Recently I was tasked with finding keywords for a client who wishes to somehow guarantee that their ads won’t show up in a search for words that begin with the same letters as their brand keywords, but rather will show up once an entire search query is complete.

For example, if we pretend my client sells petfood – which they don’t – they want to target negative keywords such as petro canada or petforest. So that someone looking for the Petro Canada wiki page won’t see an extremely quick petfood ad flashed before their eyes before they finish typing.

I would like to go on record as calling this a bad idea. It’s more than just cost – PPC is organized so you don’t pay for impressions – it’s the basic philosophy. Trying to counteract Google Instant is akin to pushing on the ocean. You can try if you want to, and you might even build some neat stuff if you put brains and dollars towards it. But the tide eventually will rise and if you’re standing on dry ground when it does, you’ll go under very quickly.

By that overly nautical metaphor, I mean that if a business is truly concerned that their niche market is not best served by loads of irrelevant impressions, which can happen with Google Instant, the answer is not to pay a writer to cast a wide net of negative keywords. The way to get your specific, mad-for-you, experts and evangelists who already want more is to understand that search is social.

If you have a relentless, rabid customer base who absolutely needs to know the next time you come out with a product, get in touch with them. It works way better than telling Google to run your ads, but not really.

One of my favourite companies hosts a forum in which new products are announced internally at various stages of incubation. I find out about it via their emails to me. Other clients of mine make use of Facebook to discuss imminent product releases and to get feedback on new initiatives. Just look at the Gap and how that all went down. You can host a microsite for beta-testing if that’s your type of product, you can gauge reactions on your twitterfeed, host a live chat – an event that you can easily promote with PPC ads – and don’t forget the power of texting. You can even buy ads in online games if you want to.

These and lots of other options are readily available for companies of any size who want to address their current customers and who want to attract new ones. In the case of my petfood company, their best bet is to use promoted videos with a chat feature. Why? Because their customers buy, use and review their product on YouTube and they WANT to talk about it with one another. Going this route would take the dollars put into me developing ways to say No to Google and put it towards saying Yes to their existing customers, with the added bonus that they’ll then tell others about it.

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