A CMO’s Guide to Advanced Google Ads Optimization

Master advanced Google Ads optimization with our comprehensive guide for CMOs. Elevate your ad campaigns for maximum results.


May 20, 2024

Improve Google Ads

Does running Google Ads feel like gambling?

The Google Ads platform can be a powerful way to reach potential customers. But how can you be sure—beyond a doubt—that your ad campaigns get the best ROI possible?

In this post, we'll explore advanced Google Ads optimization strategies. These best practices and techniques go beyond the basics of PPC campaigns. You'll learn more about:

  • Audience segmentation and targeting
  • Advanced bid strategies
  • Leveraging psychology for ads
  • AI-driven optimization tools

This guide provides strategies to help businesses of all sizes compete at a higher level while maximizing the ad budget.

Table of Contents

    Audience segmentation and why it matters

    Audience segmentation is a fundamental aspect of successful digital marketing. It's also critical in an advanced Google Ads optimization strategy because it allows you to create more relevant ads. Segmenting your audience on a granular level makes creating ad copy and landing pages that match buyer motivations easier.

    Advanced audience targeting

    A few advanced strategies can take your targeting to the next level. In this section, we'll look at some of the most popular.

    Precision with niche segmentation

    Niche segmentation is a pillar targeting strategy in advanced Google Ads optimization. To niche segment an audience, group target customers based on unique characteristics such as demographics, behaviors, or interests.

    Using these niches, you can achieve a few things. First, you can create ad messaging that resonates with each segment. Niche segmentation also lets you deliver personalized experiences to subsets of the target audience. So, for example, you could develop an entire sales funnel around one niche segment to enhance an ad campaign's performance.

    Here's a brief example of using niche-based ad segmentation for a yoga studio:

    General audience: People interested in yoga

    Niche Segments:

    • Beginners: People looking for "beginner yoga classes," "yoga for flexibility," or "yoga near me."
    • Experienced Yogis: People searching for "hot yoga," "advanced yoga poses," or "yoga teacher training."
    • Mindfulness Seekers: People interested in "meditation and yoga," "yoga for stress relief," or "yoga retreats."

    Ad examples:

    • Beginners: "New to yoga? Start your journey with our gentle beginner classes."
    • Experienced Yogis: "Challenge yourself with our advanced vinyasa flow."
    • Mindfulness Seekers: "Find inner peace with our restorative yoga and meditation sessions."
    Google Ads Niche Segmentation Chart (Click to expand)

    Intent-based targeting: User signals

    Intent-based targeting is an advanced Google Ads optimization strategy that relies on user signals like search history, previous interactions, and device preferences. Marketers can interpret intent by analyzing these signals and matching ads to groups with similar signals.

    Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms can help marketers decipher user signals to enhance ad relevance and engagement. NLP algorithms analyze search queries beyond keywords and explore users' search intent to identify their needs, desires, or pain points.

    Here's an example of how to use intent-based targeting:

    Scenario: You are a CMO for a company that sells high-end hiking boots.

    Identifying intent

    Search terms: Analyze the keywords people use when looking for hiking boots. Terms like "best waterproof hiking boots" and "long-distance hiking boots" reveal intent to buy.

    Competitor research: Look at the keywords your competitors are targeting and the ads they display to discover the search phrases potential customers use in their research process.

    Past behavior: Review customers' website activity before buying anything. Did they search your site for specific boot features? Did they visit product comparison pages? If so, review your website's search data to find out the terms they used.

    Using intent for ad targeting

    Search campaigns: Create ads that address the intent behind people's search terms. For example, someone searching for "best waterproof hiking boots" might click on an ad with a headline like "Conquer Wet Trails | Top-Rated Waterproof Boots."

    Display ads: Place ads on websites, blogs, or videos relevant to hiking and backpacking topics.

    YouTube ads: Create short-form video ads that showcase the durability and performance of your boots. Target users who watch hiking trail reviews or gear comparisons.

    Why intent-based targeting is powerful

    Targeting users based on their Google search intent puts your ads in front of a highly qualified audience. If someone's online behavior indicates a strong interest in the type of product you sell, your ad becomes hyper-relevant.

    Google Ads Groups screenshot (Click to expand)

    Understanding the competitive landscape

    Analyzing competitors' ad strategies, keywords, and positioning gives you valuable insights for optimizing your campaigns. Tools like Google Analytics help dissect competitors' performance data and discern industry trends. Keep a keen eye on competitors' ad text and target audience to refine your tactics. Monitoring their digital marketing efforts is an effective way to refine your bidding strategy and placements.

    Competitor conquesting: The strategic edge

    Competitor conquesting is an aggressive advanced Google Ads optimization strategy that involves targeting your competitors' keywords and audiences to gain an edge. By analyzing your competitors' campaigns, you can identify the keywords they're using and create ads that target their audiences.

    One way to leverage competitor conquesting is to use ad extensions. Extensions let you provide users who see your ads with extra information and incentives (e.g., phone numbers and links). Strategically using extensions allows you to differentiate your ads from those of competitors and increase the likelihood of attracting their audience.

    There are some potential negatives associated with competitor conquesting. Targeting competitor keywords often increases cost-per-click (CPC) because the bidding environment is more competitive. If competitors realize you're targeting their keywords and audience, they might bid on yours, increasing costs. Targeting competitor names could also create a negative brand perception. Users might feel you're too focused on the competition instead of highlighting the value of your own products.

    CMOs can mitigate the risks of competitor conquesting by taking a strategic approach. Avoid blindly targeting all competitor terms and target terms where you have a competitive advantage. When targeting competitor audiences, use your ads to highlight how your products are better. Set a clear Google Ads budget for competitor conquesting campaigns and watch their performance closely.

    IMPORTANT: Check Google Ads policies regarding competitor trademark usage and bidding restrictions in your industry or region to prevent violations.

    Google Ads optimization tips: Mastering bid strategies

    Bid strategies are crucial for advanced Google Ads optimization and getting the highest return on investment possible. By setting the right bidding strategy, you can be sure the best audience sees your ads at the right time, which makes them more relevant and efficient.

    When choosing a bidding strategy, consider factors such as campaign goals, marketing budgets, and level of advertising experience.

    Google Ad Platform Bid ranges (Click to expand)

    Manual bidding vs. automated bidding: Control vs. efficiency

    Selecting between manual and automated bidding is a key decision for digital marketers.

    Opting for manual bidding offers granular control, allowing you to make precise adjustments based on performance data and strategic insights. Automated bidding leverages machine-driven algorithms to optimize bids, which can be helpful, especially in large-scale campaigns with dynamic variables.

    The decision between manual and automated strategies hinges on balancing control and efficiency. Manual control is best if campaigns require frequent and incremental adjustments. In contrast, automated bidding makes managing bid optimizations at scale easier. However, to maximize ROI, you must understand the nuances of both approaches.

    Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons of manual vs. automated bid strategies in Google Ads:

    Manual bidding


    Granular control: Manual bidding allows you to set bids at the keyword, ad group, or campaign level. This approach gives you more precision when managing the cost of each click.

    Flexibility: You can adjust bids in real time based on performance data, time of day, location, and other factors. As a result, you can react to shifts in the market or campaign performance in less time.

    Ideal for specific goals: Manual bidding can be useful when you have clear goals, such as targeting particular positions in search engine results or driving a certain traffic volume within a tight budget.


    Time-intensive: Manually monitoring and adjusting bids across different campaigns and keywords can be incredibly time-consuming and requires in-depth knowledge of the bidding process.

    Prone to human error: It's easy to make mistakes when adjusting bids manually, especially in large-scale or complex campaigns.

    Difficulty scaling: Managing bids becomes more difficult as the number of campaigns, keywords, and targeting options grows.

    4 Types of Customer Segmentation (Click to expand)

    Automated bidding


    Efficiency and time savings: Automated bidding uses machine learning to optimize bids in real-time, freeing up significant time and resources.

    Big Data analysis: Smart Bidding strategies can analyze vast amounts of data (far beyond what a human could process), including time of day, device, location, remarketing lists, and other signals.

    Goal-focused optimization: Automated bidding focuses on achieving specific goals, such as conversions, conversion value, or target ROAS, to keep campaigns aligned with business objectives.


    Less control: With automated bidding, you relinquish some control over individual bids, which can be a drawback if you need to make small adjustments.

    Dependence on data: Smart Bidding relies heavily on historical data. New campaigns or those with limited data might not be as easy to optimize.

    Potential for overspending: If you aren't careful, automated bidding strategies can sometimes lead to overspending, especially in competitive markets or when settings aren't well-defined.

    Which one should you choose?

    The best option depends on factors such as your campaign goals, experience with Google Ads, budget, campaign size, and the time you can dedicate to management. A hybrid approach might be best.

    Smart Bidding: A deep dive

    Smart Bidding is a sophisticated automated bid strategy that leverages machine learning for even more advanced Google ads optimization. It focuses on conversion-based goals and analyzes a wide range of real-time auction signals like device, location, and search terms to help advertisers get optimal results. Keep in mind that all Smart Bidding strategies fall under automated bidding, but not all automated bidding strategies use the advanced machine learning capabilities of Smart Bidding.

    Here's an example of using a Smart Bidding campaign focused on maximizing conversions:

    Scenario: You're the marketing manager for an e-commerce store selling eco-friendly home goods. Your goal is to increase online purchases.

    Choosing a smart bidding strategy:

    Target CPA: This strategy might be a good fit if you have a specific cost in mind for each new sale acquired. However, the algorithm requires some historical conversion data to work effectively.

    Maximize conversions: This is an excellent choice when your primary goal is getting the most conversions possible within your budget. It's ideal for businesses without a strict cost-per-acquisition target.

    Setting up the campaign:

    Conversion tracking: Ensure accurate conversion tracking (purchase confirmations, lead form submissions, etc.). This data is critical for the algorithm to learn.

    Select your strategy: Choose "Maximize Conversions" as your bidding strategy.

    Define budget: Set a daily budget you're comfortable with.

    Target audience and ads: Craft ads and use relevant keywords to target your ideal customers.

    How the Smart Bidding algorithm works:

    Data analysis: The algorithm analyzes past campaign performance, user search queries, current market trends, device types, locations, and numerous other factors in every auction.

    Real-time adjustments: It adjusts bids up or down dynamically to increase the likelihood of conversions within your budget.

    Learning over time: The more data the algorithm gathers, the better it can identify high-potential clicks and optimize your bids accordingly.

    Regularly monitor your campaign performance to keep it aligned with your overall goals.

    Brands waste 40% of their marketing budgets.

    Conducting an advanced Google Ads keyword audit

    Over time, keywords can lose relevance, search volume can fluctuate, and new opportunities emerge. You should conduct a keyword audit as part of your advanced Google Ads optimization strategy.

    Step 1: Gather your data

    • Download your current keyword list from Google Ads. Include metrics like search volume, impressions, clicks, cost-per-click (CPC), conversions, and conversion value.

    Step 2: Analyze performance

    • Identify top performers: Look for keywords generating high conversions, clicks, and a positive return on ad spend (ROAS). Keep these as your champions and consider increasing bids if they are profitable.
    • Low performers: Flag keywords with minimal clicks, conversions, or a negative ROAS. Consider pausing or deleting them to focus resources on more impactful terms.
    • Search volume: Review organic traffic volume trends. Are there keywords with declining volume? Consider replacing them with rising terms.
    • Quality score: Low quality scores indicate potential issues with keyword relevance or landing page experience. Investigate and improve these aspects to boost ad rank and potentially lower cost-per-click.

    Step 3: Uncover new opportunities

    • Search term report: Analyze the "Search Terms" report to identify relevant search queries users entered that triggered your ads. Discover new keyword opportunities with a higher chance of conversion potential.
    • Competitor Research: Use tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs to analyze your competitors' top keywords. Consider incorporating relevant terms that align with your offerings.
    • Keyword planning tools: Leverage Google Keyword Planner and other keyword research tools to explore new ideas with high search volume and low competition.
    • Focus on Intent: Don't just target keywords—understand the searcher's intent. Are they looking to research, compare products, or make a purchase? Ad copy should address their specific needs.

    Step 4: Optimize your keyword structure

    • Organize by theme: Group keywords into tight ad groups based on a central theme. This improves relevance and ad rank.
    • Negative keywords: Identify and add negative keywords to prevent your ads from showing for irrelevant searches that won't convert.
    • Match types: Use a variety of match types (broad, phrase, exact match) within your ad groups to capture relevant searches while controlling costs.

    Step 5: Refine landing pages

    • Ensure relevance: Align your landing page content with the keywords that drive traffic. Optimize page titles, meta descriptions, and content to match user intent.
    • Strong call to action (CTA): Tell users what you want them to do, whether it's making a purchase, signing up for a free trial, or downloading a white paper.

    Advanced techniques:

    • Long-tail keywords: Consider incorporating long-tail keywords (a phrase with multiple keywords) with lower search volume but higher conversion intent.
    • Smart Bidding strategies: Use Smart Bidding in Google Ads to optimize bids in real time based on user signals and maximize conversions within your budget.
    • Location targeting: Refine your location targeting to focus on areas with the highest conversion rates or a lower cost-per-acquisition (CPA).

    A keyword audit is an ongoing process. Revisit your findings and adjust as needed to ensure your Google Ads campaigns stay competitive and deliver exceptional results.

    Ahrefs Keyword research tool

    Tailoring messages for different audience segments

    Given the technical nature of advanced Google Ads optimization, it's easy to overlook one of advertising's most critical aspects: messaging.

    When crafting ad copy, consider the following:

    • Use language and imagery that resonates with the specific segment. What appeals to one segment may not appeal to another.
    • Leverage the most relevant benefits to each segment. Different segments will have different needs and motivations. Highlight the benefits in your ad copy.
    • Test different messaging approaches. Don't be afraid to experiment with various messaging approaches for each segment. Test headlines, calls to action, and value propositions to see which combinations get more responses.

    When it comes to landing pages, the same principles apply:

    • Create landing pages specific to each audience segment. Don't direct all traffic to a generic landing page. Instead, create landing pages for each audience segment's needs. These pages may have unique content, offers, or calls to action that are more relevant to each segment.
    • Optimize landing page elements for conversion. Include clear calls to action and remove distractions. Also, make sure the page loads in under three seconds.

    Psychology-focused ad copy and landing page optimization

    Psychology-focused ad copy and landing pages can transform conversions and ROI. Customer emotions are the pillar of compelling ads. Aligning an ad's message with the audience's psychology increases engagement and the likelihood of driving them to your landing pages.

    Customer Empathy Map
    Customer Empathy Map

    Beyond keywords: Emotional impact

    By tapping into your audience's emotional triggers, you can create a deeper connection with them. Incorporating sentiments like trust, urgency, or joy can prompt action. Understanding the psychology behind consumer behavior is crucial to evoke the desired response. It's about what you say and how you make people feel. So, combining emotional impact and keyword optimization can set your campaigns on an entirely different trajectory.

    Here's an example:

    Scenario: You're marketing a subscription box service that delivers curated self-care items like aromatherapy products, wellness snacks, and inspirational journals.

    Target emotions: Joy and relaxation

    Understanding your audience: Your ideal customers likely crave moments of peace and self-indulgence in their busy lives. They might feel stressed and overwhelmed and need a little "me time".

    Psychology-driven ad copy:

    Headline: "Your Monthly Dose of Bliss | Treat Yourself Today"

    Description: "Escape the everyday. Discover luxurious self-care delivered to your door. Unbox relaxation & rediscover joy."

    Call-to-action: "Claim Your First Box – 20% Off"

    Key psychological principles:

    Anticipation: Words like "discover" and "unbox" create a sense of excitement and anticipation for a pleasurable surprise.

    Scarcity and urgency: The limited-time discount (20% Off) creates a sense of urgency and encourages immediate action.

    Emotional connection: Words like "bliss," "relaxation," and "joy" directly tap into the desires of your target audience, promising a solution to their stress.


    • Use soft, calming colors (pastels, natural tones) in your ad imagery.
    • Feature images of people visibly enjoying the products in a relaxing setting.

    Always test variations of ad copy and visuals to see what gets the best response.

    A/B testing for success

    A/B testing is the cornerstone of an advanced Google Ads optimization strategy. The process involves comparing two ad or landing page versions to determine which performs better. Marketers can discover what resonates best with their audience by systematically varying elements like ad copy, images, or calls to action.

    A/B testing allows for continuous improvements to campaign performance. It provides insights into what drives conversions and helps identify ways to enhance an ad's overall effectiveness.

    Performance analysis: Smarter decisions, better results

    Analyzing the performance of your Google Ads campaigns is the only way to improve them. You must track key performance indicators (KPIs) and campaign data.

    A cross-channel analysis is also imperative. This analysis involves reviewing the performance of your campaigns in conjunction with other marketing channels. By integrating Google Ads data with broader marketing analytics, such as Google Analytics, you can get the full picture of how well your marketing efforts are working.

    Marketing Manager KPIs: Metrics to Drive Growth and ROI

    Discover the key performance indicators that matter most to marketing managers. Learn how to use KPIs to make decisions and maximize marketing ROI.

    Key performance indicators (KPIs) for Google ads

    Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) for Google Ads campaigns requires monitoring at least a few essential metrics. The most common KPIs are click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, cost per acquisition (CPA), and return on ad spend (ROAS).

    Also, reviewing metrics such as ad quality score, ad relevance, and landing page experience provides a comprehensive view and can guide adjustments for better outcomes.

    The value of cross-channel analysis

    A cross-channel analysis is another critical process in an advanced Google Ads optimization strategy. Integrating ads data with platforms like Google Analytics gives you a better understanding of campaign performance across various channels. This synergy reveals how Google Ads impacts overall digital marketing initiatives and customer engagement beyond the Google Ads account alone.

    IMAGE: Ahrefs content gap (click to enlarge)

    AI and automation: Tools for efficiency and insight

    AI and machine learning are revolutionizing Google ads optimization. These technologies analyze massive amounts of real-time data, making it possible to develop precise bidding strategies for specific audience segments. This advanced approach to optimization automatically adjusts bids based on search terms, ad performance, and user behavior. AI-driven bid optimization also ensures your ads reach the right audience at the right time, which is essential for boosting conversion rates.

    Here are three examples of powerful AI tools you can use for advanced Google Ads optimization, along with their key benefits:


    • Focus: Bid and budget management across multiple search platforms, including Google Ads.
    • AI Advantages: Acquisio's machine learning algorithms analyze massive amounts of campaign data to predict future performance, suggesting optimized bidding strategies and budget allocations for greater efficiency.
    • Benefits: Saves time, maximizes ROI on your ad spend, and helps you get better results from your campaigns.

    WordStream Advisor

    • Focus: Comprehensive Google Ads management for small to mid-sized businesses.
    • AI advantages: This tool leverages AI to analyze campaign performance, identify areas for improvement, and provide actionable recommendations. It also includes tools for optimizing keywords, budgets, and ad copy.
    • Benefits: Offers user-friendly guidance to improve campaign performance, simplifies complex processes, and helps advertisers save time.

    Google's Optimization Score and Recommendations

    • Focus: Built-in feature within your Google Ads account.
    • AI advantages: Analyzes your account settings, campaigns, and performance data using machine learning to provide a score (0-100%) and tailored optimization recommendations.
    • Benefits: Offers easily accessible AI-driven insights, helps identify quick fixes to improve campaign health, and guides beginners and experienced advertisers.

    These tools often offer free trials or basic plans, so you can try them out before committing.

    Do you want to optimize Google ads?

    Mastering advanced Google Ads optimization is essential for CMOs who want to maximize ROI. Every aspect, from audience segmentation to advanced targeting and bid strategies, is crucial to success.

    Stop wasting money. Schedule a free consultation with The Brand Auditors to discover how to get the most from your advertising budget.

    Chris Fulmer, PCM®

    Chris Fulmer, PCM®

    Brand Strategist | Managing Director

    Chris has over 15 years of experience in brand development and marketing. He has designed strategies across various industries, such as technology, B2B services, and healthcare. His areas of expertise include brand positioning, competitive analysis, content marketing, and web development.

    Frequently asked questions:
    Advanced Google ads optimization

    What are the top advanced Google Ads optimization strategies?

    The top advanced Google Ads optimization strategies include niche audience segmentation, optimizing keywords using a mix of match types, leveraging broad match keywords, using extensions to provide more information and increase click-through rates, and continuously monitoring and adjusting campaign performance based on data and insights.

    How often should I review and adjust my Google Ads campaigns?

    You should review and adjust your campaigns daily or weekly, depending on their objectives and performance. Monitoring campaign performance regularly, conducting A/B testing, and making necessary adjustments are essential to ensuring optimal results and maximizing ROI.

    Can AI tools significantly improve Google Ads performance?

    AI tools like Acquisio and WordStream Advisor have become essential components in an advanced Google Ads optimization strategy. These tools leverage machine learning algorithms to analyze campaign data, provide insights and recommendations, and automate tasks like bid optimization, resulting in improved efficiency and campaign performance.

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