CPCs: Crushing Powerful Competition with Search

. 2 min read

by Jasper Guarnaccia and Zach Larimer

If you are only relying on organic search results, you’re leaving money on the table. You could be getting more traffic to your site, capturing more qualified leads, or be at the top of the heap on your brand search engine results page (SERP).

A few years ago, Google ran a study that showed that on average 89% of the traffic generated by search ads is not replaced by organic clicks when Search ads are paused.

But what happens when CPCs rise and brand Search ROAS drastically declines?

One of our clients experienced this issue a few months ago. In January, we noticed that one of their main competitors had a higher impression share on our brand terms, leading to a $1.50 increase in CPCs overnight.


For one of Jump's clients', a competitor drastically increased their bids, Google’s automated bid strategies were also increasing our own bids to maintain the client's position at the top of the SERP. But, without any major increases in traffic or conversion rate, ROAS dropped. This made it unprofitable to maintain a 100% Impression Share on brand keywords.

Brand Search Strategy Timeline:

  • Starting in Q4 of 2020, we inherited the following campaigns
  • There was only one ad group
  • There were multiple match types
  • The bidding strategy was for Target CPA
  • In Q1 of 2021, Jump switched to the following optimizations
  • Created multiple ad groups based on brand search intent to better control bids
  • Intent-based Target CPA bidding

Solution Needs:

  • Stop Google from increasing CPCs to match this competitor’s bids
  • Still have brand campaigns optimize for conversions to avoid overpaying for users who aren’t interested in converting

The Hack:

How do we stop Google from increasing CPCs if the competitor wants to increase spends? Is it by adjusting bid caps, pausing script? Keeping in mind, we still want to have Brand campaigns optimize for conversions AND keep the ad group priorities.

The Solution:

  • By switching to Enhanced CPC (a manual bid type) we were able to cap bids and forced Google to not overspend to outbid that competitor.
  • .We saw massive ROAS gains without any large dips in clicks.
  • We were occasionally ranking in the 2nd spot under our competitor, but users were still clicking on our ads.
  • With our intent-based campaign structure, we were still able to maintain a +99% Top IS on our most profitable brand keywords.
  • After a week we saw that competitor pull back completely from our brand terms, as they likely saw large increases in CPCs when we forced them into the top position.

There are many aspects of paid media that are outside of our control, like higher competition. The key to finding a way forward is to identify a variable that you can control (like you brand search CPCs) and work backwards to solve the issue.