Use Negative Keywords When Targeting Display As Well As Search Networks

Negative Keywords are important to use for Display networks as well as for Search networks.  On the Google Display Network, our display network of choice, they’re called “Keyword Exclusions”.

As an example, I was reading an article the other day on, regarding the collapse of global oil prices; this is why we’re currently seeing such low prices at the pump.  The top leaderboard ad was for the Discover Card. The placement of this top ad was not unreasonable since there would likely be a demographic alignment of interests or target audience with this online publication.


Google Display Network

The Poster Ad At The Right Was Likely Incorrectly Targeted Via The Keyword “Oil”.

The poster ad below it and to the right, advertising home oil tanks made less sense.  It then dawned on me that the ad probably appeared since the advertiser was keyword targeting the word “oil”, one of the words in the article.  Clearly, someone reading this article about problems in OPEC and other global oil issues would have no apparent bias towards purchasing an oil tank.  Therefore, the presumed keyword targeting did not accomplish what it was supposed to do.  I admit that, since I’m not the advertiser, I don’t have all the facts about how the oil tank ad was targeted since the capabilities these days are so vast and include targeting by: interest, topic, demographic, geographic, keyword and remarketing.  But chances are the word “oil” triggered the ad as I see no reasonable alternative.

Furthermore, they even messed up on their geo-targeting.  Google targeting is aware of my zip code and it’s well known that this town uses natural gas almost exclusively and not oil tanks for heating.  My zip code could have easily been excluded and doing this would have saved the company further funds.

Making matters even worse, the ad had little branding signature, which is the main purposed of display ads.  Where’s the company name & logo?  Typically, display ads are not great direct client converters, but represent excellent value for creating awareness and keeping the business top of mind.  Not only did the company advertise to a less than optimal audience, but they missed out on a great branding and awareness opportunity.  BTW, I altered the ad, but not the basic layout, in order to protect the advertising company and I certainly do not want to pick on anyone.  It’s easy to make mistakes, but these should be less egregious when managing client funds.

Clearly, entering a few keyword exclusions such as “Opec”, “Global”, “Cartel”, “Saudi Arabia”, “Iran”, “Venezuela”, “Middle East” etc. would save the client’s ad spend for more relevant appearances with a more targeted audience.