In today’s blog, we’re going to discuss another common pitfall that we see during our free audits, which is that negative targeting is often missing. Compared to pausing, it requires more effort to implement but it pays dividends later on but let’s get into it.
Negative targeting missing
There are two ways you should use negative targeting. First, using negative targeting to delimit strategies. I cannot count the times I saw a campaign labeled as generic or non-branded and when I investigated the search terms, most of the conversions came from branded search terms. What is more disappointing is that I still come across agencies doing the same and passing off branded conversions as incrementality. In two cases I’ve witnessed that up to 80% of all spend and 95% of all conversions came from branded search terms and the agency claimed it as generic/non-branded.
The second use case is limiting wasted spend. I mentioned pausing as the most effective way to limit it. The runner-up is adding negative targeting. Leverage the search term report to find patterns in the search terms and add single words as negative phrase, entire search terms as negative exact or add negative targeting into category targeting or automatic campaigns.
I remember an audit where I saw that a Sponsored Brands campaign had its search terms littered with the word “cbd” across hundreds of different search terms. The search terms have cumulatively more than two thousand dollars at an ACOS of more than 2700%. The recommendation was to add “cbd” as a negative phrase as it wasn’t even relevant to the product.
It’s a daunting process to prove that a negative targeting you’ve added was the right call. It requires matching the negative targeting with the right search terms and some aggregation. If done manually this is unsustainable. For this purpose, we built the Amerge Engine that supports adding both negative match types for keywords and adding negative targeting with a back-check function like what I described earlier. In less than 1% of all cases so far it removed a negative targeting it had added. So, again add negative targeting frequently when something is not working and costing you a lot.
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