Targeting the Google, Search and Content Networks in AdWords

Remember when our only options of displaying ads were on Google alone or Google with the Search and Content Network? I do. Managing spend amounts by niche-targeting these networks was far more difficult to control until around the end of 2005 when Google expanded targeting options to separate the Search and Content Network.

Since then, we have witnessed Google’s revenue climb from a mere $6 billion in 2005 to somewhere in the $200 billion range this year! Specific bidding strategies on the Content Network using site-targeting and exporting the placement report are a wonderful addition to utilizing the power of the Content Network. Not only do we have the ability to export domains that gained conversions and move to a site-targeted specific campaign with a separate budget, but we can also block the ones that don’t perform according to the goals of the campaign. A specially designed campaign with carefully chosen ad copy and keywords can effectively target those AdSense users with great sites out there.

But what about this so-called “Search” Network? According to AdWords Support, the Search Network “includes Google Product Search and Google Groups and the following entities.” Is this the same description AdWords has used since 2005? There is a level of uncertainty around what exactly this Search Network is, but we do know that both Search and Content ads are displayed on MySpace, as listed in this AdWords post. Therefore, the new question will soon be “how can we block MySpace or see what websites are included in the Search Network?”

The New Google Network Interface Display
It took two years for the Placement report to appear for the Content Network change, so it may be some time before a new Search Placement report is available so we can see what domains are included and controlled on the Search Network. However, we can use this new AdWords display option to see what Google vs. Search vs. Content Networks are performing and which are not.

The new display makes it far easier to see how Google vs. Search is performing, particularly if your campaigns aren’t separated by network. Selecting between “Search only” and “Content only” for different time periods can show the need to utilize advanced bidding preferences. Other tips include creating bidding strategies via the average position for Google vs. Search placement, evaluating the amount of impressions per targeted ad group, and watching CTR/conversion rates at peak search times, just to name a few.

This article from Pete Cashmore is a fine summary of how to create and target separate Google and Google Search campaigns. Of course designing specific Content-Only campaigns will help you achieve the best cost-per-conversion on the Content network too, but this new display option on the AdWords interface makes it far easier to view new statistics with one click.

For additional reference purposes, here (below) are just a few more links about targeting Search vs. Content…

PPC Discussions

AdWords Blogs 1 and 2

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