Now’s the time to give the Content Network another chance!

Before I start, a quick refresher on what the content network actually is.  Google’s official definition is:

“The Google content network comprises hundreds of thousands of high-quality websites, news pages and blogs that partner with Google to display targeted AdWords ads.”

“The Google content network reaches over 75% of unique Internet users in more than 20 languages and over 100 countries.”

The content network has, for years, had a really bad reputation.  The fact that Google defaults the content network as “enabled” for all new campaigns has not helped!  The lack of visibility of data and low quality traffic lead to many unsuccessful campaigns that could not be optimised.  People lost confidence with the content network, turned it off and forgot about it!

However, I would strongly recommend all you non-believers give it a second chance.  The advent of the placement performance report and the site exclusion tool now means that we have full data on the sites ads appear on, and the ability to exclude any that are poor performing.  You can also use different ad copy variations than the standard Text Ad.  You can use image and flash ads in a variety of formats (full details here) which will significantly increase the click through rates (CTRs) and performance of your campaign).

There are two main types of content targeted campaigns: keyword targeted and placement targeted.

Keyword targeted content campaigns are similar to regular search campaigns, in that Google will use your search terms to guide when your ads are shown.  Google will scan its partner sites for relevant content to the keywords in the campaign, and show ads on those sites that it deems is relevant.  Keyword targeted content campaigns are great for building brand awareness and advertising to prospects before they are actually searching for you.

A placement targeted campaign is very different as you can specifically choose the sites that you want your ads to appear on.

Placement (site) targeted content campaigns give us a completely new way of reaching a target audience.  Instead of waiting for relevant traffic to search for your service (search campaigns), or read relevant content (keyword targeted content campaigns), you can target your chosen demographic before they even know they need you!  For example, if your company’s main demographic were men, aged 18-31, earning over £17,000 you could use the Google Ad Planner tool (beta) to find where this audience spends their time online, and then serve them advertising.  With this form of advertising you would have lower CTRs, but would be opening up your brand to the correct target audience.

Here at Leapfrogg, our clients’ campaigns have had great success using the content network.  In many cases we find that content targeted campaigns have a lower cost per acquisition (CPA) than search.  The traffic volumes are, however, significantly lower.

So, you are excited aren’t you…yep, I thought so!  Here’s what you need to do to launch a content targeted campaign.

1. Choose what kind of campaign you want to run: Keyword or Site Targeted.

2. If Keyword targeted:

  • Choose your keywords
  • Categorise them into tightly themed ad groups
  • Write descriptive, incentivised, high impact ad copy
  • If possible create/upload images ads based on the formats and guidelines above

If Placement targeted:

  • Go to the Google Ad Planner Tool, select your chosen demographic, add any other criteria (including     country, language etc)
  • N.B Make Sure that in “Ad Items” that Site Characteristics only has a tick against “In Google Content Network”.  As you are only using it as part of an AdWords campaign.
  • You will then have a list of sites to sift through.  All those that you are happy with, add them to your media plan (an easy way to export it)
  • Write descriptive, incentivised, high impact ad copy
  • If possible create/upload images ads based on the formats and guidelines above

3. Make sure you create new campaigns and don’t add them into existing search campaigns.  The main reason for this is that in Google Analytics you cannot differentiate between search and content traffic.  Instead it is best to create separate search and content campaigns to gain maximum data to optimise the campaign.

So, there you go…give it a try! And, as always any questions or queries, please feel free to message me on Twitter.

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