Marketing Insights
Marin Software's Official Blog

Dos and Don’ts for Contextual Keyword Targeting, Part 1

By   August 16th, 2013

google display network keywords contextualThis is a guest post by Jana Fung with MixRank.

Contextual advertising on the Google Display Network (GDN) is often an overlooked strategy to gain additional traffic at a low cost. Although willing to test out campaigns, advertisers have had little success optimizing them due to the vast difference between contextual keyword targeting and paid search keyword targeting. With high expectations for contextual ads, advertisers are often disappointed and shocked when the ads do not perform similarly to paid search campaigns.

In this series, I’ll discuss some dos and don’ts when it comes to testing contextual keywords on the GDN. Let’s start with some watch-outs:

  • Don’t: Copy and paste your best performing long tail keywords from paid search campaigns into new contextual ad groups. The GDN only offers broad match keyword targeting, so lengthy, descriptive keywords are more likely to harm your campaigns than to help them.
  • Don’t: Group keywords the same way you would group them for paid search campaigns. Consider using shorter and broader keyword terms that you can thematically group together.
  • Don’t: Add negative keywords as an optimization strategy. Since you’re using a variety of websites to reach as many relevant audiences as possible, you’re better off noting what sites your ads are performing poorly on and excluding those from your campaign using negative placements.
  • Don’t: Expect contextual keyword performance to have similar or comparable outcomes to your paid search keywords. Even though you’re using the same ad platform, Google AdWords, this does not mean the ad channels are equal or that they should they be measured in the same way.
  • Don’t: Rely on a thesaurus to expand your contextual keyword targets and scale quickly. A thesaurus helps with paid search campaigns where you aim to expand your reach to every query that’s synonymous with your product offering. However, for contextual keyword targeting, the main goal is to reach your target audience on different websites. Therefore, instead of focusing on synonymous keywords, focus on keywords that will help you reach similar audiences. In the next post, we’ll discuss some strategies to help you expand and scale on contextual keywords.

Now that you know what not to do, join us next week with Part 2 of this series where will discuss what contextual keyword strategies to implement and how to create precise targeting for your campaigns.

About the Author
Jana Fung, guest author of this post, is the Marketing Manager of MixRank. She has managed successful demand generation programs for over 6 years. MixRank.com is a spy tool for contextual and display ads. With MixRank you can see exactly where your competitors are buying traffic and which ad copy is performing best for them across over 100,000 sites. If you’re a MixRank fan or just want to say hi, Jana is interested in connecting with you! Follow her on Twitter @jana_fung.