How to Approach Campaign Restructures

Many of you have likely inherited accounts from other campaign managers that are not organized; either according to accepted best practices or even simply in the way you would have built the structure out. In my experience, there aren’t many things more frustrating than that.

You’re in these accounts daily and making optimizations regularly, so having a structure that is easy to navigate and makes sense to you is important. However, when you’re handed an account that’s structurally not up to par or doesn’t jive with your preferences, how do you know if a restructure is warranted, and what is a good way to go about this process?

Is a Restructure Necessary?

Regardless of your structural preferences, the first and most important question to ask is whether or not a restructure is necessary. Here are some examples of when a restructure is likely needed.

Account Limited by Budget

If an account’s budget is limited, the structure becomes even more important. If keywords aren’t split out appropriately into separate campaigns, this could be causing profitability issues if lower-profit keywords are eating up the budget before higher-profit keywords have a chance to really run. Keywords need to be broken out properly so that budget can be allocated to provide the best possible ROI.

Low Quality Score

In some cases, an account might not be limited by budget but Quality Score is low, and a poor account structure would contribute to this issue. Low Quality scores in and of themselves might not warrant restructuring, but especially if CPCs and CPAs have been steadily climbing in the account a restructure probably needs to happen.

Unmanageable Granularity

I know breaking campaigns and/or ad groups out by match type is debatable, but I have seen some accounts where the level of granularity makes the account virtually unmanageable. If breaking things out so granularly results in hundreds and hundreds of campaigns and ad groups then things should likely be consolidated. This is especially important when considering data analysis and optimizations; if things are broken down to the most granular level it might take a lot more time for account elements to gain enough data/traffic for meaningful optimizations to be made.

Additional Factors to Consider

Ultimately, if the account structure that’s in place is hampering account performance then a restructure is likely warranted. However, there are a couple other factors you should think through when considering a restructure.

Performance Fluctuation Tolerance Level

Even though you don’t lose historical Quality Scores when you restructure an account, you do need to consider more temporary fluctuations in performance. When you move a keyword to a different ad group or campaign, the system does take time to readjust to the keyword’s new location and associated ads and, as a result,  you could see a temporary dip in performance. If you have strict account goals then you’ll want to consider this temporary fluctuation and whether or not there is a tolerance for it.

Time Spent

There will be some cases where even though the existing structure isn’t ideal or preferable it isn’t having a negative effect on performance. For instance, I inherited an account where the keywords were grouped into campaigns a little strangely; however, the account wasn’t limited by budget, Quality Scores were good, since ad groups were still split out well and keywords were in ad copy, and the level of granularity was very manageable. In this case, even though the campaign breakouts weren’t how I would have structured them, performance wasn’t being negatively affected. Therefore, any potential management benefits did not justify the amount of time a restructure would take. I ultimately determined my time would be better spent on other things.

Successfully Executing Restructures

If you decide that a restructure is necessary, you should first put together a strategy for how you will execute it.

Create a Game Plan

Especially if you’re dealing with a large account, don’t just dive in blind. You need to determine where to start the restructuring process, about how long you think it will take you to complete, and what you will do if performance goes south.

Implement Progressively

To help mitigate any temporary performance fluctuations, I highly recommend you roll out a restructure progressively. You can determine the best place to start in your account, but I tend to start with the worst performing campaign as this gives me the highest opportunity to make the biggest positive impact right out of the gate.

Ask for Help

Restructuring an account can take a long time and can be a very daunting task. If you work on the account with another person then leverage them to help you roll out the needed changes. Or, if there is a trusted intern who can jump in to help you then use them. Regardless, if you don’t have to go it alone, don’t.

Pro Tips

Cut the Fat

Some accounts just have keyword overkill. To help alleviate this issue and make the account more manageable moving forward, I generally pull the Low Search Volume keywords and if they have zero impressions and conversions, I remove them from the restructured campaigns.

Keep Existing Keyword Bids

As I’ve mentioned, restructures can cause temporary hiccups in performance. To help keep things as seamless as possible, you should consider keeping existing keyword bids in place when you move terms to different ad groups or campaigns. Once they’ve run in their new locations for awhile, you can then work to optimize.

Don’t Forget Negatives

If you’re creating new campaigns, don’t forget to carry over negative keywords. You’ll need to either copy/paste them if they’re at the campaign or ad group level, or if there are negative lists in place you’ll need to add your new campaigns to the list.

In conclusion, restructures can have excellent positive impacts on account performance, and they are sometimes necessary to help get an account on a better track. When approached and executed progressively and with care, you can generate some excellent results and help move the needle in the right direction with restructures.

What are your tips for an account restructure? We’d love to hear them in the comments!