Separating content ads and search ads into separate Google AdWords campaigns has the added benefit of clarifying the statistics Google provides. Consider this example when looking at the stats for two ad groups (AG #1 and AG #2) at the campaign level (combining separate campaign reports into one for comparison):




Ad Group Clicks Impr. CTR Avg. CPC Cost Avg. Pos
AG #1 1,550 103,785 1.4% $0.06 $92.89 7.8
AG #2 84 12,033 0.6% $0.16 $13.19 5.0

Keep in mind that Google determines the position of the ads based on a combination of the CPC (cost per click) bid and the CTR (click through rate). Examining the CTR is crucial to assessing how well an ad group is performing. Looking at these two ad groups it appears as though AG #2 is performing poorly when compared to AG #1. Since Google does not factor in the CTR of content ads when calculating the ranking of an ad for placement in search, this is misleading. Looking at the Google statistics at the ad group level reveals the confusion caused by mixing search ads and content ads in the same campaign:

AG #1 Clicks Impr. CTR Avg. CPC Cost Avg. Pos
Search Total 1,550 103,785 1.4% $0.06 $92.89 7.8
Content Total 0 0 - - - -

AG #2 Clicks Impr. CTR Avg. CPC Cost Avg. Pos
Search Total 81   5,993 1.3% $0.16 $12.68 5.9
Content Total 3   6,040 0.0% $0.17 $0.51 4.1

The CTR used by Google to calculate the search ad ranking for AG #2 is, in fact, 1.3% and not the 0.6% value seen when reviewing the campaign level report.

Combining the two types of ads means the CTR shown at that level is useless. Note that these are not fictitious reports. These are actual reports where only the ad group names have been altered.

In this case, the content ads are performing rather poorly and this skews the combined CTR that Google reports at the campaign level.

Also, suppose you're aiming to keep your ads in the top 5 spots for search results. Scanning the campaign report for the campaign that includes AG #2, you'd see the average position of 5.0 and leave the ad group intact. This, again, is misleading. Digging into the ad group report shows the search position is 5.9, not in the top 5. Clearly, separating content ads from search ads aids with interpreting the stats provided.

Plus, if you increased the bids to regain a top 5 listing, you'd be increasing your bids for content placement, as well. You might be content (no pun intended) with the 4.1 position for the content ad, so now you're paying more money when you don't need to. You have less control when combining ad types. Separating them into disparate campaigns provides control over bids, ad copy, keyword lists, makes the stats more clear and will, ultimately,

There's one other factor to consider: Google has introduced a "negative site feature" which only applies to campaigns opted into their content network. Because so many content ads do perform poorly, it's crucial to weed out content sites that do not work for your ads. Track Google content ad hits to your site and add those that don't perform well to the "Campaign Negative Sites" list for your content campaign.

When creating new Google AdWords advertising campaigns, take the time to create separate ad campaigns for content ads and search ads. For existing, combined ad campaigns, it's worth taking the time to replicate a campaign and set one for the content network and the other for the search network. You'll save time and money in the long run!

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
August 9, 2005

Richard Ball founded Apogee Web Consulting LLC, a full service search engine marketing firm, to help businesses succeed on the internet. Apogee Web Consulting provides strategic internet marketing services including pay per click advertising, search engine optimization and shopping search engine submission. All search engine marketing services begin with a foundation of keyword research and web log analysis. Use the company's free search engine marketing tools.

Prior to starting Apogee Web Consulting, Richard was a software developer for America Online. He has a degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT.

Search Engine Guide > Richard Ball > Mastering Google AdWords Marketing: Contextual Advertising - Part 2