The Google Content Network Isn't So Scary: Here's How To Make It Work

For many PPC managers the Google AdWords’ content network is still a scary place. Much like a horror movie, the monster is always scarier when you can’t see it. But once it’s within sight, it’s not so bad – much like Cloverfield. Okay, maybe the content network isn’t scary in a giant-monster-sort-of-way, but it can be frightening in regards to your ROI. And rightfully so. In the past, the major roadblock for a successful content network campaign was the lack of visibility but over the past year Google has been providing more information about this mysterious beast, and with enhanced visibility comes increased control and better results.

The reporting and management expansion of Google AdWords’ content network has been favorable to PPC managers. First, a brief history. When the content network was first launched you could only turn it on and hope for the best. With the next step you could enter separate search and content bids, and still hope for the best. Then the placement performance report was born and in conjuncture the site exclusion tool was launched. The placement performance report was extremely helpful, however, I frequently noticed that parked domains and error pages were extremely poor performers (maybe you noticed the same thing!) – but there was nothing I could do about this because these sites couldn’t be included in the site exclusion tool. Well, the next step in the content network evolution is upon us. Say hello to page topic and page type exclusion!

Now, when you run a placement performance report and you see that parked domains or error pages are performing poorly, you can just remove them from your campaign. This feature is within the “Tools” section of the AdWords interface. With this tool you can use page type exclusion, you can also manage your content network by page topic as well. Here are two screen shots of the tool in action:

Page Type Exclusion:

Page Topic Exclusion:


Now you can exclude by page type and page topic to your heart’s content. For most of my clients parked domains and error pages have exceptionally low conversion rates so these have been excluded. This will help lower my overall cost and my cost-per-conversion. Nice.

Also, I have found another poor performer within the content network that I would like to bring to your attention: gmail. Admittedly, gmail does work for a few clients, but for most of my clients it has a very low conversion rate. You can exclude gmail from you content campaign by using the site exclusion tool and typing in “gmail” for the site that you’d like to exclude.

As you can see, the content network is beginning to crawl out from under the murky cover of darkness and mystery, and it’s not so scary. By utilizing all of the reports and tools at your disposal you can optimize your campaign and generate better results!