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PPC | PAID SEARCH | How to benchmark PPC competitors: The definitive guide

Article by Rémi Kerhoas


Benchmark PPC competitors across ad networks like Google and Meta and identify top channels, creatives and landing page experiences.


Prior to launching any PPC campaign, you must benchmark your competitors. This vital step will help you identify strategic best practices and set your account apart – which can improve performance dramatically.


On a more tactical level, benchmarking allows you to:


Gather audience insights to better allocate budget.


Assess ad quality and relevance to spark higher creativity levels.


Identify ideal customer journeys that will improve conversion rates.


Find common ground for comparison instead of using results from generic studies.


In this article, I will explore how to benchmark PPC competitors using accurate and reliable data sources.


1. Identify your PPC competitors


While in-house marketers know direct competitors and distributors by heart, online competitors may vary from real-life competitors. In practice, this means that you can identify other competitors as follows:


  • Direct competitors: They offer nearly identical products or services. They are your most obvious competitors.


  • Indirect competitors: They do not offer the same products or services but target the same audience. Think sleeping app vs. mattresses. Depending on the audience, they can be harmful or a mild nuisance.


  • Distributors, affiliates and comparison sites: They promote your products and your competitors’. Half competitors, half partners: you should not ignore them.

Google Ads Auction Insights report


To identify indirect competitors, I recommend you start by using Google Ads Auction Insights report. It is reliable and free (as long as you run a Search/Shopping campaign)


Select a keyword (preferably exact or phrase match type) and note competitors with high Impression Shares.


In the below table, you’ll find an example for mattresses. Notice direct, indirect and distributor competitors:


As you can see, there is quite a lot of pressure from distributors, so you may want to review your strategy based on your unit economics.


Does it even make sense to advertise on such a keyword? Or is the share of revenue given to distributors so high you’d rather compete with them for that click?


On the other hand, there’s only one indirect competitor. While it’s not obvious if their audiences are qualified (they “only” sell bed linen), you could still experiment and potentially find untapped audiences.


Organic results


While you want to focus on PPC competitors, you can always learn interesting bits and pieces from competitors who do not face you in terms of PPC results. So, I recommend you scan Google’s top organic results for the same keyword. 


To do so, you can either Google that directly or use a dedicated tool such as Ahrefs or Semrush. 

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Original article by Rémi Kerhoas on searchengineland.com


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