Is Exact Match Targeting Possible in Google Shopping?

By Tinuiti Team

What is Exact Match Targeting?

According to Google, exact match targeting is a keyword setting that allows an ad to show only when someone searches for the exact phrase of a keyword or close variations of the exact phrase of the keyword.

The exact match keyword “coffee mug” can cause an ad to show only if someone searches for “coffee mug” or close variations of “coffee mug” exactly, with no other words.

If a search uses the right words in the wrong order or includes extra words, the ad won’t show for that search. For example, when you add “adopt a turtle” as an exact match keyword, you tell AdWords to try to show your ad only when someone searches “adopt a turtle” or close variations of “adopt a turtle” such as “adopt a turttle.”

Exact match is one of the four keyword matching options that help control how closely the keyword needs to match a person’s search term in order for an ad to appear. You can choose one or more matching options for a keyword, and broad match will be used by default if you don’t specify a particular matching option.

Broad Match vs. Exact Match Targeting

Keywords-based PPC:

Broad match is good for discovery and overall diversity of search queries. Unfortunately, broad match often has a poor ROI due to the variety in search terms.

On the other hand, exact match:




Obstacles Facing Exact Match Targeting & Google Shopping:

Google Shopping-based PPC:

Google has a very good understanding of what product and commercial-related queries are. It leverages this to serve hyper relevant, but “appropriately diverse” mix of product ads to users and increases probability that at least one of the products served resonates with the user.

Unfortunately, Google Shopping:



Google serves product-specific ads for generic queries. For example a search for “dishwasher” will feature companies like CMA, Bosch, GE, Whirlpool, etc.

david-weichel“We call these generic searches “top-of-the-funnel” since they are likely just starting their shopping process and haven’t yet narrowed their search to any particular brand, collection or product,” David Weichel, Paid Search Director at CPC Strategy said.

“You can convert on these very generic queries, but retailers don’t have control over what’s showing up. There are some brands that won’t convert well for a generic search such as this.”

“Even if you break out a single brand (ex: Bosch) into it’s own campaign, all that means is that the products being served within that campaign are Bosch products.  That doesn’t stop the brand from showing up for other searches (ex: black kitchen appliances),” he said.


Google will still show your shopping ads are the very top of the SERP, which means retailers are bidding $1 to show their Bosch refrigerator for a search that is absurdly generic and doesn’t have a good chance of converting.

 “That’s the pain of not having Exact Match shopping campaigns. But this pain isn’t felt by retailers because generally speaking Google’s understanding of products is so good that these ads will for the most part generate a positive return.”

Can Retailers Apply Exact Match Targeting to Google Shopping Campaigns?

If retailers want to be ultra competitive for a specific brand during an exclusive sale that they are running and they know they have the lowest price but don’t want to show up on overly generic, unqualified searches, this is opportunity for them to “compete smarter” and leverage advanced targeting.

Although there is no such thing as an “exact match” in Google Shopping campaigns, there is a way to simulate this strategy thanks to the latest testing within CPC Strategy’s CAPx technology.capx

“That’s when this methodology comes into play.  Retailers can create a large enough bank of unqualified search terms to where they’ve identified the majority of the poor visibility they can get. By adding these as negative keywords in their account, they can effectively emulate an”exact match” of sorts – targeting on Google Shopping (even though this doesn’t “technically” exist).

Exact Match on Google Shopping: The Test Results

According to Weichel, depending on the number of brands a retailer has, or the type of exact match targeting they’re trying to emulate, they will need either multiple ad groups, multiple campaigns, or both.

“We can check all queries to indicate if it contains a retailer’s manually curated list of approved terms. If it doesn’t match then the program will add that search term as a negative keyword,” he said.

The results of our latest study on 8 brands during a 4 month period impacted accounts across the spectrum by increasing:


“Granted, there’s some seasonality at play here, but we have never done this volume before for these brands,” Weichel said.

“Things started out slow, but as we added more negatives over time we were able to increase our bid, increase our visibility and own real estate for more searches that were highly qualified, leading to more sales. It’s definitely not a fit for all clients and accounts, but it can serve as a possible option for marketers to use to accomplish their campaign objectives.”

jeff-colemanAccording to Jeff Coleman, Director of Account Management at CPC Strategy, if you’re going to implement this strategy – retailers should test more than one campaign (with just one campaign retailers would eventually limit their product visibility).

As a good practice, retailers should continue to go for maximum campaign visibility on their main campaign and implement the exact match tool on any additional campaigns to bid higher for more targeted terms.

It is important to note this type of testing can only be effective because of it’s direct correlation to CAPx technology (which ensures targeting is very specific).

For more information on exact match targeting or CAPx technology contact [email protected]

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