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!