Paid Search Management: Campaign Organization, Part 2

In part one, we discussed strategies for dividing paid search keywords into campaigns based on budgeting considerations. Now we’ll look at Google’s targeting features.

Google AdWords offers a multitude of targeting options that savvy advertisers should take full advantage of. And guess what — all of these features are set at the campaign level!

Network Targeting

Content and search should always be split into separate campaigns. Strategies for each are completely different.

The first thing you should always do when you make a new campaign in your AdWords accounts is uncheck the box opting into “Content.”

You can also select whether to appear on search partners in addition to Google search. However, you aren’t given the option of appearing only on search partner sites because the quality score is determined by performance on Google. There are a few ways around this, but generally these are more trouble than they’re worth.

The main thing to do with these settings is split search and content into separate campaigns.

Device Targeting

Device targeting is one of Google’s newer features, and allows you to choose whether your campaign targets computers, smartphones, or both. You should opt out of smartphone targeting for your current campaigns and create duplicate campaigns targeting only mobile devices. This will allow you to control your bids and budgets more effectively, and your mobile-targeted campaigns will greatly benefit from unique creative and landing pages.

Performance of mobile-targeted campaigns should be evaluated separately from computer targeted campaigns. You should focus on utilizing your mobile campaigns to provide information and enable other customer interactions besides conversions.

I’ve seen a drastic increase in conversions from my mobile campaigns in the past year, and while ROI is great (especially due to extremely low CPCs), most people searching on their smartphones aren’t ready to make a purchase. They’re looking for information — store locations, promotions, and so on. Even if you don’t have a separate mobile site, you can still benefit from splitting your paid search mobile traffic into a separate campaign.

Google AdWords also offers the ability to target by device, which allows for even more targeted creative (“Explore our site on your iPhone, Blackberry, etc.”). One warning about this feature: it’s unsupported by AdWords Editor, so if you enable this targeting be prepared to manage these campaigns exclusively via the Google AdWords UI.


Geo-targeting is the most unappreciated feature that AdWords offers. Every advertiser can benefit from adding geo-targeted campaigns to their strategy. While Google has started dynamically adjusting quality score and CPC based on location within nationally targeted campaigns, it only takes a few minutes to further improve your results.

Dig through your conversion data and make a list of your top five performing cities. Create duplicates of your current campaigns for each city and select only that city in Google’s geo-targeting options. You’ll find these campaigns have lower CPCs and higher conversion rates than your national campaign right off the bat. Not bad, but these were your top performing locations anyway.

Here’s the fun part. One of my favorite episodes of “The Simpsons” features the legendary rock band Spinal Tap. After a song, they yell “Nobody rocks like…Springfield!” and the crowd goes crazy. Anyone who has been to a rock concert can attest that yelling the name of the town always gets a response. So why not incorporate that fact into your geo-targeted creative?

Write unique ads for each geo-targeted campaign calling out the location they’re targeted to. For example, for one of our luxury fashion retail clients we wrote ads that said “Be the talk of Chicago with the latest fall fashions.” You’ll see an immediate jump in both CTR and conversion rate, which will be followed by even lower CPCs. It sounds crazy, but it works.

While this strategy won’t expand your reach, it will allow you to get more out of your traffic. You could also target locations where you aren’t doing well and increase your brand’s footprint in a cost-effective manner. Whichever way you utilize this feature, note that you’re also giving yourself even more budgeting options to ensure that you’re always funding the traffic you want to get.

Thus far, we’ve only discussed campaign organization on Google. Part three of this series will review strategies to help you take full advantage of Yahoo and MSN.

Join us for SES Toronto June 9-11, 2010 at the Hyatt Regency Toronto. The event will be packed with sessions covering topics such as PPC management, keyword research, SEO, social media, local, mobile, link building, duplicate content, multiple site issues, video optimization, site optimization, usability and more while offering high-level strategy, big picture, keynotes, an exhibit floor with companies that can help you grow your business, networking events, parties and more.

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