When you scale Google Ads from a few thousand dollars per month to tens of thousands, a funny thing happens. Especially if you’re scaling Facebook at the same time.
And actually, it’s not funny at all.
Despite hitting channel-specific targets, you may find top-line revenue doesn’t show a corresponding lift.
Why? Because — left to their own devices — both platforms will market to, report on, and claim the same customers. Essentially, they’ll cannibalize each other.
The results? Great platform numbers; terrible incremental gains.
In other words, you can “win” and still end up losing.
To succeed, you need control. Granular control over bidding at different levels of interest, audiences, search terms, campaign priorities, and negative keywords. The kind of control you can only get by going old-school with Standard Shopping and what we call “funnel stage campaign splitting.”
Want even more Google goodness?
Fair warning: The tactics in this article are pretty advanced.
If you’re looking for something foundational, then grab our Google Shopping Ads Guide. There, you’ll get guidance on how to setup, sell, and scale a full-funnel approach to search engine marketing (SEM) ⤵️
Funnel Stage Campaign Splitting
At Common Thread Collective, we organize our paid-media frameworks around an age-old concept known as AIDA: awareness, interest, desire, and action.
For the purposes of this strategy, let’s group AIDA into three stages — top, middle, and bottom of the funnel — driven by search intent with an example for each.
AIDA & Search Engine Marketing
Awareness: Low Intent (Top of Funnel)
- No search specificity: Zero knowledge of your product or brand
- Example: “shorts”
- Campaign Priority: Low
Interest and Desire: Medium Intent (Top of Funnel)
- Some search specificity: Enough to contain a brand name
- Example: “Air Jordan shorts”
- Campaign Priority: Medium
Action: High Intent (Top of Funnel)
- Very specific search: Brand name, product name, and “buying” keywords
- Example: “buy Jordan Jumpman Fleece Diamond shorts”
- Campaign Priority: High
With that framework in mind, let’s dive into the strategy …
Campaign Build with Google Standard Shopping
Start by either duplicating one of your most successful Standard Shopping Campaigns three times, or by recreating your most successful Smart Shopping Campaign as three separate Standard Shopping Campaigns.
These new campaigns need to be governed by tight exclusions for …
- ToFu Prospecting: Non-branded + non-product keywords only (i.e., categorical terms) and non-visitors
- MoFu Remarketing: Non-product keywords and website visitors who have not yet purchased
- BoFu Branded Remarketing: Targeting people who have been to your site, haven’t bought, and use branded keywords to find you again
In fact, the campaign structure closely resembles a Facebook account:
That’s a lot for one chart.
So, let’s break each one down by three ingredients that make them up …
1. Negative Keywords
After you’ve duplicated or recreated the three Standard Shopping campaigns from above, first, you’ll need three negative-keyword lists:
- Global List
- Product Names List
- Brand Names List
You likely have a Global List of negative keywords already. If not, this contains all the search terms you don’t want your ads showing for.
For the other two — Product Names List and Brand Names List — both of these should be your product-specific and your brand-specific terms.
2. Campaign Priorities
Next, set the Priority on each one of these campaigns:
- Prospecting: Low
- Remarketing: Medium
- Branded Remarketing: High
Setting prospecting to “Low” ensures the campaign drives non-brand search and picks up everyone who’s interested in your type of product but hasn’t been to your site before.
At “Medium” and “High,” your remarketing and branded remarketing (respectively) will gobble up previous visitors as well as high-intent searches.
If branded terms sneak in, keep stomping them out!
You can test this by putting your Brand List into a Dynamic Search Ad Campaign. Let it run and check your search terms report. When new brand words rear their ugly heads, simply add them to the list.
3. Audiences: Google Ads + Google Analytics
This ingredient is optional; however, the more you scale, the more control you’ll want. By default, Google Ads will give you access to “All visitors” and “All converters” audiences.
Including and excluding them as shown below is a great starting point!
You can narrow your targeting even further with Google Analytics’ audiences.
First, connect Google Analytics with Google Ads (if you haven’t already). Second, create an “All visitors” audience in Google Analytics based on the last 30 days.
Then, exclude both sets of visitors — Google Ads and Google Analytics — from prospecting and include both in your two remarketing campaigns.
Lastly, ensure a shared budget across these three campaigns. Don’t use Smart Bidding strategies with this method because it will completely defeat the purpose.
The goal is to control who sees your ads by splitting each stage of the funnel into separate campaigns. Sharing a budget pushes the right people to the right ads based on …
- Negative keywords to control intent
- Campaign priorities to control spend allocation
- Existing audiences to control prospecting vs remarketing
Two Challenges, Two Solutions
You may run into at least two challenges.
First, if product groups don’t generate enough conversions, spend will flatline.
The answer? Lower your ROAS targets to give the campaign breathing room. Once it starts delivering again, tighten up the targets to where you need them.
Second, tight exclusions on branded keywords — all those brand terms you stomped out — can result in losing product listing ads (PLAs) to competitors.
To combat this, fire up a Smart Shopping Campaign with a higher target ROAS and give it a very low budget compared to the standard shopping campaigns. Typically, your ads start showing up again as soon as the campaign begins spending.
If you’ve “won” in-platform, only to lose actual revenue …
Take back control. Split your campaigns stage-by-stage. Tell Google to stop cannibalizing your social spend and start driving incremental net-new revenue.
In less than a year and a half at CTC, Ranier “Rain” Olegario accelerated from Paid Search Buyer to Paid Search Manager. He’s worked in digital marketing for five years and — on top of every SEM certification under the sun — also holds an MBA from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Connect on LinkedIn, especially if you’d like to hear more about him “pretending to be on Iron Chef.
Andrew is a Paid Search Buyer at CTC, helping guide some of our top clients across the SEM spectrum. With over four years of experience in digital marketing and $3M+ managed in ad spend, his knowledge of PPC comes second only to his passion for scaling ecommerce brands. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn about all things paid media.