How to Approach Search Ads in 2024

Want to learn how to approach your search campaigns for 2024? Read my take on search ads in 2024.

There's a lot of opinion about how to approach your search ads, and i want to give you my unbiased take based on multiple years of managing, testing and scaling search ads for multiple verticals in ecommerce

So this guide (or rule of thumb if you will) will equip you with some guidelines on how to think and approach your Search Ads in 2024, helping you maximize your contribution margin return on your ad spend from the still most important Google Ads products - Google Search Ads.

Embrace the Future of Search Ads:

Now search ads has changed significantly in the last 2-3 years from being more micromanageable manual bids and SKAG (single keywords ad groups) into being more automated and consolidated.

Time to Ditch SKAGs and Consolidate:

While Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) were once a popular strategy, they're becoming outdated in the age of automation and audience targeting. Here's why:

  1. Limited reach: SKAGs restrict your reach to highly specific keywords, potentially missing valuable search queries.
  2. Missed opportunities: By grouping similar keywords into broader Ad Groups, you allow Google's algorithms to identify more relevant search queries and optimize ad delivery efficiently.

So how do you start the process of consolidate your search ad groups/campaigns?


Why is consolidation so damn important? Because of the larger focus on automation and AI that Google is using. Machine models usually becomes more confident the more data you can provide to it, and the more confidant a machine learning models gets, the more stable it becomes in deliverings what you are asking it to deliver – which in this case conversions

The last remark about consolidation that i will leave you with is a rule of thumb – Consolidate your search ads campaigns, as much as your business goal allows you to - but have in mind that you want to maximize the number of impressions per. ad group, and aim for +3000 impressions per week per ad group (you need +5000 impressions per month par ad group to get performance labels assigned to your RSA assets)

Reasons to segment search campaign could be: 

  1. If you set goal to push one product/product category more than the rest of your product range
  2. If you have different business objective (other bid strategies)
  3. If you will have different campaign settings (like location) 
  4. If you want to use campaign specific goals (like micro and macro conversion goals) 

Remember, consolidation doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing approach. Start by merging closely related keywords and monitor performance. Gradually, you can refine your campaigns for optimal reach and results.

Bidding models & keywords match types:

Now let's talk bidding models in combination with keyword match types for search ads as there are multiple ways of doing it, BUT there's higher chance to use the wrong combinations of those to levers, so let's break down the winning combo's

Broad Match Keywords + target ROAS/CPA bidding model

This combination is my go-to for non-brand search campaigns that already have +30-50 conversion accumulated within the last 30-45 days. It's simply the winning combination as it used all signals possible from the consumer from broad match, while maintaining a good return with your target ROAS/CPA - Remember to build a good negative keyword list BEFORE using broad match keywords

Broad Match Keywords + Manual CPC/Maximise Clicks

This combination is NOT something i would recommend, but unfortunately something i see often. The end results is in 9/10 cases a huge mess in the search terms report, as you are asking Google to get as many clicks under X amount of CPC, and Google then broadens up your keywords match type to its max to be able to deliver what you are asking for, and it's usually never something that will convert very well

Broad Match Keywords +Max Conversions/Conversion Value

This combination is can work under certain circumcises in Q4 (were demand is high) and will almost always bring conversions, BUT it's often times also a super expensive combination, as you have no control over your return or CPA. This combination is one that i use from time to time, but i am very hands-on with search terms and make sure to look for the search terms with the highest CPCs and exclude them if they don't make sense – i somethings use this combination to launch completly new search campaign if the account has decent conversion data from other campaigns

Exact/Phrase Match + target ROAS/CPA

This combination is the save spot, if you want to start super slow/want to have more control over the keyword -> ad message. It's differently useable in the right cases, but will be harder to scale depending on the search volume.

Exact/Phrase Match + Manual CPC/Maximise Clicks

This combination is good to get a completely new non-branded search campaign off the ground – the no. 1 mission here is to get some clickdate flowing, and you will retain control over your search terms with exact/phrase match keywords, but i do still recommend checking your search terms often.

Exact/Phrase Match +Max Conversions/Conversion Value

This combination is can work under certain circumcises, but it should only be used for validated keywords that you already know works/converts (but not your branded keywords) 

[BONUS] Exact Match + Target Impression Share

This combination is the only one i use with my brand campaign where i have my branded keywords in. This gives you the opportunity to control your impression share on your most valuable keywords aka. your very own business name keywords. Keep the keywords in exact to have maximum control over when your branded search terms shows and to which message and set your target impression share to ~90-95% (the last 5-10% of impression share is usually not worth it) 

Winning Tactics for 2024:

So what is the number 1 winning tactic for search ads in 2024? 

It's common logic and using the automations tools available, while also being a bit skeptical about your search terms, but most importantly it's all about using search ads as a tool for your business to capture searches from people who is already in the market of your product and capturing them when they are in the buying state.

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