SKAGs and STAGs may sound alike but they are not the same. The Google Ads world is full of difficult to decipher acronyms that can look similar, but represent very different things. For example, a CTR and a CR are not interchangeable. The Click-Through Rate (CTR) helps measure your ad’s performance. The Conversion Rate (CR) measures how many people who clicked through actually wound up purchasing your product. They are just one letter off from one another but represent two different phases of the buyer’s journey.

Similarly, SKAGs and STAGs are so similar sounding that they are often misheard in conversation, but they actually represent two very different Google Ads strategies.

What is a SKAG?

SKAG stands for Single Keyword Ad Group, and it describes an ad group strategy that is growing in popularity. Let’s use an example to fully demonstrate a SKAG strategy. Let’s say you run a local bakery. You create breakfast pastries, sweet desserts, and loaves of bread. Your SKAG strategy would consist of one bakery campaign. Within that campaign, you would have separate ad groups for each keyword you are looking to target. For example, you would create one ad group for “muffins”, one “scones”, one for “cookies”, one for “cake”, one for “rye”, and one for “baguettes”. You would tailor your ad to each keyword, ensuring that if anyone searches for one of your keywords that they get a highly related display ad. SKAGs allow for more customization, better targeting, and ultimately, more relevant search results.

What is a STAG?

STAG stands for Single Theme Ad Group, and describes an ad group strategy that relies on more than one keyword in each ad group. Rather than focusing on the actual words a searcher chooses to use (which is what the SKAG method does), the STAG strategy relies more on the intent of the search. For example, a STAG strategy for the bakery mentioned above may have one ad group for fresh baked bread. This approach assumes that the searcher is looking for freshly baked, artisan bread, and delivers content related to the intent of that search. Under this model, someone searching for “fresh-baked sourdough”, “local baguette maker” and “best bakery bread in my area” would receive the same ad. It is a different approach to delivering relevant search results.

Which Approach Works Best For You?

The relative advantages of a SKAG vs. STAG strategy depend on what you are trying to achieve. SKAG campaigns have been known to produce better conversion rates, since you are often delivering the exact ad a searcher wants to see. However, a SKAG approach is not the best way to test which keywords perform well for your brand. A STAG strategy leads to more impressions, and with more impressions, it will take less time to determine which keywords within one group have the best CTR. Those keywords can then be leveraged within SKAG campaigns for a better CR. A combination of both SKAGs and STAGs usually works well.

Understanding the relative pros and cons of each approach is vital in choosing which strategy works best for you. When in doubt, try them both in order to determine which yields better results for your brand.