AdWords Competitor Targeting: Guidelines & Best Practices Before You Dive In

AdWords Competitor Targeting

Mastering Google Adwords is seriously tricky business – essential, but tricky. For digital marketing strategies to perform successfully, however, it’s pretty important to find someone who considers themselves a master of it. For B2B companies out there, you may have tried out or heard about a practice that some might consider controversial: competitor targeting. It’s been around for as long as Adwords has existed; before the Internet even existed, targeting the competition has been a tactic that some have gained true, long-term success from. As Unbounce puts it:

Sneaky as this tactic may seem, online advertising is still a far cry from those “10X better than the leading brand” television ads that are plaguing primetime to this day.

While an effective way to get ahead in the Adwords game, there are still a few guidelines and best practices for competitor targeting on Google Adwords. Unbounce – one of our favorite companies and tools for folks like us – wrote a fantastic article on how to know if this practice is right for you, as well as how to do it well. Take a look at just a sample here:

Proceed with Caution

Targeting competitor keywords might be common, but it’s best to get your ducks in a row before you jump straight in. After all, just because Brand X is doing this, doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

The number one thing you need to keep in mind about competitor targeting in AdWords is that it’s competitive. Before you tell your boss or your client that you’re launching a competitor campaign, check if your competitors have already done the same.

First Stop: Auction Insights

To know who’s bidding on your branded terms (and how well they’re doing it), click into your Campaigns (in the new AdWords experience), then navigate to the Auction Insights tab and filter for your branded campaigns.

If you’re not seeing any suspects, hurrah! You now have a decision to make: whether or not you want to risk starting a trend by being the first to target your competitors’ terms. If they catch on, they could return the favor by coming after your terms and potentially driving up your cost-per-click. Even in the Search world, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

Seeing some familiar names in the list? If competitors are already bidding on your branded terms, it’s fair game for you to enter the ring. After doing your homework, of course.


Want more? Head to the Unbounce blog >> 

If you’re ready to get started on your own Adwords campaign, give us a holler! Miguel, our resident Adwords expert, is always ready to help.

How Can I Create Ads That Avoid Ad-Blocking Technology?

People are blocking ads at an alarming rate. Long gone are the days where you’d be made to sit through a long YouTube ad totally unrelated to your chosen video or be visually violated by refulgent call-to-action buttons in display ads.

Consumers are tech-savvy nowadays, especially the Millennials and Generation Z. With studies estimating that 18-24 year-olds are 3x more likely to have ad blocker software installed than not and with 91% of people saying ads these days are more intrusive today than one or two years ago, just what can we do as marketers to make sure our curated content reaches the youth of today?

The Game Changer for Digital Advertising

The study pulled out another interesting statistic that  73% of people said they would be willing to pay for content to avoid ads. BINGO!

To get on the right side of our tech-savvy consumers, we’ve got to be creating great content that will interest and engage them. No gimmicks, click baits, or bolshy buttons in sight, just honest, interesting targeted content that will be inherently valuable to a consumer.

The Solution to Our Ad Woes: Native Ads + Adding Value

What is a Native Ad and how do they work?

Native advertising – in which the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience – is being used more and more by big brands and startups alike. Native and branded content placements neatly combine with the content on the site to look like one and the same, with correlating form and function with the native user experience. It’s so clever that sometimes it’s even difficult as a marketer to spot some native ad campaigns. As a result, these ads have a higher click-through rate (CTR) than traditional display ads as it is non-interruptive content for the interested consumer.

Take a look at the other advantages of native ads, through Sharethrough’s infographic:

Ad-Blocking TechnologyAd-Blocking Technology

Non-interruptive has become a form of intelligent ad design.

Check out a mobile example below:

Ad-Blocking Technology

Source: Sharethrough

As seen in this example, the native Google ad is placed within the consumer’s ‘Auto News,’ and is only recognized when clicked on, or when the consumer is paying very close attention to all the content. Even then, the content is by no means strongly oriented towards a hard sell. Rather, it’s valuable content with the objective to builds up awareness of a brand and to prompt the consumer to click.

What content should I be advertising?

These can be in the form of anything that you feel would be of value in the eyes of the consumer. Mediums such as blog posts, product updates, and industry expert information all work well as native ads to engage your target audience.Be savvy in the way you introduce your calls-to-action within the copy in your chosen medium. Don’t bombard your reader with sales jargon; instead, position external links naturally and cohesively within your writing. Inviting a reader to opt-in to an email list or to learn more about a product or service in the copy of the blog post is a great way to engage their interest. Additionally, as your content is jammed packed full of value, there is an increased likelihood that the reader will go ahead and share your content, at no cost to you! Win, win.  

The relationship between consumers and branded online advertising is only going to get better. Producing better ads requires a partnership between publishers/platforms, advertisers, and consumers. Collectively, we need to make ads less intrusive and more relevant for consumers. As users become more accustomed to a less interruptive way of receiving ads, we can then re-establish the trust lost between consumers and brands.

Do you need help with your Facebook ads or Google ads and want advice for ‘going native?’ Get in touch with us to talk shop!

Why Using Landing Page Builder ‘Unbounce’ Will Increase Your Google Ad Quality Scores

Google Ad Quality Scores

We believe Unbounce should be a marketing agency office staple – It’s pretty unique to us at Oliver and Sons. If you haven’t heard of it, and you’re in the digital marketing profession, stop what you’re doing and take note.

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve created an insanely optimized Google Adwords campaign, but your quality score is detrimentally low? Has your landing page been classified as unrelated to the content of your ads? We’ve seen this happen countless times with clients who have come to us for help. Quality scores cost money, so you have to improve them, and fast.

Why do I get low-quality scores?

Google is smart, and so should you be. Think about it, as a consumer you would get instantly turned off if you’d clicked on a specific product ad and instead you’re met with a rather incongruous homepage. Bleurgh. It’s just not smart marketing.

Don’t get mad at Google. Get even.

How will Unbounce improve my scores?

With Unbounce you can change all that. Implementing Unbounce landing pages will help you get smarter with your paid advertising. How? By creating separate landing pages related to each high performing keyword, and connecting these to each corresponding keyword in your search campaign, your quality score will increase. It’s that simple. Nothing too fancy pants, but it’s just making sure that you have everything ticked on Google’s checklist.

I’m not an experienced UX designer, is this a problem?

No, Unbounce has been created thinking of us in mind. If you know the basics of landing page design and have some idea of what CTAs work best on a landing page, then you’re sorted. The exciting thing about Unbounce is that their software actively encourages A/B testing. Therefore,  if you are afraid your landing page design doesn’t quite cut-the-mustard, you may be pleasantly surprised when you check your conversion rates on the page.  

Additionally, let’s talk about Unbounce’s world-renowned customer service. They take it super seriously, and it means they do stand out in the virtual workspace landscape. No problem is too big or too small, so don’t be afraid to ask them about your desired integrations, Unbounce functions or even give your comments for improvements.

If you’re losing your head with your Google Ad quality scores and you’d like our budding landing page designers to create keyword-specific pages for your business… get in touch!

A Crash Course in Google AdWords


Google AdWords is an essential for digital marketing strategies today, but that doesn’t make it any easier to get a real grasp of. Because of this reality (and because we’re helpers), we partnered up with our friends at Social Buzz Pros to put together a comprehensive crash course.

Get a complete overview of everything you need to know about Google AdWords, including:

  • CPC & CPA Pricing
  • Re-marketing
  • Target by Keyword
  • Campaign Set Up
  • Effective Ad Copy

View the full presentation below, or check it out on Prezi.

Any questions? Looking for more help with Adwords? Feel free to drop us a line.

A Brilliant Google Goof

(Or Did You Mean: Your small business is screwed?)

Google’s search algorithm (GSA) is among the most robust automated projects ever undertaken. More than just a new verb it’s given us new research methods, new techniques for marketing businesses and, of course, new problems.

Google’s Did You Mean functionality can be useful, well-reasoned and compassionate:

Google’s Did You Mean function can even be hilarious:

Much of the time though, especially for small businesses, Google’s Did You Mean is a nightmare. And when paired with Showing Results For it can do active and measurable harm by obscuring a business’ results or pushing them down the ranking.

Good News, Bad News, A Little Background

The good news is Google, many small business owners and digital marketers are aware of this issue already.

The bad news is there isn’t a simple solution. Why not? Well, Google has its own sort of modern usage dictionary (a default spelling database) that learns words from the documents it crawls while performing searches. Ubiquitous, but strictly speaking incorrect, usages like “alright” as well as common but newfangled words like “lol”, “muggle” or “noob” are added to Google’s spelling database once they’re found a certain number of times in a certain number of crawled documents.

Before the feature launched (around November of 2008), GSA analysts noticed a non-optimal behavior that was occurring tens of millions of times: a user searches a term, doesn’t find the results she want and then lightly edits her query. This was a huge issue for Google – for a sense of scale, look at three weeks’ worth of misspellings of Britney Spears.

You can imagine the tidal wave of positive feedback data that must have come in immediately after the feature’s release: all of a sudden, those minor query edits might have dipped 10, 20, 30 percent, since not only do most people misspell and typo all the time but the Did You Mean placement is located in prime visual real estate, atop all results.

The problem is, as with any machine learning or algorithmic solution, that what works in 90 plus percent of all cases might not work in the remaining 10. And for new, obscure or acronym-based business names, Did You Mean not only doesn’t work but can actively deter growth and visibility.

What’s To Be Done?

If your business has this problem, there isn’t a hard and fast way to fix it. For one thing, Google hasn’t provided any formal mechanisms for requesting term inclusion in their spelling database: no form to fill out, no way to make a request (no humans, just algorithms maintaining the dictionary). This makes a perverse, Age-Of-Internet-Giants kind of sense: why would Google provide a solution to something it doesn’t view as a problem?

So the harsh reality is that time and growing traffic to your site will heal this wound more than most other efforts. That said, there are some simple SEO activities your business can start work on today that will help increase the probability of Google including your business name in it spelling database more quickly.

Below are a few relatively-easy-to-implement tricks that will, in time, help resolve this issue.

  • So much of SEO is getting other sites to link to yours. Link building campaigns are available, but often costly, so don’t forget the simple stuff: are there links to your website on your LinkedIn account and other social profiles? Do you have links to your website included in email marketing content and other customer messaging? Do you have partners or friends who run their own blogs and websites who might link to yours?
  • On-page SEO is the least you can do to make your site more visible to Google. Fixing things like Title tags and Meta tags on all your site’s pages to include full, explicit references to your company’s name and, if necessary, url is a big step in the right direction.
  • Search yourself. At the end of the day, Google Search is a fully automated endeavor that responds best to humans using it. If you’re not happy with your search results on Google, one slow but steady way to train it is to search for your own business on Google, ignore the Did You Mean suggestion and click your own link anyway. This won’t deliver results quickly (but it may give you peace of mind).

Has your business encountered the dreaded Did You Mean problem? Do you know anyone whose business has been affected by Google’s suggested results? If so, contact – I’d love to hear your story.