Google AdWords Series: Ad Placements You Might not Know about

Basically, there are three campaign types in Google AdWords: Search and Display Networks, Search Network only and Display network only. Even as a beginner, you will have a general idea where your ads appear in each campaign type (in the search results and/or on matching websites). However, there are some other ad placements that are not so obvious.

  • Google Instant/ Google Suggest. When someone starts typing a search phrase, Google suggests variants for this phrase, e.g. “buy flowers… ” gets suggestions for “buy flowers online”, “buy flowers near me”, etc. First case: the user selects one of the suggested phrases (“buy flowers online”) and presses Enter. Your ad will appear if you bid for “buy flowers online”.  Second case: the user types in “buy flowers” and pauses for a short while. In this case, your add will appear if you bid for “buy flowers”. Third case: the user types the search term differently, e.g. “buy flours”, which gets auto corrected, and your add will appear if you bid for “buy flowers”.
  • Google Search Network sites. These may include local search engines, such web.de, or even personal websites. (“Search powered by Google”)
  • Parked domains. These are undeveloped Web pages or domain names that are no longer hosting a Web page. Google may classify them as Search Network or a Display Network sites and thus show your ads on these parked domains.
  • Error pages (such as 404 error pages). Some of them may also show ads (instead of Display Network sites) if they are recognized as relevant by AdSense for Errors.
  • Google Sites – for Display Network. These include YouTube, Blogger, etc. sites. Remember that you can choose contextual targeting (websites on a certain topic), managed placements (certain websites) or filter by audience (e.g. people who have already visited your site).
  • In mobile apps. This is available if you had selected this option for your Display campaign. In other words, adverts can appear both in mobile browsers and in apps which are part of the Google Display Network.

It is important to know where your ads may appear, because you may want to evaluate how the ads perform in this case or even exclude some of these placements from your campaign.

Google AdWords

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Google AdWords Series: Understanding Location Settings

As Google is strengthening the location factor in its search algorithms, location targeting remains extremely important for managing AdWords campaigns as well.

As Google is strengthening the location factor in its search algorithms, location targeting remains extremely important for managing AdWords campaigns as well.

Location targeting increases the ROI of your advertisement, by showing the ads only to the people who can be your potential customers and possibly will have a genuine interest in your product or service based on the geographical proximity.

Location targeting

You can set your target goals on the basis of

a) countries

b) areas within a country

c) radius of a location.

More advanced campaign management allows including or exclude the locations based on several additional factors:

a) enclosing locations (areas larger than your target locations)

b) related locations (e.g. having a similar name)

c) nearby locations.

Another special feature is airport targeting, that allows you to target people located in some 300 airports around the world surfing on their mobile devices while waiting for a plane.

User location identification

It is of primary importance to understand how location targeting actually functions in AdWords.

Here is a list of factors considered by Google to determine if an ad should be shown for a search term or on display network:

  • Location interest (only for the same country), this will be explained in more detail below
  • Google domain. e.g.  Google.fr or Google.de
  • IP adress
  • The location of the user in Google Profiles, if signed in
  • Google search history
  • For mobile ads, the location is additionally determined on the basis of GPS, Wi-Fi, Google’s cell ID data

By default, Google includes not just the people located in the target location, but also searching for products or services in the target location. E.g. if you are based in Berlin and look for shoe stores in Munich, ads by Munich advertisers will appear, though they might not have set Berlin as their target location.

As it has been mentioned above, this does not work between the countries, so you will not see ads by Parisian shoe stores if you are in Berlin and look for shoe stores in Paris, unless a French store specifically targets Berlin.  The only exception is if you actually get on Google.fr to conduct your search, as the domain “signals” the country you are interested in, as well as the language you want your search results to be displayed in.

However, for most campaigns advanced location options are available, which allows you to tune in your advertising by excluding either people not physically located in your target area or not searching for (search campaigns) or looking at pages about (display campaigns) your target area.

Optimizing AdWords location settings

As always in online marketing, make sure to monitor how your current location settings perform and optimize them incrementally.

The following can be done to optimize your location settings

a) find out which locations perform better than others

b) assign more budget and increase the bids for better performing locations to attract more traffic

c) write customized ads and create landing pages for your most profitable locations, and even think how you may “localize” your offer to better match the customers’ needs.

All in all, understanding how location targeting works will lead to better campaign customization and higher conversions for your ads.

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How to Create a Banner that Performs

Improving the look and the position of your banner may improve the overall performance and increase the profitability of your campaigns.

Display advertisement is often considered unprofitable due to high cost and low CTR (click-through-rate). However, improving the look and the position of your banner may improve the overall performance and increase the profitability of your campaigns.

1. Banner position.
The best position is close to the user’s eye path, that is to what a user is looking for on the page. E.g. an order confirmation, a product description, a sign-up form. Banners placed outside the main structural blocks of the page will probably not be noticed. In fact, users have learned to filter and ignore the parts of the web page typically occupied by banners (the top and the right-hand side of the page).

Banners placed on the side of the page vertically typically get half of the clicks that the banners placed horizontally do even if they are placed on the same level.

If a user has to scroll to view the banner, this reduces the CTR  drastically, so avoid placing the banner at the bottom of a longer page, unless the user normally has to scroll to the end of the page (e.g. when reading an article).

Surrounding banners, graphics and text also have a direct impact on your CTR. Experience shows that a user normally skims through blocks of content, thus grouping parts a web page together. If your banner is placed beneath or next to a bulky blinking ad, the user will often dismiss  both your banner and the ad as one content block that is of no interest to him/her.

2. Banner design.
Recent studies prove that a banner that matches the overall design of the page (i.e. uses similar colors, fonts, spacing, etc.) performs better than a banner that is a contrasting or exceptional element to the page design. My experience shows that the following elements have practically no positive impact on the CTR: moving or blinking elements, pictures of objects or people, logos, colorful backgrounds, flash animation, etc. However, consider the whole of the user journey on the website, if a graphical element, e.g. an icon, appears several times on different pages of a website, consider implementing it on your banner.

3. Banner text.
Here be specific about what your offer is. Provide the benefit the user will get from clicking on the banner in a wording that is suitable for the audience you are trying to reach. Banner title is the most important part of the banner text, often the only part of the text that actually gets read. Make sure that it captures the attention of the user, without exaggerating what you actually offer.

4. Call to action.
Make your call to action the most prominent element of the banner. Be very brief and precise about the action the user needs to take (“receive your free copy”, “register now”, “proceed to the checkout”). It is always good to make the CTR button three-dimensional and/or contrasting to the main palette.

5. A/B tests.
These recommendations are of general character and will not necessarily work on any page and for any product being advertised. Consider running some A/B or even multivariant tests in order to find out what actually performs best, both in terms of CTR and how profitable and qualified the incoming leads are.

banner example

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