Interests from clients in ABM strategies seem to be ever-growing, and with good reason. A 2017 study by ITSA suggested that 87% of marketing programs that utilize ABM tactics see higher ROI in those campaigns than others. The shift from a traditional marketing mindset, aligned with mass audiences, to one with as narrow a target as a company or select group of decision makers requires much critical consideration. A slice of that shift in thinking includes the limited capabilities at hand to employ such strategies. And in the case of Google Ads, there really isn’t any native functionality to support ABM tactics. No doubt, with Google Ads at the center of nearly every marketing strategy, such ABM abilities would be much appreciated (not to mention just plain easier from an implementation perspective).
In an ideal world, we would be able to simply upload a list of sizeable companies for targeting—I’m looking at you, Bing on MSAN—with their relevant messaging, and launch. But this isn’t always an ideal world, to see other ways we are working to reach a more ideal world, check out Just Cares. Here, is one crude way to employ ABM with Google Ads.
The Principle Goal
The principle goal for executing ABM with Google ads is fairly simply at face value. Given an account list, can we confidently and successfully employ targeted ads to reach the accounts of interest? And can we do that at scale? We will approach this is by using the smallest possible physical targeting Google Ads will allow, 1km radius targeting, around the physical office of the target. The account list can come from a variety of sources: internal CRMs, intent data, industry event directories, and more.
Once we have a list on hand, what’s next? We need to correlate every account to a geolocation (lat/lon) for targeting in our campaign settings. Google Maps’ Places API will sufficiently aid in the task of obtaining this, for nearly as many records as we need. We used a python script to refer the account name from our list to the Places API, but you could use any language of your choice supported by the API. The API returns Google’s best guess of the entity we are interested in, and if available, their physical address and geolocation. This would be a good time to comb through the results and make sure the account names you have are the same as those identified by Google. There will likely be some results that are invalid or simply wrong. In our case, we opted to simply remove those accounts. This is the final targeting data we will use in the campaign location settings.
Now that we have a list of account names and their geolocation from the Places API, all we need to do is build our campaign in Ads. Fire up Google Ads Editor, create your campaign, and upload each location in our data feed as radius targeting set to 1km. For a bulk upload, the format looks something like (1km:37.422589:-122.084585). The campaign will now be effectively targeting a 1km radius around the physical establishment of each account. Pull together your keywords, ad copy, landing pages, and other assets and you have a basic approach to ABM with Google Ads!
Lastly, because we want the ad to be as relevant as possible, we should consider taking advantage of an unintentional, though (very) convenient, functionality – ad customizers. Because we have targeted our accounts indirectly through a physical location, we can also customize the ad copy text for each account as well, by proxy of the user’s location. I.E. If a user is in the office of a target account, they are eligible to be shown our ad with the copy customized to their location – and account. The possibilities here are pretty open. You can use the account name, industry, application, or anything else to increase relevance. Fill out the ad customizer template and use physical location from the Place API data feed as the trigger. Now when a user within the account list targeting is shown an ad, the ad copy will be updated based on the customizer feed you provide.
All said and done, this approach is in no way perfect, and there exist a small handful of caveats; ambiguity for the account name, whether or not there exists a physical location for the account, whether there are multiple locations, and more. Regardless, with the relatively tiny scope the campaign will have, it doesn’t cost much to test such a tactic. Plus, the upside of placing an extremely relevant ad, in front of highly desired user, at the right time and the right place? It’s priceless.