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Google Content Network Strategy

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?


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.

Ad Hustler

Published inSearch Engines


  1. kick ass post. keep it edge. 🙂

  2. I’m looking to give the content network a shot. But after getting those clicks, is there any different way you need to approach your user compared to normal search campaigns? Would be great to have some insight on that 😉


  3. Ad Hustler Ad Hustler


    Good question. The traffic that comes off the Google Content Network is DEFINITELY more fickle then the search network. Since they weren’t really looking for anything, you just sort of caught their eye on a content page. Any landing page used for the content network should be short, sweet, convincing and to the point. Also make sure the landing page is tied tightly to the text ad. If you are offering a free ipod in your text ad, make sure that is prominent on the landing page.

    Maybe I will do a Google Content Network landing page post down the line.

  4. […] I checked it out and saw a message from a young chap in Sweden: “Your post about the content network actually inspired me to try PPC for the x:th time.. Never had any luck with it before but I threw […]

  5. Ad Hustler,

    This was my first visit to your blog…and Digging is what I will do here…not many get that on the first visit…but you have written excellent material here.

    Joseph Ratliff

  6. Ad Hustler Ad Hustler

    Thanks Joseph 🙂

  7. Double Dose Of Awesome Double Dose Of Awesome

    AdHustler, you rock!

  8. […] Mobile offers are not really something I’ve experimented much with until I began this blog.  If you’ve been following my case studies series, you would have seen that I have run approximately 10 tests on Social Media driven to various Mobile Crush Offers.  I didn’t pick the SocialMedia/Crush combination out of the blue.  I’ve actually spoke directly to the owners of these offers and asked what was working.  During these conversations I heard time and again that Social type media was converting very well for Crush offers.  One stat I was quoted is that 1 in 15 Myspace users will convert on a crush offer.  Using those stats as a jumping point I initially chose SocialMedia, targeting Myspace as my traffic source.  Since the SocialMedia tests were not profitable I decided to target Myspace using another network: The Google Content Network. […]

  9. Excellent articles you got there.

  10. Dan Dan

    The question is: How do you get a general idea of a certain ads performance. You obviously can’t go through every single ad group when you’re doing the sniper method.

  11. This is some awesome info. I am just getting started in really trying to learn (from others) how to get the most out of PPC. Up until now, I was going with the theory that trying is the best way to learn. (It probably is, but it’s also expensive.) But this post has helped me understand some content network strategies better. Thanks!

  12. @Shawn – Glad to help – Now go make some money with this info. 🙂

  13. Wowza Wowza

    This was STOLEN <– (stolen) right from PPC-Coach. Copy and pasted that biatch!

  14. Ad Hustler Ad Hustler

    Please direct me to where on PPC-Coach this was “Copy-Pasted” from. Yes content network is a topic discussed there. I actually think PPC-Coach is a great service but unfortunately they NEVER spell things out THIS clearly.

  15. Marius Marius

    The question is :
    When creating ad groups with ~ 50 keywords in each, should I be keeping the same amount of negative keywords ? Or I can throw in as many negatives as i possibly can as long as related to my keywords.
    Another possibility …
    Or maybe i can have one list of negatives and throw them into each ad group regardless of what my keywords are.
    ( This of course is one campaign for the same product )

    Thank you


  16. @Marius – Ive honestly never really worried about negative keywords with the content network.

  17. PG PG

    Thanks for great post. is there any tool which can let me create 50 Kws in one adgroup? i have speedppc but there i can create adgroup with one KWs in it?

    pls help

  18. @PG – PPC-Coach has a tool that does it. I’ve seen others too.

  19. PG PG

    Hey thanks a lot for your quick response. I am with PPC Coach and i know they have this tool but I really want to see some tool outside so I can use it even if I am not member there. 🙂 and another thing is there i can’t decide how many KWs i want in my adgroup. like if I just want 25 instead of 50 I cant do that. I don’t have any control with that tool.

    Hope you can direct me in right direction.

    thanks again.

  20. Sorry, but I am confused. When you refer to 5000 keywords on the content network, are these individual single words, or does short to medium tail keywords work? As I understand the Search network, if you use a term such as tennis shoes, you would get results from anyone search for tennis or shoes. Consequently you need to do a phrase match on Search Network to refine your response. Are you saying that the Content Network works differently? If you do a broad match on the Content Network for tennis shoes, wouldn’t you get the same response as on the Search Network? Sorry, I’m kind of new to this. Thanks for your help.

  21. MarkB MarkB

    Pretty much same question as Sandido. If I’m only selling shotgun ammunition, not shotguns, aren’t I better off using the phrase “shotgun ammunition”. Would love to hear more of your thoughts AdHustler. Thanks.

  22. Great post Ad Hustler!

    There doesn’t seem to be a lot of useful detail elsewhere on strategies for the content network especially around keywords. Thanks for helping to plug the gap!

    How much do you go into the long tail with your keyword lists?

    E.g. if you had a group for “buy tennis shoes”, would you bother with variations such as
    – where is the best place buy tennis shoes
    – where is the cheapest place buy tennis shoes
    – where to buy tennis shoes
    – cheap tennis shoes buy UK etc

    or would you build you list branching out a bit more more different directions: e.g.
    – tennis shoes shopping
    – tennis shoes bargains
    – Nike tennis shoes etc



  23. Ad Hustler Ad Hustler

    @Damian – No need for long tail on the content network.

  24. Eric Eric

    Good article. We are getting thousands and thousands of useless URL for automatic placements. You idea about one keyword per adgroup would help us fish out the bad keywords.

    One important note. because exact and phrase matching options do not work for the Display network one needs to be careful about the type and amount of keywords. Long tail keywords would do much harm and bring useless sites. For example if you were advertising accounting software the keyword “accounting demo software” would bring sites that have to do with all types of demo including game sites.

    Also, try having a lot of negative keywords as well.

  25. # #

    Hands down, Apple’s app retailer benefits with a distance. It is a huge selection of a number of apps as opposed to a fairly unfortunate collection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft offers ideas, specifically in this dominion involving activities, however I’m not sure I had would like to guess for the foreseeable future if the feature is critical to your account. Ipod is usually a much better decision if that’s the case.

  26. Been reading this blog for awhile but i have been lazy to drop a comment and say thanks.

  27. You can certainly see your expertise in the work you write.
    The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

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