How to Make the Search Partner Network More Accessible (and useful) for Search Managers

Google announced that you can now differentiate between search traffic that comes directly from Google.com from search traffic generated on one of Google’s partner sites (ie. AOL, Ask).  This is the first of hopefully many steps that will allow PPC managers to take a more active role in managing Google’s Search Partners.

Currently, the extent of our interaction with the Search Partner Network (aside from using an outside analytics package for analysis) is through the viewable dashboard on the campaign or ad group level.  You can not get results directly by keyword or search phrase at this time.

After selecting your view, it breaks down the data as follows:

Though results varied, this particular campaign is a perfect example of why we need more robust control over what we can accomplish in the Search Partner Network.  The data clearly shows that the Search Partner network is not performing as well as pure search traffic on the Google search page.  It has a significantly lower conversation rate at more than twice the cost per conversion found on Google.

The only option is to reduce exposure, or stop advertising on the Search Partner Network altogether.  The search portion of “Google” above is performing well, and I don’t want to make any large changes that would effect that.  You can not “detach” Search Partner campaigns, they must be run in concert with a campaign that serves keywords on Google.

So below I’ve detailed some changes that must go into place for us to really get use out of the Search Partner Network.

Let us Run “Search Partner Only” Campaigns:

The example above fits perfectly, in this campaign I would like to continue using the Search Partner Network because it accounts for more than 70% of the impressions and a third of the clicks.

The fate of these campaigns are joined, so I can’t pause or edit keywords without there being repercussions on the Google search side.  If this campaign was only opted into the Partner network I could remove certain keywords or add in additional negatives and make more thorough tests to see how we can reach similarly successful results on the Partner Network.

Allocate Bids by Search Property:

Let us specify bids by the different Search Partners.  It does not have to be so translucent that it lists hundreds of sites, instead list the main sites like AOL, Ask, and other sites that account for a large percentage of Network Partner traffic.  Then add a list for “other” – which would consist of the dozens and dozens of smaller sites that make up the crux of the Search Partner Network.

This way we have the option to bid aggressively for traffic on specific high quality properties, while limiting the risk from the tail end of the network.

Site Exclusion:

This should work similar to the above suggestion, except allow us to reduce or eliminate our exposure on certain properties.

This is probably just the beginning of what we will see from Google regarding the Search Partner Network.  We can only hope that future additions will give managers the ability to actually interact with Google’s Partner Network.

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