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Understanding The Content Network

9:18 am on Jan 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I work quite a bit on the content network. It's a hard nut to crack.

I experiment to try to figure out stuff trying to keep my sanity while watching the madness go on in my AdWords account. It is well known that a sure way to clinical madness is to try hard to see a pattern where there is none…

Let me just briefly share some of what I have found, please add for better total understanding.

- Impressions fluctuate wildly from day to day. There is a pattern of intense impressions (5-7 times the more regular low volume) Super Intense impressions (250 times regular volume! only happened once) and regular volume. No change on my part.
- Some campaigns seem settle on a fairly predictable level after some time. I can not see why it settles where it does.
- Adding about.htm and privacy-policy.htm pages and links seems to have given things a boost.
- Click through rates are pretty much steady. Intense impressions CTR is steady and regular volume CTR is steady.
- CTR are low, in the 0.11%-0.7%-3.6% range.
- CTR was 0.11% on my Super Intense day. This is now back to 3% on 1/250 of the volume.
But I would much rather have the Super Intense volume since I pay 1 cent on this campaign, I’ll take all I can get at 1 cent.
- The traffic that I do get seems to be legitimate and fine, hard to know. It looks ok from my conversions.
- Doing content network only will activate all keywords, even those who you might be penalized for in Google search and very expensive ones.
- 1 cent clicks are doable, volume is hard.
- If you have a 1 cent campaign and raise the price to 2 cents ALL your clicks may be priced at 2 cents. Campaign have gone up in volume by 30% by raising the price to 2 cent but then ALL the clicks now cost 2 cents. The clicks that you did get for 1 cent are now also costing 2 cent. (This says something about the algo not?). Not sure if this also applies for more expensive clicks, but so far my research shows it does (I have done some in the 70 cent range on the content network that I had to stop). It is very obvious on 1-2 cent campaigns. You might want to “lock in” cheap clicks if you can by setting up new campaigns etc.
It is also obvious that this is bad for the publishers as advertisers get “penalized” for raising their bids.
- Day time + evening time in the USA gives valuable clicks.
Night time in the US gives clicks of lower value (probably from Asia, Russia, Africa etc.).

- How can you get an idea of the total volume available at what prices?
- Are there price thresholds where things start to really happen?
- How does the algo decide what level to settle the impressions in a campaign on? It might be related to the CTR. Some campaigns have settled at a CTR of 0.10% others at 1.6% and others at 3.5%.
- Does geo targeting, language targeting, language ads, time targeting work well?
- If you want to test something new on a campaign that is working well without risking the campaign breaking. You might break what is working, how do you test with low risk?
- Say you raise your price to test and find it does not pay. If you then lower it again, can you assume you will go back to previous conditions or will the algo “know” you are “actually” “willing” to pay more and have you pay up?
- How do you know what keywords in your keyword list is triggering the ads to be shown?
- Will more keywords trigger more impressions? Singular/plural? Or confuse the algo?
Can you might as well just target just one central keyword?
- What on the publisher’s page triggers the ad to be shown? Keywords? keyword density? phrases? URL’s?
- Can you increase impressions by doing several campaigns in parallel on the same niche? Perhaps with just one narrow keyword on each? “blue widget” in one “red widget” in another etc. Doing “blue widget” and “red widget” in the same campaign will lower overall CTR. Doing more targeted keywords to increase the CTR on each campaign?
How much could there be to gain from this?
- Has anyone tried {Keyword:} on a content network only ad?  What happens then? Is this a way to find the keyword that triggers the ad?
- How do you predictably find content network sites that are showing your ad? How do you "view" them from other geographial locations?

I will keep testing to figure this questions out, great if anyone has clues. Apology for mixing so many issues in one post.

Am I in breach of the TOS by posting this (hope not)? If so I kindly ask the moderators to remove or edit this post to comply.

2:41 pm on Jan 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld

A massive post and a long list of questions {good ones IHMO}. You may find it more helpful to to getting feedback if break it into more manageble chucks.

Traffic and stats from the content network differ significantly from the search network.

On the content network, your stats are dependent on those of the sites on which your ad appears. Site traffic varies enormously from site to site and day to day. On day x your ad may show on a site that has millions of impressions per day, on day x+1 it doesn't. One small change - probably nothing to do with anything that you or Google has done - can have a massive effect on your stats. Unless you have a very large number of AdGroups across a very large number of topics and keywords, you are unlikely to have a large enough sample size to see any stablity in the content performance. (the sample size that matters here is the number of different sites that your ad is appearing on).

The CTR for your Ad (as opposed to the CTR from your site once someone has clicked on the Ad) will probable be very much lower for the Ad appearing on the content network, than for Ads appearing on Search - 2 orders of magnitude or more. Don't worry about this since Google only uses the Search network CTR in its alogorithms.

Some people change their bids for the content network. This suggests that they expect the Return on Investment for a vist to their site to vary according to where the visitor originated from. Personally I have not yet found a reason to do this. but YMMV.

[edited by: Pengi at 2:41 pm (utc) on Jan. 14, 2007]

9:43 am on Jan 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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If anyone could answer this point:

- How do you predictably find content network sites that are showing your ad? How do you "view" them from other geographial locations?

I'd be really interested to know the answer,

3:27 am on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Google tries to match your keywords in your advertisement to a content network which has he same keywords. A better way to gauge single content networks is to site specific advertise. We run adsense on our ecommerce sites and we also use adwords to drive sales to specific products so I know about both sides of the fence here.

Sometimes by using site targeting it will give you a better idea of the traffic that might come with it. Research the sites you might want to advertise on. See how it ranks in google, and figure out where traffic comes from.

We do that on the front end. Basically we look at sites, try to determine if it has good traffic or not and if it fits demographics of potential buyers.

A good analogy is that you do not want to advertise selling automobiles on a site that gets 90% of its traffic from teenagers who can not buy cars....

[edited by: trinorthlighting at 3:28 am (utc) on Jan. 16, 2007]

3:27 am on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

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oops, double post...
1:24 am on Jan 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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We track several 'intermediate goals', which, in the end, lead to the final goal: a 'purchase'!

Our experience has been that while the Content Network converts well for all the intermediate goals, the final 'purchase' goal does not convert well: Content Network visitors do not easily spend money! :-)

For us, Content Network is about branding.


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