If you use Google Adwords to advertise your business online you are aware that your ads can be displayed through search or display as shown below. Choosing search means that your ads will only show on the Google search page or their search partners' pages if you choose that sub-option. Display means that your ad will be shown on web sites that have signed up to display Google ads. With the display option you, of course, would expect that your ad would only be shown on sites whose content is relevant to what you are selling. I found quickly that this does not work as I would have expected.

I have always been a very reluctant user of the Google Display Network because I have read about many sites that exist simply to display ads and get clicks. This causes the site (and Google) to make money by charging you for traffic that is of no value to you.

Recently I ran a test using the Google Display Network and, because the ClickDimensions web tracking solution shows me the URLs of the sites that sent me visits, I was able to clearly understand where this traffic is coming from. I was also able to see the quality of these visits based on their ClickDimensions visit score, duration and total pages.

Doing this was easy. When I set up my Google ads I simply placed an identifying parameter in the URL that the visitor would be directed to. This is highlighted below…

Then, I created a Microsoft CRM Advanced Find view to show me visits where this identifying parameter exists in the entry page (i.e. the first page) of the visit. This allowed me to isolate the visits coming from my Google ads.

I then refined my Advanced Find query and was able to see all the visits that came from display ads. I did this by searching for visits from Google Ads where no keywords existed (i.e. if there are no keywords then the visit did not come from a search engine page where keywords would have triggered my ad).

Below is a sample of the visits that came from my display ads. As you can see, these are not sites where I would expect for my ads to be placed. After all, why would I want to advertise a Microsoft CRM Marketing Solution on www.pistonheads.co.uk or www.ukgolfcars.com? You can also see that the quality of these visits was very low. The visitors clicked on my ad, looked at one page and left. This is obviously not how I want to spend my marketing dollars.

Based on these observations I submitted a ticket to Google and they admitted the traffic was poor and gave me several suggestions for how to improve it; mainly by handpicking sites and specifically excluding others (or, if you can believe it, bidding lower to pay less for crappy traffic). These suggestions require more maintenance than I would like but at least my use of ClickDimensions made me aware of the problem so I could make adjustments.