Product Differentiation on the Content Network
Adwords has just added a new tool for brand advertisers. Advertising inventory on the Content Network is now divided into above the fold and the whole site. Advertisers can now exclude below the fold inventory on sites in the Content Network in Adwords. Google has turned their Content Network into two different products, with different levels of value.
By default, Content Network bids will be on all advertising space on the site, both above and below the fold. To display above the fold, below the fold placements need to be excluded and bids made for placement on the whole site need to be beaten.
On the Adwords blog post explaining this change it was stated that:
Our goal with this release is to give brand advertisers greater control over where their ads appear, and make the Google Content Network an even more powerful, controlled environment for running high performing brand campaigns.
In practice this will increase the perceived value of one form of placement over the other. A direct result of this will be a concentration of market participants, and allocated budget competing for one of the two kinds of placements. The above the fold placements will be seen as the more valuable of the two, and as a result, the average cost per click will rise. Many advertisers will diversify their campaigns and bid at different levels on both above the fold only placements and whole site placements for as long as they see value in doing so.
There is also a shift towards using online advertising in branding campaigns. With a greater perceived value in search and display advertising for promoting brand building content, the value of certain traffic sources has been inflated. Google Adwords has talked about branding and search marketing a few times already. By selling advertising on branding value and separating the value of an ad from an incremental per sale return increases the amount of money that most organisations can justify internally on paying more for impressions and clicks.
By leveraging different perceptions of value created by these changes to the Content Network, Google Adwords is increasing competition and consequently their margin per click. Separating cost per click from the profit margin on conversion for some markets in the minds of advertisers will also raise the perceived value of impressions and clicks on both search and websites.This trend will increase the actual value of traffic in a market where there is very little competition among suppliers.
Ironically it was Google with their entry into the market that created that first shift towards linking cost of traffic to profit from sale. The introduction of Analytics and Adwords along with using Adsense to grow their inventory were the main drivers in this shift for most marketers new to advertising online.