Contextual Search Advertising – Extend Your Market Reach With Content Ads

Contextual advertising is a great way to extend the reach of your message into the web and attract new customers. You can develop and implement strategies that increase the cost efficiency, effectiveness, and volume of traffic you get from contextual advertising. Here are some ideas you can use when setting up your own contextual paid search advertising campaigns.Before we get started lets define what we mean by “reach.” Reach is the gross number of potential web users who may see your ad. Reach does not consider the quality or level of targeting. If you are taking only the very best quality and highest targeted traffic, then you are off to a good start by grabbing the most profitable business first. But think about it… less profitable business is still profitable, right? Plus, it has the potential to pump up your overall website traffic. Why not add that piece of the market to your advertising mix to increase your reach, your traffic, and your market share?Contextual advertising is a very different type of page searchLet’s illustrate this point using a sample search phrase–let’s use “carbon monoxide poisoning.” (Yes, I actually used this in a campaign this past year.) If you set up your pay per click advertising campaign to bid on the keyword phrase carbon monoxide poisoning, your ad will be shown every time a searcher enters those words into the search engine query page… but you already knew that, right?What about all the times the phrase carbon monoxide poisoning appears on web pages in the local news sites, in people’s e-mails (say for example hotmail or g-mail), or on special interest websites. If you are not setting up your pay per click campaigns to include contextual AdWords placements, then you are missing out on all these opportunities to show your ad to people with a demonstrated interest in carbon monoxide poisoning. Thus, your reach may not be as broad as it should be.How much are you willing to pay for this extra reach?We all know that the searcher typing that phrase into their search query want to know about carbon monoxide poisoning right now and are therefore, supposedly are highly qualified visitors. This is passive style advertising.But, one of the roles of great advertising has always been to stimulate interest or desire. This is where contextual advertising takes up where passive search engine advertising leaves off. Contextual advertising actively reaches out to people with some connection to or interest in carbon monoxide poisoning and tickles at their eyeballs as they scan the pages they are surfing–perhaps triggering a thought or reminding them of a need…. thus stimulating desire!Without contextual advertising your search engine marketing is passive in nature and has to wait for the searcher to perform their search. Contextual advertising is more proactive method that hunts out potential customers in every nook and cranny of the web. As a result the quality of contextual traffic is very different and needs managed and bid upon separately. And managed well contextual advertising can be a real gold mine for many small businesses seeking new customers. Especially for products, services, or phrases that are not likely to be actively searched for.If you decide to add contextual ad placements to your campaigns, you need to be very careful to avoid the pitfalls. Be sure to:
Keep your bids for contextual ad clicks separate
Consider moving contextual ads into separate ad groups or campaigns for budgeting and tracking reasons
Create different ad copy for contextual ads
Block websites like MySpace.com (unless you have a specific strategy)
Other frequently asked questions: What about websites I definitely don’t want my ads appearing on?For Google and Yahoo!, you can create a list of web sites you do not want to appear on. Upload these to Google (called site exclusion) and Yahoo! (called publisher blocking).What if I want to appear on only a select list of web sites?That’s a different technique than contextual advertising and is commonly called targeted placement. Google offers that service and it’s a great way to create a highly targeted campaign that’s easier to manage than paid placement networks. Plus, there are some really cool tools (other than those offered by Google or Yahoo!) you can use to provide demographic profiles of web sites you may want to add to your list. It’s very flexible, but you ofter have to go outside the PPC realm to get on sites with lots of traffic. If the sites you want take text ads, you can probably get on.Can I target only certain types of people?Yes, the larger networks (Google and Yahoo!) offer demographic targeting but it’s pretty basic. You can target by gender, income, etc. You may find that a well-researched target placement campaign is more successful.Is contextual advertising right for me?I believe the answer for most advertisers is a definite Yes! You may need some help from an internet marketing service to figure out the best way to approach contextual advertising to keep your costs low and allow you to test contextual advertising with very low upfront costs. Testing is really the only way to know for sure what works. Testing contextual advertising is fairly low risk, but can be a real gold mine for many advertisers.Am I going to appear on a lot of fly-by-night websites?Definitely. That’s why it’s important to have a strategy for keeping your costs low. A lot of SEO experts are out there competing for your keywords. Many times their skimpy web sites are beating your site in the organic search results market. Ideally, you would like to beat them in the organic search game. But, to play the game to win you also want to be on these sites, without losing your shirt. Let the middle men take their cut but make sure to keep it small!Don’t forget, with contextual advertising you also appear on lots of very high-quality sites.Will the traffic from contextual ads be as good as my regular PPC listings?If you do not put in the effort to set up your contextual advertising PPC programs properly, the answer is a definite no. But with the proper targeting and cost controls you may find contextual advertising rivals your standard PPC listings for efficiency while definitely beating them on reach.