Get Started with the Google Content Network

Elizabeth Marsten Jul 1 2008

When I first started in pay per click marketing the content network was considered a dark, black hole where clicks went to die and impressions soared. Nowadays there is a lot more success, a lot more transparency and a lot more of control that an advertisers can exert over their campaigns. So, when starting a pay per click account and building new campaigns and ad groups, here’s a checklist of how to get a solid start on the content network.

First of all, be sure you understand what the content network is: these are websites & blogs that are run by anyone that has opted in (through Google AdSense) to include ads on their sites. These can be text and image and can be shown inside videos, content, posts, anywhere on the site.

The best practice is to set up a separate campaign for the search and content networks. This allows you to control cost on either campaign, impressions and as you will see detailed below, increase relevancy and targeting for your ads.

  1. Start a new keyword targeted campaign, be sure to name it with “content” in the title to keep things easy for you later, same with the first ad group.
  2. Keyword list: The most important thing to keep in mind when generating this list is to generate keywords based on the kinds of sites that you want your ads to appear on, which will not necessarily be the same keywords that you use in search. There may be some overlap between the two, which is OK. For example: You sell wedding favors. Your content network keywords should have to do with: wedding planning, wedding budgeting, wedding gifts for guests, wedding blogs, wedding receptions, bridal blogs. You are trying to target people who are looking for favors to purchase for their wedding guests so you wouldn’t try and bid on sites that are already selling wedding favors. For more on this technique see: Advanced PPC Contextual Advertising by David Szetela.
  3. Ads: Create ads based on your product or service, using the keywords from your search campaign.
  4. Set your daily budget.
  5. Edit Settings-Networks: Uncheck the Google search and Search network check boxes, check Content network and Content bids.
    Edit Google Campaign Settings.png
  6. Set your content network bid. Best to start higher and go lower as the campaign progresses rather than vice-versa to get the ball rolling. This bid should be based on your keywords/industry.
  7. Check your location targeting. The default is set to the entire US.
  8. Check your ad scheduling. The default is set to all times on all days. If you know you have peak hours or know that the traffic on weekends is lesser quality you’ll want to exclude or increase bids on those days or hours.
    Google AdWords- Ad Scheduling.png
  9. Change ad serving to “rotate,” the default setting is “optimize” which doesn’t help if you’re running an A/B test.
  10. Purely optional and a little more advanced: Using demographic bidding. If you know that your audience is primarily female, you can use this option to better target them. This will change the amount of your bids, based on percentages. Be advised of this if you use this option when setting your bids. You can also exclude a demographic in this option, by gender and by age.
    Google AdWords- Demographic Bidding

Be sure after a few days to start using the negative sites tool to filter out unwanted traffic from sites that don’t meet your needs. Sites that often drives lots of impressions, few clicks or clicks of a lesser quality: myspace. com,, So be watching for that!

Next time we’ll have more on optimizing a content network campaign, including (hopefully) more info on Google’s new “Advanced Content Network Option.”

tags : content networkgoogle content networkpay per clickppc


  1. Great article, Elizabeth – thanks for the mention!

  2. Depending on the demographic you want to target you might want to use myspace, but now you can get traffic with myspace through their own advertising. Thanks for the article btw it has been a great help.

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