Transparency in Content Targeting

When you think of content-targeted sponsored links, Google and Yahoo probably come to mind. Advertisers flock to their methods of matching paid search ads with sites that feature similar content, because of their reach and contextual relevance.

If we could change just one thing about their offerings, it might be the inability to know exactly where our ads end up. Google and Yahoo make that call, with the help of their ad-targeting technology, while we make placements blind. Few buyers bat an eyelash, though, because who else can facilitate the purchase of content-targeted CPC (define) text ads on truly top-tier sites?

Try Quigo Technologies. If you’ve never noticed, premium brand sites like CareerBuilder, Fodor’s, and MarthaStewart.com show sponsored text links relevant to their content. Those ads don’t come from Yahoo or Google. They’re supplied by Quigo’s AdSonar content-targeted ad network.

What distinguishes Quigo from other sponsored-link providers is the ad placement is complete transparency. Advertisers can choose which Quigo partner sites — and which site sections — they’d like their ads to appear on. There are hundreds of sites to choose from. They can even target ads by vertical category, individual site page, topic, or keyword. And as with Google and Yahoo, the ads are sold on a flexible, cost-effective CPC basis.

Knowing where ads will appear enables advertisers to better gauge each placement’s value and make a more informed decision about the price they’re willing to pay for each click. “They can be assured their advertisements will be where they want them to be, and they can optimize their bids and creative to maximize their performance,” says Henry Vogel, Quigo’s chief revenue officer (CRO).

Also, AdSonar is a private label. Take a look at wedding site The Knot’s sponsored link information. You’d never know Quigo supplies the technology used to deliver its ads. Publishers also have access to advertiser information, so they can tell what’s being bid and what placement types are preferred. This allows them to build a stronger relationship with marketers, and their efforts to cross- and up-sell their clients exposes advertisers to new opportunities on highly pertinent properties.

AdSonar is the exclusive provider of a content-targeted performance marketing solution for the majority of the sites within its publisher network. Even ESPN.com recently traded in Yahoo’s Content Match ad program for AdSonar.

To a certain degree, Quigo has been flying under the radar since its 2000 debut, if only because it’s up against a couple of search powerhouses. Many paid search marketers and media buyers I know continue to look exclusively to Google and Yahoo for content-targeted campaigns. Over the years, though, Quigo has quietly risen to a position of considerable power. Now AdSonar is being openly compared to one of its largest rivals.

Some suggest the company’s independence might be responsible for its increasing penetration. It’s certainly nice to have an alternative to the usual suspects. Still, I’d warrant it’s the quality of its network that will grab advertisers’ attention moving forward. The enhanced control over ad placement doesn’t hurt, either.

Independent media buyers can dive right into a Quigo campaign, but agency marketers might face more of a struggle. We first have to convince our clients to go beyond the search brands they recognize to experiment with a similar content-targeting form. That advertisers can choose the sites on which they appear will help bolster our argument.

I’m told Quigo will be announcing more publisher deals in the New Year. This space will certainly see a match between David and Goliath in the months to come.

Want more search information? ClickZ SEM Archives contain all our search columns, organized by topic.

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