Redfly Online Marketing, Dublin, Ireland

AdWords Content Exclusion (beta) – A First Look

Yesterday, AdWords pushed out what seems to be a very limited beta tool to some AdWords advertisers. From managing quite a few accounts for quite a few clients in different countries, it would appear that this beta tool is not country limited but account size limited (I may be wrong).This tool is available in four of our client accounts that just so happen to be our four largest accounts, measuring that in volume of keywords and monthly spend. Seeing there is very little information on the various industry blogs and forums about this, I have been asked to post some screenshots and a brief walk through of the new beta tool. Enjoy!

When I first logged in this morning to do the morning account checks, I noticed the following message in the AdWords campaign dashboard:

1) Campaign Selection.
Content Exclusion Beta? Sounds interesting! I am a huge fan of the AdWords content network. The ROI from content network campaigns can be many times that of the search network if done right and is a fantastic way to source private advertising deals. I asked one particularly generous client if we could test the new tool and she graciously agreed. This client has allowed us to test every single new tool that Google has released for advertisers with complete free reign, so I was very grateful. The initial screen allows us to select which campaign we would like to work with. Fortunately, we separate all our content network and search network campaigns.

2) Site Exclusion Tab.
After about ten seconds analyzing the campaign, the content exclusion tool came back and offered us three tabs. The first tab, the site exclusion tab offered us a list of sites to pick from and exclude. What is interesting here is that only 24 sites were offered for exclusion and no data was provided as to why these particular sites were presented. As I am the account manager for this particular account, I can tell you now that the sites listed here are all poor performers. What is even more interesting is that all but three of these sites were already excluded using the site exclusion tool. Some feedback was promptly sent to Google regarding this. For those who do not regularly run placement performance reports, this would appear to be a wonderful time saver.

3) Topics Exclusion Tab.
Next up was the topics exclusion tab. Now it’s starting to get really interesting. When running a large campaign, it is almost impossible to go through every page and domain listed in large placement performance reports and visit each site to check the content. In fact, the only time we actually visit the site is when there is a large enough sample size with at lease some medium-poor conversion data. I have no idea how Google groups adsense advertisers accurately into topics considering you can use adsense on multiple sites once your initial site has been approved.

3) Page Types Tab.
The final tab is the page types tab. This is probably the most interesting and from reading the AdWords feature request forum threads on webmasterworld, one of the most requesed features. This tab lets you exclude a variety of “types” of pages your content network ads will appear on. The most notable here are domain ads and error page ads. Many advertisers have been crying out to exclude these types of pages from their content network campaigns and their prayers are finally being answered. The other types of exclusion are of the social networking and media sharing sites. From managing this particular campaign, I can tell you that social networks such as MySpace and video sharing sites such as YouTube, are without a doubt, the worst performers. Domain Ads and Error Page Ads are by far the best performers (See below).

Be Careful!
Loren Baker makes a very important point over at search engine journal about using this tool and I would like to add further to it. Just because the “general consensus” is that certain pages, topics and sites perform poorly doesn’t make it true in every industry. For example, many advertisers claim that Domain Ads and Error page ads perform worst for them. A quick placement performance report on this campaign for the past two weeks shows a different story:

Conclusion.
My initial impressions of the new Content Exclusion Beta tool are pretty good. It is great to see Google taking feedback (Thanks AdWordsAdvisor!) from real AdWords users and implementing the requested features. While this tool is a very handy “overview” tool it is absolutely no substitute for running regular placement performance reports, using statistically valid sample sizes and making good decisions based on that data weather or not to exclude a site from your content network campaigns. I think this new visibility will allow more advertisers make better content network choices and force publishers to create better content to entice advertisers. It is still a little early to tell, but I think this tool will produce some decent results. I’ll keep you posted with the results we get over the coming weeks.

The only thing missing from this new tool in my opinion is search network partners data. While I am aware this is a content network specific tool, it would still be nice to have. Diorex has a wonderful post on this new AdWords transparency where he states:

“Bottom line – the more segmentation and options you give sophisticated buyers, the more they will spend with you. I will spend it in different ways and in different places within the network based upon my conversions, but in the long run it will help Google earn more from me.”

I couldn’t agree more. All in all, I applaud Google for the new tool and their steps to improving advertisers control and experience. Way to go Google!