The Mysterious Black Holes of the Content Network

Once upon a time, the Content Network seemed eternally damned to represent hundreds of thousands of impressions, a few too many hundred clicks, no sales or leads and no idea where in the universe your ads were showing up. I used to just opt out the content network every time since it just seemed to suck up dollars into the black depths of the intranet, never to be seen again.

Then Google AdWords came through and provided transparency into the content network. (Since I don’t advertise ring tones, My Space bling or temporary tattoos, I never thought that I would use the content network again.) Yet here I sit today with profitable content network campaigns and no tattoos! Effectively blocking impression generating and budget eating black holes, seeing exactly what sites are bringing sales, budgeting appropriately and enjoying some very low cpcs.

Alas, not all search engines are built alike. Though Yahoo’s Sponsored Search content match is not nearly as ad serving happy and it is now currently offering blocked domains to help filter out those unwanted social network related impressions. But in order to figure out which domains to block, they advise you to “review the data from your web server logs, account reports and other account data.” So if you don’t access to those, hours in which to look through them or that Sherlock Holmes personality, you’ll just have to take your chances or opt out.

The limit of domains that can be blocked is 250 and if you wanted a list of websites associated with Yahoo as a content partner, well forget about it. “…we do not make available a list of all Yahoo! distribution partners—there are simply too many, plus the list is ever-changing.” Still better than nothing….I guess.

Because In steps MSN AdCenter! Ah, the content network bane of my existence. Just the other day I had an account come up with 231,000 impressions on the content network, 61,000 in one day on a single keyword. Previous history on that keyword was 6,000 impressions for an entire month. So curious that it’s popularity spiked the way it did…I called MSN.

Thank goodness there weren’t click throughs to match, because no one really wants to sit around and wait for the click fraud to happen. Then go through the wonderful refund process that MSN has. The MSN representative was very friendly, but was unable to help me in any way. Why? Because according to the rep, they have no way of knowing which site or sites caused the very large spike in traffic. So MSN doesn’t even know where they’re showing ads?

Or is it that they know, but won’t tell me? Either way, it’s no way to run a business. “Please give us your money so that we can have it to keep and in return we’ll let your ad show up somewhere at sometime.” I was promised that my ads must be showing up on a content relevant site, to which brought about a hornet’s nest of an argument I didn’t want to take out on the rep.

Instead I followed his advice and filled out the tiny little feedback form at the bottom of every MSN AdCenter page. I assure you, it was a PG-13 rant.

Bottom Line: Content Networks can be profitable! Block, bid and banish appropriately! Keep the maintenance time minimal and watch those impressions!

Start call to action

See how Portent can help you own your piece of the web.

End call to action


  1. As much as I would like to absolve Google of all wrong-doing in this matter, I still get a huge chunk of opaque data every time I run a Placement Report and see “Domain Ads” with the most impressions/clicks.
    That’s about as useful as the “35 other queries” stat in my Search Query Performance reports.

  2. True, the 100+ “unique queries” can be rather annoying, but I’ll take that over “I don’t know where your ads are ma’am” anyday.

Comments are closed.

Close Mobile Menu Button
Close search overlay