Comparing & Contrasting Paid Search Account Structures: Part I

By Jeff Campbell, VP Product Development

After seven years of building and optimizing paid search (PPC) campaigns, I can honestly say there is still no standard in the industry for how the engine accounts are structured. As a man of process, it’s tough to get comfortable with something that can’t be standardized, but each client, website, and strategy has it’s own goals that the account structure needs to reflect and evolve around. Most importantly, PPC Marketers need to get comfortable with the inherent pros and cons of each structure.

Mimic the Website – Categories are Campaigns, Sub Categories and Products are AdGroups.

Pros: It’s easy to locate keywords and compare performance of similar keywords. For example, all of my 60GB iPod keywords are in a single AdGroup and found with other iPod keywords in my “iPod” category. My adtext copy is specific to a single product and when there is a promotion or destination page change, it’s simple to edit. This structure also allows for a very straight forward reporting/roll-up process.

Cons: This becomes unwieldy to manage with a vast array of products, models, colors, etc (think Best Buy or Amazon…yowzers). Second, Paid Search optimization is about relevance, so breaking down my single 60GB iPod group into more specific adgroups focusing on colors or price discounts (aka using ‘sale’, ‘discount’, ‘low priced’) quickly multiples the size of the account. Further, adcopy using the singular version of iPod vs. plural may be found to work better for keyword searches using the singular version of iPod…you get where I’m going. Finally, I’ve flat out disagreed with website structures and/or what exists online doesn’t match a customer classification or how the business is run (i.e. iPods may be classified under music or computers vs. home electronics which it performs similar to.)

Funnel Approach (aka Browse, Shop, Buy) – the keyword “60GB iPod” will perform differently than “buy a 60GB black iPod online with next day shipping” as the intent behind the query is probably different. So many argue that despite both being about the same product, the upper funnel (Browse/Awareness) keyword should be managed differently than the more action oriented one: general, information based copy, landing pages that educate, and have KPIs that revolve around time on site or # of pages viewed. The ‘buy’ keyword would have call to actions like free shipping and buy today in the copy, should go to a product page, and be measured to online sales.

Pros: In theory, a very relevant experience for the consumer. Also, easy to see trends in keyword groups aiding optimizations and budget concentration.

Cons: Assumptions have to be made about the intent, and that’s a risk. Second, it’s been a challenge to use Paid Search for branding/awareness and consideration metrics as the accountability in online sales has both been a blessing and a curse for our industry.

Stay tuned for several more common structures, including the most popular approach I’ve encountered in Tuesday’s continuation.


Anonymous said...

Where's Part 2?

Betsy Carpenter said...

Comparing & Contrasting Paid Search Account Structures: Part II...

Happy Reading!

CJeffCampbell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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