Generating Leads from the Google Content Network

Google’s Content Network is one of the largest publishing networks on the internet today, with literally millions of websites displaying Adwords ads.  I’ve been a fan of the Content Network since it launched around 2003, although many advertisers found it to be fraught with low-quality traffic.

Google has done a lot to clean up the network and make it more robust.  That said, it doesn’t work the same way as search.  There are a few techniques you need to know to be run a successful pay per click advertising campaign on the Content Network.

Set Up Separate Content Network Campaigns.

The default setting in Adwords lumps Content campaigns in with search campaigns.  While this is the best way for Google to make more money, it’s not the best way for advertisers to generate the most leads.  Everything about Content is different from search:  from keywords to ad copy to optimization techniques.  Therefore, a distinct Content campaign is a must.

Go Broad, But Keep Ad Groups Tightly Focused.

In Content, you’re not bidding on keywords.  You’re telling Google what type of websites you want your ads to display on.  It’s okay to bid on really broad terms that you’d never consider in search, such as “travel,” “running shoes,” “luxury hotel,” and the like.

What is not okay is to lump all of these broad terms into the same ad group. (It’s not okay to do this in search, either – but that’s another post.)  Ad groups in Content should contain 5-10 similar keywords, and ad copy should be relevant to those keywords.

Get Crazy With Your Ad Copy.

With search ads, it’s important to use a direct, offer-based ad.  Direct marketing techniques apply when writing search ads – make it clear that your ad fits the term the searcher typed into Google (or Yahoo or whatever).  With Content, no one is searching – instead, ads display on web pages containing content that’s related to your ad and the keywords you chose.  Visitors aren’t on the site to find something – they’re there to read the content.  Your job is to make your ad so interesting that they (a) see it and (b) click on it.

This is the time to try something crazy.  Ad headlines like “You’re Missing Out” or “Don’t Get Fooled” or “Coffee Secrets Exposed” are really effective in Content.  There’s a great tutorial on writing effective Content ads in the e-book Customers Now, written by my good friend David Szetela.

Test The Remarketing Waters.

Remarketing (or retargeting, as it’s also known) has become all the rage – I think I’ve seen 3-4 presentations on it in the last 3 months.  In a nutshell, remarketing uses cookies to tag visitors to your site who visited a certain page and/or took a certain action, and serves specialized ads to them on Content sites later on during the cookie duration (usually at least 30 days).  Most ad networks offer this feature; however, they’re usually done on a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) basis and they often have a high minimum spend commitment.

But if you just want to test this feature, Google has come to your rescue with their Remarketing program.  It’s all CPC, and there’s no minimum – you just have to create your ad (it’s image ads only, not text) and put the tracking code on your site’s pages, and you’re off and running.

If you’ve shied away from Content in the past, and you’re looking to generate more leads from your pay per click advertising campaign, now is a great time to give it a try.

Melissa Mackey is the Online Marketing Manager at A veteran PPC marketer, she helps clients get maximum ROI from paid search. She’s also mom to boy/girl twins and an avid Michigan State Spartan alum and fan. See more posts from Melissa at