Is Anonymous.Google Ruining your Display Campaign?

17 Rebecca D'Cunha


We work on a lot of PPC campaigns and are always looking for ways to make them more cost effective and productive and one key way in which we do this is with a Display Network campaign.

With a display campaign, we are able to show our ads across relevant websites that are part of Google’s content network. This means that we are able to target people directly on sites that are similar to the advertised product and so benefit from a high level of relevance and a strong target market.

The other benefit with the Display Network is very low CPC’s, compared to the search network, and the ability to pick and choose which sites you would like to be displayed on. However, this is where a potential issue comes in.

What Sites Am I On?

As with any other campaign, with the display network you can add keywords and Google will use these to pick relevant websites for your display ads to appear on. There is the option to choose specific sites to appear on, rather than letting Google choose, but this can limit your reach and so we always like to begin by letting Google choose sites based on the keywords and then trim these down later.

However, when Google does this, you will notice that as well as seeing a list of sites that you have appeared on you will also see “”. These are sites that are part of Google’s content network but do not want to be identified.

Is Anonymous.Google Relevant?

As a content campaign has keywords, the sites your ads appear on are relevant to these keywords and so Google would say that anything that has come under Anonymous.Google will be relevant, you just can’t see what sites are included within it!

This made me think, “are the anonymous actually relevant?” and “are they effective?”. So, to see if this was the case, I looked at multiple content campaigns across our clients PPC accounts and found the following:

Site Clicks Conv. Conv.rate Cost per Conv.
All Sites 15,014 1,588 11% £6.04
Anonymous.Google 427 2 0.50% £151.45

Over a 3 month period, the conversion rate of the Display Network as a whole (un-edited) was 11%, whilst the conversion rate of just Anonymous.Google was only 0.5%, and the cost per conversion was over 20 times the average of the overall content campaign.

Should I Exclude Anonymous.Google?

For our campaigns, this was obviously very poor performance and we excluded it, but I wouldn’t go as far to say everyone should exclude Anonymous.Google from their content campaigns as soon as they put them live. But without clear data on what sites you are appearing on it is hard to know if they are relevant to your campaign, and if this is combined with a very poor conversion rate then it is worth excluding and focusing on ones you can actually see and edit, making real judgements based on available data.

If you run a display campaign and find that Anonymous.Google works well and gets you conversions at a healthy rate then it is worth sticking with, but so far I have failed to see it work for a single client.

My advice would be, let it run to start with but keep a close eye on its performance and if it performs poorly just stick to locations where you can actually see the site your ads are on.