Ever curious how big-name brands spend their budget?

We’re talking about companies that spend millions a month and thousands each day in AdWords. They’re in a different world when it comes to marketing spend.

How do we know? We’ve helped companies with seven-figure marketing campaigns stay on top. Not only that, but we’ve helped them spend less to do so.

In this post, we’ll share with you the exact strategy we use with one of these eCommerce companies.

How We Manage a Seven-Figure Campaign

This particular client maintains a small number of products, and they’re known for producing the best quality product in their market.

They’re one of the most expensive options, but people will pay for the quality. This is why maintaining brand awareness is their top priority.

Breakdown of Their Campaign Budget

Our client has a four-tier campaign:

  1. Search
  2. Shopping
  3. Display
  4. Video.

Their total budget fluctuates between $1 and $3 million per month.

Because of their particular focus, brand-heavy tactics (search, video, and display) make up about 75% of their budget, even though their shopping campaigns, which makes up the other quarter, has the most effective cost-per-click.

A pie graph showing 50% goes to search, 25% goes to shopping and the remaining 25% goes to video and display.

Our client is more concerned with maintaining and increasing brand awareness than their return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) — a mindset well-suited for a max impression share strategy.

The Max Impression Share Strategy

This approach can work well when they’re the top (or one of the top) players in their market, and they want to stay there. This means getting their name in front of as many people as possible in memorable ways, which doesn’t come cheap.

Basically, they’ll spend big across all marketing avenues (pay-per-click ads, video campaigns, TV and radio spots, etc.) to ensure they get the top listing on a competitive search page, the best prime-time ad spot, and so on.

All of this be the first name on someone’s lips when they think of their type of product.

The Weaknesses of This Approach

Their massive search-campaign budget averages between $250,000 and $750,000 a month. With that big of a budget, it can be easy to waste thousands of dollars on low-converting searches without even realizing it.

Before they came to us, we estimate that they wasted $300,000 in three months on irrelevant searches.

This is because — with that much money to work with — Google’s Adwords algorithms start including all kinds of keywords that are only vaguely related to your core keywords — just to find places to spend the budget.

The result? Though they didn’t know it, this client was paying for searches on singular words like “for” and “the.”

How did this happen? Two problems.

1. Poor Keyword Cleanup

Companies with massive search budgets often go after broad-based keywords. For instance, think of a company that sells memory foam mattresses.

Memory foam mattresses relate to keywords like mattresses and beds, which Google will automatically start including in your campaigns.

If that doesn’t exhaust your budget, Google might start including terms related to bedroom furniture, which can then turn into keywords related to furniture, none of which are likely to drive conversions and sales.

If you don’t work on gates and controls, Google will spend your money freely.

Be sure to spend your money on keywords that are relevant to your brand and product.

Tip for any pay-per-click campaign: When the majority of your spend is going to relevant searches, you might forget to “look in the weeds.” Paying for search terms that are irrelevant to your brand or products—even if it’s a small percentage of your budget—adds up month-after-month, and those searches can hurt your campaigns’ relevancy scores.

2. Conflicting Campaigns

Brands of this size often have upwards of thirty to forty active campaigns. It’s easy to lose track of what keywords are triggered per campaign, which can easily create a situation where you’re accidentally competing against yourself, potentially costing you thousands more in ad spend every day.

Note: Looking to uncover other new ways to tighten up spending on your PPC campaigns while improving your ROAS? Contact us here.

Our Approach with This 7-Figure Budget: Cleanup and Sculpt

We used several approaches with this client to improve their results.

1) Negative Keyword Sculpting

We added negative keywords to each campaign to root out the irrelevant or non-converting searches.

We also use negative keywords to make sure that our client wasn’t duplicating spend on multiple campaigns. For instance, if we had a campaign for hypoallergenic mattresses, we only want related searches to trigger that particular campaign, not multiple campaigns.

Tip for any pay-per-click campaign: We’ve also written about how you might be lowering your relevancy scores if you’re bidding on the same keywords over multiple campaigns. Learn how to fix this.

2) Modified Broad Keyword Searching

Google allows you to add modified broad match keywords, which provides more control than “broad match.” This option lets you specify the broad match keywords that can trigger your ad.

3) Keyword Sculpting

While broad-based keyword searching is still relevant to our client, we de-emphasize broad-based keyword searches by bidding lower on it. We bid the highest on specific-phrase and exact-word searches to ensure the majority of their spend was going the searches most likely to convert.

Remember, this brand’s priority is to stay on top of their market. This means owning prime search terms at whatever cost. We’re talking $10-15 cost-per-clicks.

Keyword Sculpting is key.

What to Know If You Compete with a Big Spender

If you’re competing against a company (or companies) with massive Adwords budgets, it helps to know how they think as they set up their campaigns.

Beyond the specific max impression strategy used by some big spenders, here are more general rules many big-spending companies use to stay on top of their market.

1. They pay-to-play

Big companies know that staying the top in a market requires a well-rounded approach. By only doing text-based search ads, for instance, they’d be missing a lot of relevancy when search pages are dominated by shopping campaigns.

They cover all the bases (text-based ads, shopping campaigns, display ads, etc) to be the brand that people find. This includes doing SEO work to make sure they’re at the top of organic searches as well.

2. They think expensively

Covering all the bases is not enough. For instance, they know that if their AdWords budget runs out at 9 or 10 am, or if they could only budget for the prime period of the day, they’re not going to own that space.

Effectively reaching people doesn’t just involve getting an ad in front of them, either. It means personalizing the ad experience: unique copy and display content, as well as landing pages designed for different personas.

3. They work to constantly extend their reach

All marketers know that if they keep reaching the same audience, they’re not going to gain new customers and grow brand awareness. What sets the biggest companies apart is often their ability to pay for new ways to extend their reach.

Pay-per-click campaigns can help with this some, but they’re not nearly as effective as display and video campaigns to reach new people.

4. Remarketing across all campaigns matters a lot

When companies spend thousands a month on brand-awareness, it just makes sense to make sure they’re not just engaging with someone once.

This is especially true for companies that primarily deal with large-purchase products which require a longer the conversion path.

5. Controlling the conversation around your brand

Companies with massive budgets are more able to control the conversation around their brand, through their videos and other content.

This comes with leverage. For instance, they can push back at resellers. Think about Nike. You can’t buy a new pair of Nikes on Amazon except from Nike.

6. They use the perks of being known

Being a bigger player comes with other advantages besides a big budget. For instance, one of our seven-figure clients receives cool things like betas features from cool Google Betas that we’re just not allowed to share quite yet…

There Is No “One Right Way”

Do all the big players market themselves the same way? Of course not!

However, there are some general marketing guidelines we feel apply to any company, not just those with mega budgets. Things like:

  • Look in the weeds for unnecessary spending
  • Maintain separate brand and general campaigns
  • Be prepared for growth (with an up-to-date, mobile-friendly site)

The rest can be personalized on a company-by-company, campaign-by-campaign basis. But it’s always good to know what the competition is doing.

Note: Want to know how your marketing strategy stacks up against the competition? Contact us here.