Close Variants Exposed: How to Save Thousands on Your Ad Budget

Save Thousands on Ad Budget

Close variants in paid advertising have become a double-edged sword for digital marketers. While they offer expanded reach and potential new opportunities, a recent study underscores their significant impact on budget efficiency and overall campaign performance.



As managers of paid media, optimising ad performance is paramount. For those seeking top SEO Consultant Singapore services, understanding the nuances of ad performance is crucial. Close variants, introduced by platforms like Google and Microsoft Ads, aim to capture broader search intent variations. 

However, our analysis reveals a substantial discrepancy in performance between close variants and true match keywords, particularly in terms of Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) and Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). Leveraging top SEO Consultant Singapore expertise can help navigate these complexities, ensuring your SEO services here are both effective and efficient.


Understanding Close Variants and Their Impact

What Are Close Variants?

Close variants are variations of your chosen keywords that search engines deem relevant enough to trigger your ads, even if they are not exact matches. They include misspellings, singular or plural forms, abbreviations, and variations in word order.


True Match Vs. Close Variants: How Do They Perform?

Definition of True Match

True match keywords trigger ads only when the search query precisely matches the keyword, based on the chosen match type (exact, phrase, or broad).

Definition of Close Variants

Close variants broaden the scope by triggering ads for searches that are closely related to, but not identical to, the selected keywords. This can lead to increased impressions but varied performance metrics.


Comparison of Performance Metrics

Our comprehensive study compared the performance of close variants versus true match keywords across millions of data points.

CPA Comparison

Close variants often result in higher CPAs compared to true match keywords. This is due to lower relevance and higher click costs associated with broadened search queries.

ROAS Comparison

Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) for close variants tends to be significantly lower than for true match keywords. This disparity underscores the inefficiencies in targeting and conversion rates associated with broader match types.


Analysing the Data: Insights from Our Study

Scope and Methodology

We examined over 4.5 million clicks and 400,000 conversions across Google and Microsoft Ads. Our findings excluded certain campaign types to focus on keyword-driven search campaigns with reliable conversion tracking.


Key Findings

Close variants consume more than half of the average ad budget while delivering subpar performance metrics. This highlights the critical need for effective management strategies to mitigate wasted ad spend.


Strategies to Optimize Close Variant Management

Step 1: Diagnose Your CV Problem

Utilise tools like Adpulse’s Close Variant Manager to assess the health of your close variants. Identify poor-performing variants and take corrective actions promptly.


Step 2: Campaign Structuring for Effective CV Management

Brand Campaigns

Isolate brand-specific keywords into separate ad groups with strict match types to prevent irrelevant triggers.

Non-Brand Campaigns with Larger Budgets

Segment non-brand campaigns by match type to monitor and adjust keyword performance effectively.

Non-Brand Campaigns with Smaller Budgets

Simplify structure to consolidate data and streamline negative keyword management for smaller campaigns.


Step 3: Ongoing Actions to Tame Close Variants

Implement a proactive approach to adding negative keywords and refining match types based on ongoing performance data.



Managing close variants effectively is crucial for optimising ad performance and maximising ROI. By understanding their impact and implementing strategic management practices, marketers can mitigate wasted ad spend and improve campaign efficiency.


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