As PPC managers, we are always looking for ideas and ways to beat the competition. One way we do this is through competitor campaigns, where we bid on a competitor brand name to show ads in front of users who were not directly looking for our brand. This can drive visitors to our site over the competitor. These campaigns, most of the time, are used and known for brand awareness as they are usually not a large conversion driver, up front. They also tend to have low CTRs and quality scores, which can often deter some advertisers.

What if we could catch our current and previous site visitors who are still in the research and shopping around? What if we could bid differently on them while showing a more tailored or promotional ad to get them to come back? What if we could do this on competitors? The answer is we can by bidding higher (or differently) on those who have taken a specified action on our site.

To do this, create a new competitor search campaign that uses target and bid on the following options (but are not limited):

  • Non-converting users
  • All site visitors
  • Cart-abandoners
  • Lead form submissions
  • Similar Audiences

Tip: Make sure you use “Target and Bid” rather than “Bid Only.” This helps ensure only the audiences you specifically target will see the ads in this campaign.

By using RLSA with a competitor campaign it can be a cheaper, somewhat controlled form of remarketing. This type of remarketing is different in the sense that it’s staying top of mind during the decision process rather than reminding the user later on when they’re doing something else. In other words, the user intent is still there as they continue evaluating their evoked set. With this strategy you are staying in front of users when they care as opposed to reminding them later when they are on another site with a different intent.

We can give users a tailored message that drives them back to our site instead of a competitor’s by calling out free shipping, showing a promotion/price drop, or another benefit that is distinct from the competitor. This will help entice them to come back instead of searching for other options.

RLSA on its own does this for us and is usually used on higher-costing, generic terms. In this conceptual strategy, there are a couple more initial insights to be aware of as you think about implementation:

  • This could be considered a more conservative step into competitive bidding if;
    • nervous about low conversion rates
    • low quality scores
  • You can use aggressive keyword targeting around these competitive terms and should do so with little reservation.
    • In other words, these users have been to the site and are technically in-market, so most queries around these terms should have little question as to what the intent is.
  • Based on the intended research phase of the user, this strategy would be best used on longer purchase paths, cycles, and in cases where there is a signal that customers are shopping around.
  • Depending on the length of the purchase cycle and the volume of initial traffic to this campaign, you can also consider excluding converters. This can help further segment the traffic.
    • However, if you have users who frequently purchase don’t exclude converters as this could also be a tactic for brand loyalty.

Wrapping Up

Competitor RLSA has a place between competitor campaigns and RLSA, providing a new way to capture high-intent users already in the buying process and still doing research on competitors. Once more data comes through, we will follow up with a post about the pros and cons of combining RLSA and competitors as well as some best practices around the strategy.