5 Best Practices for Content Network Ads

This article first appeared on agencyside where Mike Swan, Director of Search Marketing Strategy at Liberty Interactive Marketing is a guest columnist as well as a panel speaker on topics for search marketing strategies.

Content Network is a Waste of Time and Money! Really, Are You Sure About That? I hear clients and Internet marketers alike make this statement as often as I hear the question “Why aren’t my ads showing?” but for now let’s discuss some best practices for advertising on the Content Network. It is not unlikely for us at Liberty Interactive Marketing to see content account conversions in the double digits, we recently managed a Gaming and Hospitality account with an average conversion rate of 11.11% on over 1,700 conversions. So we’re not shy in sharing some of our best practices with you.

Five Best Practices to Setting Up and Managing a Content Campaign:

1. Do not run Search– and Content-targeting in the same campaign. This is far and away the most important rule. When you create a campaign in AdWords it defaults to include all 3 networks (Google Search, Search Partners + Google and Content), make sure to separate them. If you are currently making this mistake, stop reading for a moment and turn off Content-targeting immediately.

2. Do not duplicate your Search campaign, run it on Content only, and call it a day. This is a reasonable place to start if you are in violation of #1 above, however, the job is not done. The key thing to remember is that while Search campaigns will give you performance metrics on a keyword basis, Content does not. You only have adgroup visibility, (an adgroup is a logical grouping of related keywords). So you don’t have a way of knowing if one or more of your keywords is making or breaking your adgroup.

3. Campaign construction is crucial to Content-network success. You want to make sure your campaign structure is as focused as possible. This means more adgroups than you would use for a Search campaign. You don’t have the same Quality Score considerations with a Content campaign so duplicates and plurals are acceptable. Also, keep the number of keywords per adgroup small. We have found the most success with 5-10 keywords per adgroup. Every campaign is different, so testing is important.

4. Content targeting algorithm matches content on the page to the keywords in the adgroup so, while “foreclosures real estate phoenix” may make a great keyword in a Search campaign, it is very hard to use in a sentence, so it is unlikely it will match to many content pages. So with that said, long tail keywords are not usually a great idea in a Content campaign. Using this example, you would be better served creating an adgroup with 3 keywords – “foreclosures”,”real estate” and “phoenix”. This combination will give the algorithm many more opportunities to match your ad to desirable content.

5. Google Keyword Tool is still recommended to find your initial keywords but it will just get you started. The Keyword Tool is primarily geared towards Search, so it merely serves as a jumping off point. If you already have a Search campaign running you can use that as a resource too. One methodology involves looking at the top performing keywords in your Search campaign (or promising ones from the Keyword Tool) and then looking at the organic results for each of these terms. Take the top 20-30 results and compare their content. Understand what phrases are commonly used and identify keyword themes. Sound like a lot of work? It is, but it is the difference between a mediocre campaign and a case study. I recommend building a tool to do this for you. We did.

These are some of the best practices to get you pointed in the right direction as you delve into the fascinating world of Content-targeting. But before you go hog-wild reconfiguring and re-launching, remember Content is not appropriate or profitable in all cases. Make sure you have a good understanding of the goals of the campaign or hire us to manage your campaigns.

Read the full unedited version here.

Image credit: Google Display Network

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