Episode 10: Google Ads Strategy Ecommerce Business

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter

Yep, that’s right. Today we are going to be giving away our ENTIRE Google Ads strategy on ecommerce business with a goal of getting a return on your ad spend, or ROAS. One thing to keep in mind here is, structure is everything.

It’s not the sexiest thing, but it is very important and today we are breaking that down in the form of all the key Google products. Not only are we telling you what we run, we are giving you pro tips on how to run it. Today’s blog will run through our strategy behind  Branded Search, Dynamic Search Ads (DSA), Smart Shopping, Non-Branded Search.

Let’s take a look!


Branded Search

We are going to start with the bottom of the funnel, which puts us at Branded Search campaigns. There are 2 main reasons why we run Branded Search:

  • It builds a great foundation of data: With Branded Search, you are able to see who is searching, who is purchasing,  and who is interacting with you. These people are very important. Other products like Non-Branded Search, Discovery, DSA, Shopping, Youtube, and all other campaigns, typically run better if you have this good base
  • To identify competitors: This is not as important as the first, but it helps you understand the real estate for your keywords. You want to make sure your competitors are not bidding on your words, because your customer may have to scroll for a while to get to your ads (organic ads) especially if there are too many competitors with long ad extensions. You want to understand this layout so you can bid effectively.

So how do we run these Branded Search campaigns you ask? 

  • We set up “Exact Match” and “Modified Broad”

They each have their purpose. With Exact Match, you pay for if someone is exactly searching you, but typically, the cost tends to be higher. It lowers with broader keywords and match types. 

Tip: Make sure to look at your keywords list and update your negative keywords because some keywords will be completely irrelevant


DSA (Dynamic Search Ads)/ Shopping 

Let’s talk about Dynamic Search Ads and Smart Shopping. We like them, because these are the most automated types of campaigns you can set up. Here is how we run both:

DSA: With DSA, we run it through the actual URL of the website. You just need to add in the website URL and this tool will bring in and pull more of the long tail keywords. It is meant to be a catch all to get keywords that might be outside of your structure that are still relevant. Basically, Google crawls your website and adds in these keywords for you.

Smart Shopping: With Smart Shopping, in which we always run Smart Shopping, you have to set up a merchant center with your catalog, but this can be easily set up with Spotify.

Both of these are mixing brand and non-branded keywords, so it won’t be as high performing, but you want to show up where your competitors aren’t, so it is good to get all the exposure. DSA and Smart Shopping are not always scalable, but they can be, and most importantly, it brings in the data so we can put top of the funnel campaigns in the mix and grow.

Non-Branded Search

Now we have made it to Non-Branded Search. This is the bane of existence for many advertisers but we want to hit on how we choose to think about Non-Branded Search.

Comparing it to a Facebook ads world, we have cold traffic and warm traffic. Most advertisers understand cold traffic isn’t going to perform like their warm campaigns, and that it doesn’t need to perform on it’s own. It will be a part of the mix.

We find that this is different on Google. People tend to look at this as a stand alone product and it should not be seen that way. Even though people are searching and it seems they could be easier to reach, if someone is searching something on Non-Brand Search, they are comparison shopping. They probably have multiple tabs open on their desktop, weighing all the options. The chances of converting that user in that moment is small. 

This is why we see this on Google as a cold traffic play that should fit within the overall mix.

So how do we set these campaigns up, you ask?

We set these campaigns up very tight. We know Google is always recommending “add keywords”, but we have not found that this is the best way to go all the time. We play with budgets around $15,-$50,000 a month, so this definitely informs how we work our strategies. Let’s walk you through it:

  • We choose a core 4-5 ad groups and add 4-5 keywords maximum, to each group. 
  • We start with broader match types and not exact matches because exact is usually more expensive and highly competitive. 

When you get down to Phrase Match (formerly known as Modified Broad), the most important thing is to look at search terms and add in search terms for a negative keyword list.

  • Now that you set up these tight ad groups, it is imperative to make your keywords match your headlines of your ad copy

Ex: For one of our false eyelash clients, we realized the big but subtle difference between “glue” and “adhesive”. If someone searches “lash glue”, they want to see a headline that says lash glue and not adhesive

You may be wondering how you should do this with multiple search/keyword variations or  multiple products. We’ve got tips on how we do that too:

  • We pick and focus on product areas of the business that are going to produce the most banng for our buck. You want to pick areas that will drive more awareness and traffic into retargeting campaigns on other platforms especially when you have an established baseline (of DSA, Branded Search, Smart Shopping, Non-Branded Search, etc.)
    • Don’t shy away from niche and tight knit Non-Branded Search. You don’t have to think about all the variations that could be out there for your Non-Branded campaigns. Start small then, broaden.
  • In Non-Branded Search, we always start with Maximized Conversions in the beginning to see how much volume we can get through while spending efficiently 
    • It does need some data in the account to work so if you’re not getting what you need and bringing back low impressions, then use Manual CPC and test where the CPC is, that’s going to let that traffic come through. It will not spend as efficiently as automated bidding will, but you will understand the levers on this side more than on automated bidding.
    • If you go with Target CPA , you can see a better ROAS, but at almost 0 volume, so if you’re not getting the volume you like, then do Maximized Conversions 
  • When we get into the broader match types, we get into the head of a user. Once the overall system starts going from having those higher funnel plays on Non-Branded, you’re set up to expand in other areas. 

Ex: One of our client’s has an acronym for their name. We weren’t aware of what the acronym stood for, but we discovered that people were searching for the acronym spelled out in their search terms. From there, we added the full spelled out name into our brand campaign and immediately saw a lift in performance.


Youtube is a fascinating channel and it has emerged as a new stand alone ad channel. It’s all video and it’s the second largest search engine in the world that is self generating. Even Mark Zuckerberg has named it one of Facebook’s biggest competitors.

We love our clients to run ads on YouTube! Even with very small budgets of (~$15-$20/day), the overall system of our clients’ Google Ads works better. If you can mix in YouTube now, even with a small budget, you’re going to gain more data!

Running ads on it for 2-3 months really helps the overall performance. There are many ways you can set up campaigns on YouTube, but the most basic  setup we use is:

  •  “Custom Intent Audiences” based on keywords. We also add in Top Brand and Non-Branded keywords into these audiences and we set the bidding method to Target CPA
  • At first it may not be spent in the beginning so aim for double of what you’re seeing and ramp it up even further later
  • Once you see your overall system is profiting, you can expand to Maximized Conversions because you get a better cost (this is only after you get some data)

The best thing about YouTube is, you can spend more because you are showing ads to a targeted audience base. So take advantage of that!

Discovery & Display 

We are going to be 100% honest with you, we are not a huge fan of their one of these products in spend brackets. For some perspective, YouTube is in between Non-Branded Search and Discovery and Display campaigns in terms of the way it performs.

Discovery is very scalable, so don’t move into these campaigns until you’ve worked with YouTube effectively. They can have a good jump start but quickly die off from there so it is a great play to expand and grow your overall system. If you’re ready to do that (with ~$80k/month budget) mix in Discovery. We start with small budgets, similar to YouTube, having highly targeted audiences, and then we slowly expand it from there as our clients are ready. 

For Display ads, the broadest campaigns you can run, it may be a little more tricky. These campaigns don’t perform very well and it is hard to control the creatives. With Smart Display, you have to add in a large variety of options and in the past, clients have been unhappy with what Google chooses to display. Display is for massive budgets and is a complete branding play. Generally we don’t see a ton of value here compared to YouTube spend.


This is the actual structure and match types we’ve learned has helped our ads grow and scale! If you’re looking to understand more about the creative piece you can reference our older blogs and look for more on creative and copy content. 

As always, if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to shoot us one! We are happy to answer.

Recent Blog Articles