Is There Hope For Google Placements?

As you know by now, Google has decided to merge its Placement Targeting (henceforth: Placements) into the normal campaign management taxonomy. Essentially this means where in the past you would have to set up a campaign specifically for Placements, now it will slide into your pre-existing Content campaigns.

What Are The Benefits of This New Structure?

  • Assuming you already separate Search and Content into their own respective campaign, Placement Campaigns would stick out like a sore thumb and require additional time and effort for data accumulation and comparison. Whereas, strategically, it was really just an extension of your contextual advertising. Your Placement Campaign also counted against the Google imposed limit of 20 active campaigns. Google finally straightened this out and put all our contextual advertising in the same place.
  • A combined placement and content reporting dashboard allows you to see statistics broken down from each listed placement, as well as what the Content Network generated as a whole. This may not seem like a big deal, but this allows you to see what kind of overall impact changes to your Placements may have on your other Content Network endeavors. This would require a lot of reporting and guesswork under the old system.
  • You can finally wrap your hands around some advanced cost management in the Content Network. In the past, if a site was killing you on the Content Network, the most common thing to do would be to exclude it. If the site had enough volume or was in your specific demographic, you might try new ads or to break out ad groups, but ultimately it was a hands off procedure. Now you have the ability to bid on most of the sites that you get Content Network impressions from. This invariably will allow you to take greater control over the cost of your Content Campaign, as well as potentially save some of the possible winners you’ve excluded in the past.
  • And don’t forget, the freedom to use text or video ads remains.

What Would I Like To See Improved?

  • While freedom for testing different types of ad remains, it is a bit more difficult to tailor ad messages for specific sites. You can’t run a unique ad for a site unless you put that site into its own Ad Group. Those of you familiar with Placement Targeting are nodding, because that’s basically the same way it worked with the old Placements system. The problem lies in if you have to separate Placement from Content data immediately erases any benefit we gained from the combined data on the dashboard, and adds another layer to our reporting.
  • There is no quality score for relevance taken into consideration for Placements. Here only the bid talks. There is some consideration for Ad Quality but only insofar as how likely it is to create a visit compared against other ads in the space.
  • This means that with Placements advertisers have the ability to sidestep poor relevance or weak content with higher bids. This is not necessarily bad, and in a perfect marketplace you can expect that poor ads and weak relevance will eventually be priced out of position, but this is not exactly perfect, and it takes away one of the PPC Manager’s best tools, understanding and reliance of the quality score.
  • Placements are implemented by Ad Group. I haven’t had a chance to test this yet, but it could mean a large set up time and a lot of micromanagement, especially if you find that no matter how you try to differentiate your keyword themes in different Content Ad Groups, they still generate a lot of overlap on certain web sites.

How Would I Use Google Placements?:

  • With this implementation you’re given the freedom to set your bids for each individual site that you show up on through Content. You’re also free to try to appear on sites that you normally wouldn’t be able to.
  • Not all of the sites on the Content Network are shown through Placements, but I did a quick inventory for one of my clients recently and saw many of the top sites were, and some were available only through Placements.

So in the spirit of actually answering the question, I would use Placements in the following ways:

1. To Control bids on the Content Network on a site by site basis.
2. To Test Picture and Video ads.
3. As a branding tool for popular or reputable sites.
4. To advertise on sites that don’t exactly match my content, but are close (ie. complimentary items).

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