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A Look At “Keyword Targeting” Approaches in Google Shopping

Take a look at the screenshot below. This is the PLA campaign structure of a prospective client who currently works with one of the most well known eCommerce SEM agencies in the industry. An agency whom I consider to be one of very few companies that truly competes directly against us.

We have dozens of clients who previously worked with this other agency. They have chosen to work with us primarily as a result of our approach to PLA management. We have created a scalable and automated approach to negative keyword optimization for PLA channels, allowing us to effectively segment queries by their intent. This allows us to segment valuable long-tail queries from generic terms without being limited by sample size issues (lack of sales, spend, etc.). We have not yet found any other PLA strategy that is more effective.

A query-targeting strategy in PLAs is reliant on the use of a significant number of negative keywords. Most of our small to mid-size accounts have 10-50k negative keywords in them. Some of our larger clients are approaching 1 million negatives. Ultimately, it is an immensely valuable strategy for those who can pull it off at scale.

In the past few years, this competing agency has responded to our approach by embracing the strategy and claiming it as a core part of their process. Yet take a look at the screenshot. There are only 22 negative keywords in this account. And this agency has sold their client on an effective “query segmentation strategy.” What a joke – no effort has been made here to follow-through on their sales pitch. As a result, performance suffers, and they are now seeking a new agency, after wasting many months and tens of thousands of dollars on unprofitable agency fees.

This is what a real query segmentation strategy looks like when implemented:

The screenshot above shows 100k unique negative keywords in a single client account. This level of effort pays off of course, and this particular client has grown their operating profit $1.5MM annually since starting with us.

The point of this post is to illustrate how there is a huge disconnect in this industry between sales and fulfillment. Most of the agencies we compete with were founded by salesmen. I founded Omnitail as an analyst. Our sales process is rooted in transparency and our pitch is built on strategies we created in alignment with our mission to provide the best possible results for our clients – not as a response to competitors in the marketplace. There is a lack of integrity among digital marketing agencies, and we have been working diligently since 2014 to provide honesty and accountability through our services.

I have seen a lot of pitches in this industry that embellish capabilities and exaggerate results. I have seen a lot of agencies who make their money on contract terms rather than retention. We’re on a mission to change that. If you feel you’re currently working with an agency that is not working hard for you, please give me a call or reach out to me via email.


Matt Stover



617-307-4969 x101