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Optimize your Content Network Campaign!

In the paid search marketing world, one of the topics that gets the PPC managers & optimisers discussing tactics for ages is the ‘Content Network’. The Content Network is the collection of sites which are opted into the AdSense scheme; through AdWords, you can place your ads on these websites. The Google User Interface was never very friendly and intuitive when it came to optimising your content network campaigns, which made the whole thing much harder to control.

Many advertisers simply didn’t bother with it, because it took too much of their time for too little click volume compared to search (an average Search CTR is around 2%, whereas a Content Network average CTR is under 1%). Even more advertisers simply put a tick in the Content Network checkbox that sits in their “Campaign Settings” page, and then just let the campaign run its course.

But it offers real opportunities.

And a few other advertisers simply didn’t know about the content network since Google automatically opts you in the content network when you create a new campaign, and doesnt give you the choice to opt out before the campaign goes live…

… In any case, you should always separate your search and content network campaigns, and the force will be with you. Always.

This is now all going the be better, as Google has just recently optimised its UI to make it easier for you to manage where your ad is appearing! The Search Giant has created a new screen in the “Site and Category Exclusion” page that allows you to:

Exclude certain sites from your campaign, meaning your as won’t appear on them. you enter the domain name manually, but most likely you will have run a placement report to find out which sites you want to filter out…

site exclusion

Opt in or out of topics like “Death & Tragedy pages (??)”, “Military and International Conflict” or even “sexually suggestive content” (there will be more, depending on where you content network ads have been going).

topic exclusion

You can also choose to Opt out of certain “types” of pages, like “forums”, “social networks”, “image-sharing sites” etc.

page type exclusion

This feature is an amazing leap forward, and proof that Google is actually trying to refine their content network ads: clicks prices have increased a lot in a year, and in some industries, CPCs between search and content are very (dangerously) close. Could Google be admitting that there are too many advertisers opting into the content network? Or are they simply helping us refine our campaigns and improve ROI? I mean, it’s not everyday that Google offers the ability to limit the reach of your ads so easily…

But having always separated my search and content campaigns, I can say that this update is brilliant, and will definitly help get things done faster and better – two characteristics that dont aways go hand in hand!

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