According to Google, search partners are websites that have partnered with Google to show ads. In return, these sites will receive a share of the advertising profit. Some sites within the search partner network use Google to power their site search functions, including online directories and smaller search engines such as Ask and, until recently, AOL. Google-owned sites such as Maps, Gmail and YouTube are also included, so expect your ads to appear here too.
If you’re running a Google Shopping campaign, ads for your products will also be displayed on these search partner sites.
In addition to only offering a vague description of search partners on their support site, Google doesn’t publish a list of their Search Partners. This lack of clarity and control of where ads will be shown leaves paid search marketers frustrated, and it casts a heavy doubt on whether or not to include them within search or shopping campaigns.
If you’ve included search partners in your campaign, it’s important to continuously review to make sure these ads are not having a negative impact on your campaign’s overall performance.
AdWords can provide you with a performance breakdown of ads shown on Google search and on search partner sites. You can split this data out by using the Segment tool, and then selecting Network (with search partners) at both Ad Group and Campaign level:
When creating a Google search campaign, you have the option to:
If you create a search campaign, you are automatically opted into the display network and search partners by default.
It’s a widely-accepted best practice to disable the display network within search campaigns.
But, unlike the display network, there’s no other way to target the search partner network, aside from layering into a search campaign.
There are pros and cons to the search partner network.
The biggest pro? Wider exposure for your ads.
The biggest con? The lack of control and visibility. (Psst… Google, if you’re reading this, this is low-hanging fruit for increasing advertiser satisfaction.)
With that said, let’s talk about some ways that you can gain visibility and control to make sure that the search partner network is performing as well as possible.