Here in the office we tend to fall in and out of love with the Content Network. Over the last couple of years it has gotten progressively better for the advertiser. It used to be downright awful for most people, but the advent of things like the placement report has given us much more control over where on the internet your ad is served. The Content Network can be a powerful generator of traffic and leads, but it is still capable of amazing amounts of waste if you do it wrong. Like everything in Adwords, there is an ignorance tax to be paid if you don’t know the right way to deal with the system. Here are some tips on how to use the Content Network without getting used.
First things first – Do NOT mix content and search in the same campaign!!! They don’t work the same way and they need to be managed separately. Plus the value of Content and Search traffic is not equal and should be budgeted separately as well. While we are talking about budgets and money, start your bids much lower in content than you would in search. In most accounts an appropriate content bid is somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 of what you would pay in search. Obviously there are exceptions, but this rings true for the majority of accounts. Oftentimes when we take over existing accounts we discover that Content has been eating up a disproportionate amount of the daily budget and no one had any idea. If you’re going to do content, set up a new campaign for only content traffic and turn off search in that campaign.
Just because you can’t track which keyword is generating a view doesn’t mean you should just toss all your Content keywords into a bucket. Group your keywords into themes. Google takes a more holistic approach to serving Content ads. They’re looking at how relevant your ad group is to the content they’re trying to match. Content ad groups don’t need to be quite as laser focused as Search, but you should take similar care when creating them.
While doing keyword research for Content, be bolder in your keyword selections. Things you could never get away with in search could be good for content. For example if you sell Nike running shoes you would never want to bid on the word running by itself. There would be way too many off topic searches, your CTR would be awful, and it would negatively impact your Quality Score. In the Content Network you want this word because it’s relative to what your target audience is reading about. A site dedicated to running or an article about a marathon is ideal real estate for your ad, a search query for running is not.
Run placement reports on a regular basis, this is a big deal! This is the only way to really know where your money is going, and individual sites have a tendency to surreptitiously run away with a big pile of your money. This is a good place to catch fraud or just sites that you don’t want your ad served on. Typically Google will catch most major fraudulent action, but we’ve managed to retrieve large sums of money for clients based on what we’ve found in placement reports.
A couple of years ago we’d advise most people to skip the Content Network, it wasn’t a very nice neighborhood. There was value in there but, it was difficult to get to. These days we are much more likely to utilize Content because it is much more controllable. The tracking and targeting has improved dramatically. It’s still a dangerous place however. Be smart and careful with where and how you spend your money and you’ll find the Content Network to be worth the effort.