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Manage Your Advertising ROI with Google AdPlanner

November 22nd, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Google_Ad_Planner_LogoGoogle AdPlanner was released as a beta in June of 2008.  In this post, I look at what AdPlanner can do and how to use it to manage your online advertising ROI.

If you haven’t noticed, I’m entering a phase where I look at advertising ROI, since so much of marketing ROI hinges on measuring advertising.  I came across Google AdPlanner recently, and want to understand how it can help a marketer with their online ad planning to maximize returns.

The first thing I noticed is that as a Publisher, I can offer information that is pertinent to potential advertisers for my blog.  Clicking on the Publisher tab, I entered my site’s description, relevant categories, and what type and size advertising I accept.  I then allowed it to pull from Google Analytics my number of unique visitors, page views, total visits, average visits per visitor, and average time on the site.  At bottom of the Publisher page, it gives you the option to post a “badge” on your site.  I copied the generated code for the badge, went into my blog’s current Ads generated by the WordPress Advertising Manager plugin (see my previous post for details) and edited the Google AdSense ad.   There is a space to enter code either before or after the ad; I put it after.  I also entered a break (
) before the code to push it down one line.  You can see the results on my blog, under Google AdSense, the button that says Google AdPlanner. This now allows someone who may be interested in conducting advertising to view my site’s information.

Back in AdPlanner, I clicked on the tab Research.  From here, there are two tabs, Search by Site and Search by Audience.  Search by Site allows you to search on specific websites that you are interested in advertising on.  If they are in the AdPlanner system, the basics entered about the site–description, categories, what ads they accept–show up.  What is different about this page than the one generated from linking through the badge, however, is the button “Add to Media Plan.”  It won’t do anything, however, until I create a Media Plan.

Clicking on the Media Plan tab, I click Create Media Plan, and entered a name for it.  Clicking back on Research, I can now hit the “Add to Media Plan” button and it shows up as a line item on my plan.  I could keep doing this website by website, but I want to  Search by Audience.  Here I see 50 of the top websites, with the option at bottom to change the view to see as many as 250 at once.  They order by largest number of unique visitors – Yahoo shows up first on the list with 130 million unique visitors, then Facebook (110M), MSN (56M), Myspace (50M – still?!), and it goes on from there.

There are options next to Audience where at each step the sites shown are reloading to match what is entered.  The first is by Geography (down to metro and then city level).  In interest of my friend’s hair styling business as previously discussed (see two posts ago for details), I selected Venice, Santa Monica, Inglewood, Los Angeles and Marina del Rey.  Under language, I selected English and Spanish.  Under demographics, I entered the target my friend and I decided upon – women 25-54, with at minimum a high school degree, earning $25,000+.  The next, Sites Visited, is interesting as my friend wants to do styling for weddings, so I could choose to enter here that they have visited certain sites such as theknot.com.  For my purposes today, I’ll leave this alone. The next, Keywords Searched, I could enter keywords such as “wedding planning,” “wedding dress,” and so on.  Again, for my purposes today I will leave this blank.  The next, Load Audience, holds predefined audiences to help you out, such as “Affluent $100k+,” “Auto Buyers,” Baby Boomers,” and so on.  Oh good, “Bride to Be” is in there – I will keep that in mind but left this blank for now.

The resulting list of websites from my filters are shown in order of largest percentage reach.  The top 5 are: Yahoo at 76% reach,  Facebook at 62%, MSN at 35.3%, Live (which is now Bing) at 31.9%, and Amazon at 31.4%.

Under the Filter section, I can choose to rank them instead by Composition Index. If you don’t know, an Index is a way of looking the data where the result shows the number of times that a website delivers an audience, for example, the first on the list, LAmag, shows an index of 4000.  Divide 4000 by 100, and the resulting figure, 40, means that you are 40 times more likely to hit the audience that you are intending.  The next four on the list are LApublichealth.org at 3700 (who would have thought?!), themls at 3700 (the real estate directory), discoverlosangeles at 3300, and losangelesrestaurants at 3100.  IMHO (in my honest opinion), I feel that the use of indices is better than the use of percentage reach.  In the case of my friend’s hair styling business, I feel I would throw out the themls and losangelesrestaurants, including instead the next two on the list, LA411 at 3000 and losangeles at 2800.

A third way of looking at the results is to choose to Filter > Best Match, which says “Displays a balance of large and small sites.”  The top five are themls, LAmag, discoverlosangeles, ralphs, and losangeles.  IMSO (in my subjective opinion), I will go with the Composition Index results.  I am only selecting six, as my friend doesn’t have a ton of money to spend.  With my background in advertising, I know that my friend can’t spread her money too thin.  I may cut it down once I see the cost and ROI on each site, but six seems a good place to start.

Under Filters > Add Items, I can choose to also view Subdomains, Ad Placements, and whether the site is “In Google Content Network,” in addition to those items already selected for you: Domains and Accepts Advertising.  I selected Ad Placements.  This now changes my Composition Index view so I can see the indices for each of the placements, so now my top six sites are: LAmag (4400), LA411 (3700), themls – skipping, MyFoxLA.CityVoter (3700), LAlife (3400), daytrippen (3400), LAeater – skipping, and discoverlosangeles (3300).

Under Filters > Category I can further refine the results.  Here I can select Beauty & Personal Care > Beauty Magazines, Hair Care & Products, Spas & Beauty Services.  My top sites have changed again, and my top six are now Projectwedding – skipping, longhaircareforum (340), bellasugar (310), womenshealthmag (280), totalbeauty (280), fitsugar (280), and hairboutique (280).  Although my indices are now smaller figures, my friend doesn’t have a lot of money to spend so these may prove adequate as far as value – reach vs. cost.

Under filters, ad specs, I can select the type of ad she will run and the size.  From my prior experience at AOL, I know that 728×90’s (aka leaderboards) and 160×600’s (aka skyscrapers), tend to perform best.  I’ll select Flash ads since I know how to develop in Flash.  Once again, my top six sites have changed: Projectwedding – skipping, longhaircareforum (340), totalbeauty (260), elle (210), hairfinder (210), beauty.about (210), and dailymakeover (180).  I will now accept these and Add Selected to the plan I made earlier.

Clicking on the Media Plan tab, I can see now these line items and the expected impressions per day for three out of five.


From here, I can now export the plan to a CSV file or to a MediaVisor CSV.  MediaVisor is a system put out by Doubleclick that lets media planners research, plan and host ads for their advertisers.

Under Media Plan > Profile, I can also look at who this particular ad plan reaches.

Sample Media Plan Reach

Good stuff, right?  As for actually placing the media buy, AdPlanner does not yet support this ability.  I would now have to contact each of the online publications, providing my specs and filters, to find out what they would charge.   Unfortunately it also doesn’t allow you to export the filters you chose along with the media plan, so I submitted this to Google as a feature request.

Frankly, I never would have guessed those sites suggested by AdPlanner would be most beneficial to my friend’s styling business.  I hope this helps you understand how you too can benefit from using AdPlanner to plan your online advertising campaigns.

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