Google CPG blog - News and Notes from Google"s CPG Vertical

The Impact of Ad Overlap

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Emma McKeithen, Account Manager

There's some interesting new research from aQuantive's Atlas Institute. A study conducted by Atlas in Q1 this year concluded that there's huge value in advertising overlap -- that is, running ads across multiple publishers, portals, and ad networks -- as it relates to conversions. Atlas found that consumers targeted across multiple publishers were "twice as likely to convert" as those reached by a single publisher. In fact, 67% of customers who took action were reached by multiple placements before they converted (source:, Atlas Institute).

CPG marketers don't always focus on conversions when building online search and display campaigns, but it's an increasingly important metric even when not measuring online sales. Coupon downloads, user registrations, interaction with video and other media -- more campaigns measure these kinds of conversions in addition to traffic and impressions.

From what we've seen in the Google network for CPG campaigns, Atlas's findings make sense. Often a network buy with multiple campaigns across many sites converts better for our clients than a buy focused on a few big sites or search without integration elsewhere. It's not a guarantee, as so much depends on the offering, the call to action, the auction, etc., but a network buy with overlap can have an impact. During the course of a day, a user might visit a sports site, a social network, a photo-sharing site, check Gmail (perhaps repeatedly) in addition to going elsewhere online. The goal of overlapping campaigns is to maximize these touchpoints without increasing frequency to the point where an ad placement no longer delivers returns for the marketer.

In order to optimize for our CPG clients, we increase placements across our network in a couple of ways:

1) through a mirrored, keyword-based content campaign. Take the search campaign and essentially mirror it as a content-only campaign. Narrow the keyword list a bit to make tighter-themed ad groups, and set max CPC bids according to your goals. Run a placement performance report to see where your ads run, and exclude sites as necessary if they aren't converting or relevant in terms of content.

2) through a targeted list of sites in our network. Hand-pick sites by category, site type, or other . Upload ads (text, image, and video) and choose CPM bids for each site.

Of course, we don't just set up the campaigns and then move on. The trick is to constantly monitor performance of the various sites and adjust bids, creative, and the site mix as necessary to maximize conversion. Sometimes we're surprised by what converts best -- one ad format over another, a certain category of sites or site, or one campaign more than the others. It's important to be flexible and keep an attentive eye on what is working and what is not.

Here are some additional recommendations from Atlas.