Wondering how to protect your campaign budget and avoid wasting your Google ad spend on unpromising leads and unfruitful conversion rates? Here’s everything you need to know…

Google recently changed the rules (again) on Phrase Match (which is one of our favourite keyword match types) to place an emphasis on AI machine learning instead of manual bidding from, you know, human beings. Supposedly, this move was an attempt to improve the relevanc of match results, but here at Fingo we have noticed that there is still an abundance of wastage triggers despite the change. So we went about testing innovative approaches, to ensure we could offer our clients a full arsenal of weapons to maximise lead conversions. And you may just be interested in what we found out.

The Danger

So let’s address what you came here for - the dark danger of using Broad Keywords. It’s true - using Broad Match is like giving Google a free leash. And whilst even we hate to admit it, Google is not a human with a nuanced understanding of language and intent (it may be after the upcoming Mum update but that’s for a different blog). Broad keywords can be interpreted in loads of different ways that can be irrelevant, burn through your ad budget really fast and offer no results. Whilst your broad keywords may seem highly targeted and common-sense, you’d be amazed at how Google interprets them. You may find your ‘Spring Break’ phrase input, for vacation apartment lettings for example, reels in users attempting to repair their broken metal spring bicycle parts. And sadly a mistake like that can burn through a significant advertising budget overnight. We have taken on dozens of projects from desperate in-house marketing teams who have run into trouble in this way and turned to us to fix the problem. We strongly advise brands to work in partnership with specialist digital agencies who can provide expert knowledge and execution, before you allocate a significant budget.

The Tempting Upside

However, there is something tempting in the allure of using Broad Keywords that can offer the most potential volume of search results. If you can’t get the temptation out of your head and hope to run digital campaigns without agency help, this blog may help you avoid disaster. If we imagine Broad Match like an automatic shotgun, and other targeted approaches like sniper rifles, we can easily envisage the benefits of widening our opportunity to hit our targets more easily and liberally (or convert our leads, to avoid using gun metaphors).  Wordstream recently discussed the merits of using Broad Match for ads with a ton of important caveats which will supplement our advice. So... Can you utilise Broad Match keywords carefully, with some protective easing to ring fence your budget and sanity? Maybe, and here’s how.

Why Target CPA bid strategy is the Golden Child of Google (and your campaign's bullet proof vest)

Target Cost Per Action is a smart bidding model that can be used to control Broad Match keywords, providing you have enough historical data for Target CPA to work efficiently. Past conversion data is not mandatory, but it is a serious advantage. Its personality (yes we dare to personify an automated building model) is very picky about the potential user it targets. It doesn't necessarily control how Google interprets the keywords, but it is efficient at knowing which keywords or signals are the most valuable in order to convert the end user. As long as the Target CPA isn’t set too low, it will do its utmost best to serve the phrase and reduce the chaos of a broad keyword, and the more historical data you have, the better it gets. If Google’s interpretation of Broad Keywords is fast and loose, we can view Target CPA as Google’s strict older sibling, helping to control its rowdy, rebellious broad match related behaviour. In fact Target CPA is so picky, its general phrase uptake is closer to 1 out of 3, instead of 3 out of 3.

But there is still risk- even with Target CPA

Target CPA is a strategic framework that helps to offer guidance and boundaries to how Google interprets keywords and what it does with them. But all strategy requires a level of expertise and that’s no different here. For the strategy to work, the algorithm uses past conversions to figure audiences, creating new profiles to pick them out and predict behaviours. This means you need a seasoned account to use this type of strategy effectively.  There is also a balancing act between data costs, negative keyword usage and scalability, with you only being able to scale and broaden on successful refinement. Without a skilled understanding of this balancing act, you run the risk of a fruitless and expensive campaign. That said, if you are able to master the art of Target CPAs to control Broad Match (or find an agency who can), you’ll be delighted with your control over finding the most relevant and targeted customers. Of course every account and client is different, and it's not a one-size-fit-all strategy. At Fingo, we proactively test each campaign to find the ideal bespoke strategy to yield the best results possible.

How Fingo has successfully used Target CPA to protect against Broad Keywords

Whilst still at an early testing stage, we have seen incredible results using Target CPA. A recent campaign for a property client saw us reach our target limits through our standard phrase match strategy and began to run out of search volumes, due to the niche nature of the campaign. We innovated and experimented with broad key terms to find more variety of the key words, and of course implemented a Target CPA strategy to keep our client’s costs low and laser focused. Using this approach alone, we successfully converted dozens of high quality leads that would have been otherwise unreachable, with a ROI% well above our target.

Reach out - we'd love to hear from you

Interested in an agency taking charge of your digital campaigns? Fingo has over 18 years of experience designing and delivering digital strategies for a wide range of clients. We would love to help create something that makes the most impact to your business goals and delights you at every stage of delivery.

You can reach Client Services directly on hello@fingo.co.uk or call +44 (0) 1372 749200

About Marissa Freeman

Marissa Ifeolu Freeman is the Head of Marketing at Fingo. Her focus on brand strategy, strategic content design and customer success drive her vision. Fascinated by all things digital marketing including Search, Activation, Social Marketing, SEO, CRO, Programmatic and UX, her true passion lies in empathic people leadership and learning from the specialist experts across the business at Fingo Marketing.