As a Google advertiser, your ads are being placed on Google’s search results pages AND their search partners.
These search partners include:
* Netscape Netcenter
* AT&T Worldnet
Until recently, no data on the performance of these ad placements was offered was Google. But last October Google released a feature in Adwords offering more transparency into the results advertisers see from paid search served through Google search partners. Now, Google shows one set of statistics for Google and another set aggregating search partner performance. Yay? How do the results for these stack up?
After accumulating a good amount of data, I found some interesting results.
- In campaigns with more generic themed keywords (related to the product) I found Google’s clicks around 80% of the clicks. This seemed consistent, even when geo-targeted, which surprised me. I would have expected the search partners percentage to be much lower when geo-targeted. For the 20% of search partners clicks sending traffic to the site, the CPC was 40% higher. Again, this was consistent even with geo-targeted campaigns.
- For individual product campaigns, the specific product keywords typically will have much lower search volume. In this case, I found different results. Google had 60% of the clicks leaving the search partners with 40% of the clicks driving traffic. The CPC was very similar between the two.
In the first example of the more generic themed words, the search partner campaigns are less effective. However in the second example, we can see in terms of both clicks and CPC, Google and the search partners are on a more equal playing field.
Within your own data, also consider the conversion rates. Unfortunately I can’t include this…
Knowing the basic behavior of how these placements can perform for you can be critical in optimizing your campaigns. Feel free to share your findings!
I recently wrote a post about the great Google content network and the new super campaigns available for advertisers in Adwords. The new features, flexibility, and transparency are expected to make the content network much more efficient for advertisers.
Unfortunately, today I captured a screen shot of Google double serving image ads on the content network. Double serving is “Displaying more than one ad for the same company or person at a time”. Google has a policy against double serving Adwords ads.
How does this happen? I am told it can occur because of contextual targeting and site-targeting in one account. I’m surprised Google’s technology isn’t smart enough to recognize this and prevent it.
But on the other hand, if you wanted to do this yourself, it would be pretty simple to get double exposure? You would just have to set-up two different campaigns. One that is site-targeted, and one with keywords using the new placement feature to target the same sites. Right?
Well, enjoy the technical error folks.
The Online Marketing Mavens 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 along side 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 in the screen shot 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.
My blogmate has really learned how to motivate me. After weeks of being absolutely swamped in planning-buying-new business-reporting-competitive-POV-trafficking mode and unable to even think about posting, Lisa has finally found a topic I am jumping to write about in my spare time. One that all the research needed is my 4+ years of media experience with clients. She wants me to write about what success means for an online campaign!
Now success should be evaluated by the goals of the campaign, which it also should have been planned against. While Lisa and I are key educators in online media in general for many of our clients, it’s becoming apparent that many of them are comparing the results of Online Display and Search Engine Marketing against each other. While the strengths of each advertising medium should be compared at a higher level (which is a whole ‘nother ball of wax), here are our thoughts about how the individual components should be evaluated.
Online Display: Sarah
Online Display Success: Brand alignment, ad placement (ownership, environment, etc) reach and frequency of target audience. If rich media involved – interaction rate, interaction time, etc.
SEM Success: For branding, the content network is great place to select sites to be served on. I’d select pay-per-click payment options (rather than CPM) and see how it goes. Increased visibility in search results may help to raise awareness and increase searches for your business. Using tools at Compete.com and Google Trends, you can see if keyword searches for your brand increase over time.
Goal: Site Conversions
Online Display Success: High CTR, can be tracked through to conversions by spotlight or floodlight tags.
SEM Success: Conversion tracking can be setup in Google and Yahoo to measure actions taken on the site. I’d also recommend, in addition to basic conversion tracking, use Google Analytics for pageview analysis, advanced goal definition, conversion funnel analysis, and various advanced conversion reports.
Goal: Mass Reach/Awareness
Online Display Success: Reach/Frequency of target audience, made easier by efficiency.
SEM Success: Mass reach can be achieved through search but you’ll want to make sure the traffic is still highly qualified. Widening a geo-target, increasing budget, and/or expanding keywords can increase the frequency the ads are served. Reaching the masses successfully to me would mean getting more conversions at an effective cost while branding through search.
*FAQs we all know and love:*
What is an average CTR?
Online Display: Since we are typically using display for brand purposes and paying for impressions, this is something I try to steer clear against focusing on, especially because even on a really good day 99.6% of online display ads will not get clicked on. Here is a must-have article on what to focus on instead, which cites .3 % as an overall average. Now in my experience with a wide variety of brands, I typically see more in a range of .05-.2%. In my book if it’s within that, no red flags are raised and the campaign could be “successful” based on goals, delivery, etc. And of course CTR all depends on a wide range of factors including creative, call to action, environment, competitive landscape, etc. A very passionate blog was recently posted by Cory Treffiletti about the topic that I couldn’t agree with more – please check it out!
SEM: For PPC search, the CTR can vary wildly depending on the type of business and keywords. For brand terms (you are bidding on your own brand name) I could see 5%-30% CTR. A high CTR is not necessarily a good thing. It could indicate brand confusion or poor natural search rankings. At least you’re getting them now.
For other terms, again, it can vary widely, but 1% and up would be an acceptable range. After all, the ultimate goal is not to get a CTR, but leads or sales.
What is an average interaction rate?
Online Display: Interaction rates can vary just like CTRs. Industry, creative, competitive environment, offer, advertising environment, etc, can obviously cause different outcomes, not to mention type of rich media. Also, unlike the hard data of a click (qualified or unqualified), interaction rates are measured differently. Some rich media vendors don’t account for accidental rollover for expandables. This can drive an interaction rate up but average interaction time down. What I’ve gathered from various rich media vendors are 5-11% interaction rate, 2.4-14 second avg interaction time. As mentioned, metrics vary on this, so know your goals, vendor, and variables!
SEM: Search begins with a user interacting with a search engine to find what they seek. Much can be learned from the keywords searchers use, as well as the action they take once on a site. In analytics, we can see how much time a visitor spent on a website by the keyword that led them there. Understanding how users search then linking that back to how users behave on the site can provide information to help shape search campaigns and other online marketing tactics.