Google’s Dirty “Display Network” and Metrics

The Display Network on Google is well-known among the cognoscenti (that would be me, you, and any other nerd reading this post) to be problematic at best. Keyword matching on the Search Network (aka, Google) is tight and based on user intent; on the Display Network it is loosey-goosey, based on Google’s “read” of what a user has looked at (history), is looking at (content), or other fuzzy logic metrics.

AdWords Display Network and MetricsOften times your ads on the Display Network will be placed on all sorts of crazy, mis-matched websites, not to mention Parked Domains, Error Pages, Violent & Hate Sites and other not-so-nice sites if you do not know what you are doing. And, to make matters worse, Google is paid by the click (as are participants in AdSense (the Display Network’s name for its participants), while you are paid by the conversion: this is a huge, huge conflict of interest.

Google: gets paid by the click.

AdSense participants: get paid by the click.

You: get paid by the conversion.

Google: reports on clicks and is the “policeman” of click fraud on the Display Network YET Google makes money off of clicks on the network.

There is, therefore, a problematic conflict of interest at the heart of the Display Network: the participants (Google / AdSense sites) get paid “by the click,” as does the policeman “Google.”  Think about that.  Please think about that in a post-Enron, post-Watergate, post-water-boarding, post- post- post how many times have we seen corruption in the world of business?  Conflict of Interest – Just sayin’

Back to the Display Network and How to Use It

Be that as it may… Everything, in short, is set to maximize your participation in the Display Network. If you don’t know what you are doing, and you do not monitor your ad agency thoroughly, you may be wasting a lot of money on terrible Display network placements. And, to make matters worse (yes we are at two levels of worse here), there are clickbots these days that can not only click through on an ad, but also generate fake or empty leads (to measure conversions).  They can even falsify their location by hijacking machines using viruses; so they “appear” to be in the USA when they are actually somewhere else.

Curiouser and curiouser.

If you are using the Display Network, please please please monitor what you are doing!  If you have an agency doing it for you, monitor the monitors!

Advice for Using the Display Network

  • Generally speaking, I would NOT recommend the Display Network for most advertisers.  Most of the ROI is on Google Search, so generally do NOT activate the Display Network.  Run ONLY on Search.
  • Turn OFF nefarious sites at the beginning, by scrolling to the bottom of placements and looking for placement TYPES.  This prevents error pages and other crazy sites on the network.
  • Monitor your placements.  Run weekly / monthly reports of your actual placements.  Check their conversions and cost per conversion.  WEED THE GARDEN and eliminate bad sites – sites with MANY clicks but few conversions.
  • Monitor your conversion quality. Watch for “fake” conversions / “empty” conversions.

Metrics – good metrics – measuring WHERE your ads are actually being placed WHO is clicking on them AT WHAT COST is your best weapon against the dirty Display Network. The Display Network is NOT for beginners.  It can be used effectively but if and ONLY if you closely monitor it.

Google’s Dirty “Display Network” and Metrics
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Jason McDonald

About Jason McDonald

Jason McDonald is a top-rated San Francisco SEO Consultant. His consulting services include search engine optimization consulting, social media marketing consulting, and Google AdWords consulting. Jason’s motto as a consultant is that he doesn’t do SEO ‘for you’ but rather he does SEO ‘with you.’ That goes as well for his social media marketing consultant activities and Google AdWords consultant services. Besides serving clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jason consults with clients in Silicon Valley (San Jose), Oakland and other cities throughout the Bay Area. Beyond the Bay Area, Jason is available as an SEO consultant, Social Media Consultant, and as an expert witness in litigation involving social media marketing, search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising.