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Getting Traffic From Contextual Ads

This is a transcript of the live session in San Jose, August 20, 2007. Subject to typographical errors.

Getting Traffic From Contextual Ads
You know about search targeted listings, where your ad shows up based on the keywords someone enters into a search engine. But what about contextual ads, where paid listings show up based on the content of what someone is reading? Programs exist to let you easily move search ads into a contextual environment. But should you? This session offers tips and advice for those coming at these offerings from a search marketing perspective.






This is a transcript of the live session in San Jose, August 20, 2007. Subject to typographical errors.


Anton Konikoff:


Keywords are the direct proxy for customer needs. It”s the key to marketing to them effectively. Decode the intent behind the keyword, and create powerful marketing messages.


Common ways in which people behave online: Informational, We click on links that contain keywords, look for keyword matches in written content using keywords.


Demos site about Pink Floyd. Shows how the engine scans the page and finds ad matches. Sometimes theres a clear match, sometimes they fall short. Shows a news article that has a mix of relevant and irrelevant ads. Pages that are up longer, Google can understand better and serve better ads. News has harder time since its fresh content.


Contextual does not work as well as search is the most common understand. Why should we play in contextual? Contextual ads give us another layer of customer intelligence, and target them better. We know where the ad appears, so we can understand the meaning behind a word and target customers much better. Context has 2 components :verbal context, and social context. Same content but audience is different. The context in which the ads appear redefines the messaging.


When is contextual appropriate? There is only so much affordable inventory of keywords. Contextual expands that universe. Broader reach. Great for awareness building. Millions of free impressions in many cases, and only pay for clicks. Tremendous exposure for branding but also good for direct response. Also a vehicle to supercharge a press release. When ads get syndicated, your ads will be next to your releases. Helps also exclude competitors targeting the words.


In aggregate, 40% of traffic to Acronym clients sites comes from contextual. Some countries its up to 90%. It”s all about the broad reach. Other providers are Industry Brains, Quigo, Pulse 360, Ask, ContextWeb, and Vibrant Media are the leaders. Look at the providers beyond Google and Yahoo that can get you on unique sites and also great value.


Most campaigns target on an ad group level. Important to be very granular. Use few keywords – tight keyword groups. Use exact and phrase match frequently. Always track contextual seperate from search campaigns.


Keyword choices for contextual – use paid search terms that are getting good results. Also must use negative keywords to be more relevant. Excluding sites is also very important. Day-parting, and ad copy – also essential. Ad copy is more essential. Can use all types of media – rich media, banners, video, flash, etc.


In the contextual world, people tend to be in the beginning of the buying stage. Use different creatives within the same campaign. Search – can still appear high up without paying so much. On contextual, theres less real estate. Once your in the blocks – the actual position makes less difference than on the search side – in his opinion.


For Adsense, key is relevancy on the adgroup level, not the keyword level. Quality score is relevant to position – CTR is not as relevant whether you will appear on other sites.


Always a risk of ads appearing next to less than favorable content. His client – Four Seasons is so protective of brand, will not play in contextual space. Doesn”t want to cheapen brand.


Click fraud is always an issue. Some say more in contextual space.


Understand how contextual programs work. Sign up as a publisher – join Adsense, and experiment. Learn all the options and tools available to publishers.


How do you measure success? Same metrics – CPA. But CTR is irrelevant! Not looking to increase CTR. Yes its good for ad position, but not a good metric to compare to search. Look at above the fold impressions.


Lora Parker:


Yahoo: Over 90% of time online is not on a search engine. How do we target them while they are gaming, emailing, outside of search? Content is a great way to do it.


Case Study: Electronics Global Brand – Ecommerce. Goal was to drive sales through contextual. Took all search keywords vs. contextual to see how they would play. 5% of budget was allocated to test. Heavy on brand keywords. Results – 25% higher ROAS than search. 8% of total revenue. Exception case.


Next client, Education client. Very competitive. Not a brand known client. Goal was lead generation. Top keywords on search and launched on content. 1% was used as a test. 50% lower conversion rate than search – but expected – different stage of cycle. Also, seasonal – so launched during peak season.


Financial Services Client – well known brand. Goal to drive leads at < $30. Launched with all keywords. After 2 weeks, optimized campaign. 10% of budget. Results – 18% new customers via contextual vs. 23% search. A successful campaign, and continues to run.


Retail: Used many brand keywords. 5% of budget allocated. Saw impressions increase 4X, Clicks up by 15%, store locator hits increased by 15%. Campaign ROAS was not met, so discontinued program.


Software: Goal, drive downloads. Launched with all brand terms. 10% budget allocated. Didn”t meet goals on ROAS, but downloads increased.


Travel: Very competitive space, goals – traffic and sales. Tested across all categories – air, travel, package deals. Optimize after 1 week. 10% allocated. Conversion rate was lower, but CPC was much lower than search. Content is on, but with top performing categories – Air.

Results. Converion rate 30% lower, but lower CPCs. Set expectations first. Again, different state of buying cycle. Great to be in content match because get many impressions. TEST TEST TEST keywords. Start with brands and high converting non brand terms. Optimize landing pages. And it”s more than just Google! On average 5-10% of budget is allocated to Content Match.

Gopi Kallayil:


$3.3 billion dollars shared to Publishers on Adsense. There must be value in continuing spending. Daily basis you should measure ROAS and optimize it.

Why he likes Contextual Advertising: Tells story about potwashing faucets. Had a project on this topic. Needed to do research on it. So went to a Potwashing faucet site, and next to that were ads from manufacturers and an add from an installer. When looking at a topic, you have a few seconds of awareness and receptive to certain messages. Beauty of contextual. Again, only 5% of time is spent on search. 35% of time spend reading online articles and topics. Another story about BIRD DIAPERS. Knows a couple who came up with this product. Ran ads for such an obscure market. People come back to same sites on topics, and if you can target them, contextual advertising allows you to find that unique 500 people that you can target.

Natalla Menezes:

MSN content ads currently in pilot. Primarily pages owned by MSN.

Key is price. Multiple controls to set price at keyword level or Adword level. Network is expanding. Also offers reporting on how ads are performing. Separate content and search stats. The true differentiater is building a quality network. First time giving advertisers option to advertise on MSN without banners which is super expensive. Also focused on ROI focused reporting. Deliver for advertisers qauality results – sometimes contextual has outperformed search. Verticals spent time on are technology, finance, and health care.

Product launches next week – all Adcenter adgroups will have content match. Can opt out. Still in BETA because still diversifiying and expanding inventory. Questions –


Chris Boggs: We”ve all experience content match turned on with Adwords and losing money. Why is MSN opt out and not opt in? And also, Google – will the content match be on by default for along time?

Natalla: They see it as a critical component of what online advertising is about. Had internal debates.

Gopi: Control is key. The whole industry is changing to be more targetted, also transparency – knowing where ads are going.

Rand Fishkin: Natalla- will I see the URL if I log into Adcenter?

Natalla: Everyone will get an email, also on the blog.

Rand Fishkin: Are conversions better on MSN content like on MSN search?

Natalla: Performance has been awesome and now it”s cheap./

Rand Fishkin: How representative are the numbers you shown. Do you have an option.

Anton: The averaqe is meaningless. Depends on the client. Key is smart management.

Avi Wilensky: Can you share some big publishers that have joined the network off the MSN domain?

Natalla: Facebook, Digg, but mostly MSN properties.

Avi Wilensky: Will site targetting be supported at launch, or is a future upgrade?

Natalla: A future upgrade as the network grows, probably this fall.

Sessions ends with click fraud discussions.

[tags]Contextual ads, SES San Jose, Search Engine Strategies, SES, AdSense, YPN[/tags]

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