How Ads Appear on the Google Content Network

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This chapter has thus far focused exclusively on how and why advertisements appear on the SERPs. Targeting the search network on Google and the other search engines will garner great results. However, this is not your only option for generating traffic via PPC advertising. Another distribution channel within Google AdWords is called the Google Content Network.

Many websites earn money by displaying Google AdWords ads. You’ve probably seen blocks of three or four text ads along with this line of text: Ads by Google. Figure 2.4 is an example of these ads as they appear on http://publishingcentral.com.

Google ads appearing on a web page via the Google Content Network

Site owners who display such ads are participating in a revenue-sharing program Google calls Google AdSense. The network of sites can display Google AdWords ads and is collectively referred to as the Google Content Network.

When you target the Google Content Network, Google automatically matches your PPC ads to websites with content that is relevant to your keywords. Your ads may appear on popular news sites, blogs, entertainment pages, industry publications, social networking sites, or wherever else your target audience may spend their time on the Internet. Basically, Google matches your keywords and ads to relevant content—which is why it’s called the content network.

How are your keywords and ads matched to the content on millions of website pages that display Google advertisements? First, Google reviews the page content and determines its theme. Google next reviews your keyword lists and determines their themes. Google then tries to match website content and keyword groups with similar themes. Figure 2.5 gives you a rough idea of how Google may determine the theme for three different keyword groups.

After the Google content-matching algorithm has determined a theme for an ad group, it places the ad group’s ads on pages within the content network whose content matches that theme. For example, in Figure 2.6 the page contains content about book publishing and book promotion, and the content of the ads is also about book publishing.

How Google determines themes for keyword groups

The theme of a web page’s content should be parallel to the ads that appear on the page.

The intention of a user who is interacting with ads they encounter on websites is extremely different from the intention of a user who is looking at a SERP. When someone types a query into the search engine, that person is actively looking for information, a product, or a service. The user is in the mindset of taking action. Someone who is viewing an article on a web page isn’t actively looking for anything—they’re already reading the information they want to consume. However, this doesn’t mean that the traffic on the content network is any less relevant or valid. You just need to take this into consideration when targeting this distribution network.

You are not restricted to text ads on the Google Content Network. You can also display banner ads. Back in the ’90s, banner advertising was all the rage. However, these ad formats started to get a bad reputation because they were poorly targeted and of low quality, and it was difficult to measure their performance. Many advertisers spent a great deal of money without getting reliable results. This is no longer the case. With Google’s AdWords system, you have a great deal of control over ad placement in their content network and can reliably measure your results. This book will show you how you can reach new audiences effectively and profitably with banner ads. When creating your PPC strategy, we highly recommend that you include the Google Content Network. According to Google, their content network reaches over 80 percent of unique Internet users around the world. This means that there are billions of ad impressions to be had here. You can greatly increase your click volume by creating a highly targeted content network campaign.

We’ll go into more detail on how to create a successful content network strategy later. The purpose of this chapter is to get you familiar with the basics of this distribution network.