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So, the ads that show up in the search results seem to me to be doing OK. They get clicked a few percent of the time, my site matches the keywords, cost-per-click is reasonable, everyone is happy.
In the content network, however, the click rate is way less than one tenth of one percent. It seems to me to be a waste of my attention, the publisher's space, and Google's effort. When I start to turn off the content network, however, Google begs me to stay in it.
As a publisher myself, I expect the click rates for ads shown on my sites to have a click rate in the 'few percent' range.
- why such a crummy click rate on the content network?
- might this improve over time? It's been about three weeks so far.
- how can this work as a business model for Google and the publishers?
One thing I always question, why do people care that they are getting a lot of impressions and few clicks on the content network. You are getting FREE advertising/impressions! While the sites may not be top-notch, they are still eyeballs. If you have setup your keyword themes for content site well, they should be somewhat relevant (yes, there are obvious exceptions like myspace, youtube, etc.)
Performance on the Content Network doesn't affect your QS on the search network. So a low CTR doesn't hurt you.
Ad copy is probably the most important factor to getting clicks on the content network. Your ads should probably be different that the ones you run on the search network, because the user is in a different mindset and is not actively looking for something in particular (usually).
Inreasing Max CPC might help you get better placement on these sites. In some ad units you are competing with 1-4 other ads, plus other units on the screen - you aren't the only choice for the user to click on.
Crummy CTR - this could be due to a few sites skewing the data. If there are a few high impression sites, with no clicks - you can filter them out - but again, WHY? Use the Placement report like the previous poster mentioned to see performance on individual sites.
Just because your ads don't get good CTR, doesn't mean others don't. Smart publishers will start to filter you out of their sites, if you ad isn't producing for them to make space for ads that produce. So the business model isn't failing b/c your ad has performed poorly so far.