Art of Conversion: Google Adwords Content Network
Came across an interesting article today written by Tamar Weinberg entitled, “Do Google Adwords on Parked Pages convert for you?“. It’s interesting because there seems to be a marked divide between Adwords advertisers that either love parked domain ads, and those that hate them enough to opt out. It really does depend on the type of conversions you aim to achieve in your campaigns, but it also requires a well-written ad to be most effective.
To give you a bit of background… I once believed the Content Network to be a lot like Big Foot – big, hairy, and results were elusive – that and it could sometimes smell like a Yeti. With the advent of the Adwords Content Placement tool in the client report suite, Google has made it significantly easier to fine tune content-matched ads, keywords, and budgeting. It’s as close to full disclosure as Google is likely to get, and a significant step towards greater transparency compared to Yahoo (YSM) and Microsoft adCenter.
With this transparency came the power to actually determine where your ads show up on partner sites within the Content Network. The majority of us marketers can look through this detailed list and determine whether we want to be spending the majority of our content-match budget on certain pages or not. Keep in mind that there is some prime real estate on the content network such as CNN.com, Monster.com, MySpace.com, etc.
Regardless of the campaign you’re running on the content network, the likelihood is that the majority of your untargeted (i.e. non-site-targeted) ads will appear on parked domains. We’ve all seen parked domains at some point in our web-surfing careers. A domain is said to be parked when the owner of a domain does not have any pages hosted yet, or does not opt into web hosting at all. They can vary in complexity depending on the owner of a parked domain name, the web hosting company in question and the domain’s popularity.
Most web hosting companies park domains at no charge because the default pages subscribe to advertising programs such as Google Adsense that pays for hosting by generating revenue from direct traffic (said to be monetizing a domain). Here is where it gets interesting. There usually isn’t a heck of a lot of content on a parked domain. That begs the question…
If there isn’t any content on a parked domain, why is my ad showing up?
Good question, after all Google is supposed to be targeting your ads to match the content of pages where they display, right? Wrong. Google steals from you. Okay let’s not go that far, after all that subject has been blogged to death lately. But what Google does do is give your ad a broad audience, thereby stabilizing your monthly impressions, clicks, and balancing your budget. Kick the Google machine enough and a few things start to fall out.
Keep in mind that if you aren’t getting quality placements on the content network, the majority of your spend just might be on ads running on parked domains. If you are running ads on parked domains the important thing to remember is to write quality ad text that will appeal to a broad range of consumers. The worst thing you can do is target a very narrow audience on parked domains, because results can quickly go from hit-and-stick to hit-and-miss.
The best thing to do if you aren’t sure whether your ads convert on the content network is to determine whether your analytics program is capable of tracking content campaign ads. You’ll have to rely solely on Google’s Content Placement report to tell you where your ads display, because all referring domains resolve as ‘Google Syndication’ rather than where the ad appears.
For more tips on Content Network ads, read my previous post entitled, “Caution: Content Network Ahead“.
As always, thanks for reading!