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Maximize SEM Scale with Gamma Campaigns

Published: March 7, 2018

Author: Stephanie Schug

If you’ve made your way to this blog, you’ve no doubt heard of the Alpha Beta campaign structure…but just in case, here’s a quick rundown to introduce the relatively unknown “Gamma” dimension.
In order to prioritize the best-performing queries, we break them out into what we call “Alpha” campaigns. These campaigns contain our most important exact match keywords.
To increase our reach and target a wider audience, we leverage “Beta” campaigns. These are typically composed of broad match modified and phrase match keywords.
Gamma” campaigns take things one step further. These are composed of straight broad match keywords and are used to scale once Alpha and Beta have been maximized.

Want to improve your reach? Go Gamma.

(More information on the 3Q Alpha/Beta process can be found in our whitepaper.)

When to Use Gamma Campaigns

It’s probably a familiar scenario: You have a category that’s doing very well in Paid Search — so well, in fact, that you’ve devoted many hours to bidding keywords to top positions, refining ad copy, ensuring impression share is maxed out, and scrubbing Beta search query reports for new Alpha keywords.
Lately, though, you’ve found that there are fewer queries driving significant conversion volume in Beta. For the most part, the Beta terms that are converting are single-conversion long tail searches. You’ve essentially maxed out the capacity of Alpha/Beta campaigns, but you’re not ready to see the category plateau yet. You’re sure there’s still more you can get out of it. So what’s a search marketer to do?
Enter: Gamma campaigns. That’s right, broad match. When done right, Gamma campaigns can be a fantastic way to increase your reach on the long tail and identify new themes to add to your Alpha/Beta portfolio.

How to Launch Gamma Campaigns

Although the Google algorithm has improved its broad matching capabilities, there are still some risks with Gamma. Below are a few guidelines for launching Gamma effectively without jeopardizing performance.

Focus on Top Categories

A good rule of thumb for launching new Gamma campaigns is to start with your best-performing Alpha/Beta keywords. If these do well, you can continue to expand from there.

Lower Your Bids

Although Gamma campaigns are good at scaling, conversion rates are typically a bit lower than Alpha and Beta conversion rates. It’s important to keep this in mind when setting bids; plan to start them at a lower range than their Alpha/Beta counterparts.

Be Proactive with Negatives

It is wise to anticipate related queries and proactively identify high-volume negative keywords. The Google keyword planner can be helpful here. For instance, inputting ‘apartments in san francisco’ into the keyword planner produces the following suggestions:

  • apartments for rent in san francisco
  • where to stay in san francisco
  • san francisco houses
  • san francisco studio apartments
  • bay area apartments

If you are solely focused on the rental market, you might want to add negatives for “stay,” and “houses” to avoid matching to less desirable terms.
In addition to identifying high-volume negatives, you should also create a negative list of Beta keywords to block from Gamma campaigns, and be sure to add your Alpha negative lists as well. This will keep the hierarchy intact and prevent you from cannibalizing your existing keywords. By adding both exact match Alpha and broad match Beta negatives to Gamma campaigns, Google continues to prioritize Alpha first, then Beta, and lastly Gamma.

What to Do Post-Launch

With Gamma campaigns, post-launch monitoring is more important than ever. Negative scrubbing should be done early and often to make sure nothing undesirable slips through the cracks.
Since a primary goal of these campaigns is to identify new opportunities, you should also be mining them for new alpha themes in addition to scrubbing for negatives.

What to Expect

  • Long-tail scale: Gamma campaigns are really good at scaling into areas you previously would not have reached, including qualified long-tail keywords that get minimal search volume.
  • Identification of new Alpha themes: Gamma campaigns can be really helpful for seeing things from a new perspective. Maybe your product goes by a few different names, or searchers are using a unique turn of phrase you hadn’t thought of before. Gamma can help you identify these nuances and expand your Alpha targeting.
  • Lower efficiency but more scale: Initially, you should expect a lower efficiency on Gamma campaigns, but performance will improve as you refine them over time. We are currently running Gamma campaigns on a lead generation client of mine. Since launch, these campaigns have driven 4x the conversions of Beta campaigns, albeit at a 10% higher CPA.
  • Some junk traffic: Even if you’ve proactively added negatives, there are still some things that slip through. It’s important to monitor early and often in order to get ahead of anything that is not beneficial to your brand.

Best of luck!

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