Lately I’ve been toying more and more with the content network on Google Adwords. It has the ability to draw a much larger level of traffic than the typical search network in most situations. Granted, conversions on this traffic vary extraordinarily, but still. If you can make it convert, it’s golden.
So What is the Content Network Used For?
Well, it can be used for just about anything. But the real strength of it is that it can promote things with low search volumes. You’ve probably seen things like ringtones, “crush offers”, and then more common things like dating or weight loss. The first two(ringtones and crushes) have low search volume compared to the number of leads that are ran per day. This is a result of the content network.
Getting Impressions in the First Place
One of the bigger problems with the content network is getting impressions in the first place. This is pretty simple normally. Either your keywords are too specific and not getting impressions, or you’re not bidding enough. Too many people hear about others getting $0.25-$0.35 clicks, and decide starting their bid off at $0.60 is acceptable. It’s not. You need to raise your bid up in the first place, bite the bullet on the clicks, then lower the bids down later.
Keeping the Impressions Coming
A lot of the problems within the content network come from people treating it like it’s the same as advertising on search. They fine tune ads, keywords, and landing pages. That’s not the case with content network. There’s a lot of sites out there that either have botched templates that make the adsense not visible, or put it at the absolute bottom of the page. The entire content network game is about CTR. Every day your ads run, get a “placement report” that includes the URLs where the ads ran. Find ones that have a lot of impressions, and a low CTR, and remove them. That way, your CTR for the ad/keyword will stay up.
It’s also a good idea to target any high performers in a new campaign, targeted to that site and keyword. That way, you should dominate the impressions for that site for as cheap as possible.
CTR, Image Ads, and Deterimining when an Image Ad is Appropriate
Ok. So let’s start off trying to understand how Google ranks content network ads. So the two variables that essentially come into play are the bids and the CTR on the given keywords. So let’s reduce the CPC to CPM basis(the easiest way for Google to measure which ad to display.
If an ad has a .10 CTR, that means 1 out of every 1000 views clicks the ad. So if the bid as at $1.00, the CPM is at $1.00
Now let’s say that ad has a competitor with an ad with a 0.05 CTR, and a $2.00 bid. The two ads should roughly equal eachother in impressions.
So that’s all fantastic for text ads. But image ads create a new level of complexity. Let’s say there’s 4 text ads that could be put into a given location. CTRs for them are 0.05%, 0.06%, 0.07%, and 0.07%. That adds up to an overall 0.25% CTR for the entire ad box. Right there, you have your goal CTR to hit with your image ad. If you can’t quite do it, you’ll still get impressions. But hitting that number lets you completely dominate your given keywords.
AdGroups: Don’t be Lazy
Ok. So a lot of people also get lazy creating content network campaigns because you no longer get the bolded words for an exact match on the search. They’ll put all their keywords into one or two groups. No. Don’t do it.
Not only does each set of keywords have a different chance of getting clicked different just based off the interest of the consumer, but chances are your tighter words will show up on the same page more than once. So if that particular location has a badass CTR, you don’t want it getting dragged down by all the other keywords in the group(your CTR with each keyword affects to a certain degree the entire adgroup and campaign). By maintaining tight groups, you end up savoring that good CTR in the certain locations.
Image Ads: 90% of the Battle is Getting Attention
Image ads can be dirt cheap clicks, and incredible in terms of CTR. But you need the person to see it. Some of the ads I’ve seen dominating certain sites are ugly as sin. But people see them. And click them. That drives the cost of clicks WAY down. Here are a couple examples of ones running for crush offers. I always look at those closely as very few people search for them, and it’s more of hitting the proper demographic and getting the ad to get attention. None of the keywords really influence it. So the ads have to be clever(no, I don’t really run crush offers by the way)
(really, I swear I didn’t edit this banner)
Get the idea?
Making the Content Network Convert Over
This alone is the reason I don’t run content network as much as I’d like to(I’m working on it). So far I’ve figured out the sale approach needs to be different. You need to not only tell them WHY they need the product, but you need to explain what the product actually is. And a lot of these people were pretty passively interested in it to begin with, so too much text will scare them away. Bullet points with a line or two of text explaining underneath is a good way to handle the situation and get them to click on through.
If anyone’s got any questions, drop em in the comments and I’ll figure out the answer and do a follow up post.
PS: You’ll notice that ads4dough has more or less been giving the commanding control of the banners here. For those of you that know Smaxor, he owns and runs the network. For those of you that don’t, he’s a longtime affiliate(and blackhat SEO). So far, it’s looking like he’s got an awesome setup for affiliates tired of the tracking and trust bullshit associated with most networks. Just thought I’d explain