free html hit counter Google Does Site Specific Performance, One Step Closer... - John Battelle's Search Blog

Google Does Site Specific Performance, One Step Closer…

By - June 11, 2007

This may not strike the world as big news, but in the ad world, it’s important: Google today announced “Content Placement Reports”. Sounds boring, but stay with me here. (No links available for this yet, will update…)

What is it? From the announcement: In an ongoing effort to provide more transparency to advertisers, Google announced today the availability of a new AdWords report, called a Placement Performance report, which enables advertisers to see the exact sites on the Google content network where their ads appear. Placement Performance reports also provide site-by-site performance metrics – including domain, URL, impression, click, conversion and cost data – as well as aggregated metrics for traffic generated from AdSense for domain sites. With these reports, advertisers have much more visibility into their contextually targeted advertising spend and are able to leverage the information to more effectively optimize their campaigns and meet their objectives. Designed in response to advertisers’ requests, Placement Performance reports offer advertisers both increased transparency and greater control over their contextual advertising, which ultimately leads to more relevant ads for users.

In short, Google is dealing with what is known as the “blind network problem” – advertisers pour money into AdSense, and they get a sense of how the campaign performed in aggregate, but they have no idea which sites did great, and which sites did poorly, or often, even which sites they ended up on (unless they specified via the relatively new site specific buys on AdSense.)

This new set of reporting addresses this issue, allowing advertisers to determine where their campaigns are doing best, and then they can optimize accordingly. It’s a major step for Google, and it solidifies the company as the player to beat in third party ad networks. Does this have anything to do with the Doubleclick acquisition? Come on, is the Pope Catholic?

When AdSense launched, it was as a blind network that occupied the bottom of the value pyramid – it didn’t care where ads were placed, as it was driven purely by direct response (ie, did someone click on the ad or not?). An entire industry was born of this idea: Pour money in, get money back. Who cares where the ads show up, as long as they payoff?

Now Google will become far more driven by specific publishing sites – “we’ll help you find the sites where your ads do best, and help you target those sites specifically.” This in turn will help advertisers find the sites where response is greatest. However, direct response is not always the best measure of effectiveness. It works great for demand satisfaction, but it has nothing to do with awareness or demand creation. Those two key pieces of the marketing puzzle still require things that cannot be driven by algorithms – at least for now. Will Google get into the business of helping marketers craft campaigns for particular sites based on understanding the audiences at those sites? Until now, the company was not even close to that business. But with this business, it’s getting closer, and closer, to becoming what most of the world calls a content publisher. Interesting.

Update: Some reactions, coverage:




Update: Previous, related news from Yahoo.

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5 thoughts on “Google Does Site Specific Performance, One Step Closer…

  1. JG says:

    However, direct response is not always the best measure of effectiveness.

    But.. but.. listen to what yer saying here. What is another word for “direct response”? It is “relevance”.

    It works great for demand satisfaction, but it has nothing to do with awareness or demand creation.

    That is to say, sometimes advertisers do not wish to be “relevant” to the user’s information needs. They wish to create a desire or demand within the user, to create a need that did not exist within the user previously. If the user does not currently possess an information need, then nothing is relevant to the user, by the very definition of relevance. They wish to create that desire, rather than satisfy that desire.

    If this is indeed the direction Google is heading, and I believe you are correct to say it is, then Google will soon violate yet another one of its core philosophies.. this time philosophy numero uno: “Advertising on the site must offer relevant content.”

    “While many companies claim to put their customers first,” writes Google, “few are able to resist the temptation to make small sacrifices to increase shareholder value.”

    I hope that Google resists this temptation and stays true to its number one core philosophy, that of the satifaction of information needs and not the artificial production of new ones. I fear the writing is already on the wall…

  2. soxiam says:

    Interesting. One question: what does it mean by “sites on the Google content network”? Does that mean it will only report site-specific data on those properties that Google owns?

  3. Jason Carr says:

    Soxiam – The Google content network consists of all the sites participating in Google’s AdSense program (sites that are displaying “Ads by Google”). Google does not own those sites.

  4. Julio Alonso says:

    That’s all fair and dandy, but when is Google going to show the same transparency towards the publishers in it’s content network and provide them with details of which advertisers are showing and how much they are each paying?

    Plus a way to pick and choose them in a much more granular form than what we have now.

  5. Trogdor says:

    Last Tuesday, John, you reported that Yahoo was already doing this (letting advertisers see data on sites in the Yahoo Publisher Network – think “AdSense for Yahoo”) and even more: Yahoo intended to figure out the conversion rate for traffic from a site in the YPN to their advertiser’s site, and then tweak the PPC cost of the ad based on that rate (that way, clicks from sites that are less likely to convert will cost less, and the advertiser is less likely to say “stop advertising there!”).

    I know Google doesn’t like to be outdone, so I expected something like this to come, and soon. I’m surprised that Google isn’t making a similar “we’ll adjust your ppc cost based on assumed conversion rate” promise. Admittedly, this is probably very hard to do (figure out conversion rate), but I’d think Google would have more access to this data (think Analytics) than Yahoo would.

    John – would you mind putting a link to last week’s post – I believe it’s 003690 – in the “update” area?