The Art of Diaper War:PPC Style

Account optimization is something that PPC professionals are always striving to achieve. It is an ongoing process. One of the ways we optimize our accounts is by constantly refining ad groups and create more targeted ad copy. Higher relevance generally translates into higher CTR andQuality Score.  A while back, I wrote a blog post on how to refine ad copy using The 1K impression rule (Page currently not available). Another helpful tool is Google’s Wonder Wheel; the center ring can be treated as an ad group while the spoke is viewed as related terms that can be placed in the ad group.

The tactics mentioned above are just a few examples of how to optimize campaigns.  The tactics mentioned above are more or less universal and can be applied to most campaigns when optimizing. Competitor campaigns, however, are a little trickier. For example, optimizing competitor campaign ad copy is much more difficult because trademarked terms cannot be used in ad copy, which is a best practice. As a result, competitor campaigns often have poor quality score and relatively costly CPCs.

To illustrate, I did some research on some leaders in the baby diaper space, Pampers and Huggies and Luvs.  I looked at their competitive space to see if their PPC strategies match what the customers are looking for.  For starters, Pampers and Huggies are direct competitors and offer many products that are basically identical. Luvs, on the other hand, is the underdog in the diaper space, positioning itself as the more affordable option.

A few days ago I stumbled upon Click’s Equations blog and really liked how they classified different branded terms. Thus, I’m going to use their terminology when taking a look at how Luvs, Pampers and Huggies treat competitor brand terms and ad copy:

1. Pure Brand and Navigational Brand Keywords

  • “Pure” brand keywords are the most narrow and focused set that includes the word themselves, misspelling and derivations.
  • Navigational means brand website and homepage.

For the terms: Huggies, www Huggies and www.


For Pampers related terms (Pampers, & no Huggies or Luvs ad copy

For Luvs related terms (Luvs, & no Huggies or Pampers ad copy.

Although Pampers and Huggies are long time nemeses , Huggies doesn’t seem to be bidding on Pampers branded terms.  Luvs showcases its unique offering as the affordable diaper, which is a good way to catch customer’s eye.  Pampers is bidding on Huggies branded terms, but their ad copy is not necessarily the most relevant because customers might be looking for diapers not training pants. They could use this ad copy instead (their ad copy for the terms: Pampers, &


2. Brand related terms. These are phrases that may are connected with the brand, but tend to be tail terms. In this example, I searched for ‘coupon’ qualified brand related terms.

For the terms: Huggies coupons and Huggies diaper coupon


For the terms: Pampers coupons and Pampers diaper coupons


For the terms: Luvs coupons and Luvs diaper coupons


Luvs is doing a good job  by dominating the diaper coupon search result page and  running a tailored ad copy, again catching customers’ attention. They do seem to bid more on Huggies terms vs.  Pampers. Pampers is still running the Easy Up ad copy. This is the first time I’m seeing Huggies to bid on the competitor term and, to their credit, they are running targeted ad copy.

3. Brand plus Keywords. These include brand names and specific products:

a. Training pants terms

For the terms: Pull Ups and Huggies Pull Ups:


For Easy Ups and Pampers Easy Ups: No Huggies and Luvs ad copy.

Pampers ad copy is finally right on target, running the direct product against Huggies Pull Ups. From my knowledge, Luvs is not offering training pants; however, they still feature their unique position as the most affordable option.  Huggies is not bidding on Easy Up related terms, which is one of Pampers’ most famous products. They can use this ad copy instead (their ad copy for the terms: Pull Ups and Huggies Pull Ups):


b. Wipes terms

For the term Huggies wipes:


For the term Pampers wipes: No Huggies or Luvs ad copy

For the terms: Luvs wipes, Luvs baby wipes


Pampers ad copy for Huggies wipe is their standard Easy Up, while for Luvs wipes terms they actually have very targeted ad copy. Luvs is actually running wipe ad copy but they don’t run that ad copy for Huggies wipes related terms:


In summary:


  • Competitive terms: focusing on their #1 competitor and actively bidding on Huggies brand related terms
  • Competitive Ad copy: 1 variety for the most of our example, except for wipes.


  • Competitive terms: not actively bidding on Pampers and Luvs branded terms
  • Competitive Ad copy: targeted for the coupon terms only


  • Competitive terms: focusing on Huggies specifically and actively bidding on Huggies brand related terms
  • Competitive Ad copy: Mostly targeted except for training pants and wipes

One strategy that can be used to create more targeted competitor campaigns, which would be beneficial to the diaper brands we’ve just evaluated, is to create one ad group for every competitor product category. If you think that it’s too tedious,  you can focus on top converting ad groups. Doing this would allow ads to be increasingly relevant, which should lead to a higher CTR, improved quality score, and lower CPCs.