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Paid search is no longer just the realm of keyword advertising. Often keywords are closely associated with paid search. However, considering you can target consumers with placements, audiences, and categories without ever using a keyword; paid search is no longer just keyword advertising.

Another way to think of paid search is by the restrictions you place on your targeting.

Consider this scenario. Google gets 88 billion searches per month across all of its properties per month. That is too many searches for anyone to advertise upon. Therefore, you decide to just target users in only the United States, that brings the possible searches to roughly 19 billion.

Therefore, you add another restriction, you decide to just advertise on Google. That narrows down your audience to 12 billion searches

In this case, we will go ahead and choose a keyword. We could skip this stage in many instances if we are targeting only the display network. To further constrain your ad serving you choose a keyword, for this example we’ll choose the DVD category: That narrowed down the queries to 16.6 million searches per month. That number is still to large for most budgets.

Therefore, we do not just choose DVD,  we refine the keyword to make it ‘portable DVD player’ and we’re down to 260,000 searches per month.

Never forget your match types. To continue to restrict your targeting, change the match type to exact, that brings us to 33,100 searches per month.

When you examine the retail sector, retail sales spike over the lunch hour during the week days, after 6pm on the weekdays, and on the weekends. Therefore,  we eliminate searches between midnight and 8am. That brings our searches per month to roughly 24,800 per month.

However, if you were an actual store, you might not advertise to the entire United States. If your store were only in Chicago, you would then only want your ad displayed when the user is in Chicago. The location targeting of your ad brings the searches to 776 well qualified searches per month.

If we only wanted to reach users who were on their mobile device, you could only have your ad displayed on phones and that would bring the total searches to 137 per month.

You can also restrict advertising by:

  • Website
  • Audience
  • Keyword
  • Time of day
  • Day of the week
  • Match type
  • Language
  • Mobile device
  • Mobile carrier
  • Mobile device type
  • Desktop / Laptop
  • Location
  • Audience
  • Category
  • Search
  • Display
  • Search Partners

It is possible to only show your ad to someone:

  • Who is on the New York Times Website
  • When the user is in the business section
  • And the article is about stock brokers
  • The user is in Minneapolis
  • It is a Monday
  • Between 8am and 10am
  • The user is on an iPad

Rarely will you want to use every restriction possible as that does narrow down your audience tremendously. However, using a few restrictions can help you find the balance between reach and conversions. The larger your reach – the worse your conversion rate. The smaller your reach, the higher your conversion rate. Using a few restrictions is vital to showing your ad to the correct consumer.

Many new advertisers think about reaching everyone. Reaching everyone is rarely a great business strategy. The goal should be to reach the correct audience. This can be accomplished through the use of restrictions.

Next time you’re thinking about advertising, don’t think about the world of possibilities – think about how to narrow down who sees your ad so your ad is displayed in front of the audience most likely to convert.

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