Definition: Negative Keywords are an advertising filter tool that enables advertisers to ensure ads are not displayed to users who use particular words or phrases. Negative keywords help ecommerce merchants reach users with higher intent, resulting in higher marketing ROI.
The primary goal of contextual advertising is presenting useful, relevant ads to people when they're searching for a given term. This is usually done by understanding the intent of the search and finding relevant ads — for example, someone who searches the phrase "buy computers online" is likely looking for an online store to purchase a computer.
However, some keywords convey a lack of intent that is likely to produce negative ROI. Negative Keywords offer a way to exclude advertisements from being shown for certain searches. This is particularly useful for campaigns that offer either broad matching or phrase matching. Here are two examples of how it can work in practice:
Leather Couches, LLC, is an online store that focuses on upscale leather couches, constructed by hand and customized for each order. However, they're aware that their market is one where people are often looking for free or low-cost pieces of furniture (especially young people moving out on their own for the first time, who want to spend as little money as possible).
These "non-buyers" are a sizable part of the group of people looking for couches, and if the company's advertisements went to every search with the phrase "leather couch," they'd be showing a lot of ads to people who searched "free leather couch" and "used leather couch."
Negative Keywords allow this ecommerce store to exclude themselves from searches with either of those terms, helping them focus on searchers who are looking for new couches.
Online Computer Sellers offers a variety of desktops, laptops, and tablets for purchase. Unfortunately, their advertisements are often crossing over so that people who are searching for one type of machine are being shown ads for another type — and very few people will make that kind of change.
For this company, Negative Keywords can help them ensure that the right type of ad is shown to each searcher (desktop computer ads to those searching for desktops, laptop ads to those searching for laptops, etc.). The better an ad matches what a customer is actually looking for, the more likely they are to click on it.
Learn more about configuring AdWords tracking for a BigCommerce store: Adding Google AdWords Conversion Tracking