Many of our readers have emailed us asking for more information about the Google content network. As you ramp up your advertising efforts for the holiday season, we wanted to provide you with an overview of the content network, including recent improvements, tips, and examples of how others have used the content network to grow their business. Today's post is the first of a three-part series on the content network that we'll be sharing with you over the next few weeks.

The Google content network is a wide network of AdSense partners, ranging from household names such as the New York Times, to sites that cater to niche audiences, such as blogs, forums, and social networks. Together, these sites reach more worldwide Internet users than any other online property or network.

As an advertiser, you can use the content network to achieve goals across the buying cycle, from raising awareness to driving conversions. However, the impact of your content network campaigns can extend beyond the content network -- these content network campaigns can raise awareness for your business and create demand among your potential customers that can be captured later by your search campaigns. Here is what we heard recently from an AdWords advertiser:

There is no doubt that if we were to take our clients' campaigns off of the content network today, we would see a decrease in their conversions on search tomorrow."

- Edward Llach, founder, SearchRev SEM agency.

You can read more about Search Rev’s experience with the content network in this case study.

Over the past year, we've made numerous changes to the ways you can manage, monitor, and optimize campaigns on the Google content network. Here are the most notable features we've added recently, based on your feedback.

Transparent reporting
The Placement Performance report provides site-by-site performance metrics for your contextually-targeted campaigns -- tracking clicks, impressions, cost, and conversion data at the URL level. When coupled with Google’s conversion tracking, the Placement Performance report becomes a powerful tool that can show you the placements where you’re meeting your objectives, and those where you aren't. You can read tips on how to use these reports effectively to boost campaign performance here.

Targeting and pricing improvements
We're constantly making changes to our contextual targeting system to ensure that we place your ads next to the content most relevant to your message, and as a result, measured more than a 25% increase in well-targeted ads over the last year. We've also made improvements to our smart pricing technology, which discounts the price of clicks on specific sites based on their likelihood to result in strong advertiser ROI. All together, these changes have led to more relevant ads for users and better results for advertisers.

More bidding choices
As we mentioned last week, we also released cost-per-click bidding for placement targeting. You can now hand-pick the parts of the content network where you’d like your ads to appear and choose the bidding option (CPM or CPC) that fits your needs.

Let us know if there are specific topics on the content network that you would like to hear about. In the meantime, keep your eye out for posts in this series in the coming weeks.