Monday, 4 May 2009

Google's whitepaper on Content Network performance

Google recently published a whitepaper on the performance of their Content Network - where AdWords advertisers can extend their advertising reach to third-party websites, based on the related page content matching the targeted keywords.

Google says that the Content Network is the "world's #1 ad network" since it reaches more than 80% of global Internet users. Six billion ad impressions are served each day across hundreds of thousands of these Content Network websites and so Google has analyzed conversions, cost, and cost-per-acquisition (CPA) on the Content Network compared to the main Search Network, across thousands of accounts and many geographic regions.

The results from the analysis indicated that adverts on Google's Content Network can be an effective way to gain additional conversions beyond the main search coverage, with the median advertiser seeing a content CPA within about 2% of their Search CPA. Also the survey found that the Content Network drives nearly 20% of total conversions for the median advertiser, plus conversion rates were higher for advertisers who used either of two AdWords campaign management controls: the Conversion Optimizer and site exclusion.

Certainly Google's Content Network has improved its performance significantly over the past 2-3 years since Google started to provide more performance data and management tools for this channel. In a recent post on the Google AdWords blog, more information has been provided by Google as to why the recent findings reported such a similar cost-per-acquisition on the content and search networks, which is primarily due to the use of the smart pricing system - a feature that automatically reduces the price advertisers pay for clicks if Google's data shows that a click from a Content Network page is less likely to result in a conversion.

These findings have to be viewed with some care as Google clearly has a clear motive to promote greater use of the Content Network and their automated bid pricing system. Their tips and recommendations direct advertisers down this route and while the Content Network should be tested with tracking mechanisms in place, the results will clearly vary for different advertisers and markets, plus some good initial campaign management is required to get the best results possible.



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