Comparing & Contrasting Paid Search Account Structures: Part II

By Jeff Campbell, VP Product Development

Thursday, we examined two very popular PPC account structures: mimicking the website & the funnel approach. Today, we will dive into three more structures: Like Performers, Geo Targeting, and the mess we’ll just call “Hybrid” ;)

Like Performers – No matter what line of business, product category, or service type…the keyword is grouped with keywords that perform similarly. I use ‘performance’ loosely as I’ve seen this done by volume (impressions, clicks, sales, events, etc.) or efficiency (top converters, low CPCs, etc.). AdGroups will use keyword insertion in combination with generic ad copy to gain ad relevance and use keyword level destination URLs to ensure.

Pros: Makes optimization simple and straight forward – for the keywords performing well, give them more money from the non-performers. Make sure ranks are at the top and match types are broad…bring the traffic. 100% exposure for my winners.

Cons: Keyword insertion use in AdText is just plain lazy (how do you really feel, Jeff?). It shows the keywords in the AdGroup aren’t related which is/should be/will be penalized by the PPC QualityScores (which is a shroud of mystery and we’ll never know). Second, it’s tough to grow volume. By classifying keywords as poor performers, you are ensuring a self-fulfilling prophecy as they will get little to no chance to succeed or optimization love. You’ll also limit the funnel size; the general/broad keywords do not convert as well as others, but it puts your brand in the consideration set when they are looking to finally purchase. Hold ‘em reference: with the right betting strategy, that pair of 5’s in your hand can turn into a winner…don’t immediately fold them because they aren’t Aces or Kings.

Geo Targeting – Certain products and services are seasonal. For example, J. Crew shouldn’t be spending a ton of money promoting swimsuits in October as summer is over, right? According to Google Insights, there is still search volume (and swimsuit weather) in AZ, FL, and Southern CA. Seasonal traffic can also be forecasted as we see people in Texas are searching for grills starting in February. Paid Search is not flighted like your national media plan and can be turned on and off by State, DMA (market), or city. To do this, each target region needs it’s own set of campaigns, hence this Geo Structure. Thanks to tools like Google’s AdEditor, this massive undertaking has become a bit easier. With a Grills (Weber, not Paul Wall) campaign for Texas, we can use specific adtext with regional promotions and even special landing pages that are different from northern regions.

Pros: Targeted, precise media spend. Customized messaging, promotions, and experiences. Enables companies without a 50 state presence (or shipping limitations), like Banks, to compete on general keywords like “checking account” in their regions.

Cons: 50 states = your national account times 50. It’s not fun to create, manage, optimize, or report on.

Hybrids – Many accounts, especially over time, end up using a combination of the aforementioned tactics. It’s safe to say most accounts start with one of the previous strategies and due to business changes, advanced optimizations, or budget restraints, melds into some of the other structure types.

Pros: It came out of necessity and should improve overall performance, in theory.

Cons: From the outside, it looks like pure chaos; the optimizers familiar with the changes probably refer to it as artwork. Let’s hope that artist stays with the account a long, long time. P.S. ‘Hope’ is not a strategy.

Again, there is no right or wrong overall strategy; it’s what the business, client, industry, and website warrant. Knowing the benefits and limitations of each approach should help you make the right decision based on business needs. Have you encountered other structures? What has
been most successful for you?


dgould said...

JC - Great post. Like most complicated endeavors, there is never one right answer and realistically, the rigt answer may change over time as the campaign and/or client goals and objectives change.

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