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Sponsored search vs. content networks
Q: Where do your ads appear?
A: You choose!
'With great power comes great responsibility' - from the first Spiderman comic book.
Search engines advertising technology puts control in the hands of advertisers. This also means the emergence of complex new advertiser choices.
The core issue discussed in this article is the choice advertisers can make between direct sponsored ads displayed alongside search engine results and content placements in broader content networks.
Terminology used by Google, Bing and Yahoo!
Google AdWords and the Google Network
In your AdWords reports you will see the distinction between:
- The "Search" network (results in Google search engine results) and
- "Content" placement (ads placed through their network).
Google makes the distinction between:
- AdWords ads displayed with results from a keyword search in Google itself and
- Which is across the Google Network, where you can specify location yourself; "placement targeting", or let a "contextual targeting" tool place ads for you.
Bing: Microsoft advertising adCenter
Bing distinguishes between position of ads
- On a Live Search results page,
- Content Ads (aka "placements") on content-based webpages in the Microsoft content network, and
- Is incorporating Bing into the package.
Note: during 2010 Bing and Yahoo! sponsored search packages are both being incorporated into the Bing advertising system.
Yahoo! Marketing Solutions - Sponsored Search and Content Match
In Yahoo! the distinction is made between CM (content match) and SS (sponsored search). Content Match is defined as "a pay-per-click campaign tactic that displays ads alongside relevant articles such as product reviews, news articles, etc." Sponsored Search is defined as "a pay-per-click product that displays ads alongside search results pages when users search for keywords that match yours."
Sponsored searches cost more & perform better than content matches.
In general, sponsored search results are from 50% to 500% more expensive than network placements. So a sponsored search result that runs at $1.50 might look more like $0.30 for a content match or placement. This is due to the fact that generally, sponsored search results perform better than content matches, and deliver more conversions.
Additionally, you have a lot more control over where sponsored results appear. Content matches, at worst, match your keywords to any word on the page. For example, opentracker 'track your visitors' ads have appeard on mtv pages selling 'a new track by madonna', which as you can guess did not generate many conversion
Cheat-sheet: step-by-step guide for taking ppc campaigns online
It is very important to keep your eye on a new PPC campaign. Follow the steps below. Fine-tuning your campaign is half the work.
- Set up your campaigns: ad text, keywords, destination urls, and bids
- Turn on both sponsored searches and content placement
- Set a daily budget (start high to generate data)
- Let the campaign run for at least 24 hours on a business day
- Monitor costs and conversions
- Turn off poorly performing ads that run up your budget and do not deliver conversions
Note: for example, in step 6 above, we often limit budgets on content placements when we find them to perform poorly in terms of conversion. Content placement networks can deliver hundreds or thousands of clicks in a matter of hours.