In late March of this year, Google added a new feature to its AdWords platform, “topics”, an extension of contextual targeting which had previously been confined to keywords. With display advertising growth expected to outpace growth in paid search, Google appears to be making continued efforts to capitalize on this trend. According to a recent report commissioned by Interactive Advertising Bureau, display advertising grew by 24% in 2010 as the growth of search slowed to 12%.
What is topic targeting?
According to Google, “Topic targeting is an easy way of placing your AdWords ads on multiple pages about a specific topic at once. Targeting by topics is an alternative to selecting individual placements where your ad can appear, or individual keywords that will trigger your ad.”
There are over 1,750 topics and sub-topics currently available. You can also exclude topics or sub-topics. With categories defined, more advanced strategies based on your conversion funnel can be quickly built and tested. Performance can be reviewed by topic setup and specifically bid on. Based on relative performance, adjustments can be made to further refine your campaign to improve performance. Below is an example:
The primary difference between keyword based contextual targeting and “topic” targeting is in the simplicity and accessibility needed for smaller advertisers to adopt into their campaigns.
Based on a recent webinar conducted by Google, contextual targeting by topic looks at factors (at the page level) like:
• Frequency of words
• Font sizes
• Word placement
It’s no secret that Google sees display advertising as a growing revenue stream. By making contextual targeting easier to use, they expect more advertisers to try it, and thereby grow their display ad business.
Topic targeting is available in all ad formats: text, display, video, and rich media. Ads using topic targeting are purchased in the same way as other contextually based ads, like cost-per-click (CPC), cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) and cost-per-acquisition (CPA).
Substantial year-over-year display advertising growth is expected to continue. This means more competition from ad platforms, which should lead to continued innovation in the space.