Setting Up Campaigns in Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft

It never hurts to go back and review the fundamentals of paid search operations. Campaign setup is a process that never stops, because a campaign is a living, breathing, ever-changing beast. So, I thought I’d review some best practices for setting up campaigns.

At nearly every conference I attend (including Search Engine Strategies Chicago this week), half the audience is very new to PPC (define) search. I’d imagine the same is true for a big chunk of my readers.

When setting up a campaign in each engine, you can name each and every campaign. Depending on the engine, the amount of control you have at the campaign level differs. But the general idea of setting up campaigns is to match some logical business or financial structure or to make reporting match other kinds of marketing or media.

Here are some campaign-level structures to consider:

  • Business unit campaigns: If your business has several divisions, each with its own budget, a campaign-per-business can make managing budgets easier while allowing for a centralized dashboard. Business units often have different budgets and campaign objectives, making campaigns based on business units a logical choice for many search marketers.

  • Product or services clusters: Sections of your business may have different profit margins, objectives, or managers. If so, consider a campaign structure that reflects those distinctions, allowing you to more easily control spending and view reports logically.
  • Brand keywords versus non-branded search keywords: The highest ROI (define) and most profitable keywords are often your brand terms (your company name, product, and service names and trademarks). Even when you rank highly in the unpaid (organic or natural) search results, often it still makes sense to bid on your brand and control the user experience in ways you couldn’t in an unpaid search result.
  • Seasonal campaigns: Because campaigns controlling a large number of ads and keywords can be turned on or off, advertisers often will set up campaigns that are in use only at certain times of year. By pausing the campaigns and having them at the ready for the next seasonal use, the campaigns need only be reviewed for relevance and freshness.
  • Promotional or “sale” driven campaigns: Sometimes you’ll need to run sales that are related to a reduction in price or a special offer that drives significant incremental sales volume, sometimes at a lower margin.
  • Temporary campaigns: If you’re testing a new idea or creative concept, it might be easier to control and monitor the experiment when it resides it its own campaign.

Google allows for up to 25 campaigns per account. Most businesses can fit into that structure easily because there is also an AdGroup option of clustering keywords and creative elements.

However, because budget caps in Google are controlled at the campaign level, or due to the unique aspects of some businesses, sometimes 25 isn’t enough. In that case, Google has a feature called “My Client Center” originally designed for ad agencies and SEM (define) agencies. My Client Center is a way of tying several accounts to the same login, therefore multiplying the number of campaigns available to a single user.

When setting up campaigns, think about a logical structure that works for your business. Because budget caps are set at the campaign level, budgeting is often a driver of the campaign structure.

However, in addition to being able to set budget caps at the campaign level, the search engines have also given us a variety of targeting settings at the campaign level. Each engine’s targeting options at the campaign level are slightly different and they also tend to change from time to time.

The typical levers of control that SEMs have at the campaign level include:

  • Delivery method (how to space your ads versus your budget).

  • Networks (including site and category exclusion).
  • Bidding strategy (for those engines that have some form of auto-bidding or position preference).
  • Automatic matching/advanced matching (if you want the engine to pick keywords/phrases for you).
  • Ad scheduling (day parts/times and days of the week).
  • Ad serving (when there are multiple ads or ad types, auto-optimize or not).
  • Languages.
  • Geography/location (at the country level all the way to city and ZIP).
  • Campaign-wide negative keywords.

When setting up a new fresh campaign in Google, make sure you deselect Canada from the USA + Canada if you don’t want both as the default geographies covered.

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