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Some of the things I'm finding is that there are different kinds of ads. Some ads can blend. Some ads can almost resemble navigation. The text ads that work are different in the content network too. I'm still working it out, but I'm analyzing the context of the ad, what the user may be after on the page, then creating an ad that will address that. Not address keywords, but address user behavior.
Ad placement matters. For CPM campaigns I filter out all sites that place my ad below the fold. They're just squeezing me for impressions. BUT, those placements may be good for CPC placements. Ad placement matters because it dictates the strategy to use.
Some sites convert better than others, sometimes sites you never thought would convert. That's why I am bidding on a wide assortment of sites, then removing those that refuse to convert regardless of the different approaches. In this regard, it's similar to the search network.
Here is the cool part
My cost per conversion on the content network is LOWER than on the search network. This is not because I'm poor on the search network. I've tweaked it into a high converting campaign that works. It's just that I found that the content network, when thoughtfully approached, is cheaper.
I am convinced that it is cheaper because advertisers haven't thought through the differences. Worse, many are so lazy they haven't even tried to make it work. Some may have had it turned on by accident without trying to make it work, been burned, then turned it off without investigating. I know because I have been there and done that. But that attitude is what gives the bolder advertisers an edge. The content network works. But it takes a different skill set to make it work. Google has made a lot of changes to the content network, with lots of tools for tracking conversions. I am convinced that intellectual laziness and inertia is what is keeping many advertisers out of the content network, even now that Google has made so many improvements so that it can work.
I am convinced that most of the advertisers who say the content network does not work are in that boat simply because they do not have the skills and ability to think through how to make it work, or they are following the conventional wisdom that it doesn't work and not even trying. The problem is not the content network because Google has fixed it. The problem is the advertisers.
[edited by: engine at 9:13 am (utc) on July 23, 2008]
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Value and USP related messaging often works well in search - I find product related messaging working much better on content.
With a well managed publisher base, reduction in low quality MFA’s, and a more experienced visitor Adwords advertisers will see an improvement in content network ROI.
Dammit, now that I think of it - you let the cat out of the bag - now there will be more competition! (ork ork)
But this also goes back to what I posted in another item about AdWords and small businesses. How many small businesses can afford someone on staff (or to hire someone like me) to learn all these nuances - and keep up with them - to keep their online advertising going and profitable?
Worse, many are so lazy they haven't even tried to make it work.
You've got that right. It's that way in the traditional media and the web has proven to be no different. It's a great opportunity for people to make money with just a little extra care.
Instead, people will say, "Buy an ad on Google," as if it is a simple as writing a check.
Dammit, now that I think of it - you let the cat out of the bag - now there will be more competition!
Ha. Yeah, right.
This post by martinibuster has a ton of rare wisdom in it.
I have found that I need more ad groups with fewer (but much more tightly themed) keywords in them to succeed in Content. Also, I think the name of the Ad Group is important in helping Google figure out where to place the ads (if you aren't cherry picking sites yet) So never just called your Content ad groups "Ad Group #1".
PS: I am surprised that you thought cpc in content is less than cpc in search. That has always been the case for me. Is there anyone who can afford to spend more on content then search for the same KW?
I regularly see accounts that do better on content than search. Conversely, there are some that just don't do well on content.
Content optimization has a lot todo with testing and refinement. I see very different content CTRs (yes, CTRs have a much different meaning on content than search) on IP targeting vs using geo-keywords in the ad groups.
It's also just not understanding the tools; it's understanding how they work with other settings; which means you also need to understand what the other settings actually do.
Teaching more about content optimization is going to be more of a focus for the AdWords seminars; especially with the launch of ad planner.
It's frustrating to say the least to follow the good advice, but I think with Google many times it's best not to fix what isn't broken even if someone tells you there is a better way to do it.
MartiniBuster is right--you need to treat search and content differently. It is worthwhile to separate your campaigns for search & content because they behave differently.
Agreed. In most cases, search ads will be much more straightforward, for example.
I agree with Scout that content ads would be better if they were opt-in. But, let's face it, then the network would have never been built.
This is, indeed, a joyful thread. That thoughtful, professional marketers are finding that their ads can be effective when placed in context with compelling or useful news and information bodes well for the web--and all of mankind, actually.
It is true: Most commercial speech has real value.
However I'm unsure about the content network for B2B (that we're in). It seems that most of the successful cases here quote B2C efforts and especially in product arenas - is there anyone who has worked with B2B and the content network?
Anyhow, I'm out to create my test and then evaluate and see what I get out of it.
IMHO one of the driving motivations for running Adsense has been to provide value-added content to pages (which Ads for good quality, topically targeted advertisers definitely are), and if it can be made to work for everyone concerned - publishers, advertisers and users alike, it's definitely worth another go.