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Cisco Webex Paid Search Program Pays Off

The results came through loud and clear after gaps in keyword coverage were identified and best practices were implemented to reduce spend and cost per acquisition.


The account KPIs, as determined by client goals, focused on free trial conversion growth, particularly from non-brand campaigns, while keeping account free trial conversion CPA below $50. Cisco Webex expressed concerns that brand campaigns may be cannibalizing account budget and restricting opportunity for non-brand investment and growth. The team surfaced the idea of restricting, or potentially abandoning branded search to reallocate funding toward non-brand growth, relying on organic listings to capture the traffic and conversions previously driven through paid search. They also had concerns about the relevance of previous non-brand keyword selection. More than 40% of non-brand conversions were generated by the ‘Video Chat’ campaign. While these conversions led all non-brand in CPC and CPA efficiency, the resulting free trials did not show evidence of driving revenue.


Reducing brand CPC while maintaining share of voice and consistent conversion volume required a mix of best practice implementations and bid floor testing. First, Merkle improved campaign structure, stripping broad match terms and replacing them with broad match modified keywords. We also expanded negative keyword lists to ensure that only relevant queries would be served ads and implemented proper query funneling to ensure that traffic was directed to the correct ad groups corresponding to user intent. In each of these ad groups, we began testing granular variations of expanded text ads to increase relevance between keywords, ad copy, and landing page in effort to increase quality scores, effectively reducing the bids required to maintain top of page ad position. Once account structure met best practice standards, the team began to incrementally dial down manual bids on brand keywords in effort to discover the lowest possible CPC that would allow ads to continue to serve in a strong position and maintain conversion volume, while improving CPC and CPA efficiency, opening up budget to be allocated to the non-brand growth the client desired. Non-brand expansion into more relevant industry terms required Merkle to create new campaigns with granular, intent-focused ad copy.


Q/Q brand cost reduced
Improvement on the account CPA in Q2, Q/Q
Increase in brand efficiency from Q/Q total in non-brand growth in Q2
Increase over the Y/Y total

Keys to success

  • Identified gaps in keyword coverage in non-brand and competitor conquesting campaigns, and tightened up matching in brand campaigns.
  • Implemented best practices beginning with keyword segmentation into campaigns and ad groups.
  • Manually tested incremental reductions in brand keyword bids, relying on strong brand quality scores as we pursued the lowest possible price we could pay to continue to rank for brand without sacrificing conversion volume.
  • Proritized the importance of brand by noting the opportunity for competitors to capitalize on the client’s brand name in our absence.

Discover how we did it. Contact us today.

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