The myth of the ideal PPC account structure

Tue 9 June 2009 15:53, Ulf Weihbold

The myth of the ideal PPC account structure

There are literally tons of articles and blogposts about the ideal account structure for your PPC Accounts. But who really gets this right?

Let’s trust an authority site, Google, and that’s what they tell us: “ Successful advertisers, however, tend to build many small, highly targeted ad groups around individual products or services “ (taken from). This basically means to be as granular as possible.

Say we want to setup an account for a small e-Commerce website with 10 categories and 25 products each.

Recalling PPC Basics you need minimum 1 campaign for branding keywords, 1 for generic keywords and a long tail campaign for all products.

To summarize: that makes 1 branding campaign with ten adgroups, one generic campaign with ten ad groups (one for each category) and a one long tail campaign 250 ad groups (one for each product), so we have three campaigns and 270 ad groups.

Since these three campaigns wouldn’t perform that well, we will do some research and then discover “geographical targeting” in the campaign settings. Knowing that the target markets are three countries in central Europe, we have to duplicate the existing campaigns and target each new campaign to one specific country.

That is not enough because we want ‘advanced’ geo-targeting, so we target three regions in every specific country. That counts up to 27 campaigns and 2430 ad groups.

Let’s not forget day-parting. People do behave differently on weekends than during the week, don't they? So we need a different ad copy for the weekends, and finally we end with 54 campaigns and 4860 ad groups. Oh, there is also a content network? Keywords research strategies are different for this area, what then means a doubling of the research work.

The keyword research for roughly 5000 ad groups and ad copy writing (four copy variants per ad group for testing) is nearly impossible to be done manually, unless you have really cheap interns (but you do not want them to do your keyword research, do you?). So all the work stays with you and relies on the knowledge of how to use your tools as efficient as possible.

One argument against that could also be doing the copywriting and the keyword research for the three ‘root’ campaigns, copy these and then optimize each specific campaign later. I’d say don’t even try to translate keyword-lists or ad copy in different languages because you would end up with lots of irrelevant keywords and ad copy and massive missed opportunities (and ROI) in the meantime! In times of the credit crunch no advertiser can afford that..

An account setup like that is just one possible approach considering the basic guidelines Google gives us. I don’t think this approach is entirely wrong, in fact considering automated bidding and PPC management systems account structures like these really perform good. But as good as automated systems are these days, a proper handcrafted campaign will always perform better, it’s just a question of budget and time.

To sum it up, there is no standard ideal account structure for PPC campaigns it always depends on the customer, the optimization strategies you wish to apply, the market, the used tools and mainly on the budget and time that can be invested in the account. So the ideal account structure will always remain a myth…

Some things that always helped me for the setup of a new account:

  • Take your time thinking about the ideal account structure for this specific client.
  • Think about clever naming conventions for campaigns and ad groups (think of codes for campaign settings in campaign names and stick to them!).
  • Define your optimisation strategies before starting with the account setup.
  • What works perfect for one client, one vertical or in one market can not necessarily be copied to new accounts
  • Try to think out of the box sometimes, try new things and don’t be too afraid to revise your strategy later (we all get wiser with the time, at least we should).

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