This blog series explores how marketers can drive growth from mature paid search accounts. In the first part of this series, we shared insights on how marketers can effectively streamline media spend with advanced smart bidding and audience-first strategies. In this second part of the series, we will explore how advertisers can shift from a strategy that’s limited to capturing demand to a strategy that uses Google Ads and Microsoft (MS) ads to drive demand.
With the development of Google and Bing, Google Ads and MS ads now allow marketers to go beyond just choosing keywords and building relevant ads; they now give advertisers the opportunity to reach an increasing number of platforms beyond the search results page.
How to leverage broad match
In recent years, keyword match types have evolved tremendously, making marketers rethink their strategies for expanding reach and increasing the number of matching queries to keywords. Exact keywords are not actually exact anymore, and phrase and broad match modifiers have now started to converge. Broad match offers flexibility and balance between reach and efficiency, a key reason as to why it’s become a favourite for paid marketers.
Algorithm developments since Google’s Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) update (oriented towards language understanding) are based on artificial neural networks made to mimic the human brain, or at least what we understand of it to this date. Artificial neural networks are made of an input layer (a query) as well as a hidden layer (the implicit meaning of a specific query). For example, Google will be able to understand that a user with the search query, “London Paris Bus”, intends to find a bus that travels from London to Paris.
These developments require an increased number of signals to serve the right ad for the user query and allow better query matching for broad match keywords. Remember that it’s in Google’s interest to match queries with the best ads to improve ad engagement (and revenue) for advertisers. Thus, using broad match is an excellent way to expand reach and rank for completely new queries. Broad match will allow you to rank for queries that you may not be capturing through organic search, such as longer tail queries.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that broad match keywords still have the potential to increase spend very quickly, which can be challenging if marketing budgets are a bit limited. Here are a few recommendations that you can apply to help combat this:
- Use smart bidding and let the system pick the queries that are most likely to convert.
- Use experience and knowledge of the account to build lists of negative keywords ahead of going live with broad match terms (but make sure you review search queries on a very regular basis).
Using this approach, advertisers can unlock the extra potential of their account to grow search volume and increase business performance.
Dynamic Search Ads and ad group bidding
Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) have been instrumental in filling keyword coverage gaps, especially for retailers that have dynamic inventories. There are a few ways we can ensure that a DSA campaign is boosting reach whilst driving business performance.
Building effective DSA campaigns
- Focus on the key pages and exclude ‘information’ pages such as contact, delivery or login pages.
- Build a feed of key uniform resource locators (URLs) to ensure you are only going to match for queries that are important to you.
- Use category pages to allow for a quick setup and to ensure coverage of all pages.
- Break down important pages of your site into specific ad groups.
Refining bid strategies
- We have seen the best results from DSA campaigns when using smart bidding strategies (like the maximise conversions or maximise conversion value bid strategies).
- If you are focusing on a target cost per acquisition (CPA) or a target return on ad spend (ROAS), you may break key pages into different ad groups and override the ad group bid to improve efficiency. Overriding the ad group target will allow you to focus investment on the top performing products or pages.
By using the maximise conversion value bid strategy and segmenting targeting by categories, we have been able to increase revenue by 361% year over year (YoY) for one of Croud’s clients, whilst improving return on investment (ROI) by 330% over the same period.
Looking beyond the search results page
Back in July 2018, Google rebranded from Adwords to Google Ads, a clear indication of the platform’s potential to grow beyond just keywords.
Google Ads and MS ads now allow marketers to run more than just search campaigns. They give you the freedom to design a push marketing strategy similar to paid social and programmatic activity. A winning formula for a successful strategy includes an ideal audience (affinity audience, in-market audience, remarketing list, and customer relationship management (CRM) list). Combine that with the right messaging and effective assets, and you’re good to go!
Discovery campaigns can help you reach 2.9 billions users across Gmail’s Social and Promotions tabs, YouTube Home and Watch Next feeds, and Discover. Ads are easy to set up, and require a combination of visual assets and text, similar to Facebook ads. Bid strategies are fully automated with maximise conversions or target CPA bid strategies. If you are running successful paid social or display activities, discovery campaigns are a very good and efficient way to expand reach, as it allows you to align your audience and message across multiple platforms.
We have seen the best results from combining a prospecting strategy with a remarketing strategy, which allows for flexible budget allocation between the two based on our objectives. The prospecting strategy allows us to target new users and increase brand discovery, while the remarketing strategy gives us the opportunity to target users that are yet to convert.
Similar to discovery campaigns, MS audience ads allow you to expand reach through a number of placements such as the MSN home page, Outlook email app and MSN feed page. Audience ads consist of visual assets and text, and can be leveraged in two different ways. The first way requires you to extend your campaign reach and serve your search ads directly. The second way requires you to set up a separate campaign that will allow for better messaging, visual assets, and audience targeting. We tend to favor the second approach as it offers more control. You can easily leverage the audience strategy and creatives from the approach you’ve taken with Google’s discovery campaigns.
With YouTube boasting 120 million monthly TV screen users, the online video platform offers marketers a space to reach viewers in an optimum environment. Whilst this number has been heavily influenced by COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions, the trend of viewing YouTube content on TV screens is likely to keep growing in a post-pandemic world. The stats are already very impressive, with over 450 million hours of content viewed on TV screens each day.
Additionally, YouTube is looking to make their platform an online shopping destination. They have been actively trying to implement new shopping features throughout their platform, and are planning to soon launch a product tag feature that allows creators to directly plug products into their videos.
YouTube can help grow brand awareness very quickly and also be a major driver of sales when the right message and audience are combined. Google Ads allows advertisers to very quickly reach this growing audience on desktop, mobile devices and TVs by focusing on either reach or actions.
Advertisers can start off big, and then use their learnings to refine their approach and discover what works best for them in terms of audience, creatives and device engagement. Alternatively, they can also consider starting off small and growing their reach incrementally, combining both prospecting and remarketing activities.
Whether you’re looking to increase the number of queries your account is matching for or exploring new ad formats outside the search results page (such as videos or new ads formats), paid search marketers can now play on both ends of the spectrum; they can either increase the share of the market they capture or grow the demand directly in Google Ads and MS ads.