Search engine marketing is on the rampage with more and more companies aggressively bidding on highly targeted keywords and more and more Google shareholders laughing all the way to the bank. And within the great algorithmic confines of SEM one can find the great Google Display Network – an interconnected system of millions of pages offering up lucrative advertising space to both nascent and established brands.
Now, contextual advertising has been around for a little under a decade and most companies that maintain a presence on the web are keenly aware of its potential. However, despite the rapidly escalating competition and prices, contextual advertising still offers a great deal of exposure to the savvy marketer who knows how to find a niche.
To gain a better grasp of contextual advertising, you will need to understand three key concepts.
The Content Network
Contextual advertising is displayed on a vast number of websites and collectively, these sites are called the content network. If you’re using Google’s AdSense advertising system, then the Google Display Network is where your ads are going to be served.
This is a free, automated feature that helps reduce the maximum pay-per-click bids for particular pages within the Google Display Network. Smart pricing works on a continuous basis, analyzing keywords and key phrases, a given website’s history of conversions, the type of site where the ad was displayed and multiple other factors. This information is then woven together within a complex algorithm to determine how well your ad will perform on the corresponding site. This performance evaluation in turn determines the discount on the maximum bid.
PPC vs. CPM
In the world of contextual advertising there exist two kinds of pricing models – pay-per-click (PPC) and cost-per-mille (CPM).
- PPC is fairly self-explanatory. You pay a specified amount for every time that a user clicks on your ad. When using this model, marketers can bid on the placements of their ads, with higher bids given priority placement on a website.
- With CPM, on the other hand, you pay for every thousand times (mille) your ad is displayed on the network. This model is a great way to develop large scale brand awareness since it’s cheaper than PPC and generates lots of visibility for your product.
Now, if you’re looking to break into the world of contextual advertising, the following tips should help you avoid most of the pitfalls that plague beginners, while allowing you develop an effective campaign that drives in a respectable number of conversions.
1. Divide Your Campaigns!
Create separate ad groups for contextual ads. That means you don’t use the same ad groups for your search ads. Why? Because search ads are more expensive.
2. Analyze Your Audience!
When targeting a specific demographic, conduct a thorough study on their internet usage habits. Armed with this data you can now set your ads to run during time slots where internet usage among your demographic is at its peak. You can also deliver targeted messages and offers which, when properly timed, can substantially grow your brand image and increase overall conversions.
3. Use Multimedia!
Take a long, hard look at your competition and consider their contextual ads. Try and find a way to make your ads stronger both in terms of keyword selection and creativity. Remember that among the morass of contextual ads out there, you really have to stand out. Consider using customer testimonials, capitalized text and powerful offers to boost your click-through-rates.
5. Try Long Tail Marketing!
Try to target keywords that aren’t being used as aggressively by your competitors. This means you won’t be paying as much per click, while still generating a healthy online presence. You can develop this strategy even further by taking a long tail marketing approach.
What is long tail marketing? This is the practice of grouping together large numbers of infrequently used keywords to capture neglected segments of the market. These segments in totality represent a huge sector and if managed successfully can result in excellent brand exposure. Long tail marketing, in particular, has great potential when it comes to acquiring late-cycle, mature leads.
6. Broaden Your Lists!
When creating a list of keywords for your campaign, try creating a broad, thematic list instead of using synonyms or approximations of a few words. This is necessary because contextual advertising works by scanning pages for similar content and not exclusively by matching keywords. A list of synonymous keywords is will mean your ad is displayed only on websites that specialize in the aspect of your field that the key word corresponds to. A thematic list, however, is likely to get you onto pages where your entire field is represented, helping you reach out to a broader swathe of customers.
7. Selectively Exclude!
Negative keywords are useful when you’re engaged in search marketing, however, when it comes to contextual ads, you’ll want to do things a little differently. Diligently track your responses and CTR, and you’ll find that some sites will boost your conversion rates while other will merely increase advertising expenditure with fruitless clicks. Instead of running up large negative keyword lists, consider excluding the worst performing websites from your campaign.
If you’ve assimilated everything in this article, you should be well on your way to creating a powerful contextual advertising strategy. However, the internet is constantly evolving and you need to apply that same sense of dynamism and fluidity to your own marketing outlook.
Remember to use your tracking tools to determine trends and performance, and tweak your tactics accordingly.
Next week we’ll delve into creating a strategy to get the most out of your sponsored listings and search ad campaigns.