For a long time, the Google™ content network had some serious issues that left many merchants frustrated, either due to a lack of knowledge, lack of quality within the system itself, or a little of both.
The good news is the Google content network has come a long way and can actually be a good pay-per-click (PPC) strategy to gain additional exposure, traffic, and conversions.
Below are some guidelines to consider when setting up quality content network targeting:
The content network is driven by theme, not individual keywords. Think of it this way; with search, you target individual keywords you believe your customer will enter into a search engine. The content network identifies potential customers, based on the page they’re viewing. They aren’t necessarily shopping; they are likely on informational or similar sites browsing for information.
For example, I am a Denver Broncos fan, as is one of my friends. One day, she and I were corresponding via gmail (a Google product) about a game, and all of a sudden, all types of Broncos merchandise and ticket ads appeared on the side of my page. The system had scanned the theme of my message, compared it with the themes of keywords certain advertisers were targeting for the content network, and displayed relevant ads accordingly. Although I wasn’t shopping at that moment, I may have been persuaded to, since I like Broncos merchandise.
- When you create a new campaign within Google AdWords, the content setting will be turned on, so I recommend manually turning off the content setting for search campaigns, and likewise, for content campaigns, keep the content setting on, and turn off the search setting.
- Separate “content” campaigns (don’t combine them with regular search campaigns) so you can more easily track performance. Google has done a good job of providing more segregated reporting for content vs. search, but we still recommend utilizing separate content campaigns with search turned off.
- Enter separate content bids; otherwise, your bid will default to that of the ad group, and that bid will not be appropriate for the content network. Set content bids a bit higher.
- Set low budgets. You can always adjust after you see how things run.
- Use only broad keywords. Since content is driven by keyword themes and not individual keywords, match types are irrelevant.
- Be flexible. You can use target keywords that you would never include in a search campaign. For example, if you sell jewelry, you wouldn’t want to bid on the keyword “rings” for search, because the term is far too competitive and unqualified. But, with a content network campaign, you can use general terms together to create a relevant theme. For example, you can create an ad group within a content campaign that targets keywords such as rings, manicures, bracelets, etc., because all terms can apply to someone who is interested in purchasing jewelry for the hand. You wouldn’t use a term such as “manicures” in a search campaign for jewelry, but, with content, manicure fits the theme of someone who may be interested in rings and bracelets, so it is a creative way to develop a theme geared towards the characteristics of your target market.
- Use less than 50 keywords per ad group. The system is scanning your group of keywords for a common theme, so it can place your ads accordingly. Too many keywords mean too many themes.
- Don’t use dynamic keyword insertion ads. Since dynamic keyword insertion ads insert the searched term to a designated place within the ad, and content is not driven by search, dynamic keyword insertion ads are irrelevant.
- Exclude placements that aren’t of value to you. This can be done within your AdWords account via Campaigns>Settings>Networks>Automatic Placements>Show Details. You can then see where your ads are appearing, and exclude any that aren’t desirable. You can also use the Site and Category Exclusion tool.
- Unless you have a lot of data to support otherwise, exclude mobile devices from your targeting. To do this, go to Campaigns>Settings>Networks>Devices and Extensions>Devices>Let Me Choose. Then, deselect “iPhones and other mobile devices with full Internet browsers.”
It may take some practice, so start out slowly, but if you’re ready to take your PPC efforts to a new and lucrative level, try the Google content network.