Acquiring Traffic

"Franchise" Phrase Match on Adwords -- A Necessary Evil?

Eli Robinson
Thursday, October 16 2014

If you're a Google AdWords expert, you're already aware of the different match types that the platform allows you. Concepts such as broad match, broad match modifier, phrase match, exact match, and negative match are old hat for you. For those of you who need a quick refresher on how each of these match types works, take a look at this Google post.

For the purpose of this post, I'm going to speak specifically about phrase match. Here's Google's brief description of phrase match:

Google Description of Phrase Match


There a number of pros and cons of phrase match, but I'm going to boil it down to a single set of issues.

On the positive side, phrase match gives you the opportunity to reach a larger audience than exact match. Searchers do not have to type in exactly what you bid on, yet you can still show for relevant searches. The example above about women's hats is a good one.

On the negative side, phrase match hands over the keys to Google to decide when to display your ads. In the above example about women's hats, Google may decide to match you a search to "Why are women's hats so ugly?" Ok, that's a rough example, but you get the idea.


So, let's talk about what happens when you decide to bid on the keyword of "franchise" and elect to phrase match.

Positive -- Between April 1st and June 30th, we were able to generate 1,711,850 impressions via the "franchise" keyword phrase matching. You read that correctly. Via a single campaign, Google elected to show an ad linking to FranchiseHelp to 1.7 Million times! That's freaking insane. I've never felt so popular. (Ok, we had to pay for it, but who's counting.) In a world where you're trying to get in front of more people, there's no better way than to let it fly phrase matching to "franchise."

Negative -- In that same time period (4/1 - 6/30), we were matched to 13,587 different searches. If you don't trust me, here's the entire list for you to peruse). This ranged from fairly relevant searches like "top franchises," "best franchises under 50k," and "most profitable franchises" to completely irrelevant searches like "international franchise expo jacob k javits convention center june 19," "is google a franchise," or "franchise philippines 2014." We even got 79 impressions for "plato's closet franchise" and a grand total of 0 clicks!


Long story short, we spent tens of thousands of dollars giving Google almost full discretion what when we were displayed.

(I'll make you a deal...if you shoot me a note, I'll tell you whether or not we're bidding on "franchise" phrase match and why).

So back to the question I posed in the title. Is it a necessary evil? Well, if branding and exposure is something you're going for, then certainly. But buyer beware, do a couple of searches and see what types of bidders you're going up against.