Today Google posted this article over at the AdWords blog called Google content network tips: Part 1 - Recent improvements which goes over some recent changes to their content network. The highlights for me were:
- Reach. According to comScore Google's content network reaches almost 70%.
- Transparent reporting of where your ads ran and where conversions occur; this is done at the URL as well as domain level
- Cost per click bidding when you use site targeting
Now those are all fine and dandy, but what gets me fired up lately is more to do with the transparency coupled with the flexibility. When running ads I can see where they show up in their network and if one particular site is performing well I can drop it into a site targeting campaign to make sure my ads run there. That also gives me flexibility to move in and out of "deals" with these sites. And, that's extremely important when you don't have a ton of cash to test and learn.
Just today a great article ran featuring one of my accounts on a well known National News site. I called my rep to see if I could buy ads just around that article for about a week and they wrote back and said "sure, but our minimum amount is $7500" which immediately canceled the deal. I went into Google to see if I could buy that page but sadly it wasn't available and the majority of placements on this site in Google's network were text only. However, it reminded me how lucky we are that Google provides such visibility and flexibility.
Following up on the visibility was a call I had today without another ad network. As I wrote a few days ago, I'm not afraid of using ad networks and if done properly they can be very effective (comes from running like $150 million in online ads since 1998). The major problem I do have with them and this includes Yahoo's partner network is the refusal to provide visibility into where the ads run. These networks are afraid that you might go direct which is really ridiculous; case in point see Google that provides the visibility yet is showing tremendous revenue growth.
The drawbacks with Content are:
- You need smaller groups so Google can do a better job targeting your ads
- You need display and video ads to really take advantage of it; especially video where you aren't charged for someone watching your video but when they click (unless you bought on a CPM basis)
- You have to watch your spending and optimize often because Google can really push through a spend.
- The Whack a mole problem with unwanted sites, even though Google has made improvements
- And finally, my biggest issue with Content are that many of the placements are not premier and some of them if you don't pay attention are text only. There is nothing that irks me more than paying high rates for a text ad.
BTW - one final word to the wise. Google is letting you buy on a CPC basis in their site targeting, but like other techniques it may not be to your benefit. You need to pay attention to CPMs, CPCs, and of course CPA no matter how you pay. If you are smart sometimes a site bought on a CPM basis can have an extremely attractive CPCs and the CPM will get you more visibility.