You spend a lot of money on Adwords. Do you REALLY know when and where your ads show?

Truth is, a lot of people don’t.  Not really, at least.  And it’s not just the average advertisers and business owners, it’s the big guys too.  In actuality, the larger and more complex a campaign is, the more likely there is to be mistakes.

Mistakes that you spend money making.  Over and over again every day.

In this case-in-point, I’ve taken a look at Lenscrafters.  Lenscrafters has a pretty huge number of Adwords that they bid on.  It appears, however, that they don’t really have the whole negative-keyword thing down.  Take the above example, for instance.  Obviously, Lenscrafter’s products have to do with eyes.  Some of the products are contacts.  Some glasses have tension.  It’s safe to say, though, that putting these words together in the phrase “sexual tension eye contact” was not something the family-friendly corporate eyeglass company intended to do.  Whoever is running this campaign should probably make the word “sexual” a negative keyword.

It’s not all about sexual tension, though.  Lenscrafter’s advertising has a few other issues.  Allow me to point another one out:

Here we have an ad for Lenscrafters showing for the term Stephen Glass.  This illustrates the point in a slightly different color.  Unlike a word such as “sexual”, the word “Stephen” is not something even the cleverest SEO would think of excluding – you need an outside tool to monitor where your ads are actually showing.  In this case, “Stephen Glass” is both a disgraced former journalist who was in the news several times for making up stories and fabricating news articles, and a Scottish soccer player also named Stephen Glass.  It’s safe to say that, aside from Stephen Glass actually wearing glasses in his news photo, the terms are unrelated to Lenscrafters.  People searching for either of these Stephen Glasses are not searching for Lenscrafters.

According to SEMrush statistics, however, Lenscrafters is paying close to $1600 per month for this irrelevant keyword.

What’s more expensive?  $1600 per month, or a SEMrush subscription and the five minutes it took me to find the mistake?  If I was working in Lenscrafter’s advertising department, I could quickly make this a negative keyword, and get a nice pat on the back for saving the company serious money and earning my keep.  I guess Lenscrafters doesn’t use SEMrush.

Take a moment, and think about how you can apply this to your business.  Take a bit of time, and really take a look at what your competitors are advertising for.  Especially if they spend a lot more than you do.  Look for the mistakes they are making, and make sure you’re not making the same ones.

Interesting side note:  Adwords pros and people familiar with SEMrush know that you can look at the ad’s actual landing page URL to look for third party companies, usually ad agencies or software platforms that the advertisers use.  I did that, and found another interesting tidbit: Lenscrafters uses a software platform that’s also used by the likes of Zappos, Experian, Barnes & Noble, Sears, and other huge companies.  Take a look:

Hmm… the ad redirects to a strange landing page with a funny domain,

Let’s run through SEMrush’s sister service,, and see who it is.  Seems it’s actually a tracking domain from Kenshoo, a popular advertising platform that a lot of huge companies use.  The ad opens the tracking domain, which tracks the view and redirects to the actual landing page on Lenscrafters.

Seems the moral of this story might actually be to check on your 3rd party advertising vendors, and make sure that they’re spending your money appropriately.  Or, at least not wasting it.

Until next time, SEO’ers!

About Sean

Sean works as VP of Strategic Development at SEMrush, and handles things like API integrations and partnerships. Sean is also a hobbyist programmer, and enjoys a watching nerdy movies and going to craft beer bars in Philadelphia.
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