Advanced Google Ads Tips & Tricks Learned at The eCommerce Summit from Brad Geddes

On November 12-13, I attended the GPeC Summit which is the biggest eCommerce Summit in the CEE region. Initially, I wanted to write a blog post about my experience and the talks I attended but then I said the Google Ads topic was too good to not fully cover it. If you want to have an impact focus is really important, so I’ll go all-in with the Google Ads insights.

Brad Geddes is definitely one of the best if not the #1 PPC trainer in the world and I had the privilege to listen to his talk in the first day of GPeC and then attend a full-day masterclass with him on advanced Google Ads strategies.

His main stage talk was good and I found that if you have an eCommerce store you should definitely use a countdown timer for your Google Ads, at least now for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s a relatively unknown tool that allows you to add in your ad’s text the dynamic time left for or until a special sale. You can easily set it up by writing “{” where you want it to be displayed. From there Google will take you through the setting process. But be careful because the best conversion numbers are when the timer starts at less than a day and as you go up the conversions will decrease.

Then, stop the automated bidding and re-enable it after this period is over. The machines are messing things up big time when it comes to special retail events like Black Friday. The same with analytics, be skeptical about the data.

Large or expensive orders are unpredictable when it comes to the keywords that drive them. So you should be extra mindful with automated bidding when you mostly rely on those. CPA (Cost Per Action) bidding is a safe approach for most advertiser but go into ROAS (Return On Advertising Spend) bidding only if you have an advertising history of at least 6 months and over 50 conversions per week.

Recommendations:

  • Use the Google Ads countdown timer to push more sales but set it for a period smaller than one day.
  • Stop the machines around important retail events and go with advertising approaches less reliant on Google’s AI.
  • Only use ROAS bidding if you have a long advertising history and over 50 conversions per week.

The full-day masterclass was just amazing so I’ll share with you some of the insights learned here:

Go With The Buyer Journey & Not Sideways

Advertising isn’t advertising when it’s requested information so you should definitely take advantage of that. When someone searches for HDTVs, show them the kind of information they really want like a category page where they can see multiple items. When someone searches for a particular TV, just show that model. The ad copy must also be correlated with the landing page, generic or specific.

Not all advertising channels are equal when it comes to the buyer journey. Some work better in the initial phases and some near the purchase. Most often search should start at the learning stage.

Recommendations:

  • Align your advertising with the buying journey of your customers.
  • Each stage of the buying funnel has specific advertising channels that work best.
  • Search advertising should usually start at the learning stage.

Exact Match Isn’t Exact Match Anymore

There are two match types, semantic and syntactic. The first matches the intent of the user and the second matches the user’s query. This is really important because of the latest change in match types done by Google Ads. Now, the exact match isn’t syntactic but semantic. Between broad, phrase and exact, the only option for syntactic is phrase.

It’s obvious how the Google Ads’ algorithm can easily mistake intent, people searching for “yosemite camping” can be more interested in tips and gears to protect themselves from bears but those searching for “campsites in yosemite” are just looking for a place to camp. Because of this, some businesses are seeing huge drops in conversions, of course, correlated with an increase in the number of impressions.

If you still want to go with the exact match you should do what you previously did with broad, which is constantly analyzing the searches that trigger your ads and adding new negative keywords. Make sure that you add all the negatives because they don’t automatically expand into plurals or misspells as normal keywords do. By the way, the most important negative keyword for global eCommerce businesses is “in”.

Recommendations:

  • Use exact match with caution, now phrase match is your most narrow option and the only syntactic match.
  • Negative keywords can make it more relevant, but make sure you add the plurals and misspells.
  • The most important negative keyword for global eCommerce businesses should be “in”.

Only Broad Match Can See The Intent in Mixed-Language Searches

Now, if you have a global business this is another thing you should definitely know. In some particular regions, you’ll get searches that have a word in English and another one, for example, in Arabic. The problem is that the phrase and exact match won’t interpret the searches the right way. So here comes the broad match that will translate the foreign word and try to see the overall intent of the search.

But the broad match is always, you guessed it, too broad so you need to restrain it. You have two options to do that. On one hand, you can use negative keywords just like for the exact match or you can use the modifiers. The last is a feature from heaven, basically forcing a syntactic match on the words that are sensitive for your business. You just need to add a plus in front of the selected word. Here’s how it works:

Recommendations:

  • Use broad match if you sell to people who do mixed-language searches.
  • You definitely need it in Arabic countries.
  • Add modifiers to keep your broad matches relevant.

Forget About The 3rd Headline & Responsive Ads, at Least for Now

This is something that I also tested and ended up with the same conclusions as Brad Geddes. The extended ads are now even more extended with an extra headline and description. The problem is the 3rd headline only shows once in 125 impressions. Another issue is that it shows mostly on Google Search partners. The same applies to the extra description. The trouble isn’t worth it. Then, the responsive ads are just performing worse than standard ads, probably because the algorithm behind them isn’t evolved enough at the moment:

But both of the above can definitely break your ad copy structure. In the first case you don’t know how the ads end and in the second all the options can get you defocused. This is how a good structure for simple extended ads can look like:

Headline 1 – Captivating Tagline
Headline 2 – Consumer Benefit / Call To Action
Description – Business Benefit / Business Feature (+ optional CTA)

Recommendations:

  • Don’t waste your time with the 3rd headlines, they show in less than 1% of the searches.
  • Skip the responsive ads as well, they don’t perform as well as standard ads yet.
  • Use a logical structure for your ads’ copy.

Demographics Is The Most Undervalued Feature in Google Ads

First of all, you can exclude any demographics based on age, gender, and income from the campaign level. Most of the products have their own demographics, for example, you can’t expect a gaming laptop to be bought by women older than 65 years. It just doesn’t make sense. For some businesses it’s trickier but as the business matures you start to see some clear patterns in the data.

Then, another feature that’s not really used at least for search campaigns is the audience. Basically, you can have double targeting based on keywords and audience. How this helps? Well, you can go with really broad keywords if the ads are only shown to an audience that already knows you.

Recommendations:

  • Think about the demographics that fit your product.
  • Exclude the ones that are really far from your target. You can do that in the demographics tab at the campaign level.
  • You can go really broad with your search keywords if you show the ads to an audience that already knows you.

There were too many interesting things to cover in just a blog post so I’ll end it here. Hope it helps to run some killer ads these Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And if you have the chance I totally recommend a training with Brad, he’s 100% on top of his game.

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