5 Minutes To: Cascading Bids and Paid Media

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April has been a big month for the Beacon team, with the launch of our Digital Communications offering at the end of March. With this being such a big topic, we’ve decided to spend the next couple of weeks breaking it down into smaller parts. Today we’re looking at Paid Media and the art of Cascading Bids.

Cascading Bids are a small, but very important part of running Paid Search campaigns. While this ‘5 minutes to’ might not take five minutes to read, it’s something you should be able to apply in about five minutes.


Match Types 

Cascading Bids are a simple way of making the most of your Search Budget, and it relates to the different Match Types within Google Ads. When setting your Keywords, you have the ability to set them as Exact match, Phrase match, or Broad match (there also used to be the option of Broad Match Modifier but Google Ads have discontinued this). 

For a refresher in Match Types, let’s use the example of “puppy classes”:

  • Exact Match: Ads may show on searches that are the same meaning as your keyword – so if a user searches for “puppy classes”, you might appear.
  • Phrase Match: Ads may show on searches that include the meaning of your keyword – so you’d appear for “puppy classes near me”.
  • Broad Match: Ads may show on search results that relate to your keyword – for example “puppy behaviour”.

Each of these match types loosely correlate to a step in the consumer journey. Broad match tends to appear when people are gaining an awareness of a topic. Phrase match relates more to consumers who are researching their options, and are considering which to choose. Exact match tends to be a great tool for brand protection, and often covers the point where users are ready to make a decision.


Cascading Priorities, Cascading Bids

Now, you probably have an idea of which keywords would be most valuable. Exact keywords are more likely to drive a conversion, and so you’d be happy to spend more money on appearing for exact match searches. That’s where Cascading Bids come in. 

In short, you’re varying your bids based on your priorities. You really want to appear for the exact match keyword, so you’ll spend more to increase your chance of winning the auction. You’re less concerned about appearing for the lower converting Broad Match terms, but they still provide a great opportunity to build awareness, so you might not want to spend as much on them.

Start with your average cost per click (CPC) – a midpoint average for what you’d like to spend. Then, adjust this amount for each match type, cascading from the highest bid (exact match) to the lowest (broad match). In practise, it’ll look something like this:

Exact Match: £1.50

Phrase Match: £1.25

Broad Match: £1.00

This is a very simple example and doesn’t take into account any nuances in performance once your campaign is running. However, if you’re stuck with where to start, or all of your keywords currently hold the same weight, this is a quick and easy way to make sure you’re spending your budget more effectively.


And there you have it, a simple way to make your money work for you. By customising your bids you have greater control over your spend and your customer interactions. If you have any questions or would like us to help you with your paid media, please get in touch either through the chat function on our website or emailing hello@beaconagency.co.uk