Scaling Your Google Ads Account With Query Level Bidding
Query level bidding, priority bidding, inverted funnel, short stack funnel – whatever you want to call it – it’s one of the most effective strategies for running paid ads on a high ticket eCommerce store. This method utilizes Google’s shopping ads and Priority Settings.
Google Shopping Ads can be very effective, but the problem is that you can’t select the keywords your ads show up for. This means that Google’s algorithm will do its best to select the keywords your ads show up for, for better or for worse. The algorithm for Google Shopping Ads is powerful and can be very effective, but is not perfect.
For example, on one account I managed I kept getting odd search terms for a certain product. The product was a vintage-style mobility scooter called the “Gatsby 4 Wheel Scooter,” by Vintage Vehicles USA. It’s a cool mobility scooter made for people that have difficulty walking.
For this product I was getting irrelevant search terms, such as: “old cars,” “harley davidson scooter,” and many more.
Let’s assume this product has a great margin and sells well, and is converting for branded search terms – The issue is that when you go to raise the bids to scale it up, you will be paying more for branded terms as well as generic terms.
In other words, as you scale up to squeeze more money out of this product, you will also be wasting money on ad spend for those generic search terms.
It is likely that your generic search terms will convert for you, but at a higher CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) than branded search terms. It is also likely that branded search terms will have a higher conversion rate.
This is where query level bidding comes into play. The goal with query level bidding is to create a campaign for each type of keyword that we are targeting (generic, branded, and SKU). This gives us control over how much money we pay for each type of keyword. Ultimately, this will help us control how much money we pay in ads for each conversion (CPA) and in turn will help us maintain a profitable ads account.
How do we do we do that?:
- If the search term is generic, bid low.
- If the search term is branded, bid higher.
- If the search term includes a brand name and product name, or if it includes a SKU number, bid the highest.
That is just an overview of the strategy itself. There are other components – Priority Settings, negative keywords, shared budgets and difference of bids – that are necessary for this strategy to work… we’ll get into that in a bit.
Below is a visual representation of the buying funnel in relation to each level of the Query Level Bidding funnel. For this example, we used an air purifier, the “AirPura V600.” See how the type of keyword (generic, branded, and brand + product) represent the different stages of the buying funnel and the different priority levels of the Query Level Bidding funnel.
One of the most important components here are the priorities. In Google Shopping campaigns you are allowed to select from three different priorities: low, medium and high. The priority setting will tell Google which ad to show first. In an account where we will have the same three products in three separate campaigns as shown above, the Priority Settings are crucial to making this strategy work.
So despite the bid amount, the product in the campaign with the higher priority will show first.
For the sake of this demonstration, we will continue using the “Gatsby 4 Wheel Mobility Scooter” by Vintage Vehicles USA as an example. Before we proceed, let’s dissect this product title so we fully understand each part of the keyword.
“Gatsby 4 Wheel Mobility Scooter by Vintage Vehicles USA”
In bold, the word “Gatsby” would be the product name. You could argue that “Gatsby 4 Wheel Mobility Scooter” could also be considered the product name, but we’ll keep it simple for this example.
Underlined, the words “Vintage Vehicles USA” would be the brand name.
Some examples of generic keywords for this particular product would be “old school mobility scooter,” “4 wheel electric scooter,” “red mobility scooter,” etc.
Let’s take a look at how your three campaigns will look with priorities, bids, and negative keywords set.
High Priority Campaign
This campaign will fire first and pick up all the generic search terms.
Campaign Name: Mobility Scooters – High Priority
Priority Level: High
Bid Amount :$.25 – $.35 to start off with (really up to you though)
Negative Keywords: Make any brand name, product name, or SKU number a phrase match negative keyword in this campaign.
Types of search terms that should show up in this campaign: “classic car style mobility scooter,” “scooter that looks like old car,” “mobility scooter red,” etc.
Types of search terms that should not show up in this campaign: “gatsby scooter,” “vintage vehicles scooter,” etc.
2. Medium Priority Campaign
This campaign will fire second and will pick up brand name search terms.
Campaign Name: Mobility Scooters – Medium Priority
Priority Level: Medium
Bid Amount: $.45 – $.55 to start off, then scale up or down depending on campaign performance.
Negative Keywords: Product names, SKU’s and any generic keywords that may accidentally show up in this campaign should be set as negative keywords.
Types of search terms that should show up in this campaign: “vintage vehicles mobility scooter,” “mobility scooter by vintage vehicles USA,” etc.
Types of search terms that should not show up in this campaign: “Gatsby mobility scooter,” “Gatsby 4 wheel mobility scooter,” “red mobility scooter on sale,” etc.
3. Low Priority Campaign
This campaign will fire last and will pick up the remaining search terms, brand name + product name, and SKU search terms.
Campaign Name: Mobility Scooters – Low Priority
Priority Level: Low
Bid Amount: $.75 – $1.00 to start off with, then scale up as you become profitable
Negative Keywords: Any generic keywords that may accidentally show up in this campaign should be set as negative keywords.
Types of search terms that should be showing up in this campaign: “Gatsby 4 wheel scooter,” “vintage vehicles gatsby mobility scooter,” etc.
Types of keywords that should not be showing up in this campaign: “4 wheel mobility scooter,” vintage vehicles usa,” “mobility scooter on sale,” etc.
Don’t forget, there will be one shared budget for all three of your campaigns. If you have three individual budgets, and one of those budgets runs out, the whole funnel will stop working properly. This is why we want to use a shared budget.
Although it seems a little counterintuitive to have the low bids on the high priority campaign, the high priority campaign sucks in all the potential search terms first. With your negative keywords set correctly, it filters the bad (generic) keywords so the valuable, branded and SKU keywords can move down the funnel. At the bottom of this funnel, where your low priority campaign is, the bids are set at the highest. This high bid ensures that your ads will show up in a good position so you will get the click, and hopefully the sale.
The analogy I think of when I explain this strategy is filtering dirty water. The dirt in the water represents low-value generic keywords, and the filter represents Priority Setting and negative keywords. The clean, potable water is the high value (branded or SKU) keyword that will convert at low CPA and drive revenue up.
The dirty water goes in and the high priority campaign filters it. The water reaches the medium priority campaign, cleaner than before, but not yet potable. The water then passes through the medium priority filter, ending up in the low priority campaign. Here the water is clean- the keyword is either brand + product name or includes a SKU – and will convert at a much higher rate than before.
The main goal of this strategy is to have control over how much we spend on each type of keyword. With this kind of control over our account we can also have better control over our CPA, which means more profits.
Note: Not all products and brands convert well for branded keywords. I have had plenty of brands and products that never converted for branded keywords and only converted for generic keywords. If that is the case for your store, this strategy may not be the best for you.
What to Expect
As we mentioned before, if the products or brands you’re running ads to convert well for branded search terms, implementing query level bidding will lead to a lower CPA. Since we can spend more on branded terms and less on generic terms, we should see a higher ROI on the branded campaigns.
Since our campaigns will be more targeted, especially the medium and low priority campaigns, we will see a higher CTR. And since CTR is one of the biggest components of quality score, that score will also go up, which in turn will lower the amount of money you will have to spend to beat your competitors.
Rise in Conversion Rate:
Again, if your products convert well for branded search terms, you should expect to see a rise in your conversion rate on your medium and low priority campaigns. More targeted ads equals more clicks which should equate to more sales.
Potential drop in traffic:
Now that you’re competing for higher level and more coveted keywords you may see a drop in traffic. It may take some time for the low priority campaign to pick up traction, but the temporary drop in traffic is worth it.
Again, this strategy does not work well with every niche. I have had plenty of products that just never converted for branded terms, only generic terms. If that’s the case, you can just make one campaign for that brand – just make sure you do negative keywords on a regular basis.
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