When Advertising With Google, Where Are You Really Advertising?

So you are or have decided to start advertising using Google AdWords.  If you are like most advertisers, you think this simply means your ads will show on either the top or to the right of the page when a user does a search for one of your keywords on www.google.com.  But did you know that your ads could be displaying in places other than Google?  Well it is true and it depends on how you have your campaign configured to determine where your ads will show.

Here are the options when launching a new campaign and one of these options must be selected for every new campaign: Google Search Network with Display Select, Google Search Network, Google Display Network Only or Google Shopping.

Since Google Search Network is the most common choice for advertisers that is the focus of this post covering what it is, the options and the best-practices for ensuring success.

Note, for detailed information on Google Shopping – what it is, how to properly set up and tips for optimizing, I suggest checking out these posts: Google Shopping – What It Is, How Has It Has Changed; Top Tips To Optimize Google Shopping and Enhancing Google Shopping Using Promotions.

Review-and-Ratings-SystemGoogle Search Network –

Google Search Network is the option that advertisers should select when they wish to have their ads displayed on Google.com.  However, this option also includes Google Search Partners.  Google Search Partners are websites other than Google that have an agreement to display Google ads on their website.  There are hundreds of Google Search Partners (such as AOL and various search directories) and these websites show Google ads because they get paid when users click on ads on their site generated by Google.

Is advertising on Google Search Partners good for advertisers?  Well, it depends on the advertiser.  It definitely will increase an advertiser’s reach; however one thing for certain is that advertisers running ads on Google Search Partners absolutely benefits both Google and their Search Partners. This is why advertisers are automatically opted into Google Search Partners as the default to the Google Search Network.

Google-Search-Partners-Opt-In general, Google does a great job of being transparent to their advertisers.  However, this is not the case with their Google Search Partners.  Advertisers are unable to tell which of the partners are generating impression, clicks, costs or conversions and are also unable to opt out of displaying on a specific Search Partner.  In addition, an advertiser cannot bid different on Google Search than on Google Search Partners.  It is truly an all or nothing shot.  Advertising with Google as well as with Google’s Search Partners can indeed be beneficial, but an advertiser needs to be aware and periodically review their account to make sure it is and continues to be beneficial to do so.

Checking Google Search Network Results vs. Google Search Partner Results

Even though Google does not allow its advertisers to view results of specific Search Partners, fortunately Google does allow advertisers to view results of the entire group and here is how it is done.

Assuming an advertiser has been running their ads on both Google Search as well as Google Search Partner in order to have data for both, an advertiser can look at the results using the segment tool. Within the Campaigns tab, simply click on the drop down for Segment and select the Network (with search partners) option.

Google-Search-Partner-SelecAfter an advertiser selects the Network (with search partners), every campaign is broken down into results of either Google Search or Search Partners.  Advertisers have the ability to customize the columns or use the default to view all the statistics available and then review each campaign.

Key statistics include clicks, impressions, CTR, costs, average position and conversions.  I also like to include the search impression share metric.  This number is generally higher for Search Partners opposed to Google Search and can provide some insight into what may happen if an advertiser increased their bid which would likely increase the impression share on Google Search.

Note, when comparing Google Search results to Google Search Partner results make sure that you have selected a large enough date range to make the data relevant.  In general, I recommend looking at a bare minimum of 3 months.

Summary –

Advertising with Google Search Partners indeed will bring an advertiser more clicks subsequently more visitors.  Will these clicks be profitable?  That is the million dollar question each individual advertiser needs to answer based on looking at their results as described above.

In general, I do recommend beginning campaigns to include Search Partners for eCommerce advertisers, but I also make sure that I am periodically checking the results for each and every campaign in the account to ensure that it generates a positive ROI.

For Professional Services clients, I typically recommend turning off Search Partners from inception as these clients are looking for those “red hot” leads coming directly from Google not the hundreds of other websites where a Google ad could appear if not opting out of Google Search Partners.

Still need help or looking for someone to bounce ideas off?  I am currently offering free marketing strategy sessions to those interested. Call True Online Presence at 1-888-456-6943 to schedule.

Happy Marketing!


Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist  with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.  Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.