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Monday, March 31, 2008

Google: tooting their own horn

A little self promotion never hurt anyone, right?

That’s the attitude Google adopted in recent months as they began aggressively promoting their content network, albeit with some help from their friends.

Google feels strongly about their content network – namely, content targeting’s ability to gets Google AdWords advertisers’ names out quickly, easily, and potentially at a lower CPC than a traditional AdWords campaign – and they want everyone to know about it. That’s why Google advertisers have recently been direct-marketed with “success stories” about happy clients using the content network.

It’s particularly interesting to note that today’s Google success stories are pushed out to advertisers right inside the AdWords interface, in an announcements area, so it seems almost part of the navigational experience.

Take the SEM agency SearchRev, for example. They’re gushing over Google AdSense after seeing retail clients increase revenue by 25 per cent since implementing it. SearchRev used the content network to test out a few “general” type keywords that didn’t include clients’ brand names. As a result, retailers successfully introduced themselves to new customers who hadn’t otherwise encountered them before. Even though most of those newbies didn’t click through the ads, it didn’t matter; many of them ended up searching for the retailer later on and joining the company’s growing list of keyword search targets.

Since SearchRev specializes in SEM, and thus qualifies as a “third-party agent,” eyebrows may raise at the thought of them partnering with Google. Does a third-party endorsement look suspect when it’s done within the AdWords interface, providing the agency with exclusive exposure?

In theory, this new reciprocal promotional arrangement with SearchRev could make Google a hypocrite. But can we really fault them for finding a creative way to advertise? They are a corporation, after all. More importantly, recent improvements to AdSense suggest they’re listening to customer demand and backing up their self-promotion with a quality product.

Despite its relative success, Google’s content network developed a somewhat shady reputation among advertisers in recent years, with rumours of “built-for-AdSense” booby-trap sites surfacing. Google responded with several positive changes to the content network over the last couple of years. This includes placement performance reports and various new flavors of site exclusion.

Sure, Google’s running the show a bit differently than in the past, but given their growth imperatives today, it’s unsurprising that they’re working harder to push their product.

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Posted by Matt Larkin




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