The Best Approach To Placement Targeting (If You Must…)

By Kaitlyn Smeland Dhanaliwala | Feb 12, 2009
More Articles by Kaitlyn

A number of our clients have, at one time or another, expressed an interest in running display ads on the Google AdWords content network.  In general, I am cautious in taking this approach.  But here are a few questions and caveats to go over with the client before embarking on a placement targeting campaign:

  • Is display advertising really a good channel for your business? Especially among e-retailers, sales are essential- the ultimate end goal.  While branding may play a big role in the promotion of higher-end luxury items (especially for national or global outlets), it is often secondary for smaller retailers who are merely trying to maintain a positive unit profit.  Placement targeting is largely a branding tool which can be run through an AdWords account, and it tends to result in much lower conversion rates than the Search Network.  Think about it- are you more likely to click and convert on a text ad on a SERP when you are in active search mode OR when you’re engrossed in an article on a blog and don’t necessarily want to be distracted?  Even Google recognizes branding as the primary benefit of advertising on the content network:

“With placement targeting, you can use various ad formats—such as image ads or video ads—to showcase your brand and engage visitors in different ways.”

  • Try Placement Targeting as a limited test before rolling it out across your account. This way, you’ll be able to “test the waters” to see if the placements you’ve chosen resonate with your target segment.  Which brings me to the next point…
  • Set up your Placement Targeting campaign carefully. There are a couple settings you really should concern yourself with before advertising.
  1. At the campaign level, under Edit Settings, check the box next to Content Network.  Then BE SURE to check the radio button next to “Relevant pages only on the placements I target.”  This way, your ad will only show on sites you choose beforehand, so you can cherry pick which sites you think will be most targeted to your audience.  (And who knows your target audience better than you, after all?)
  2. If you already have a successful campaign running on the Search Network, consider conducting the Placement Targeting through that campaign rather than creating a new campaign devoid of any keywords.  Including keywords in your Placement-targeted campaign will force the system to only show your ads on eligible sites whose content matches (according to Google) your specified keywords.  This adds another level of control which will hopefully narrow your audience further.

  • In choosing placements, use the tools! There are a couple tools out there to help you take the guesswork out of actually selecting placements.
  1. Within the AdWords account, you can click the Placements tab of any given ad group and then select “Find and Add Placements.”  The Placement Tool will then allow you to search for placements (i.e.- individual sites on which your ads may show) based on URL, subject category, demographic, or topics.  Some placements only allow certain ad formats or sizes, so be sure to make sure you keep in mind the type of ads you plan on running.
  2. The Google Ad Planner is a tool that helps you in “media planning,” including the process of researching placements on the content network.  The main feature the Ad Planner has over the Placement Tool inside the AdWords interface is that it allows you to search for sites using multiple dimensions.  There are more demographic dimensions of differentiation in the Ad Planner, including Education level, household income, and whether there are children in the household.  In the Ad Planner, Google even attempts to define various psychographic profiles.  Most importantly, you can apply more than one rule to each search.  It’s a bit more dynamic thatn merely using the Placement Tool.

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