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Are Your PPC Campaigns Competing With Each Other: What to Do

Josiah Roche

Josiah Roche

Digital Marketing Consultant

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As you’re scheduling your ad campaigns, keep in mind that having too many of them may risk competing for the same keywords − killing your ROAS. I see this time and time again in the Google Ad accounts of eCommerce businesses. The issue here is that it directly impacts the cost of your CPCs and can harm the performance of your entire PPC strategy if not carefully managed.

Today, we’ll look at how to identify campaigns that are competing with one another and how to manage them so that conflicts don’t arise.

Are Your Campaigns Competing With One Another?

Some businesses advertise similar products and services that are closely related, leading to internal PPC campaign competition

For example, let’s say that a brand advertised two closely related items, such as medicinal herbs. As both products are similiar, they treat different symptoms. However, in the name, they both end in “herb”. So it’s almost confusing to Google because these herbs seem like variants of each other.

The risk is that these ads will compete against each other for the same kind of keywords in Google ads,  increasing CPCs because both are entering most of the same ad auctions.

Another risk is that Google may award the ad spot to a less relevant campaign just because it performs better in the auction (e.g. has a higher Quality Score), even though the herb ads are relevant to the current user’s search intent (e.g. “buy x herb”).

The single way this will ever happen is when you’ve got conflicting campaigns that have:

  • Similar keywords
  • Similar match types
  • Similar targeting parameters

If all three of these options occur in more than one campaign, you’re competing with yourself for searches that include the common target term. This implies using the same keyword (including syntax), keyword match type, and targeting parameters (location, demographics, language, etc).

Without being careful, it’s surprisingly easy to accidentally compete against your own products. Hence why a lot of eCommerce brands still fall prey to this error.

How to Deal with Competing Campaigns

As long as you know the risks of competing against yourself on channels like Google Ads, you may now want to take measures to avoid it. If internal campaign rivalry emerges, differentiation is the most effective strategy to avoid it.

Again, three key areas must be addressed here:

  • Keyword settings (including match types)
  • Landing pages (differentiated copy)
  • Targeting settings (not as important)

Managing each of them at the campaign level to distinguish possible overlaps eliminates internal rivalry. Aside from that, the things we’re about to discuss are best practices for campaign management.

1. Differentiate your keyword settings

The first step to managing internal competition is to look at your keyword settings across multiple campaigns. This will be easy to do when most of your keywords are similar.

Let’s use the example of a travel company (say, that is promoting holiday homes around the country. Their primary PPC campaign is named ‘holidays’, and their secondary campaign is called ‘weekends away’.

These two campaigns are promoting holidays and weekends away at the same campsites, so it’s likely that they could be competing against each other. Specifically, competing for the same keywords. If this is the case, they need to differentiate their campaigns to avoid internal competition.

They need to ensure that the primary campaign targets keywords for holidays, whilst their secondary campaign targets keywords for weekends away.

The best way to do this is with keyword filters. You can create two distinct keyword lists using the Google Keyword Planner by filtering the keywords, so they’re not overlapping.

Setting up two keyword lists based on the intent of the search and filtering out unwanted search terms prevents the overlap between the primary and secondary campaigns. This will help to prevent internal competition because the two campaigns are targeting different keywords, and the primary campaign is excluding the keywords that the secondary campaign targets.

2. Ensure landing pages are differentiated by campaign

The next step to managing competing campaigns is to differentiate landing pages by campaign. If your primary and secondary campaigns are both promoting a range of holidays, you need to ensure that your landing pages for each campaign are not identical. This prevents traffic from the secondary campaign from being sent to the primary campaign as users may not get what they’re expecting. Altering your landing pages by campaign will help to prevent confusion for users and prevent internal competition for identical keywords.

3. Differentiate your targeting by campaign

The final step of managing competing campaigns is to differentiate your targeting. If your primary and secondary campaigns are promoting weekends away, you need to ensure that your location targeting is applied differently. This prevents your secondary campaign from appearing to the users of your primary campaign, which could potentially bring in unwanted internet traffic and confuse your users.

If your primary and secondary campaigns are promoting holidays at the same campsites, targeting different locations would likely prevent internal competition.

The Takeaway

Internal competition occurs when the same keyword, match type, and targeting are applied across multiple campaigns.

The danger is that Google can choose to show a less relevant campaign because it performs better in the auction (e.g. it has a higher Quality Score), even though another campaign is more relevant to the search intent of the current user.

This can drive up the cost of your CPCs and hurt your PPC performance.

To manage competing campaigns and avoid internal competition, you need to:

  • Differentiate your settings (keyword, match type, locations, etc.)
  • Ensure your landing pages are different for each campaign
  • Ensure your targets are different for each campaign
  • Monitor your performance to ensure you’re not losing traffic to your more relevant campaign.

By following these steps, you can ensure that no internal competition happens and that you don’t have to deal with the consequences.

How Can I Help?

I’m Josiah, a digital marketing consultant on the Gold Coast helping brands transform their sites into lead conversion machines. If you’re looking to reach your audience more effectively than ever before, set up a free no-obligation consultation with me today.

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