Effective Contextual Search Marketing

This session looked primarily at how paid search marketers can get the most out of contextual search (what Google calls the Content Network). There was also some information for publishers delivering ads and those who manage contextual campaigns.

Gregg Stewart, SVP, Interactive, TMP Directional Marketing

David Szetela, CEO, Clix Marketing
Cynthia Tillo, Senior Product Manager of Advertising Services, Adobe Systems
Jennifer Slegg, Owner, JenSense.com


Recommends using a scraping tool to find keyword density of pages where you want to be found and use this to build the keyword list.

The text ads used in contextual advertising need to be more competitive, given that unlike the search network, visitors are not necessarily looking for destinations to visit, but are there for the content on the page. You nee to make a special effort to lure them away, eg. with offers like free shipping.

The content rankings are slightly different for contextual search. To obtain a page one ranking, you need:

  • Positions 1-3 for search network
  • Positions 1-4 for contextual network

The clickthrough rate (CTR) is particularly important – buy at a high price first to secure the high CTR and then lower the price down to what is manageable for you.

Google tools
The Google placement performance report is particularly useful to see where ads are appearing. Use the site exclusion tool to remove the sites that are not working for you.

For its content network, Google offers both keyword targetting and placement targetting (you specify the sites where you want to appear). Keyword targetting works particularly well as a test bed (to find sites you might not otherwise know about), whereas placement targetting can offer better quality traffic.


Adobe now offers ads in pdf documents. (My thoughts: does this mean a whole new area of content creation to make money from pdf ads?)

The ads can either be displayed in a separate panel next to the main doc, or positioned in the main doc itself (example shows three ads running horizontally across the header).

Adobe is using Yahoo’s contextual ad platform. Cynthia gave a number of types of pdfs that may want to display these ads, including ebooks and digital versions of magazines and newspapers.


Jen talked about contextual search from the other perspective: that of the publisher looking to make money from the program.

She explained that for publishers there is a trade-off between wanting to maximise short term profits (taking the quick-in, quick-out approach that doesn’t build loyalty but does maximise ad clickthroughs) and usability (creating a site and content that makes visitors want to come back, ie. isn’t plastered with ads).

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