Marketing Insights
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You, Google and the Display Network, Part 2: Making the Most of Next-Gen Keyword Contextual Targeting

By   May 24th, 2012

Historically, a group’s theme—drawn from the keywords within the group—defined how a creative matched to similarly themed webpages across the Google display network (GDN). As a result of this keyword aggregation, cost and conversion metrics were reported on and optimized at the group level. Back in March of this year, Google announced their “biggest enhancement ever” to the display network. Combining the reach of display with the precision of search, Google’s Next-Gen Keyword Contextual Targeting enabled advertisers to begin optimizing the performance of their contextually targeted display campaigns at the keyword level.

In a post last year, we explored a few best practices for managing and optimizing campaigns across the GDN—tightening group themes to increase creative relevance, continuously optimizing creative language and excluding poor performing placements. Today, in light of the recent changes to contextual targeting, we’ll revisit this discussion and review additional best practices for managing and optimizing campaigns across the GDN.

Breakdown Keyword Performance

The method by which Google attributes keyword-level performance differs between the GDN and Google search. Keep in mind that all keywords are considered broad match on the GDN. From there, the new algorithm selects individual keywords from the group and determines the contextual relevance of each to a given web page. The keyword that is most relevant is attributed with the impression and subsequent click and cost metrics. The contextual relevance of a keyword is determined by how strongly it matches with the web page’s text, language, link and page structure, as well as other factors.

Access to keyword-performance data enables search marketers to better optimize their campaigns across the GDN. However, separating search and display campaigns is highly recommended in order to fully leverage this level of granularity. Although keyword performance can be reported on separately, keyword bids (within campaigns targeting search and display) affect both networks. Only with separate campaigns can marketers set separate search and display bids.

Leverage Keyword Insertion

Using dynamic keyword insertion within creative is a quick and effective way to increase relevancy. Inserting {Keyword:default text} into the headline, description line or display URL dynamically populates creative to include the contextually relevant keyword that triggered the creative. However, keep in mind that not all keywords make grammatical sense when inserted. Simple keyword variations can result in an awkward-sounding creative. (For example, add the keyword “snowboard pants” rather than “snowboard pant”.) Granular and organized groups with well-written creative will benefit most from dynamic keyword insertion and result in increasing click-through-rates and Quality Scores.

Review Bidding Hierarchy

When setting keyword bids for GDN campaigns, the most specific bid available will always be used. The general order of bids, from most to least specific, is outlined below:

  • Individual placement bid
  • Managed placements bid
  • Display Network bid
  • Individual keyword bid
  • Default bid

As a result of this hierarchy, when setting keyword-level bids, don’t set a Display Network bid as Google will ignore the individual keyword bid that was set. Similarly, if no placement bids, Display Network bids or individual keyword bids have been set, the default group bid will be leveraged. As a best practice, only set individual keyword-level bids and default group bids when optimizing bids for GDN campaigns.