I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Google Content Network is fickle and it can be tricky. In both the Search and Content Networks, ad position is important. Within the Search Network you have a wider range of ad positions that can generate positive results. However, the Content Network has a smaller window for optimal exposure and performance.
On the Google Search Network you can average between positions 1 and 5 (approximately) and appear on the first page off results. Of course, within this range certain ad positions will perform better than others. For example, being ranked in position 4 may generate a better ROI than position 2. Over time you will determine where you ads perform best and strive to maintain those rankings.
The Google Content Network works differently. Sure, the available rankings on the Content Network are just as varied. You is possible rank anywhere from position 1 to position 15 (or higher). However, the window for maximum exposure and results is not as wide as the Search Network.
On average, most sites display 2-4 ads. Some sites show fewer ads, some sites show more. But this is an average. This means if you want to gain the maximum amount of exposure from the content network, it would behoove you to make sure that you are ranked in position 3 or higher.
Below is just one example from the many, many websites that display AdSense ads. As you can see, there are 4 ads displayed. If you click on the arrows at the bottom of the box (circled in red) you can view additional ads. Not many users are going to click on those arrows to see additional ads. If their is interested is peaked, they will click on the ads that are displayed.
Recently, I was analyzing a client’s performance within this distribution channel. I noticed a strong correlation between my average ad position and the number of impressions and conversions generated.
The graph below shows one campaign’s performance for the past 5 weeks. When my ad position was close to or above 3.1, my impressions increased significantly. You can see this in the green box. And when my average ad position decreased close to or below 3.5, my impressions decreased (in the red box).
This supports the theory that many sites (not all of them) display approximately 3 AdSense ads at a time. Even in position 3.5, my ads were not showing as frequently as possible. Impressions, however, are not the endgame; conversions and ROI are most important. So, how did average position effect the number of conversions? As expected, my clicks increased with more impressions, but so did my conversions.
In the green box below you can see that when my average ad position was 3.1 or higher, I generated more conversions. Within the red box is when my ad position began to slip down to 3.4 or lower, and my conversions decreased as well (on average). When my ad position was increased the number of conversions fluctuated more but there was greater potential to increase my overall number of conversions.
If you are looking to boost your Content Network traffic, you should review your average ad positions to see where you may be falling short.
Keep in mind, this method can increase your exposure but there other tactics you need to employ to further optimize your performance and results. As I said, higher rankings and more impressions are fine, but this needs to support with a great ROI.
Aside from increasing bids, you should also continuously review your ad text performance. Also, you should constantly run a placement performance report in order to remove sites that are un-targeted and under performing. And you can even take the next step to separate your Content and Search distribution into different campaigns.
As you can see, there is no magic bullet to optimize your performance on the Google Content Network. However, there are numerous methods to expand and enhance your overall performance.