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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What's Missing from the Google Content Network Guide?

Before I get into what's missing from the Google Content Network Multimedia Guide (via Inside AdWords), I must say this is an excellent tutorial. Because the content network is enabled by default when creating a new advertising campaign, many advertisers don't even realize they're buying contextual advertising. This guide will help them understand what they're really buying. It's not search engine advertising. This is especially important for new advertisers using the AdWords Starter Edition because they don't have the option to opt out of the content network. Answering questions in the AdWords Help groups, I'm realizing many advertisers have no idea they're purchasing content ads in addition to search engine ads.

The end of the guide includes a link to an About AdWords for Content mini-site which is also quite informative. For instance, there's a list of content network partners. Unfortunately, that list only includes 18 sites. It's more of an advertisement for the content network - "Look at all these great sites! Don't you want your ad to run on these sites?" Yes, there are some great sites. What's missing, though, are all the blogs that exist solely for the purpose of displaying ads and all the sites that are of a very low quality, in general. Reminds me of a brochure for an ocean view hotel that's really miles from the beach. Tracking Google content ads for clients, I can tell you there's a fair amount of garbage on the network. What's missing, too, are the parked domains. Yes, if you're using the content network (and even the search network), you need to be aware of Google's AdSense for Domains program. This should have been included in the multimedia guide. It's a blatant omission.

The guide does a good job explaining the two options that are available on the content network: contextual targeting and site targeting. Unfortunately, the nomenclature isn't consistent with what's in the AdWords interface. This might help clarify:
Note that a keyword-targeted campaign can include both contextual advertising and search engine advertising. Don't blend the two, for a variety of reasons. Create separate campaigns for contextual advertising and search engine advertising. For instance, budgets are managed at the campaign level. If there's a spike in traffic for content ads, this could use up the daily budget and disable the search ads. Also, important metrics like CTR become meaningless when blended for search and content ads.

I'm not so sure I agree with slide 10 of the guide which contains content network tips for success:

google adwords content network tips
Slide 10

That slide suggests using content-targeting (a keyword-targeted campaign) with text ads to drive conversions but rich ad formats to increase brand awareness. I'd argue that anything on the content network is really about increasing brand awareness. To drive conversions, buy search engine advertising. Still, it's useful to think about how to use the different ad formats and the different targeting options.

Despite some obvious omissions like parked domain ad distribution, the new Google Content Network Guide is essential reading for all AdWords advertisers. Do you know where your Google content ads are being displayed?

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