Adwords content network – how to use it


For many years now I automatically disable the google content network when setting up an adwords campaign. I figured its just not worth it having blown a few hundred dollars and gotten no-where

Where as search always gets me a good clickthrough rate and ROI, the content network was harder to use, understand and monitor. Too much effort for too little return

However I was recently reading some interesting stuff about the content network and set up a new adgroup to re-visit it. As an experiment. Running the exact same text add I use on my search adwords campaign

The content network works but only if….

Here’s what I found: it’s much much better than I remember. Maybe I just understand it better now. I was not able to produce the same volume of click throughs as search but the CPC (Cost per click) was 1/3 of search.

Yes 1/3! That’s a BIG saving.

It’s not all good news as the quality of click through varies depending on where your adword listing runs. In my case it was much lower and so the cheaper CPC was not really an advantage – it ended up being much the same return.

I am sure that with a few weeks of monitoring this could be tweaked up.

I even had the idea of writing specific ads referring more closely to the site the ad will appear on. Haven’t tried this yet but say I select my ad to run on sites and why not have a bit in the text of the ad which specifically relates to those sites? That would increase click throughs I am sure.  ( maybe special offer for readers of ABC website )

Like I said I haven’t done this yet and it may possible not be allowed :> If you want to try it go ahead and let me know what happens.

The Adwords Content Network: An Alternative to Banner Ads?

One other thing I did love about content network is I can use it as a banner ad network. See it will display graphic ads as well as text ads. So you can put together a nice banner ad and have it show on the top of some fairly major sites. All for a fraction of the cost that it would be if you approached the site directly and bought banner impressions.

For example: I ran an end of financial year banner (30 June here in Australia) and got a lot of click through at a very low price.  Conversions were not so good – but that’s probably more to do with the ad and the offer than anything else.

As mentioned above some split testing would refine that down.

Final thoughts on Adwords and the Content Network

In summary
  1. Don’t write off the content network option in adwords.  It can be very effective
  2. Be prepared to do some split testing and research as the audience it reaches is much different from search network. This could bring a  much lower CPC and good return
  3. Do you have a banner? Throw it up on the content network. It’s cheaper than buying banner impressions!

In conclusion I am now using the content network to supplement the ads I run in search. As time progresses I’ll refine it down to an add or banner that works well.

But in a small business it is a case of juggling priorities- chances are I’ll have my customers campaigns running well first as part of their website marketing strategies

I’d love to hear anyone elses feedback as findings. Post a comment!

Ronald Sayegh

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