Content Network – Keyword Targeting vs Placement Targeting

Here’s a quick update on my Content Network adventures.

Up till now I have been using keyword targeting only. And I have been running Placement Reports to find “bad” sites, so that I could exclude them using site exclusions.

But now my campaigns have run for a few months, my ads are being shown on thousands of sites. There is no way I can go through and exclude the all bad ones.
I have removed the high volume bad sites which helps a bit, but there’s load’s of bad ones in the long tail too. Some of em even generating lots of clicks and thus costing me money.

(BTW: when I say “bad sites”, I mean “somewhat relevant” sites that are not performing plus sites that are simply not relevant.)

So now I am trying placement targeting. I am using the Placement Report for my keyword targeted ads to find good sites (based on relevance, number of conversions, clicks and impressions). Then I create new placement targeted ad groups to target just those sites.

Here’s my findings on both methods:

Keyword Targeting

  • Easy to setup: just create an ad group with a tightly focused set of keywords. Then let Google find relevant sites to show your ad on.
  • However, Google is likely to show your ads on less relevant sites too. Which may severely affect the effectiveness of your campaign.
  • So you need to use Placement Reports to find the bad sites and exclude them using site exclusions. If your ads are shown on many sites this can be a lot of work. Too much work in my case. Maybe my keyword groups are not focused enough?

Placement Targeting

  • Takes a little more work to get started, as you have to find relevant sites yourself.
  • Having run keyword targeted ads first can be very helpful, so that you can use your Placement Reports to find good sites to target.
  • But I find that the Placement Tool does quite a good job too. For me, the best way to get started was to use the List URLs option and then just plug in a couple of relevant sites. The tool then automatically gives you related sites.
  • This process will automatically make your advertising more targeted and probably more cost effective.
  • However, you may miss the long tail of many small relevant sites.
  • In general, the average cost per click seems to be higher when using placement targeting, even on the same sites.
  • Some sites are “not available for placement targeting”. Even while they showed my ads when I used keyword targeting, i.e. gamespot.com. Is that an option in AdSense?
  • One big advantage of placement targeting: you don’t have to use reports to get the basic performance data (impressions, clicks, conversions, etc..). This data is immediately available on your ad group page, on the Placements tab.

Adwords also lets you combine the two, still experimenting with that.

Preliminary results: impressions are way down, click through rates are up, conversion rates are up, costs are down.

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