Q&A – PPC Content Site Distribution on Google

As has been my theme lately, here is an inquiry of a client for whom we set up a basic PPC campaign for a short period. The client wanted us to help set it up and then they would manage it themselves. Here is a parting question of sorts:

1. I paused some of the lower performers today.
[Jon Payne] Excellent. This should improve your efficiency. PPC marketing is all about continually stopping whats not working and doing more of what is working.

2. I also decided to restrict the campaign to a smaller geographic region, composed of approx. a dozen eastern states instead of the entire USA. I believe this will give us significantly more frequent exposure in our choice markets, since I will maintain the same $X/day budget.
[Jon Payne] Yes that will do as you have intended. Granted, the number of states is not as important as the percentage of the US population they represent. Thus, if those dozen states happen to represent 70% of the US population than you should expect a proportional effect on your campaigns. There should also be demographic skews too towards where the higher income markets are – I would not expect Kentucky to bring you much traffic for “(high end search phrase here)” regardless of the state’s population. That said, I’m just going off a hunch there to illustrate the point.

3. Question: Do you think there is any merit to letting Google advertize on “content” sites?
[Jon Payne] This is always a tricky question. The answer is usually “maybe – test it out and see”. Generally speaking, I do not advise this for most of our clients – but your market/niche may be different. I’d say it works “okay” or “good” for 20% of businesses that try it, and not so well for the other 80%. (I may be a little too harsh here). Here is what I know to be true with the content site distribution in general:

  • expect significantly lower clickthrough rates on your ads
  • expect generally lower CPC (average cost per click) as many advertisers don’t do this, so the cost is lower b/c of less competition
  • in many markets this is where alot of “click fraud” occurs, from owners of the websites who click on the ads on their own site in order to make money (they get a piece of the ad revenue that Google makes through their site). this however is largely skewed towards high-competition, high-dollar search niches like online gambling, prescription drugs, class action and injury law, etc. i think you should not have too bad a fraud issue for your market.
  • key different is psychographic, searchers on Google are proactively looking for an architect right now. visitors on a content site are more passively looking at related information, and may not be as eager to check out your services. sort of the “buyers” versus “shoppers” effect, to over-analyze it.

As such, it depends on what you are measuring as performance. You will generally NOT see “success” if “success” is defined as CTR on each ad. It should not be defined as that however. You may well see some success in reaching some of those hard-to-reach individuals. I would suggest giving it a shot for a month and seeing.

If you do, definitely take advantage of the “enable seperate bids for content ads” and make you bids 50-75% of the bids you have for search ads. $1 goes a bit further (# of clicks/visitors) with content sites, in my experience.

…follow up…

Also note that you can run the content ads on specific sites and/or exclude specific sites. As such, if there are a few sites you specifically are interested in that run Google ads you can do just them, or you can run the ads, review your traffic and find any sites sending a lot of traffic that aren’t relevant sites and then specifically exclude them.