Users running a PPC Campaign in the Google AdWords platform are given the choice of displaying ads on the Google Search Network and/or on the Content Network. I have never been a big fan of advertising on Content Networks, as I find the automated matching process to be less than ideal. I can generally browse the net and quickly find ads that are irrelevant to the sites they are displayed on. This can give one a healthy dose of skepticism.

While advertising on Content doesn’t generally cost a great deal, we have never seen much in the way of results. By and large we do Search Network only, however recently I have had to re-assess that view.

Back in March of this year, Google AdWords released a tool for Demographic bidding from beta into mainstream use. This allows advertisers to specify demographics for age and gender, to filter out unwanted sites. This tool is for use with the Content Network only. I was skeptical as to the value and accuracy of this tool and had not tried it out until just last week.

One of the AdWords campaigns we manage was having some difficulties in an extremely competitive market. Costs were remarkably high, paying $10+ per click on Search Network keywords in order to achieve decent ad positioning. While making some headway towards improving the conversion rate, it was taking too long to get results.

This campaign was a slow starter and had difficulty getting impressions from the beginning. I had tried displaying on Content earlier on in the campaign in a bid to generate more traffic, with predictably poor results. Last week we decided to try this again, this time using the demographic bidding tool to narrow the focus on a more specific audience.

The results were astonishing.

In the first 2 days, we had more conversions from Content than from Search, at a fraction of the cost. I thought this might be a fluke, but we continue to see conversions from that source.

I decided to try this on a campaign for a new client. The first conversion was from Content within a few hours of campaign launch. Needless to say I am testing this out on any existing client accounts that can be targeted in this manner.

For anyone interested in trying this, it can be found on the lower right of the campaign settings page within AdWords.

Here’s a peek at what it looks like:

You can also specify age groups, as this sample shot shows

In this particular case, we have set a higher bid percentage offering for display on sites that would be viewed by women in the 25-34 age range, which is the primary demographic target for this campaign.

Oddly enough, the table shows only impressions. There’s a considerable amount of data from this particular campaign that’s not showing here. There are quite a number of clicks and conversions for the time period this purports to display yet the numbers don’t show. Hopefully it’s just a glitch.

On this page a third image is displayed showing overlapping bid totals for gender and age. (See example on left.)

The difference in stats between the two networks is quite significant. As you can see in this ad group example, the Content cost per click is significantly lower than that of Search.

When the demographic bidding feature is implemented, reports can also be generated in the AdWords reporting tool.

Overall, I like how this is shaping up. It’s nice to find inexpensive new ways to drive more customers to clients.

One thing Google excels at is constant innovation. With the announcement of a beta utility called Ad Planner, more features are in the works for assisting advertisers with Content Marketing. Hopefully we’ll all get to see more of this great stuff in the near future.