Increase ROI: Google Performance Placement Reports

As an advertiser, you’re always looking for perfect insight into how well your Google content ad campaigns are performing. With the Placement Performance report, you can further fine-tune your content campaigns to make sure you’re getting the most out of your ads.

Regular readers of this column should now be a whiz at advertising on the Google AdWords’ PPC (define) content network. We’ve created targeted ad groups and effective ads. Today, it’s time to look at our report card.

Instead of grades, you’ll see where Google has chosen to display your content ads. That alone is a gold mine of information, but the report also includes almost all of the performance data that you get in keyword reports.

To run a Placement Performance report (PPR), simply choose Reports and Create Reports from the AdWords Web interface, and then select Placement Performance from the list of Report Types. You can then choose the level of detail to include — choose Ad Group if you have more than one content ad group per campaign, or Campaign if you have only one ad group per any number of campaigns.

You can also choose to view just the domain name of the site displaying your ads, or the exact URL of each page displaying the ad. My suggestion: choose just the domain names, since interpreting performance data will be easier.

You can choose any time interval — but keep in mind that Google started accumulating placement data June 1, so you won’t be able to generate reports for any dates prior to that.

Underneath the Date Range setting, you’ll see an option to report on all campaigns and ad groups, or to select specific ones. You can choose any campaign, even though only content campaigns will be reported on.

After generating a PPR report, you’ll notice that you have a list of all sites where your ads are appearing. Ignore the rows containing the words “Domain” and “Error page” for now.

Focus on the valuable performance data for each domain: number of impressions, number of clicks, average CPC (define), average CPM (define), total cost for the time period specified, and (if you’re tracking conversion data — which you should), number of conversions, conversion rate, and cost per conversion. Great stuff!

First thing to check: the length of the domain list. The optimal number of sites will vary depending on the specificity of your ad/product/offer.

Here’s a rule of thumb: if the number of sites is small — say, fewer than 10 — then your content campaign is probably targeted too narrowly. Try using fewer negative keywords, or increase your ad group’s bid price to merit appearing on more sites.

More commonly, the list of domains will be very long — from dozens of sites to hundreds. Often this means your ads are appearing on many inappropriate sites — ones with subject matter that bears no relation to your ad/product/service.

This is bad news. The main reason that content campaigns perform so poorly in terms of poor CTRs (define) and conversion rates is because advertiser ads wind up displayed on inappropriate sites.

Most often this phenomenon occurs because advertisers use the same keyword lists for their content ad groups as they do for their search ad groups — a definite “worst practice.” If your PPR report list is still too long, there’s a way you can weed out poorly-performing sites: Google’s Site Exclusion tool.

Next week: advice on this powerful capability, and more on how to extract valuable info from PPR.

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