Google’s display network can bring you tremendous amounts of clicks and conversions if used correctly. If it is not used correctly, you can quickly spend mass amounts of money and have nothing to show for it.

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article on how to manage the display network so you can spend most of your money on sites that are bringing in quality traffic. This is a quick graphic of the workflow that I still use today.

  • The Discovery Campaign is one of your lower daily budgets, and its goal is to find good placements where you want to spend more money.
  • The Placements Campaign is one of your higher budgets as it only contains sites that are helping you reach your overall goals.

 

While I find this workflow very useful, the overall problem is when do you decide to block placements?

In your AdWords account, the only data you can see for any placement is conversions and conversion rates. The problem with so little data is that if you wait until you have enough statistically significant data to make a decision, you will never find all of the good placements, and you will have spent too much money on bad ones.

There is another way to gain insight into placements with Google Analytics that can help determine whether a site is sending you quality traffic.

Evaluating Placements With Google Analytics

To have access to this data, you need to link your Google Analytics account to your AdWords account.

Next, navigate to the placements information under the AdWords reports (found under traffic sources).

If you have goals set up, then you can sort by the goal completions, conversion rates and other data points to find the sites that are doing well for you.

While this data is useful for adding placements, it can also be useful for finding placements that you want to block even if you don’t have statistical data.

Sort Placements By Bounce Rates

Instead of trying to find sites that you want to add as placements, examine bounce rates to find sites where the traffic is so poor, you don’t want to wait for statistical data.

 

In this case, we have a handful of sites that have sent more than 18 visitors and have a 100% bounce rate. No one from any of those sites has even gone to a second page, therefore, we will often block these even though we don’t have statistically significant data.

Please note, you don’t want to just block sites if their bounce rates are 100%. You should also double-check the ad copy and landing pages to make sure the offers are relevant for that site. If you consistently see high bounce rates for your display campaigns, then you might need to change the offer and landing page before deciding to block placements.

Just remember, a bounce in Google Analytics is a visitor who only went to a single page and then left your site. If someone gets to your landing page, picks up the phone and calls you, finishes an order over the phone and then leaves your site, they will be counted as a bounce even if they spent 20 minutes on the phone with you.

Create Interaction Goals

A quick way of seeing what sites are bringing in good versus poor traffic is to create interaction goals within Google Analytics. With Google Analytics, you can create goals based upon time on site or page views per visit.

If you create goals with these types of metrics, then you can easily examine what sites are not meeting your basic minimum interaction and then block those sites that are underperforming.

Conversely, if you find that sites are bringing in visitors that are spending several minutes on your site, you shouldn’t block those sites until you have enough clicks to determine whether those visitors will eventually convert.

By using interaction goals, you can gain another level of insight into the placements where you are spending money, so you can make better decisions about blocking the sites or spending more money on the sites to gather more data.

 

If you have various types of goals on your site, I would recommend splitting out these types of goals by goal set. You might have one goal set that is all revenue events, and another one that is site interaction. By splitting these different types of goals out by goal set, you can see one tab of just interaction goals, and another tab of just revenue goals. That way your revenue goal events will not be polluted by site interaction events and vice versa.

Conclusion

Overall, I like Google’s display network. There is a lot of traffic and conversions to be had from managing it correctly. However, if managed incorrectly, the display network can be a money pit. Therefore, you do need a system for managing the display network so it will perform for you.

However, the patience and money required to always have statistically relevant data is beyond what most AdWords advertisers have. Therefore, when you see sites that have several visits and 100% bounce rates, feel free to block them quickly. When you see sites that have some visitors, and those visitors are spending time on your site, you should be more patient in determining whether the site will eventually be a converting one for you.

By using Google Analytics to examine your AdWords data, you can go beyond just examining conversion rates to also determining interaction rates and gaining another viewpoint into the placement sites where you are spending your money, so you can spend your budget as wisely as possible.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Paid Search Column

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About The Author: is the Founder of Certified Knowledge, a company dedicated to PPC education & training; fficial Google AdWords Seminar Leader, and author of Advanced Google AdWords.

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  • rcampbell

    Great post. I’ve used “discovery campaigns” and then optimized from there. I love the idea of setting high performing sites in another campaign and adjusting bids.

  • http://fredperrotta.com fredperrotta

    The only issue with this approach is that you’ll see different performance metrics in the (presumably keyword-targeted) discovery campaign and the placement campaign.

    The reason is that the algorithm has no relevance to use for ranking the placement campaign, so the bid and CTR become more important. If your initial bid is too low, the placement will tank and CPCs will become prohibitive. Thus, you’ll likely have to bid higher in the placement campaign than in the discovery campaign resulting in different CTRs, CPCs, and CPAs.

  • http://triplelootz.com/ trenoult

    Worst than that. Sometimes you move a website from your discovery campaign in your placement one, and it purely stops working. No impressions! I have seen that a couple of times even if I use keywords in my placement campaign (same keywords that I use in my discovery one). Does it happen to you Brad?

  • http://www.bgtheory.com Brad Geddes

    I will sometimes see that a site doesn’t show in the placement campaign; this is generally because the publisher does not allow site targeting or the publisher has blocked your ad, etc. It’s rarely AdWords related; it’s usually more publisher related in how they have set up their AdSense account.

  • http://chileconmigo.wordpress.com/ Thomas Renoult

    Thank you for your answer Brad. I though of that, It happens a lot to me. So a publisher is happy to have unrelated ads running on his site BUT does not want targeted ads that can be useful information for its users.

  • http://joelvaldez.com joelvaldez

    Excellent post, it’s very important to optimize those placements found automatically, but why, why is it so important?

    Because the AdWords system always “discovers” placements that has nothing to do with your keywords theme. I have always found that when using contextual targeting 50% of the placements are wrong… So I Wonder, is this on purpose? Or is Google (know for is relevancy accuracy) incapable of targeting more accurately? Who knows… In the meantime either the first system you described or the Google Analytics integration are both good options to optimize your placements. Other tool I would add to this is the Ad Planner, which based on audience we can find very good placements.

    Thanks.

 

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