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What’s the Best Match Type for Your Paid Search Campaign? [Our Experts Reveal New Testing Data]

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What’s the Best Match Type for Your Paid Search Campaign? [Our Experts Reveal New Testing Data]


The paid search landscape continues to move at record speed and it can be hard to keep up with its rapid evolution. To put it simply, the search world is shifting. Hyper-segmentation within campaigns is going to be a thing of the past and with the rise of machine learning and automation within Google, this type of segmentation isn’t really needed anymore.

Consolidation is the future.

“With match type changes rolled out last year, marketers have been trying to consolidate the various match types that Google offers into a single campaign and ad groups vs. how we used to have them all separated. Google’s smart bidding technology has advanced leaps and bounds in recent history, which has turned a lot of best practices upside down.”

– Matt Devinney, Director of Paid Search at Tinuiti

As of July 2021, Google removed support for broad match modifier, moving to phrase and performance broad while changes to exact match types also occurred. With this change, Google is moving away from showing results for just a keyword to now including the same meanings of the keyword. The idea here is that the combined match types in one campaign/ad group will help go after more volume and do so at a more efficient rate.

Jump ahead to see case study results.

Not sure what a match type is? Let’s break them down.

What is a match type?

According to Google, “a keyword match type dictates how closely a keyword needs to match with a user’s search query so that the ad can be considered for the auction.” And as we briefly covered, as of July 2021, Google has now incorporated broad match modifier into phrase match. Google noted that “phrase match will expand to cover additional broad match modifier traffic, while continuing to respect word order when it’s important to the meaning. This makes it easier to reach customers and manage keywords in your account.”

Currently, there are three main match type options to select from including:

  • Exact match for precision
  • Broad match for reach
  • Phrase match for a balance of both

See the image below for Google’s definition of each.

Source: Google

Why are marketers consolidating?

Now that we’ve covered which match types exist, why are marketers consolidating? Alana Dritz, Paid Search Strategist at Tinuiti, breaks it down.

“With the clear success of smart bidding tactics and Google’s ever-evolving match type semantics, the need to parse out match types by campaign is no longer relevant. At the search auction, the focus has really shifted away from the exact search term searched, to who that customer is, how that customer has previously interacted and what the expected intent really is going to be. By consolidating match types, you’re feeding the algorithm improved signal information to maximize the understanding of what that user behavior is.” 

– Alana Dritz, Paid Search Strategist at Tinuiti,

Is match type consolidation working?

At Tinuiti, we have been seeing very strong success moving away from hyper-segmentation within campaigns. Conversions are up, CPA is down, CPCs are down, and relevancy has improved as we have given the system more leniency to go after relevant traffic. But we’ll let the results speak for themselves. Check out 3 of our masked clients who have experienced huge wins with match-type consolidation.

Tinuiti’s match type consolidation case studies

SEM Campaign Consolidation

Smart Bidding capabilities have evolved in recent years, resulting in stark changes to account structure best practices 

The Challenge:

Google’s smart bidding technology has advanced leaps & bounds in recent history, which has turned a lot of best practices upside down. Google removed support for modified broad match, moving to phrase & performance broad while changes to exact match types also occurred; moving away from showing results for just a keyword to now including the same meanings of the keyword.

The Solution:

  • Consolidate traffic into fewer and larger ad groups and campaigns.
  • Consolidate match types into the same ad group.
  • Utilize Exact & Performance Broad keyword match types.
  • Avoid creating duplicate keywords in Phrase match.
  • Maximize coverage and incremental reach with Dynamic Search Ads (DSA). 
  • Leverage Responsive Search Ads (RSA) and dynamic features for Creatives.

The Results:

Account Consolidation + Smart Bidding

Client Vertical: Subscription + Ecommerce | Platform: Google Ads

The Challenge:

Client X has a long history of advertising on Google Ads, with an account that has changed hands more than a few times over the years. As a result, they have an account with a robust data history but a fragmented account structure. It was loaded with artificial segmentations and redundancies that ultimately hindered the functionality of Google’s smart bidding technology. 

The Solution:

  • Consolidate traffic into fewer and larger ad groups and campaigns.
  • Consolidate match types into the same ad group.
  • Utilize Exact & Performance Broad keyword match types.
  • Avoid creating duplicate keywords in Phrase match.
  • Maximize coverage and incremental reach with Dynamic Search Ads (DSA). 
  • Leverage Responsive Search Ads (RSA) and dynamic features for Creatives.

The Results:

Match Type Consolidation

Testing Timing (Oct-Dec 2021)

Goal and Test Details:

To test Google’s new best practice of combining match types into one campaign in order to cut down on account management by moving away from hyper-segmentation and letting the engine match based on user intent. 

All Non-Brand Exact keywords were layered into historical Phrase campaigns on 10/14.

What We Learned:

  • Despite volume initially increasing, impressions decreased. 
  • There was an increase in conversion rate netting higher order volume than previous, despite lower impression volume in the consolidated campaign
  • When looking at NonBranded Exact and Phrase Match Types prior to consolidation (9/15 – 10/13) compared to the mixed match type campaign after consolidation (10/14 – 11/11), impressions increased 25% at a higher CVR (+56%) netting increased revenue (+50%) at a more efficient ROI (+20%) just under $2.

The Results:

Ready to level up your search game?

At Tinuiti, we have a team of experts dedicated to boosting your brand’s paid search efforts. If you’re looking to shake up your search strategy this year or build upon it, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us today for more information.





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