Bidding on Non-Branded Keywords For Efficient Paid Search

Paid Search
July 1, 2020
Sporting Goods & Outdoor

Key Takeaways

Focus Allocation — Paid Search: In July, Search accounted for 50% of the collective ad spend of the top running brands we analyzed, and 11% of their overall web traffic, which is higher than most other consumer verticals. Paid Search should be considered an integral part of the strategy to reach runners and compete with leading brands. 

Tactics — Target Specific, Long-Tail Keywords: Competitors like Adidas & Under Armour are driving traffic more efficiently than other brands with their Paid Search investment by focusing on long-tail and category specific keywords that are less competitive. Long-tail & running specific keywords are more targeted and align with the audience’s purchase intent. For example, “running shoes” may have a high search rate but low conversion rate as is it quite broad. Whereas, “trail running shoes for women” offers a better opportunity to provide the right product for the customer’s need.

Tactics — Test Branded vs. Non-Branded Keyword Targeting: Including branded terms in paid search keywords narrows the targeting of your ads to those searching for your brand & the specific product. This can help increase conversions as the customer is directed to the landing page of your choice, rather than the page Google deems is best.

Tactics — Test Urgency Elements in Ad Copy: Adidas’ paid search ads are focused on incentives such as free shipping, and promo codes (15-25% off): The ad copy also included a sense of urgency to motivate consumers to click through to the site (i.e: “25% - ends in 3 hours”).

In July, Paid Search accounted for 50% of the collective ad spend of the top running brands we analyzed.

Paid Search was the third highest traffic channel for the competitive set, accounting for 11% of competitors’ total traffic in July. 

Based on desktop web traffic only

When comparing the proportion of total ad spend allocated to Paid Search to the proportion of total web traffic from Paid Search, competitors like Adidas & Under Armour are getting a greater ROI on their investment. This may suggest that they are bidding more effectively on less competitive keywords.

Based on desktop web traffic only


When analyzing Adidas’ top 20 paid links in July, 60% direct to running related items on the Adidas US site.

Adidas’ top performing running paid search keywords were branded, and mainly focused on shoes.


Adidas’ top paid search ads used the following tactics:


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