Jonathan Saipe

Google Content Network: CPA Performance Trends Report

30 April 2009, Jonathan Saipe

With the Google content network reaching more than 80% of Internet users and serving more than 6 billion ad impressions per day, as an advertiser you’d want to know what kind of CPA (cost per acquisition) performance you’re likely to get compared with the search network.

The report published by Google in November 2008 was based on results from 25000 Google AdWords accounts with a statistically measurable number of conversions (tracked using Google AdWords) over a 12 month period.
A summary of the findings were as follows:

  1. Ads published on the Google Content Network are likely to be as cost-effective – or possibly even more cost-effective – than ads appearing on the search network. Half of the advertisers had a content network CPA at least 2.6% lower than their average found on the search network.
  2. The Content Network accounts for around 20% share of total conversions.
  3. Conversion rates tended to be improved when advertisers used either of the two available campaign management controls namely:
    1. the Conversion Optimizer and 2. site exclusion.

Take what you will from the findings! Contributors to the various digital forums such as Webmaster World have inevitably raised eyebrows as to the validity or accuracy of these findings, as many PPC experts consider the content network to yield little in the way of useful CTR or conversion metrics.

I am also rather sceptical of the results not necessarily because they may be inaccurate, but because I tend to find that the vast majority of AdWords advertisers have little experience of the content network.

These advertisers tend either to leave the content network active (accidentally in most cases) or have made little attempt to target their content network campaigns using site exclusions, negative keywords, placement targeting and the interpretation of reports.

If you’re interested, the full report can be read at: