Content Advertising Best Practices in Action

This week I’ll provide an example of a content campaign (ads and keyword lists) that demonstrates the “best practices” described in previous installments of this column.

First, though, there are some new guidelines from Google’s Inside AdWords blog regarding content advertising (we’ve included the post in our Clix Marketing blog). Though the latest blog post repeats advice already covered here, a few new items are noteworthy:

  • Keyword limitations. Previously Google advised advertisers to limit their content ad groups to 20 to 50 keywords (define). Now they’re saying 15 to 30 keywords. Our advice: stay on the small side.
  • Duplicate keywords are OK. In other words, unlike search campaigns, it’s fine to use the same keyword in multiple ad groups. Remember, you’re not really bidding on keywords, your ad group is evaluated as a whole — keywords and ad text — and assigned a theme (see: “How Google, Yahoo Content Ad Matching Really Works”).
  • Use several negative keywords. Google says, “If a page is principally about your positive keywords, but mentions a few negative keywords, then your ad may still appear on this page.” So go overboard with negatives — for example, include both the singular and plural forms of nouns.

There are other recommendations in the blog post, but we’ll cover those in more detail in future columns on gathering data and reporting on content advertising performance.

Now back to sample content campaigns. The ad group below, advertising glamorous clothing for dogs and cats, demonstrates some of the principles described in previous columns.

Have a Fashionable Pet?
Make Your Dog or Cat the Envy of
Other Pets. Download Free Catalog!

Ad Copy

The ad text needs to distract the site visitor’s attention from the site’s content, which we’ve done in the ad above by using an emotion-charged word, “envy,” and another word that attracts the eye, “free.”

Note also that we’ve acknowledged the fact that, unlike in search, ad readers can’t be assumed to be in active buying mode — they’re not even in research mode. The goal of the ad is not to make a sale — it’s to get potential buyers started by taking the simple action of downloading a catalog.

Keyword Set

In content campaigns, you’re not bidding on individual keywords; the keywords work in aggregate (and in combination with the ad group’s ad text) to “steer” the content matching algorithms (define) to place your ads on appropriate/relevant sites. The algorithms do this by trying to match your ad group’s “theme” to a finite, known list of themes.

As mentioned in last week’s column, we’ve collected Google’s list in a document you can download here.

The list shows that there is an obvious theme for our ad, “animals,” as well as three sub-themes: “pets,” “veterinarians,” and “wildlife.” Under the pets sub-theme, there are two sub-sub-themes: “exotic pets” and “pet food & supplies.”

Our keyword list must contain keywords that persuade the content match algorithms to place our ads on relevant site pages that pertain to dogs and cats as pets, but not place them on pages related to pets that aren’t cats or dogs, or pet food and supplies.

So the list of keywords is simple and straightforward:

  • accessories
  • apparel
  • cat
  • cats
  • clothes
  • clothes for dogs
  • clothing
  • clothing for dogs
  • collar
  • collars
  • dog
  • dogs
  • pet
  • pets
  • sweater
  • sweaters
  • animal
  • animals

Remember: match type is irrelevant in content keyword lists, so all keywords are broad-match.

Negative Keywords

These “tell” the content matching algorithms that, even if it “finds” pages that contain the words above, it should not display ads on pages containing the keywords below. This list ensures, for example, that ads don’t appear on sites that are the reading destination of people who raise pet mice, reptiles or fish, or by people interested in wildlife or pet medicines. It also works to keep ads off site pages designed for people interested in clothing for boys, girls, women, or men.

  • veterinarians
  • wildlife
  • medicine
  • food
  • foods
  • supplies
  • exotic
  • reptile
  • reptiles
  • mouse
  • mice
  • hamster
  • hamsters
  • parakeet
  • parakeets
  • bird
  • birds
  • tropical fish
  • fish
  • women
  • men
  • boy
  • girl

By now you’re getting the picture — and appreciating how different from each other content and search ad groups need to be.

Next week we’ll start with another example, this time for a B2B product/service.

If you took my advice and turned off your content campaigns a few weeks ago — you’re now equipped to create new ones that will finally perform — have at it! I’d love to hear about your content campaign successes — so write to me.

Related reading

Simple Share Buttons