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Step-By-Step: Create An AdWords Content Campaign

In last week’s post, you were introduced to the concept of contextual targeting via the search engines.

Let’s review:

  • Contextually targeted ads are non-search triggered and do not appear on search engine sites, but rather on partner sites elsewhere on the web.
  • Web publishers set up accounts with search engines to display ads on their sites (you may have seen Ads Powered by Google around the web).
  • Inside the ad box a snippet of code scans the page every time it loads. This code determines what kind of content is on the page in a similar manner.
  • Advertisers can reach these users by creating campaigns and ad groups that are relevant to the type of content to their keywords.
  • When a user reaches a page with the search engine coding on it, an ad is placed by matching the context on that page on the fly.

This type of advertising has already overtaken search-triggered inventory and will offer more opportunities in the future as the web continues to grow. So, how do you create these contextually targeted content campaigns? Here are step-by-step instructions for taking advantage of this advanced targeting via Google AdWords:

Create your campaign. As a best practice, I recommend not mixing search and display campaigns. To start from scratch, sign in to your account and click the create new campaign option. Make sure not to check the Google search box, but rather, go into the campaign’s settings and make sure that the display network box is checked under networks. Choose the option of relevant pages across the entire network, pick your bidding options, then save and continue.

Build your ad groups. Click the new ad group option and follow the instructions. You’ll want highly targeted ad groups with a handful of keywords in each so you need to brainstorm the kinds of content that you’ll want to target. Build enough ad groups to get started and continue.

Add your keywords. Google recommends somewhere between five and fifteen keywords max for each ad group. All you need is enough keywords to let Google know exactly the kind of content you’re trying to reach. This means you don’t need every long tail variation of your target terms. Be very conservative with your choices. What you don’t want to do is open up too wide a net with many terms. For example, the terms rose, roses and long-stem roses are perfectly grouped. In a search ad group, you may also add flowers, tulips, etc., but for these contextually targeted ad groups, you should split terms that aren’t closely related into separate groups. Keep experimenting until you get a good sense of how well this targeting works for you.

Choose your sites (or not). Even though Google will match up your focused ad groups with relevant content on the web, you may want to choose a list of sites or at least categories where your ads will run. This isn’t necessary, but common sense dictates that if you’re selling football jerseys, ads placed near relevant content and also on sports sites might be more effective than simply running them near “football jersey” content on any type of site. However, you may want to test that theory during your optimization process. Frankly, there may be an article on football jerseys on a health related site or even a music site that could convert even higher than on sport sites alone, and there’s no way to know this without testing.

Build your ads. You can create text ads similar to those you use in search advertising if you wish. However, with the Google display network, you’re not limited to just text ads. You can use banners, flash/rich media, and even video advertisements. Not all of the sites in the Google display network will accept every format, but there are many that take at least banners. It’s up for you to decide. Image ads seem to have more impact than standard text ones but if you don’t have access to a design team, Google has the Display Ad Builder that let’s you build your own ad quickly from free templates. They’re not as good as having your own creative, but they might just work better than generic three line text ads.

Here are some examples of the free templates which you can customize:

Next week, we’ll discuss placement targeting where you can choose to serve ads on sites that aren’t triggered by search or contextual targeting. The Google display network is the largest ad network in the world, reaching 70% of the internet audience in twenty languages and over one hundred countries. So there are great opportunities available to you if you know how to leverage the platform.

PPC Academy is a comprehensive, one-year search advertising course from beginning to end. Starting with the basics, PPC Academy progressively explores all of the varied facets of paid search, and the tactics needed to succeed and become an advanced paid search marketer.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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