Google content network basic strategy

With the social ad networks like Facebook and Myspace getting all the attention these days, its easy to forget about the #1 largest ad network: the Google content network.   With an 80% reach of all Internet users and 140 Billion page views a month, the Google Content network drives some serious traffic.   And just like social networks, you can also do specific GEO targeting and some demographic targeting.

But are the clicks still cheap?  Here is screenshot of a couple test campaigns from just last month.  These 2 campaigns received over 20,000 clicks at .02 per click!

Cheap content network clicks

The Content network can still be a goldmine of cheap traffic, if used correctly.   So what is a simple game plan to access that traffic?

Basic content network strategy.

1.  Always create separate content network and search network campaigns.

2.  Create your data gathering campaign.  This is generally a keyword targeted campaign.  Use only about 15-25  keywords per adgroup.  Duplicate keywords are fine across adgroups, this establishes a theme that Google uses to trigger your ad.  Individual keywords don’t matter, its the theme of the keywords in an adgroup that matter.  Use lots of negative keywords to hone down your themes.

3. Tracking performance and being able to interpret the data and reports is what I consider the biggest component of any campaigns success.  In order to do that you will need to set up your landing site with tracking.  Install conversion tracking on your thank you or success page.  Also install Google Analytics on every page of your destination site.  Set up Goals and Funnels in Google Analytics for each step of the landing page to conversion process.   (Those steps aren’t just for a content network campaign,  I recommend them for any landing site you are driving traffic to.)   Now you are in a position to see all the possible data from your campaign.

4.  Run a Placement report in Adwords to show what sites on the content network are showing your ads.   Be sure to include conversions in your report data.  Then sort the report by conversions.   The results shown are the gold mine of data that you are looking for.

5. You can now use the data to create a new Placement targeted content campaigns with the URLs of the converting sites.   In those, I would continue to use keyword based adgroups as well as adding image ads.  If the image ads also convert well on those placements, you can split them off into another campaign.  These Placement campaigns should convert very well based on your previous data.

6.  You can also continue to optimize the original keyword campaign by using the site exclusion tool to block the non converting sites.  For the converting adgroups you can increase bids, and narrow your demographic targeting.  Eventually the keyword campaign should provide good results on its own, as well as  a further testbed to extract more converting URLs for the Placement campaign.

That’s just one basic strategy, there are many ways to use the content network.  But however you use it, don’t ignore this valuable traffic source!

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Posted in Contextual, General, Google by cdfnetworks on 09|02|09
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Comment by Earn $100 Per Day
2009-09-02 18:11:32

But the question is… how much of that traffic converts! I have done this pretty effectively, and it is quite the challenge getting the right conversion percentages.

Comment by Aluminum Briefcase
2009-09-02 18:31:42

Unfortunately usually the cheaper the traffic, the poorer it converts. You really need a landing page that converts well and effective ad text. At only 2 cents per click it is still tempting to give a try.

Comment by kelowna
2009-09-02 20:22:10

We agree! Unfortunately usually the cheaper the traffic, the poorer it converts.

Comment by Chad
2009-09-02 20:42:11

Agreed, conversion is king for any traffic source. That’s why tracking conversions to the source is crucial. The example .02 clicks I showed were generating a 3% overall conversion rate, which although low was very profitable in this case.

Comment by Matt
2009-09-03 00:51:12

do you actually do straight out affiliate marketing? Or is everything white labelled/private lead gen.

Comment by Chad
2009-09-03 15:52:47

Its all affiliate marketing, I do all of the above.

Comment by Craig
2009-09-03 10:27:18

Wow, this blog gets some well deserve SERP’s, and quickly. I wanted to learn more about demo targeting on GCN so I did this search:
“google content network demographic targeting”
This post is already getting position 3.

Comment by Chad
2009-09-03 15:40:48

Cool, I just got #1 for that keyword. :)

Yes, the vast majority of traffic on this blog comes from Google.

Comment by Jason
2009-09-03 13:05:26

Great post Chad! I love the content network and generate most of my income from it. One last thing, don’t forget conversion optimizer. Once you have a good conversion history, turn this feature on. My last campaign I more than doubled my revenue just by turning it on.

Comment by Chad
2009-09-03 15:44:43

Great point, the conversion optimizer can help once you get enough history and data built up on your campaign to run it.

Comment by Dude
2009-09-03 15:29:03

Man, this is NOT anything new, has been said a thousand times and looks like filler for your blog.

Also, if you’re an Affiliate, running anything on the Content Network is seriously difficult. Especially long term.

Comment by Chad
2009-09-03 15:43:00

Your right, nothing really new. I have had a lot of emails by new people to post a clear content strategy, so I did. I also wanted to point out that its still a viable strategy today and the content network is still rocking.

After almost 3 years blogging, they can’t all be groundbreaking posts ;)

2009-09-03 15:36:21

[...] Chad over at CDF Networks has a good post that shares some important information about how to leverage the Google Content Network. Google content network basic strategy [...]

Comment by Sid
2009-09-03 16:12:13


Ok..I only use search..and..looking to go both ways.

So, set up separate campaigns for search and content..


you can bid on the same keywords because one is in just search and the other is just content?


Comment by Save My Marriage
2009-09-03 20:11:43

Hi Chad,

I’m not one of those who contacted you about a content network post, but I was really hoping for it…great post, by the way (one of your best, IMHO)!

I’m wondering if you can talk about how to “theme” the keywords into different ad groups a bit more?

My understanding is that you place keywords into different ad groups so that Google can establish a theme for your campaign…which, under the covers, is putting your campaign (or individual ad groups?) into one of their content network categories….ultimately this category labeling determines which sites you’ll get impressions on…If this isn’t correct, can you please clarify?

But my real question is related to how we group the keywords….is it still loosely based on seed keyword? Let’s say we’re running a campaign on how to treat hemorrhoids (I know, kinda nasty)… Is this an acceptable ad group?

treat hemorrhoids
cure fissures
anal ointment
natural remedy for hemorrhoids

Or should the ad groups still loosely be based on seed keyword such that only the first and last keyword should be grouped together? Hopefully that question makes sense (and again sorry for the gross images I may be bringing to mind!)

Lastly, a more general question….is it better to target long tails on content network since those are phrases probably found on publisher sites (i.e., “cure your hemorrhoids naturally”). Or is it better to target head keywords like “hemorrhoids” and just use a lot of negatives?

Thank you in advance for answering, this is a great post and I am learning a lot!

- Dave

Comment by fred
2009-09-04 06:28:50

what was your bidding strategy to get $0.02 clicks without affecting your impressions?!

Comment by List Building Blog
2009-09-09 23:09:26

Having a landing page that converts into a good conversion is
a good stuff to have…

Comment by same question
2009-09-10 22:41:27

I get hardly any traffic even if I up the price to .30 something. I am profitable but struggeling to get more traffic. Any advice how to get a lot of impressions with sucha low cost for clicks?

2009-09-13 12:52:32

[...] ??? [...]

2009-09-13 20:48:02

[...] He always has great informative real-world posts. Heres another great example of his basic strategy withthe Google content network. “Do what Chad [...]

2009-09-13 20:51:20

Chat, great post using real-world examples. Keep it up!

Comment by Idiot Proof Diet
2009-09-17 03:13:19

Great post indeed. The site exclusion tool that ou have mentioned is amazing and worth praising. I’ve used it to make the targeted approach more lose to preciseness. You have picked the right point and worth pondering. Keep up the good work pal.

2009-10-19 18:11:09

[...] Google content network basic strategy “With the social ad networks like Facebook and Myspace getting all the attention these days, its easy to forget about the #1 largest ad network: the Google content network. With an 80% reach of all Internet users and 140 Billion page views a month, the Google Content network drives some serious traffic. And just like social networks, you can also do specific GEO targeting and some demographic targeting.” [...]

Comment by biscuit
2009-12-21 06:23:21

thats a lot of dog bones……….

2010-04-08 15:07:42

[...] Google Content Network creates impressive traffic with a reach figure of more than 80% of all Internet users and 6 billion ad impressions each day (across thousands of websites). It is a [...]

2010-06-27 10:03:51

I have a few questions, 1 already asked by Save My Marriage above.

With the search network I usually dont use broad keywords. phrase & exact only and then create many adgroups which are phrase keyword specific.

I assume this is not the case with the content network, but I am not sure. Should I be targeting a range of different keyword phrases (and set them as Broad type) within 1 adgroup.

Another question. For PPC automation does the FPBID + 0.01 work.

Thanks Goran

Comment by marriage course
2010-08-14 10:33:12

The Google Content network drives some serious traffic. And just like social networks, you can also do specific GEO targeting and some demographic targeting.

Comment by ex recovery system
2012-02-21 22:14:10

This is very detailed directions and thanks much for the helpful advice, I activated an Adwords credit a few hours ago and am interested to see what happens.

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