We tend to think of our PPC accounts in terms of how we can grow volume. There are always keywords to add, new sites to target with your Display ads, different ad copy to test, etc. However, there are many ways to save money by thinking negatively about your account management. What should you be excluding? What are you targeting that you shouldn’t be? Taking advantage of these negatives will allow you to save money, which can later be invested back in your account elsewhere!

Block Previous Converters

This tactic can be a total game changer. If you have a business that only values a conversion once, this is for you. That is, after someone converts, it would be worthless to you if they converted again. This thinking is usually the case for lead generation sites. Ecommerce sites, for example, will always value a conversion. You can also determine by using converted clicks or conversions in AdWords. This optimization applies to those accounts that use converted clicks.

If you have a remarketing code on your site, you can create a custom audience for those that have completed your conversion process. You can then exclude that list from your campaigns. You would, then, be blocking anyone who has already converted from seeing your ads. You can get an idea of how much money you would save by looking at the list size for these audiences.


If you look at the Google Search list size of the audience targeting your converters you’ll see the number of people you’ll be blocking. Make sure you use a membership duration that makes sense. If you would NEVER value another conversion from them, make it as long as possible. The longer the duration, the more people you’ll be blocking from your ads. That could be a good or bad thing, so just make sure you use the appropriate length of time.

Embedded Negative Keywords

If you haven’t read it already, check out my article regarding account structures. You should have your match types separated in a way that lets you block the other match type versions of that keyword. For example, you’d block the exact match version of a keyword from triggering ads on phrase match keywords. This ensures that your traffic is actually funneling to the intended keywords. This allows you to use broad or broad match modified keywords as keyword mining tools with lower budgets and lower bids. The process of managing bids better based on match types will save you money in the long run.

Ad Scheduling

Most PPC managers tend to think of ad scheduling as a way to increase or decrease bids based on performance related to time of the day and day of the week. Carrie wrote a great article showing you how to analyze the data to make smart bidding choices.

Something many PPC managers might forget is that you can use ad scheduling to completely block certain parts of the day. Ad scheduling is a useful tool to many businesses, especially if you depend on a call or email center to reply to inquiries. A prime example would be if a conversion is a call to your call center, and the office is closed at night. You should obviously turn PPC off during the hours your call center is closed. However, many other businesses have agents email or call the person submitting information through your lead form. This practice is typical in real estate, education, etc. You would likely find that a lead form submitted when these agents won’t be able to reach out for hours or days is much less likely to turn into a legitimate opportunity. This may not always be the case, but it certainly was for one of my clients. We found it was better to save money by turning ads off at night when agents couldn’t reach out and put that money into pushing our reach during the day.

Display Categories

Display is often considered an expensive venture into the land of brand awareness, and it’s often hard to perform within ROAS or CPA goals. Sam wrote an article a while back about how to get Display campaigns to perform better.

One area he touches on that I’m often surprised to find many PPC managers aren’t aware of is category exclusions. Back in my day (when I used to walk 5 miles in the snow to get to work), we got the data for each category and could make decisions based on that data for what to exclude. However, you can still exclude! You have the ability to exclude topics that seem like a bad fit for your brand like “Juvenile, bizarre, gross”, but you’d be better off testing. If you hadn’t excluded any of them up to this point, test excluding each one individually. Then, you’ll have your control of before it was excluded and the time frame during the exclusion, seeing if your campaigns perform better with or without that category.

Theses are just four negative tactics that could save you money, but there are many more! Excluding Placements for the Display Network (GDN),  excluding different demographics for GDN, excluding search partners if it’s not performing well for you, and the list can go on and on. What have you found in your experience has been a great negative tactic that has saved you a buttload of money?