A Step-by-Step Guide to PPC Account Structure: Campaign or Ad Group

 

PPC ACCOUNT STRUCTURE · 6-MINUTE READ · By Lindsay Shugerman on September 12 2016 

You need to add a new group of words to your Pay Per Click account. But should they become the newest Ad Group or do you need to create a whole new campaign? And the answer is…(drum roll, please!), it depends.

Not what you wanted to hear, right? The truth is, there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer. But thankfully, there are key factors that can help you make the right choice for your unique business or client. Here are some of the things you need to consider before choosing one or the other.

 

 

The Budget

 

 

Settings for your AdWords budget are done on a campaign by campaign basis. Although you can adjust bids for individual keywords or set a maximum cost-per-click for an ad group, there simply isn’t an option for setting a new, separate budget for an ad group.

Keeping your new words as an ad group within an existing campaign works well when you need to watch the total spend. That $300/day budget for Campaign Z will stay at $300 a day no matter how many ad groups you place within it.

But creating a new campaign for your new terms could easily increase your overall spend, unless you dial back the budget on existing campaigns to keep the daily maximum under control. And that change in the budget in an otherwise successful existing campaign could negatively impact your traffic and conversions.

 

 

The Location

 

Like budgeting, geotargeting is a setting at the campaign level, not the ad group level. Accounts that need to direct their messaging to people in several unique geographical locations need to create new campaigns for each geographic location.

Creating separate campaigns for different geotargets has another benefit. It allows you to use the same keywords for each location, so your best transactional or informational terms are not limited to showing only in a single top rated ad group within one campaign. This is a huge plus for companies with multiple, distinct locations within a country, or for multinational accounts.

 

The Campaign Type

Within Ad Words, PPC campaigns can be set to show:

  • Only on search, as text ads
  • On search, with additional features such as ad extensions
  • As mobile app engagement ads
  • On search as text ads, as well as in display
  • As call-only ads, which encourage searchers to call rather than click
  • As video-triggering ads

A new set of words may work well within the settings for an existing campaign, without limiting exposure or negatively impacting budget. In that case, creating a new ad group is probably be a good choice, if all other factors work within that campaign.

Other times, putting the new terms in a new ad group inside of a current campaign could be disastrous simply because of the campaign type. (And of course, disastrous is never the goal!)

Here’s an example:

Campaign W is set to search plus display, and is performing well in click-throughs, conversions and spend. A new set of words are added as a new ad group within W, but they’re much broader than the existing longer-tailed terms. Within a few days, the display clicks for the new ad group have run through the entire month’s budget for the campaign, without producing any new conversions. The broader terms simply triggered too many impressions and clicks for a display campaign.

 

 

The Importance of History

The ability to compare the performance of a given campaign over time is critical to business decisions or to client reporting in paid advertising. While adding and pausing ad groups is typical in the course of managing PPC, there are times when inserting a completely new set of terms as an ad group could make tracking a campaign’s performance over time difficult.

Before inserting a new ad group, consider the long term reporting needs. While filters can be used to present a more consistent view, some businesses or clients prefer being able to look at a campaign level over months or even years. New ad groups could distort that view.

 

 

The Words Themselves

Let’s take a step back for a moment to the structure of paid advertising.

With very few exceptions, it’s a best practice in paid search to build campaigns which describe a broad concept (such as a product group, a type of service or a geographic location, and then to develop ad groups that offer variations and refinements of that broad concept.

For example, a building contractor might set up a campaign for home remodeling, and then create ad groups for interior, exterior, bathrooms, kitchens, etc.

This structure allows the PPC manager to see how different aspects of the remodeling campaign perform against each other, and makes it easy to build out additional ad groups as search terms suggest new refinements.

Following this structure also makes it easier to review and evaluate ad content, landing page changes, and overall messaging within a single campaign. Adding a new group of words as an ad group within the campaign can function as a new yardstick for measuring keyword and ad copy value for a given campaign, rather than creating a situation where a mature campaign with multiple ad groups is being compared to a new campaign with a single ad group.

To use our example, if searches for bedroom remodeling needed to be added, creating an ad group under the remodeling campaign would allow the manager to compare performance across the various rooms, and pinpoint shifts in the specific remodeling needs of prospects by room, by season, by day of week, by time of day or even by ad or landing page copy. A new campaign would make those variances harder to spot and act upon.

On the other hand, if the contractor is now adding roofing to their services, a new roofing campaign would allow them to create targeted ad groups for types of roofs, roof repair and other related services. It’s a different kind of remodeling.

 

 

The Day To Day Management

All metrics and reporting considerations aside, the decision to add additional ad groups or new campaigns can sometimes come down to how much time the PPC manager or team has to dedicate to reviews, changes and updates.

In some cases, adding yet another ad group to an existing campaign will make it impossible to notice the impact of small changes in bids, edits to ads or revisions to landing pages. There is just too much aggregate data, and small improvements or drops are almost impossible to spot.

In other situations, there are already too many campaigns, and digging down into one after another is unnecessarily time consuming, especially if each campaign contains only one or two ad groups. It’s also challenging to compare the success of ad groups across different campaigns.

If daily reviews and adjustments are taking longer than the results justify, it may be time to back up and look at the overall structure before making the ad group or campaign choice. A PPC account which is clean, clear and as streamlined as possible should be the goal of anyone running a paid ad campaign.

 

 

The Checklist

 

It’s always good to end a complex discussion with a simple checklist. While there are many factors to consider, including some unique to your account, here is the quick-and-dirty overview:

BUDGET – How will the choice of ad group or campaign affect the overall budget?
LOCATION – Are the new words directed at the same geotarget as an existing, related campaign? Or this focusing on a whole new area?
CAMPAIGN TYPE – How will these terms function within your existing campaigns? Will they trigger the right kinds of responses?
HISTORY – How important is being able to track campaign performance over time? Will a new ad group significantly impact that, or have ad groups come and gone already?
WORDS – Are the words and phrases you need to add a refinement of an existing campaign topic? Or do they represent the first grouping of terms under a new broad topic?
DAY TO DAY – Will a new PPC ad group muddy the waters in an already complex campaign making small shifts impossible to spot, or will they clarify it so it’s easier to see trends? Will a new campaign streamline management, or make it more time-consuming without improving results?

The decision to place a new group of words into a PPC campaign or an ad group is seldom a simple one. But considering the impact on your business account or client’s success using these elements is the first step towards continued paid advertising success.

 

 

About Lindsay Shugerman

Lindsay Shugerman has been taking organic and paid search campaigns from struggling to success since 2006. She has worked in the corporate, non-profit and agency world, providing winning strategy and management for B2B and B2C search marketing clients in North America, the UK, Japan and India. Ms. Shugerman has taught SEO at Code Camps in Florida and Texas, and regularly leads PPC and SEO workshops for businesses, marketing teams and website owners. She currently works for a B2B agency in Austin, doing what she loves best: creating online marketing plans that work for her clients.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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