PPCGoogle AdWords Contextual Advertising Mystery Solved

Google AdWords Contextual Advertising Mystery Solved

Google AdWords contextual advertising created one of the search world's greatest mysteries. Solved here.

My column on Google AdWords placement-targeted campaigns exposed a mystery: rejected AdSense publisher sites. This week: mystery solved — possibly doubling the number of sites upon which you can advertise.

I’ve been getting some interesting feedback and questions regarding my columns on Google’s AdWords placement-targeted campaigns. Reader Jeremy Brown set me off to track down an important problem — and a simple solution.

A few readers told me they’d tried running placement-targeted campaigns, and found many sites displaying AdWords content ads (i.e. AdSense publisher sites) don’t seem to be available to display placement-targeted ads.

Google told me that some AdSense publishers had chosen not to display ads from placement-targeted campaigns. But Jeremy had reported to me that out of a list of 40 sites he’d identified as AdSense publishers, only five were accepted by the placement tool advertisers use to select sites where they want ads to appear. In our own tests at Clix Marketing, we saw similar results.

So we dug a little deeper, and here’s what we discovered. The suspicion I mentioned last week is correct: the AdWords placement tool is indeed inefficient. It frequently fails to find sites are AdSense publishers who are opted in for placement-targeted ads.

Apparently, Google is aware of the issue and working to improve the tool. But for now — are advertisers stuck with only the AdSense sites the tool identifies?

Fortunately, no. A simple solution might even present an additional opportunity for savvy advertisers like you.

Let’s break it down into steps:

  1. Accumulate a list of sites you’ve identified as AdSense publishers you want to target with your ads. List them in an application like Excel. Don’t include the http://www part of the URL — just use the domain name, e.g. clixmarketing.com.
  2. Highlight the list and copy it to the clipboard.
  3. Go into the AdWords Web interface (this won’t work with the wonderful AdWords Editor). Go to your placement ad group.
  4. Click on “Add Placements.” This will bring you to the placement tool.
  5. Click on “List URLs.” Paste your list of URLs into the resultant field.
  6. Click on “Get Available Placements.” On the right side of the screen you’ll see a list of sites the tool has identified as ready for your ads (under the green “Selected Placements” bar). You may also see a list in a pink box above, containing the names of domains the tool claims are “…not available for targeting.” Important: highlight and copy this list. For safety’s sake, paste it into an application like Word or Notepad.
  7. Scan the list on the left under “Results related to:” — it will show you detail about the sites the tool has found acceptable. Some of them may indicate you can target ads to particular pages or even page sections within the site — choose these if you like. Finish by clicking “Add Selected Placements.”
  8. Now here’s the tricky part: go back to viewing the ad group and click on “Edit Placements and Bids.” Scroll to the bottom of the resultant field, paste in the rejected URL list, and click on “Save Changes.”

If you’ve done your homework correctly and all the rejected sites are AdSense publishers — the entire list will be accepted.

Now here’s the odd part: there seems to be very little error checking on the domain names. I tried entering just the string “zzzz” and the domain google.com, and they were both rejected. But the domains aol.com and msn.com were accepted. Even though they’re not (trust me) AdSense publishers.

If you want to be really lazy and don’t care about targeting site or page subsections, just accumulate a list of domains you hope are AdSense publishers, skip steps 4-7 above, and paste the whole list into “Edit Placements.” Odds are good all will be accepted, and if any are not AdSense publishers, they simply won’t accumulate any impressions or clicks.

Try it and let me know what you think, here or in the Content Advertising thread.

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