The Google Content Network is one of my favorite ways to eke out a few more conversions in a flagging PPC campaign. However, it takes a lot of hard work and careful pruning away of unqualified traffic to make it work. Before you venture in to the exciting world of content network campaign mangagement, you should read up on how to review a placement report of your Google Content Network campaign.
After a little analysis, you should be able to figure out where junk traffic is coming from in your individual campaigns. However, there are a few repeat offenders that always seem to offer poor performance whenever they are included in a content network campaign:
- Gmail – Sure, we all love Gmail. But as a marketer, I’m extremely wary of its performance on the content network. It drives a ton of impressions, but offers few clicks and even fewer conversions. I’m also willing to bet that most of the clicks it drives are from accidental clicks anyway. Most people are probably going to be preoccupied with whatever issue is in their email, and won’t be likely to click away. It’s just too distracting. Think of it this way: when was the last time you clicked on an ad or bought a product while you were checking your Gmail?
- MySpace – Oh, MySpace. How far you have fallen. All joking aside, MySpace is surely one of the top drivers of impressions on the Google content network thanks to their lucrative ad deal with Google. Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily translate into good results for marketers. Sure, MySpace has lots and lots of visitors, but they’re too preoccupied with being social or pimping their profile to really pay attention to ads. What’s worse is that MySpace’s demographics skew pretty young, around the late teens and early 20s. No offense to all you youngs out there, but teenagers sure love to click on ads and not spend any money. This means they’re spending your money (in the form of clicks) and not offering any return. Exclude this site on all content network campaigns, unless you happen to be marketing a product specifically for teens.
- Error Pages/Parked Domains – This one covers a lot of ground, but fortunately Google makes it pretty easy to block them all in one fell swoop. On your campaign screen for your content network campaign, choose the “Networks” tab. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page and expand the “Exclusions” option. Under the “Campaign level” section, click on “Add Exclusions” and select “Exclude category.” On the next menu, you’ll be able to select both Error Pages and Parked Domains for exclusion from ad distribution. The reason that you’ll want to exclude these pages is that people will be wanting to leave these pages as quickly as possible, since they have little content of value. Sometimes instead of hitting the back button, a user will click on a semi-relevant ad to get to a page they think might help them. This leads to few impressions of your ads (because the page sucks and no rational person would seek it out intentionally), but a high percentage of clicks (that usually don’t convert).
When starting your very own content network campaign, it’s a best practice to exclude at least these three sites. Once you gather more data and regularly exclude poor-performing sites, you can be on your way to content network cost-per-conversion bliss.