Beginners should stay away from the Content Network in Google Adwords. When you are just starting out, disable the content network in your PPC campaigns.
Why? The content network is all the websites that belong to Google’s Adsense program. While Google is trustworthy, not all of it’s Adsense participants are. Some Adsense websites attempt blatant fraud. Just do a search for those who got banned from Adsense. In most all cases folks were banned for cheating Adwords advertisers by clicking ads.
Many other Adsense participants make every attempt to trick visitors into clicking your ad. Google doesn’t ban Adsense participants for just being sneaky, Google really only bans fraud. But, sneaky traffic is not going to get you any return for your Adwords spending. For example, two years ago, the hot thing to do on Adsense was place a graphic over the Adsense ad. The graphic was usually in no way related to ad. But, this made the visitor believe the graphic was related to the ad. When the visitor clicked the ad, he or she wound up on your website which had nothing to do with the graphic. In most cases, the visitor is immediately left your website, wasting your money.
Many website exist where Adsense participants make ads look like navigation, attempt to blend ads with content and other tactics to confuse or trick visitors into clicking ads. Adsense publishers are always looking for the next gimmick to increase their Adsense clicks. How motivated is a consumer going to be if they were tricked to your website? The traffic generated by Adsense publishers is of low value.
A basic level content network traffic is less targeted. Google search traffic consists of a consumer actively searching for keywords. Content network traffic consists of consumer browsing other websites and stumbling across your ads.
Unfortunately, as an Adwords advertiser this is all at your expense. Now you know why the content network traffic is low quality, so go turn it off.
At intermediate and advanced levels you can use the content network. Placement targeting allows you to display ads on specific websites. If you choose respectable website, you can get good quality traffic.
You can also choose use the content network as is. Adwords allows you to separate search network bids and content network bids. When you enable the content network, enable separate bids as well. Never pay more than 10 cents a click for the content network.
Did you know that when Google separated bids for the search and content networks it ended the Adsense gold rush? Back in 2005, Google allowed Adwords advertisers to separate bids. Previously, an Adwords advertiser got only one bid for both. Highly competitive markets forced higher bids. Adsense publishers would target high payout keyword in the hopes of making a dollar or two a click. Since the change, even highly competitive keywords pay much less on the content network.
By Dan Smith