Hosting ads through Google's content network has always been an excellent way to increase impression counts. If the main goal of a Paid Search campaign is to gain impressions, then using the various contextual networks is certainly a consistent method. However, many marketers have become aware that the Content network carries with it a risk of fraud, as well as a difficulty in determining exactly where advertisements appear.
A recent thread at Search Engine Watch forums starts with Moderator "Discovery" asking
Since google cloaks all their partners in their content network and your referrer logs will only show something like pagead2.googlesyndication.com what methods are you using to identify good and bad content partners on Google?he goes on later in the thread to explain that
Bottom line, I think we all want more transparency into the networks.
So how are people trying to identify where their ad appears? The use of referral logs seems to work in some cases, but cannot always identify the sites. Analyzing this chunk of data is probably useful. One member claims they have automated the process of tracking referrals, although I personally would wonder how much value this brings...it seems as if they are simply copying referral reports to a spreadsheet for analysis, which is obviously something that can be done fairly easily. However, the member claims additional benefits:
we just send you some code to put on your site and it will track the referring sites for you in an easy to use report so you can see/slice/dice/exclude. the best part of it will be seeing what our other customers think about a certain referring site to let you know if it should be excluded or not...even if that particular site has never sent you traffic before.
It will be interesting to see if this plays out. There are some other good ideas in the thread so far, but please head over to Search Engine Watch Forums to add your own!