Getting Traffic from Contextual Ads

Aug 20, 2007 - 3:23 pm 1 by

Getting Traffic from Contextual Ads

Moderated by Misty Locke of Range Online Media

Anton Konikoff from Acronym Media. He will introduce his company’s “Keyword-Driven Marketing” (Trademarked term) strategy briefly. The keyword-driven marketplace involves four areas: searching for information using keywords; clicking on hyperlinks that contain keywords, looking for keyword matches within content; and creating/writing content using keywords. He describes the process of how contextual advertising works. The engine scans a page, interprets content, and serves the most relevant ad. He is a Pink Floyd fan, and uses the example of and the ads displayed via Google AdSense on the right, which are Pink Floyd-related. He then shows an example where back pain ads show up on a page with an article about the recent mortgage crisis – so the system is not yet perfect.

He shows another example from Industry Brains with pretty relevant ads. What excites him about contextual marketing? It is powerful and complex. There is a perception that contextual placements are less targeted and less effective than query-driven ads. He feels that these types of ads give another layer to customer understanding. A “unique layer of customer intelligence and pragmatic competence (understanding the intended meaning), which help to ascertain intent.

So the meaning in context can be both verbal and social…it is important to understand that this “social identity” exists and target accordingly. So, when to use contextual? To get around the search inventory issue. To build awareness. (If CPC, you get millions of free impressions). Also perfect for direct response. There is a flexibility with CPOM, CPC, and CPA pricing models. He advocates using supercharged press releases with a particular keyword, which will then lead to your own ads being served alongside of the content once syndicated. This can help block your competitors from appearing next to it instead.

He will skip over some of the sample contextual providers. He briefly explains how publishers opt in to using contextual ads within AdWords/AdSense. He suggests engaging alternative contextual vendors such as industry brains, Quigo, Pulse 360, contextWeb, Vibrant Media. He says you have to use these and not only the “big ones.”

A contextual campaign architecture should be built on as granular a basis as possible. Include few keywords in each ad group to allow for easier tracking. Use exact and phrase match options frequently, and always separate search from contextual campaigns. Track on a site level when possible, add parameter: “&site= {placement}”

Choosing keywords- you get better targeting through careful keyword selection. Leverage your best converting PPC terms. Utilize alternative channels for additional market intelligence. Remember to use negative keywords and site-exclusion./ If you gain a level of intelligence regarding which sits do not perform, get them off. There also needs to be a creative differentiation – ad copy must be more persuasive and really have to stand out.. People that are likely to view contextual ads may not be as far along in the buying cycle – they may be only at the awareness stage. Recommends customizing ads based on site types – use a tight audience focus versus general interest.

The importance of top positions. Most publishers only allow two slots, so it is very important to bid into the top two, or you may be excluded from distribution. He says that once you are in the top few sites, the actual position makes less difference than on the pure search play position. He gives recommendations for optimizing for Google contextual. Enable content bidding on your keywords. High CTR’s lead to lower CPCs – so improving quality score helps. Start with low bids.

Anton also suggests that you work hard to avoid negative associations. There will always be a site or two with content that is either negative or “cheapens the brand.” For example, Four Seasons would only want to appear next to content targeted towards premium or luxury travelers. He then recommends that you should explore the publisher side by setting up a small publisher experiment…it will give you great insight into how the publishers can choose to present content.

He finishes with a brief case study for a client that has an online chat application. This is a very competitive area but the contextual product worked great for them. He also shows a Humana case study which was a “well performing contextual campaign form the start.” He feels that the great amount of PPC data that they had for them made it possible to really focus on the right keywords. Conversion rates went up to nearly 3% from below 1%. Contextual actually was responsible for nearly one third of all enrollments! One last thing: CTR is irrelevant! Not looking to increase CTR (with the exception of helping ad position). It will always be lower than the CTR from regular search. Look at page position. He then describes very quickly ways to measure success.

Choosing the right channels is crucial: investigate options! Understand how customers read online. Set up campaigns to granular level. Optimize consistently, measure success.

Laura Parker from Range Online Media is up next, to go over a couple of case studies. First one: Consumer Electronics brand. Goal was to drive sales. 5% of total budget was allocated to content test. Results: 25% higher RPOAS than search. 35% of total impressions. 8% of total revenue. This success allowed the client to decide to run the campaign throughout the year.

Next case: an Education site. Goal was to qualify leads online. Used 1% of total budget (which was a lot). Results: 13.2% higher CTR than search. 10% of the total campaign impressions. Conversion rate was 50% less than search. They learned from this client that it was seasonal, and only use the contextual campaigns to match those times.

Next case: Financial Services client: Goal was to drive online transactions at a CPT of $30 or less. Budget 10%:. Results: cost was 50/50 between brand and unbranded searchers. 18% of new customers came from contextual.

Next (she is starting to run through these fast) Retail. Results: impressions increased by 4 times, increased clicks by 15%, and store locator hits increased by 15%., At the end of the campaign they had not met the goals so they discontinued with this one.

Next: Software/Technology company. Results: slightly below ROAS goal. Cost per download was way below the goal, so they continue to run that. Next: travel. Goals were for both traffic and sales, and they used 10% of total budget. Results: 50% of all impressions came from content. Conversion rate was lower, but OK since CPC was much lower as well.

She last shows a chart by vertical. Impressions are typically higher, CPC some higher some lower, CTR all lower , conversion rates were all lower except consumer electronics which was 25%. Gives some last suggestions: set expectations. Content is “push” versus the search “pull.” This is a new opportunity to target customers. Test, test, test! Set aside a small budget to test keywords – start with brand and high-converting non-brand terms. Recommends using 5-10% of the budget, and like Anton, says you should use more than just Google.

Briefly, Gopi Kallayil from Google discusses the value of contextual. He agrees that you need to spend time testing and optimizing in order to succeed at Contextual. He uses a random term “pot washing faucets.” There is a moment in time in a brief attention span, where you have an interest in something specific like a pot washing faucet. Contextual in many cases can provide you with an ad that will help you get more information, or buy it.

He then discusses another funny example about a couple in Virginia that sells bird diapers. Even though the market is obscure, contextual ads can provide bird-lovers with the idea of maybe buying diapers and other clothes for their birds. In fact, ironically, one of the ads on the archived version for this very session coverage could be such an ad.

Natala Menezes from MSN will talk about what they have coming out: Microsoft Content Ads. They are currently in a pilot for this, primarily on MSN network sites. “Delivering control, quality, and relevance” to their advertiser base. They have multiple controls to set price at keyword or ad group level, for example. Also distribution controls, ROI reporting, and a quality network, where you can access previously unavailable MSN pages and partner pages. This provides a low cost entry way to many of the pages that previously were out of reach to many advertisers.

They feel that the most important part of the contextual triangle between advertisers, publishers, and target market. Announces that next week they will be roling out Content Ads Beta: US release. On Wednesday August 29th,m the site will automatically upgrade all US Advertisers to this system. If you do not want it on, go to a URL that I didn’t catch. In the QA, Natala says that all clients will receive an email tomorrow that details how to opt-out if you desire.

(This is live coverage of SES San Jose 2007, and some typos or grammatical errors may exist. If you were a panelist and you would like something clarified, please post in the comments or contact me through the system)


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