When you create an AdWords campaign you have a choice as to whether you want your ads to appear on Google’s network of content sites. These are sites that have signed up for Google’s Adsense program, which allows them to display AdWords ads on their pages. Generally speaking, this is not very targeted traffic. Google tries to display your ad on pages with relevant content, and it does a pretty good job of it. Nonetheless, I personally do not like this traffic, and I will tell you why.
When marketing on the Internet, the sooner your ad is displayed to your prospect, the greater your chance of making a sale. This is the reason why search engine traffic performs so well. Most surfers initiate their Internet activity at a search engine. Indeed, many have a search engine like Google, Yahoo, or MSN set as their home page. In other words, it is the first thing they see when they log onto the Internet.
Lets take a closer look at the chain of events. A surfer logs onto the Internet because she wants to find something. She goes to Google and enters her search and among the results she sees your ad. It catches her attention and she clicks through to your site. Since you are offering exactly what she is looking for, she is turned into a customer and you make a sale. This scenario happened the way it did because we understand the virtues of targeted traffic, but it also happened because we were the first to satisfy the surfer’s needs.
Now, say the surfer has been online for some time and has been surfing from one site to another, looking around and possibly doing research. This surfer may be frustrated because she has not found what she wants, and is therefore in a negative mindset. What is more likely, however, is that this surfer has turned into a window shopper. Either way, since this surfer has been online for some time now, the result is she will be harder to convert into a sale.
When your site is shown on content sites it is being displayed to surfers who have often been online for a longer period of time and are generally not as receptive to your message. Add to this the fact that your ad will not be as targeted and your chances of converting the surfer are even less.
What we want is highly targeted traffic and we want that traffic to be receptive to our message. As that traffic becomes more and more diluted, its value diminishes as well.
One strategy that can be used with content targeting is to create a separate campaign for it. In this campaign all bids would be as low as possible, i.e. 5 cents. In this way you can display your ad on content sites, but the cost would be more in line with the traffic’s value. Keep in mind also that there is greater chance of click fraud when advertising on content sites, which is another good reason to keep bids as low as possible.
Google recently added a feature where you can bid separately on your content network ads, which allows you to bid lower on your content network ads without having to setup another campaign. This is useful and can be a good solution. I still prefer to create a separate campaign for content network advertising, however. A separate campaign allows for greater organization and analysis. This choice is one of personal preference, though, and you should use whichever option you feel more comfortable with.
In the end, you should be skeptical about content targeting, as the traffic quality will not be the same as the pure search engine traffic. If you really want the extra traffic, then make sure you bid separately for your content site campaign, keeping your bids as low as possible. You should also keep a close eye on your stats to make sure you are not paying for any fraudulent clicks. Good luck.