Introducing the Greenlane Adsense Explorer (a free PPC tool)

Adsense Explorer

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Here’s the thing: We knew Google was running our clients’ display ads on irrelevant sites. And the daily upkeep was maddening. We needed a fix, so we built a Chrome extension to give us more control over where our ads end up. You can download it here, and read on for the details.

The Google Display Network Conundrum

Let’s set the scene with an all-too-familiar scenario. Say you want to increase brand awareness or introduce a new product to the world—you might set up a display prospecting campaign on the Google Display Network (GDN).

In your new display-targeted campaign in Google Ads, you employ GDN’s audience targeting options. Luckily there’s an in-market audience that matches your target audience, and from there you trust Google will be able to manage the rest. (After all, Google knows plenty about their audience!)

Finally, you finish up the creative, flip it on, then sit back in wait for those sweet, sweet impressions to start rolling in.

But, wait—your ads aren’t appearing on target websites. You assumed your ad would show up on websites your audience browses every day, like the New York Times and the Washington Post. Instead they appear on domains like .ru and .fun. (Plus a list of sites I’d rather not mention in this post.)

Google runs your creative on irrelevant sites for your ad.

So to optimize your campaign, you start the manual process of excluding these low-quality or irrelevant websites. However you choose to proceed, one thing is certain: you’ll have to do it all again tomorrow. And the next day. And so on.

There’s got to be a better way. Well, now there is.

Introducing the Adsense Explorer!


At Greenlane, we experienced the above scenario for our clients’ campaigns too many times. So we built a tool to improve the process. The Greenlane Adsense Explorer is a Chrome Extension that runs whenever you do a Google search. The extension scans the search results for any sites that are part of the Google Display Network. It lets you know which URLs are available to target.

Adsense Explorer

With that information, you can manually click each result and paste it into your placement-targeted display campaign, or you can download a CSV file and bulk upload all the placements into your campaign targeting. All with only a few clicks.

When to Use This Tool

Example 1: Breaking News

As I’m typing this, we are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is breaking news daily. For the last 5 months, our clients have been pivoting to keep up with the “new normal”. Parents are figuring out if their kids are going back to school, learning from home, or some combination of both. The concept of learning pods is all over the news, and our client wanted to get in front of parents researching these options.

With the Greenlane Adsense Explorer, we were able to obtain and target a list of 100 placements about “pandemic pods” in just 5 minutes.

Example 2: Hard-to-Target Customers

Some customers are hard to target via traditional display campaign options. We know they’re out there, but we can’t get in front of them for various reasons. Maybe the audience pool is too small, the pre-built Google audiences don’t apply, or our demographic reports show converting users as “unknown”.

Use the Greenlane Adsense Explorer and couple it with the “site:” operator. Search for “site:nytimes.com google ads” and by default the tool returns 30 articles I can paste into a placement-targeted campaign.

Our Results So Far

We’ve been testing this tool over the past few months at Greenlane. We’ve had great success. One of the campaigns we created using the Adsense Explorer has a 2% conversion rate. That’s right, a display campaign at 2%. Advertisers know what an achievement that is.

Every morning, instead of adding 25 negative placements (where we wasted impressions on the previous day), I add new, highly relevant placements to our targeting. Compare that to the scenario we opened this post with, and you have to agree that it is a much more productive use of time.

How to Try it Yourself

Ready to take the Greenlane Adsense Explorer for a test drive? Head over to the Chrome web store, download the extension, and start building your campaigns!

Greenlane recommends creating a new display-targeted campaign for placement targeting and using manual CPC bidding to ensure you’re being competitive enough to show on the placements that get the most traffic.

Enjoying the extension and getting great results? Reach out and let us know! Find bugs or have ideas on how to make the tool better? Reach out with those too!

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Bill Sebald

Bill Sebald

Managing Partner

I've been doing SEO since 1996. Blogger, speaker, and occasionally teaching at Drexel and Philadelphia University. I started Greenlane in 2005 to help clients leverage search marketing to hit business goals. I love this stuff. Visit my profile page.

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