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What an auto-negatives script is, and how to use it effectively

Section 1.4: Automating your search term reviews with a script

The manual method outlined above for search terms reviews takes quite a bit of time and effort. Though this is well-spent and necessary in an account’s early development stage, there is a point where it’s better to automate the search term review and building of negatives.

This is when agencies and experts turn to ad scripts.

The KeyCommerce Auto-Negatives Script

We have developed a simple, but powerful, tool for automating this process. Instructions and guidance for its use is fully detailed here:

With this script, you set up ‘positive keywords’, meaning keywords that you set as mandatory to be in a search term triggering your ad. If the search term doesn’t contain your positive keyword(s) according to a matching rule that you set, then that search term will be added to the ad group (or a keyword list, if you choose) as an exact negative.

With great power comes…

…great responsibility. Use this tool only once you can confidently state that you understand its logic ruleset. It’s not hard to learn, but it’s easy to misunderstand if you’re not careful.

Follow-up reviews of the negatives are crucial

Once you’ve set up your auto-negatives script and have it running, it is absolutely critical to review the negatives it has added. Because the rules and logic of the setup are strict, you will likely not have thought through every word permutation that would make for a qualified search.

For example, let’s say you’re selling designer jeans by AGOLDE. You’ve decided you’re more interested in targeting searches with the brand name, rather than broader terms such as “jeans”, so you set up the following positive keyword: “agolde”.

The next day, you review the negatives that have been added and find these.

Follow up

This is, by the way, a real world example. As you can see, clearly qualified search terms by shoppers who mistyped or misremembered the brand name are being excluded. In this example, we would add the variations to our positive keywords list in the auto-negatives, then remove the negatives.

Process for the follow-up reviews


After setting up an auto-negatives script, it’s paramount that it be checked after one day of activity, and frequently thereafter. Every setup will eventually need fewer reviews over time, and this is up to the account manager to determine themselves.

This is our schedule for the reviews after setting up and activating auto-negatives.

  • Daily for first week
  • Weekly for next 3 weeks
  • Bi-weekly ongoing

What you’re looking for

You’re reviewing the negatives that have been applied since your last review. The point of the review is to see if your auto-negatives are blocking qualified traffic from hitting your products.

This can be in the form of:

  • typos and misspellings
    • Example: “a golde” instead of “agolde”
  • unanticipated synonyms or alternate phrases
    • Example: “tee shirt” instead of “t-shirt”
  • alternate descriptions of the product
    • Example: “concert graphic tee” instead of “1981 rolling stones tour shirt”

Actions to take

When you’ve spotted traffic that shouldn’t be blocked but has been added to your negatives, you need to:

  • add the word or phrase to the positive keywords
  • remove the negatives that are blocking those terms
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