How to Play PPC Like Fantasy Football

If you’re like me, you probably Pic1dedicated numerous hours trying to win your Fantasy Football league(s) this fall – not only for the glory, but also for the gratification that your hard earned time (and possibly $$) didn’t go to waste. You did all the research, took all the risks, and learned from your mistakes, all to come out on top (at least I did).

As a Paid Search Advertising Manager at KoMarketing, my job is to pretty much do the same. Looking at the parallels between the Fantasy sports world and paid search marketing, it’s easy to see that both can be approached in the same competitive manner.

Let’s take a look:

Research & Education

Like all things competitive, it’s essential to do the research and educate yourself to make your strategy successful. While the initial Fantasy draft can sometimes be a toss-up (see: Eddie Lacy and DeMarco Murray), you can still get a feel for the “perfect” team you want to build before you actually do.

However, the draft isn’t your only deciding factor for a successful Fantasy Football season; you have to remember that your research doesn’t finish until the season does. Whether it’s checking player projections, injury reports, or scoring trends, you need to make sure you’re keeping tabs on your team at all times (unless you’re extremely lucky).

Paid search marketing works in much the same way. You talk to the client, figure out their needs, research the landing pages, strategize, and then “draft” your keyword list/ad creative in the hopes that it will be successful.

Take a closer look at the comparisons below:

Drafting Your Fantasy Football Team vs PPC Campaign:

Comp Pic

Of course, the initial paid search build is what some may consider the easy part. Now comes the hardPic2 part: maintaining it to be successful over the long term (there will be ups and downs which can pretty much be guaranteed). Similar to Fantasy Football, you want to collect data, research trends on a weekly basis, and make logical changes which will be beneficial, as a whole, to those campaigns.

Adaptations & Modifications

Let’s face it: Even with an A+ Fantasy draft, you still face the chance of defeat in Week 1 or even worse, possibly Week 2. However, a true Fantasy Football maven will not worry about bumps along the way; instead, he/she will adapt quickly.

Once trends start to formulate, you need to look to make the right adjustments, even if it may seem risky. For instance, in my league, I had a great team on paper after the draft, with Jeremy Hill as one of my top running backs. With Hill trending to end up being a huge bust, I needed an alternate player from the waivers to supplement this sunk cost.

If you were paying attention and did your research, an emerging Dion Lewis was a top pick up from the waivers. This brings up a key rule to remember: The draft is not necessarily as important as how you play the waivers.

This example is quite similar to the struggles attained in paid search marketing: When one popular option looks to be failing from your initial campaign build, you should research a variety of other options to replace it.

For instance, keywords that were estimated to receive high quality traffic are not performing as planned.

With this scenario there are a few paths you could take:

  1. Optimize by means of negative keyword expansions.
  2. Raise max cpc bids.
  3. Look for better landing page options.
  4. Change campaign settings.
  5. Pause (bench) the low performing keyword(s) entirely and look for better options (waivers).

Data Comparisons

For me, watching football games and highlights is one way to see actual performance first hand. Another, is to compare week over week scores and read up on updates in the Fantasy Football application. Playing the waivers can be a dice game however; you may grab a player in haste and they end up not performing as expected, and then lose a waiver spot. This is why it’s sometimes better to be patient before making any huge adjustments.

The same goes for paid search: If you work for an agency, there’s no doubt you’re comparing data on a Week-Over-Week/Month-Over-Month reporting basis for your clients. You notice that your top keywords are not performing very well and decide to make some big changes, so now you want play the paid search waivers.

There are a couple directions that can be taken and a couple of tools to use while doing your research:

  1. SQR Reports: The most obvious, is to build a keyword expansion from data pulled in the SQR reports. This is usually a sure shot, since you can see the actual numbers coming from that set of keywords.
  2. Auctions Insights Research: You can always check here to see how the competition stands. There could be the possibility that your competitors started bidding on the same keywords as you and are also bidding much higher.

    With this method I like to take a 2 step approach:

    1. Using auction insights research for the competitive landscape (as explained above), and
    2. Using that competitor information in platforms such as SEMRush or SpyFu to spy on keywords competitors are actually bidding on; this information can help you expand on your keyword ideas and bidding strategy.
  3. Google Analytics: It can be noted that searchers are using keywords you are not bidding on, but are still clicking on the organic SERPs. Using Google Analytics, you can research and cross-reference high performing organic keywords and consider using them for your expansion.
  4. Google Trends: Perchance the issues you are having with performance are seasonal. Google Trends can help you instantly compare keyword search volume over a given time span. There is the possibility you may just want to lower your cpc bids or just pause for a specific time period.

Final Thoughts

The Fantasy Football season was a long one with many league altering injuries (Le’Veon Bell, Jamaal Charles, Jordy Nelson) and huge player underperformance (Andrew Luck, Jeremy Hill). Pulling your team(s) through successfully was time consuming and involved a lot of research, not unlike a paid search campaign.

An important thing to note: Don’t throw in your towel after a bad week; it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your season. Keep your head up, because it’s what you do after that first week or two that will define your season/PPC program. Be persistent, do your research, be creative, and excel your team/PPC program to the playoffs, and beyond.


“With other agencies, the tendency is to see a flurry of work initially, and then communication and accountability starts to fall off. Our KoMarketing account team is in contact with us almost daily – it’s like they’re sitting right here in our office. They’re truly an extension of our marketing team.”

Stephanie Weagle — Stephanie Weagle, VP of Marketing, Corero Network Security

Start a conversation with the KoMarketing team:

Complete our inquiry form now