Avoiding the Masses
Most marketers push to reach as many people as possible. Generally, the greater the reach of an ad, viral video, or word-of-mouth marketing campaign, the more the campaign will sell. This is why Super Bowl commercials cost so darn much and why Google can charge a premium over Yahoo or Bing. Reach looks great on the revenue sheet. Gap, Coca-Cola, and Colgate are big Reach proponents, but it is rarely the right approach for the smaller players (realistically, if you are reading this, you fall in this category). For us, limiting our advertisements’ reach can be our best strategy.
Negative keyword targeting in paid search is the most well-known example. This is a great, commonly used practice. If I am selling pants, but I don’t carry Nike sweats or Diesel jeans, I am going to want to negatively target these brands in my pants campaigns. Simple, straightforward, and hopefully, every paid search marketer is doing it.
Limiting reach goes beyond simply cutting out a few keywords. Paid search gives users multiple options when it comes to choosing exactly who you want to (or want not to) target: geo-targeting, dayparting, and keyword match are all good examples.
Negative targeting should be used to sculpt each paid search campaign to target a very specific audience. For example, if I am running a Campaign for Jiffy Lube and I have branches throughout the country, I am going to want to treat queries for “oregon oil change” differently than “portland, oregon oil change”.
Serving state-related ad text to city-related searches (or vice versa) is a recipe for low CTR and conversion. Unfortunately, negatively targeting “oregon” in the Portland Campaign is not an option. Rather I am going to have to negatively target all exact match state-related keywords.
Keyword overlap (targeting in one Campaign and negatively targeting in others) should be commonplace in most paid search accounts. If you are targeting “Toshiba laptops” and “laptop bookbags”, you are going to want to determine how to handle a “laptop bookbags for Toshiba computers” query. Do you want all bookbag-related queries to go to the bookbag ad group or do you want all Toshiba-related queries to go to the Toshiba ad group? This needs to be your decision and not the search engines.