytics. This integration offers endless opportunities for analysis and campaign optimization. Synching your GA & AdWords accounts allows for you to:

  • Import your goals data from GA into AdWords.
  • Push AdWords impressions, clicks, and cost data into GA.

In summary, from the expansion of quality publishers in the network to the advanced targeting options now available, there is sure to be an aspect of today’s AdWords contextual campaigns that will get you hooked. Adding sophisticated campaign targeting and management tools into the equation results in superior, micro-targeted campaigns with granular tracking capabilities. Just think of the possibilities when you take the transparent network plus the addition of device targeting, geo-targeting, day parting, etc. If you were under-whelmed by content in years past, give it another shot!

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