Online marketers and media planners know that there are a lot of challenges involved with creating a web advertising campaign and making sure that your adds are placed on relevant websites. It is important that you scale your ad campaign’s reach and keep it relevant to your target audience. You know there must be millions of sites out there that are prefect for your campaign, but how do you find them?
Google Ad Planner lets you research and locate websites with target audiences closely matching your ad target audience. This gives you two advantages: you will get a higher response rate for your ad campaign, and you’ll waste fewer marketing dollars on ads placed on irrelevant websites. Before going into detail about how to use Google Ad Planner, let’s review what a media plan is. To put it very briefly media plan is used to choose the ideal combination of media, reach, and budget for targeting ad placement.
Google Ad Planner hooks up advertisers and publishers. To use Google Ad Planner, you enter demographics and sites that are associated with your target audience, and you’ll get back information about sites your audience is likely to visit. Those sites don’t have to be part of the Google content network. If you want, you can obtain more details on demographics and related searches for a given site, or you can add a number of sites to your media plan and get aggregate statistics for those sites you’ve chosen.
All this is very useful information for search engine optimization (SEO) as well. Once you find out demographics and related searches for a site, you have a better idea of what keywords are landing certain sites at the top of the search engine results. All you have to do is plug in the information you learn about related searches for a site, and then see which sites end up on top. That gives your site designers and content writers valuable information they need to help bring your site up to the top of the search engine results.
You can also use Google’s keyword tool to search top websites for keyword ideas. For example, the site hgtv.com ranks at the top of a search on “home improvement ideas.” By plugging the site’s address into Google’s keyword tool, you can get back a list of keywords based on information on that site, as you can see in the screen shots.
Google AdWords can also help you decide which keywords to concentrate on, and which ones probably aren’t worth your while. As soon as you put a keyword into AdWords, it gets a Quality Score based on that keyword’s performance for other advertisers. This first Quality Score is your keyword’s “base score.” If your keyword performance is better than this baseline, your Quality Score will go up. But if your keyword has a lower click through rate, your Quality Score will go down. A Quality Score of 9 or 10 indicates a very successful keyword for other advertisers, so you want to give these keywords more attention in using them in ad groups.
Google Ad Planner now includes Google Trends for Websites, a resource designed for media planners. With Google Ad Planner you can create media plans and export them to .csv files (openable in many spreadsheet apps). You also have the option of exporting to DoubleClick’s MediaVisor, an app that lets you manage your other media campaign and buying activities.
Here are the basic steps in making an ad plan to drive traffic to your website.
1. Look at your website analytics software (which might be Google Analytics or something else), conduct surveys, or research your competitors to learn your website’s target audience by age, education, gender, geography, income, and any other demographic markers you choose.
2. Sign up for Google Ad Planer if you have not done so.
3. Login to your Ad Planner account, and with the information gleaned from Step 1 on the type of person you want to target in mind, identify websites that are good fits and add them to your plan. You do this by clicking the “Ad to Plan” button.
4. Once you’ve chosen the sites you are interested in, you can export the data to your media planner app or spreadsheet so that you can contact publishers for advertising information.
You should keep in mind that Ad Planner is only for research and planning, the statistics they provide are estimates, and that you can’t use Ad Planner to buy advertising.
Here are a few more basic facts about the current version of Google Ad Planner. Its data comes from Google Search, Google Analytics, Feedburner, Adsense, Adwords, iGoogle, Toolbar, Maps, Blogger, Gmail, and Orkut. Some analysts believe that the data that is purchased by Google’s competitors may be more accurate than the stats that Google collects from its sources. Google’s data is estimated based on automated analysis of millions of queries and site visits and contains data from a 30-day window. Sites included in Ad Planner have to meet minimum threshold traffic criteria and other guidelines. Right now, Ad Planner is only available in English
Other tools you might be interested in include Google Trends for Websites (google.com/trends). This is what might be called a “lite” version of Ad Planner that can be used to help you plan your focus in Ad Planner. While it’s made for non-advertising users, it contains accessible demographic data in a less detailed form than Ad Planner.
Recent upgrades to Google Ad Planner can give users a more specific view of where to find their target audience. For example, subdomain data is now available and helps media planners refine their plans with statistics about specific pates on a site. You can search for subdomains, find out the top subdomains based on total domain traffic, and ad subdomains to your media plan.
Another recent upgrade is information about ad placements. This lets the advertiser know what sections of a website are selected for advertising (such as right hand column, under heading, etc.) This information is available for sites in the Google Content Network, and is available for some sites outside the network that use Google Ad Manager. You also get an interactive graph that lets you see which sites in your media plan give the best relevance and reach. Sites with the most reach are shown in the top left quadrant. Sites in the top right quadrant have the best combination of reach and relevance. This graph can be further customized.
Another useful development is that site owners and publishers can use Google Ad Planner to share more Google Analytics data points like page views, total visits, average time on site, etc. This gives media planners a better picture of how the demographics apply to specific sites so you can make better decisions about which sites to include in your media plan.
From the point of view of the publisher or site owner, this is a great development because it allows sites to be indirectly “pitched” based on the reader demographics. The Publisher Center lets site owners and publishers showcase their sites to advertisers. Publishers can now claim subdomains to give advertisers a more in-depth view of their sites for media planning purposes. Site owners can now share page views, unique visitors, average visits per visitor, and average time on-site. Publishers can now display badges for advertisers to click on. Advertisers can click on a badge to go directly to a publisher’s Google Ad Planner site profile, where there is a wealth of traffic and demographic data available.
Overall, the reviews of Google Ad Planner are good. The service is fast, free, and uses detailed filters. It doesn’t, however, filter results well sometimes, and will offer up sites that are not good fits and would probably not be top choices for specific advertisers. However, site targeting for media planning is young compared to data on television, newspaper, and other media. Google hopes to score another win for free information by bringing together advertisers and publishers in such a way that both sides benefit.