Monday and Tuesday: Planning Your Campaign and Ad Group Structure

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Last week, you built an extensive keyword list by using various keyword research tools, reviewing your main competitors, and concatenating your keywords for aggressive expansion. So, what do you do with all of these keywords now? You’re going to segregate this keyword list into campaigns and ad groups.

What is a campaign, and what defines an ad group? What is the “right” way of laying out an ad group, and how many keywords should it contain?

Campaigns are used to give structure to the products or services you want to advertise. The ads in a given campaign share the same daily budget, language and location targeting, end dates, and syndication options.

Within each campaign, you can create one or more ad groups. While a campaign may represent a broad product class, the ad groups within that campaign can be more focused on the specific product you want to advertise.

—Google AdWords Help

First, let’s discuss how PPC accounts are structured from top to bottom. The universal building blocks of an account are as follows:

  • Account
  • Campaigns
  • Ad groups
  • Keywords
  • Ads

These are the foundations of a PPC account, but what do they actually look like? Figure 4.20 illustrates the nested tiers of a PPC account.

Campaigns are collections of ad groups. At the campaign level, you can set daily budgets, location targeting, language targeting, and network distribution (Google Search, Search Partners, Content Network, and/or Mobile Devices). These settings apply to all of the ad groups within the campaign. Campaigns should serve as the main theme of a set of ad groups.

Regardless of your strategy or the product or service that you’re advertising, the foundation of every PPC account is the same.

Ad groups are collections of keywords and ads. At the ad group level, you can adjust the way you want Google to charge you for clicks: maximum CPC, cost per acquisition (CPA), or cost per thousand impressions (CPM).

Each account is subject to capacity limitations and can contain a maximum of the following:

  • 25 campaigns
  • 2,000 ad groups per campaign
  • 2,000 keywords per ad group
  • 50 ads per ad group (any format)
  • About 50,000 keywords per account

Ad groups should be variations or subsections of your core campaign theme. This way, all of the ad groups are closely related to the overall theme of the campaign, and all of your ad groups in a single campaign will be closely related to each other.

When plotting your account structure, you should first determine the main themes of your campaigns. Common campaign themes include the following:

Brand keywords: We advise that you create a separate campaign for your branded terms. These keywords are often some of the best performers, and you want to make sure they receive the attention they deserve.

Competitor brand-name keywords:  We discuss at greater length bidding on competitor names, but for the sake of this discussion of campaign structure, it’s a good idea to create a campaign for these terms.

General high-traffic keywords: These may be the high-volume, low ROI keywords that you need to utilize in order to bolster your sales, but you may need to monitor and manage them closely in order to keep them profitable.

Product-specific keywords: If you offer a wide range of products, you’ll want each product to be represented by at least one individual ad group; therefore, you’ll want separate campaigns for different product areas or departments.

Seasonal products or service keywords: Products that are affected by seasonality should be organized into their own campaigns or ad groups so that these can be easily paused and resumed according to the season.

This list contains just some examples of common campaign themes used in PPC accounts. Your campaign themes will be defined by your goals. Aside from creating campaigns based on theme, you should think about how the account settings will affect your strategy. Settings that can necessitate separating campaigns within your account include the following:

Different daily budgets: You may want to focus more of your PPC budget toward the keywords that generate the highest ROI.

Different bidding strategies: You may want to implement completely different bidding strategies depending on the contents of your campaign. You may want to utilize CPC bidding in certain campaigns and CPA bidding in others, using Google’s Conversion Optimizer.

Different network distribution: You will want to separate your search, content, and mobile campaigns.

Different geo-targeting: You may have different areas of the country that outperform others. You’ll want to create separate campaigns to target these highperforming locations.

Different ad scheduling: You may find that different keywords perform better at certain times of the day. At the campaign level, you can determine on which days your ads will appear, and during which times of the day—a technique that’s called dayparting.

Different site-linking strategy: You can insert additional text links into your PPC ads by using the Ad Sitelinks option. We discuss this advanced PPC ad strategy. This setting is implemented at the campaign level, so you may want to create separate campaigns for various deep-linking strategies.

Even if you determine the most appropriate campaign themes, with the tightest ad groups possible, your account structure is likely to change over time. As your account matures, you will learn what works and what doesn’t work, you will find holes in your overall strategy and structure, and your objectives may change, necessitating structural alterations. But don’t let this discourage you from starting with a campaign structure that’s as perfect as possible!

Creating a Mock Campaign

Let’s go ahead and start structuring a mock PPC campaign, just to walk through the process. The account you’ll create is for an online shoe retailer. They sell shoes of all kinds, so you’ll need to have an account structure that reflects all of the products offered. To keep things simple in this example, you’ll focus on setting up only three campaigns—Men’s Shoes, Women’s Shoes, and Shoe Brands—as illustrated in Figure 4.21.

Main themes for the Shoe Seller ad campaign

Search Network Ad Groups: An ad group contains one or more ads which target a set of keywords, placements, or both. You set a bid, or price, to be used when your ad is triggered by the keywords or placements in the ad group. This is called a cost per click (CPC) or cost per thousand impressions (CPM) bid. You may also set prices for individual keywords or placements within the ad group.

—Google AdWords Help

Many advertisers envisage ad groups based on the keywords they contain, but it is more effective to imagine them as thematically linked by the ads that they contain. The reason we advocate tightly grouped ad groups for searches is that you want the keywords that trigger an ad group’s ads to be as closely related to those ads as possible. Ideally, when a user sees your PPC ad, that user should say, “This is exactly what I’m looking for!” That is what ensures high CTRs for ad and keyword combinations.

Our mantra: (Almost) every keyword should appear in the ad text.

Returning to the shoe retailer example, you already determined your high-level campaign themes, and now you’re ready to parse them into smaller, individual themes. Usually these themes will fall along product lines, as illustrated in Figure 4.22.

Core campaign themes broken down into specific products

Let’s dissect a few of these ad groups in order to see the inner workings, starting with the Men’s Shoes campaign and the Athletic Shoes ad group. Here is the initial list of keywords:

  • Men’s athletic shoes
  • Athletic shoes for men
  • Athletic shoes men
  • Best athletic shoes for men

Your goal, for each ad group, is to write ads that are unique, benefit driven, and keyword focused. Here are two ads that would perform well in this ad group:

Men’s Athletic Shoes
Wide selection of men’s athletic
shoes. Name brands. Free shipping!
www.AwesomeShoeStore.com/Mens+Athletic

Best Men’s Athletic Shoes
Brands You Want & Great Prices on
Men’s Athletic Shoes. Buy Now!
www.AwesomeShoeStore.com/Mens+Athletic

We set in bold the keywords that appear within the ads, because this is how they may appear on the SERPs. You can see the logical connection: If a user searches on a term related to men’s athletic shoes, that user will be served one of these ads, which should be highly relevant for the search query.

Another ad group is Dress Shoes, under the Women’s Shoes campaign. The keywords in this ad are geared toward women’s dress shoes. Here are some examples:

  • Women’s dress shoes
  • Dress shoes for women
  • Formal dress shoes for women
  • Buy dress shoes

Recognizing that you are targeting a female audience searching for dress shoes, you can see that the following ads might perform well in this ad group:

Buy Women’s Dress Shoes
Name Brands. Find Your Style for
Work & Weekend. Free Shipping!
www.AwesomeShoeStore.com/Women+Dress

Women’s Dress Shoes Sale
All Styles of Women’s Dress Shoes.
Fast shipping. Get 20% Off Now!
www.AwesomeShoeStore.com/Women+Dress

The last ad group example we’ll walk you through is the Hiking Boots ad group within the Women’s Shoes campaign. Here are some of the keywords that would likely appear in this ad group:

  • Women’s hiking boots
  • Hiking boots for women
  • Best hiking boots for women
  • Buy women’s hiking boots

Remember that you want your PPC ads to highlight the keywords in each ad group. The ads also should include as many benefits as possible and should have a strong call to action. Here are some ads that might appear in this ad group:

Buy Women’s Hiking Boots
Hiking Boots for All Terrains.
Name Brands. 20% off. Buy Now!
www.AwesomeShoeStore.com/Hiking+Boots

Buy Women’s Hiking Boots
20% Off Women’s Hiking Boots.
Name Brands. Fast Shipping. Buy Now!
www.AwesomeShoeStore.com/Hiking+Boots

Within all of these ad group examples, notice the following:

  • The keywords are closely related.
  • There are two ads for each ad group in order to test different benefits and phrasing.
  • All of the ads highlight the keywords in their respective ad groups.

Employing this methodology will help make your ads as relevant as possible to a user’s query, and this high level of relevance will lead to a good CTR, conversion rate, and ROI.

Creating Content Network Ad Groups

Our mantra of making sure your ads are keyword focused can be somewhat confusing when applied to the world of the content network. For one thing, frequently your keywords should not appear in your ad at all (remember, your goal is distraction away from page content on the content network, not necessarily relevance to the content). Moreover, unlike in a search, ad groups can contain ads that are very different from each other. Within a single ad group, you can include text ads, banner ads, video ads—any of the ad types allowed for the content network. But despite this, we advise creating separate ad groups for each ad type and size. Each ad type and size will exhibit performance characteristics—different CTRs, conversion rates, and costs per conversion.

Creating separate ad groups for each ad type and size will enable you to assign and optimize different bid amounts for each group. This will ensure that you maintain maximum conversion volume while controlling the ROI of each ad group.