Google Content Network and “Super Campaigns”

The Online Marketing love content. There have been a lot of improvements lately on the Google content network. I can tell you from my recent experience, there appears to be some major glitches with Yahoo’s content network (for example, campaigns not even running).

Search engines are different from the content network. In search engines, the keywords we use indicate our intent- what we want to research or buy. In the content network, Google matches ads with the content on web pages. We’re reading the content, not actively searching for anything when we see the ads. This can be accomplished by (1) contextual targeting or (2) placement targeting.

(1) Contextually targeted ads are keyword triggered (it is the default automatic opt-in). Google will show your ads on web pages where the keywords appear on the page. This is not just a straight-up keyword match but also based on fancy linguistic processing technology. For example, if you sell coffee, Google will match it to websites about drinking coffee and knows not to show it for the Java programming language.

(2) Placement targeting is much easier to grasp because you simply select specific sites you want your ad to run on. I want to run on nytimes.com or something. You can identify placements by domain name, demographics, topics, or categories.

Early in the content network, there were several problems. We couldn’t tell what sites we were served on and had little control. Consider the previous coffee example. Targeting the content network can be a problem if you didn’t want your ad alongside an article about getting scalded by coffee. So this can be a problem for the sophisticated marketer.

Recent improvements have made the content network a much more viable option for advertisers. Now, we have more advanced options:

placement reports lists the sites where the ads show up
pricing options of CPC or CPM
controls to exclude sites or categories (ie, exclude user generated content or parked domains).

Just when you thought it was heaven on Google Earth, along comes another new feature currently in testing.

My Google rep calls it the “Super Campaign”. Now the worlds of keyword targeting and placement targeting combine. In the Super Campaign, you can target both placements and keywords in the same campaign. In a perfect application, you could target shopping sites and use keywords related to only to coffee. Only showing up for shopping content about coffee.

You can see how this looks within the Adwords interface. Can’t wait for his to be widely available to test on new campaigns!

The Super Campaign could obviously lead to an entirely new approach to content targeting. Think about targeting health sites, but only with keywords for exercise (not healthy foods). Or general news sites and targeting certain type of news with keywords, only content about “gas prices”.

The possibilities are endless…

UPDATE 7-21-08: The new option appears to be available to all advertisers now. It’s accessible by drilling down to the AdGroup level in Google Adwords.