How to Structure a PPC Campaign

What is the best way to structure a PPC campaign?  Said another way, what is the best way to organize your PPC account?  Here are a few tips that may help you decide on a PPC structure.

PPC Campaign Structure

From Around the Web

Organize your campaigns by topic (Adwords Help)

Create separate campaigns for each of your product lines, resources, or brands. This helps you monitor your advertising more easily and make the necessary adjustments to improve your campaign performance.  Ask yourself what you want to achieve with each campaign. Then structure your campaign based on this goal.

Adwords Account Structure  (ScottyD, Adwords Community)

The number of PPC campaigns you create will depend on the number of networks, devices you want to advertise on as well as the depth of your product line and marketing goals.  If you want to keep it simple, create one campaign and use ad groups to cover the categories of your website.  If your website is large however, multiple campaigns may be needed to cover all aspects of the business.

Adwords Account Structure Optimization (Adwords Blog)

When deciding whether to create a campaign or ad group for a particular product, service, or section of your website, consider how the campaign and ad group settings will help you achieve your goals.  Campaigns allow you to set your daily budget, target languages and locations, start and end dates, and ad distribution preferences.  Ad groups, on the other hand, allow you to set maximum cost-per-click (CPC), specific ad text, keyword list, and landing page destination URLs.  Regardless of how you choose to structure your account, it's important to remain flexible in your strategy - the structure you envision when you begin may need further refining as you continue to optimize.

How to Set Up A PPC Campaign (Independent Retailer)

Think about how to organize your campaigns.  One quick, easy way to organize an account is to mimic the structure of your website product categories. Create one campaign for each top-level category and then create ad groups for each subcategory.

What Does Google Recommend?

Many accounts are best organized by creating one campaign and several ad groups within that campaign, and two or three ads and 10-35 keywords within each ad group.

What do I Recommend?

That depends on what type of advertiser you are (ecommerce, lead gen), your website depth, the quantity of your products or services, your goals, your budgets, the devices you want to target, the networks you want to target, how frequently you plan to manage your account, and so on.  That's the technical, long, drawn-out answer for advanced PPC pros.

The quick and simple answer is to base it on the navigation of your website structure.

It's very easy to mimic your Adwords account after the navigation of your website.  For example, if you have 5 categories on your website, you would create 5 campaigns - 1 for each category.  Within these categories you would have sub-categories.  These subcategories would be your ad groups.  For each ad group, write 2 different ads.  The number of keywords you should put in an ad group is debatable.

You can put up to 10,000 keywords in an ad group on Google and Bing.  Google Recommends 10-35 keywords within each ad group.

I've tested account structures where each keyword was in its own ad group with different match types.

For Example:

Ad Group: Home Improvement
Keywords: home improvement, +home +improvement, "home improvement", [home improvement]

I've tested account structures where each campaign was segmented by match type.

For example:

Campaign: Real Estate (Broad)
Campaign: Real Estate (Phrase)
Campaign: Real Estate (Exact)

I've tested account structures that were extremely granular with thousands of ad groups.  On the flip-side, I've tested account structures that contained fewer than 20 ad groups but had over thousands of keywords.

I recommend adding as many related you have to an ad group and don't worry about the quantity.  All you need to ask yourself is "Can I write an ad that will be relevant to all the keywords in this group?"  If you can answer Yes, then you're good.

A Word of Caution about Ad Group Granularity

When you get extremely granular, management of your PPC account becomes overwhelming.  It takes you a long time to set up with no guarantee that it will pay off or work like you expect.  The Adwords or Bing Ads platform won't do a good job at matching the right queries to the right keywords within the right ad groups.  Instead, the system will choose a few 2 - 3 word broad keywords to serve the majority of impressions to regardless of whether the query matches another keyword in your account more closely.  This in effect is a cannibalizing of ad impressions to ad groups that contain keywords the system has chosen to serve ads to.

Going granular with your PPC campaign also has another major downside.  With all your keywords dispersed into tiny groups, your ads have a much harder time gathering statistics.  For example, 1 ad group with 100 keywords will aggregate data much faster than ad groups with 5-20 keywords.  This means you don't have to wait as long to determine a 'winner' for your ad copy.

My Philosophy

  • Create campaigns for each major service line or category on your website.
  • Create specific budgets for each campaign.
  • Create ad groups based on whether or not you will have something to say in your ad.
  • Any time you have separate budgets for any PPC initiative, always create a new campaign.  You should think "unique budget = its own campaign".
  • If you have 100 keywords that are all very relevant to one another, don't hesitate to put them into 1 ad group.
  • Don't get too granular.  Keep it simple and manageable.
  • Try and minimize the number of ad groups you need by grouping your keywords together intelligently.
  • Use PPC tools to help you build out structures.
  • Use caution when bidding on broad match keywords.
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3 Responses to “How to Structure a PPC Campaign”

  1. Jason W May 28, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    Hi Jarad,

    I first want to say thanks for all of the great info and videos on Adwords! I have just started training for the Adwords certification and your advice has been a great help.

    The question I have is related to breaking ad groups up by match type. I have seen this strategy mentioned several times in articles I have read. I wondered if you thought this is a good practice or if it would work as well to use a combination of match types in a single ad group?


    • Jarad Collier May 29, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

      That's a great question Jason. In practice, I don't generally implement this tactic but have taken on clients where the previous agency did have separate campaigns for each match type. It's generally true that exact match will convert better than phrase match. Phrase match will convert better than modified broad match. Modified broad match will convert better than broad match (from a CPA and quantity of conversions standpoint). So in theory, your exact match campaigns should have the best performance. If you do this, you then have the problem that Google might map an exact query to a non-exact match type. I see this all the time! I have the exact-match version of a keyword where the bid is higher than phrase, modified broad or broad... and Google displays the ad related to the phrase-match or broad-match keyword. You "can" prevent this by adding ALL your exact-match keywords as negative exact match keywords to your phrase and broad campaigns but if you have a lot of keywords, this isn't usually practical.

      One attractive benefit of splitting campaigns up by match type would be search query report mining - your broad-match campaign should contain most of the *junk* if it exists.

      In practice, my philosophy has been to put each keyword match type in the same groups within a single campaign because if you are going to write ads for specific sets of keywords, the ads won't change based on the match type (the ads will still be the same regardless of what match type the keyword is in). I have been known to break out high-volume phrase and exact-match keywords into their own ad groups as a way to focus most of my effort on the keywords that have the highest impressions, clicks, costs and conversions.

      So no right or wrong way necessarily... just a matter of preference.


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