A red car is a red car. Unless it’s a maroon sedan. Or a crimson convertible. Or a burgundy truck.
Or, for that matter, a red car.
Search marketers know that bidding for exact search terms — a [red car], for instance — yields a high degree of precision, reaching searchers who are very specific with their query.
But what about searchers that mean [red car], but choose to use different terminology? Or who perhaps even misspell what they are looking for? That’s where broad match search comes in. Broad match uses search algorithms to determine when a user query is related to a marketer’s desired keywords regardless of whether the search term is the exact one. As a result, an advertiser can increase the number of opportunities for an ad to appear based on relevant – not exact – search queries.
Find New Customers With Broad Match
Broad match has gotten something of a bad rap; but, I view it as an important way for marketers to find new customers. Here at Bing Ads, we’ve seen that ad campaigns that utilize broad match drive as much as 57% of their total impressions and 43% of their clicks with it. Importantly, those impressions and clicks aren’t going to competitors.
Moreover, each day some 30 percent of the searches undertaken by our users have scarcely been seen before – a percentage that increases around the holidays. How is it even possible to create an exact match campaign that will capture them?
Broad match not only deepens the pool of potential customers, it does so affordably. True, acquisitions driven through broad match search matches may cost some advertisers slightly more on a CPA basis, but as long as you are adding scale at a profitable margin vis-à-vis other channels it is a worthwhile investment. Gaining those extra customers and sales by combining broad match alongside your exact match can more than makes up for a slightly higher cost.
Our experience clearly shows that adding broad match to an advertising campaign significantly boosts clicks and conversions, but those opportunities can differ from vertical to vertical. Here is a graphic that articulates what advertisers are missing by not adopting broad match based on what I am able to see in the Bing Ads platform (click on the image to see a larger version):
A few key callouts:
- In the Health & Wellness category, adopting broad match can deliver 94 percent more clicks than exact match campaigns. Overall, there are 41 percent of untapped conversions available when broad match is added.
- In CPG, broad match searches can yield 34 percent more clicks than exact match. Here, broad match yields 65 percent untapped conversions.
- And in Automotive, broad match results in 33 percent more clicks than exact match, and 79 percent more than phrase match. Broad match adds 42 percent of untapped conversions.
We’ve see similar results in entertainment, retail, telecommunications, travel and other vertical markets.
Understanding Broad Match
So what’s the hitch? Well, broad match, unlike other products that cover a narrower scope, has been susceptible to misperceptions, especially in the early days of development. What I know from talking with our advertisers is that the current state of broad match maturity is not always well understood. In particular, there are misperceptions around broad match’s relationship to Quality Score, and to the relative matching quality of broad match.
First off, advertisers should know that broad match does not impact exact or phrase match Quality Scores. A Quality Score calculation is very complex, and there is no simple correlation between the broad match QS and that of other match types.
You will often see that your Quality Score on broad match is lower than your Phrase or Exact match types. This does not impact the quality of your campaign nor the performance of your other keywords. In general, a lower than desired Quality Score should be considered an opportunity to refine a keyword strategy. It’s important to evaluate Quality Score at the most granular levels and compare it only to other broad match type keywords.
The other common misperception has to do with broad match quality. As touched on above, broad match wasn’t always all that accurate in the early days. What many advertisers do not realize is that a lot of investment has gone into making broad match more effective since that time, including improvements in click prediction modeling, conversion and click quality metrics, offline and online algorithms, and filtration levers.
All of this vastly reduces the risk of poor clicks and ads being displayed on inappropriate search queries. Today, the Bing Ads platform, for example, is able to deliver broad match conversion metrics that are on average 85 percent of those of exact match.
New Interfaces & Customer Trends
As the world of search is redefined, new interfaces will surface that will only add to the problem of effectively reaching new customers at scale. People have been trained to use few, basic words when conducting a search through their browser.
But how does that change as search becomes an integral part of new devices? The search query on Google Glass, Xbox One and the next generation of Smart Watches are going to shift the paradigm from what we have become accustomed to and require us to adapt to new norms – broad match can help to keep advertisers in front of these opportunities.
In addition, as consumers start to evolve away from these basic search query impediments and interact with the search engine in a more natural, conversational way, it will be nearly impossible to capture the magnitude of search query variables without the use of broad match. New devices, new interfaces and changes in consumer behavior are fueling what’s next in search and search advertising.
Broad Match Best Practices
It’s easy to add broad match to your search marketing strategy. Some best practices include:
- Opt-in to broad match to get maximum reach and retain great quality for other match types.
- You can adjust your broad match ad campaign by bidding explicitly for each match type, depending on their performance.
- For even better control, employ negative keywords. That will block query mappings you don’t want. Adjust as needed with additional negative keywords.
- If need be, you can set limits with restrictive modifiers. But keep in mind that doing so may block up-to-90-percent of the additional volume you win by using broad match.
The world of search is constantly changing. By using broad match, an advertiser reaches new potential customers and keeps up with the evolving search landscape. It’s an easy way to boost search results and find new business.
(Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.