After giving in and deciding that I wanted to do some hardcore testing on the Google Content Network I really didn’t know where to start. You hear a lot less spoken about Google Content Network strategy then you do about Google Search Network startegy. When I first jumped in I made a lot of mistakes and got some pretty bad results. The reason for this is I was using the thought process of advertising on a search engine, not on a content website.
Google Content Network Keyword Strategy
People accustomed to search engine marketing know all about exact matching, phrase matching and broad matching terms to find your audience. Throw that away on the content network. Only use broad match.
To actually generate traffic you need keywords and lots of them. The chances of getting a campaign to actually produce traffic by throwing in only a few keywords, unless they are incredibly high volume keywords is little to none. For some reason I have only seen decent traffic come in if I set up campaigns with many thousands of keywords. You don’t necessarily have to worry about the relevance of every single one of these keywords like you do on search. Forget about the intent behind them. The point of all of these keywords is just to create a topic theme. For most campaigns you won’t be worrying about the individual keywords anyway. To generate these huge keyword lists I use Wordze.
Google Content Network Ad Strategy
Take some time and put thought behind your ads. This is NOT search engine marketing so you don’t really know WHY the person is viewing your ad. For this reason you need to do a much better job crafting your text ad to attract attention and remain relevant. Provide a value proposition. Words like “Free” tend to work well. You can also run image ads on the content network. I’m sure these are a whole other beast but I haven’t actually tested image ads much to date.
Google Content Network Ad Group Strategy
When I began Google Content Network Campaigns I did some research. I found an obscure theory that Google only looks at the first 50 keywords in an ad group when running on the Content Network. I did some of my own testing and to the best of my knowledge, I find it to be true. If not 100% true, I found that at the very least, (100) ad groups of 50 keywords tended to generate more traffic then (1) ad group of 5,000 keywords. There are two main strategies that I employ. I call one The Shotgun Method and the other The Sniper Method.
The Shotgun Method
The Shotgun Method is pretty simple really. Find as many keywords about the topic at hand as possible. The more the better. Aim for 5,000+ keywords. You should obviously be using a keyword tool to generate this list.
Once the list of keywords is generated just split them up into groups of 50. Don’t worry about how they are grouped. Create the same 2-3 ads for each ad group and let it fly. This is a good way of generating a whole bunch of traffic based on your topic. It’s best for offers that appeal to a general audience based on the topic you are working with. The downfall of this method as is the downfall of most Google Content Network campaigns is that you have no idea WHICH keywords are actually triggering the ads/converting which makes the campaign difficult to tweak.
The Sniper Method
The Sniper Method is more geared towards campaigns where you need some hardcore data. Contrary to popular belief you CAN track which keywords are producing traffic/conversions on the Content Network. You just have to think outside the box a little bit. How do we accomplish keyword level tracking on the Content Network?
WE CREATE 1 KEYWORD AD GROUPS.
This works best with higher volume shorter tail keywords but can work with really any types of campaign. With 1 keyword adgroups we can craft highly targeted ads to that keyword and also track traffic, impressions and conversions down to the keyword level. If you are trying to actually SELL a product, this is the approach I would use. Creating hundreds or thousands of ad groups can be a complete pain in the a$$ but as with everything there are tools out there that can help you.
Prune The List
Just because you’re running on the Google Content Network doesn’t mean that quality score isn’t a factor. CTR in particular can be the difference between a winner and a complete and utter failure. A high CTR will keep your CPC low and hopefully your ROI high. One activity you should take part in regularly is blocking certain websites. Run a placement report to see where your ad is displaying. Find sites where you are getting a particularly low CTR and cut them out of the mix. Often times adsense units are placed below the fold in low traffic areas. If some of the sites your ad is displaying on does this, cut them out of the mix. This will increase your CTR dramatically.
The Google Content Network is an excellent alternate or primary traffic source. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s time.