If you are not advertising on Google's display network, you probably don't pay much attention to the Networks reporting tab in your AdWords account. This tab can be very useful to you, however, whether you are looking to cut wasted spending, optimize your account for conversions, or better control your daily spending.
If you are advertising on the display network, hopefully you are not combining your display and search advertising in the same campaign. If you are, (we see it a lot, unfortunately) get that fixed immediately! Either way, the Networks tab is especially important to you, as well.
If you're unfamiliar, the Networks tab is accessible from the Campaigns view and gives you an uncomplicated summary of your advertising on Google's Search and Display networks. In addition, Google breaks out the same information for you on the Campaigns tab using Segments. The Networks tab, however, breaks out the Display Network into your managed and automatic placements and lists the individual websites where your ads are appearing.
The Networks tab is relatively new, in that it has replaced the former “Placements” tab. Its advantage over its predecessor is that it can give you a wider view, greater insight, and a better picture of exactly how your ads are performing across the board. This information is highly useful when optimizing your campaigns.
First, you should be monitoring your website placements on the display network on a consistent basis to be sure to exclude sites that are performing poorly. Not only will you want to weed out placements that are unprofitable, you also want to locate and exclude any bogus or spam websites where your ads may be appearing. Sample bogus website.
Secondly, whether you are on the display network or not, you want to make a habit out of checking your performance on the Search partners network and compare it against Google search. Typically we find that performance is better on Google than on its search partners, so if your cost per conversion is too high or you are loosing money you may want to turn off the search partners all together. This can be done in the campaign's settings.
Ideally, Google would allow you to separate search partners campaigns from Google search like they do for the display network. Until that day comes, however, we just have to be sure we stay on top of the performance and monitor the different networks individually. My guess is that your competitors aren't doing this, so stay ahead of the game and better control the profitability of your Google advertising by optimizing for networks.