PPC Campaign Structure: Planning & Strategy

This is a guest post by Aaron Dressnandt, Partner & Senior Consultant at AlpineDG

One of the most important elements of your PPC campaigns for success is how you organize your campaigns. For smaller advertisers this can be fairly easy and straightforward, but for many advertisers this process can get quite complex.

No matter what, below are a few things to always think about:

  • What organizational structure will give you the most control
  • Time allotted to manage the account
  • Specific back end tracking details and reporting

The key is to figure out a campaign structure that will give you the most control, yet will still allow you to be able to efficiently manage the campaigns and reach your goals. Finding this sweet spot is what will continuously help you improve your PPC performance.

Except there are a few problems.

First, campaign structure gets overlooked A LOT.

PPC experts have an architect mindset when putting together the strategy for how each account should be set up. PPC Experts research the business, industry, goals of the advertiser, and the capabilities/limitations of the advertiser. When PPC experts combine this with their knowledge of the platform(s) they are working in, it ensures the campaigns are running as efficiently as possible. It also allows users to have the best experience possible while researching on the internet.

Second, this is an ongoing task.

You are not able to just set up the account structure and be done with it. The PPC world is a fast-paced and always changing . Therefore, I recommend reviewing your structure at least quarterly.

Below are the core reasons to review quarterly:

  • Changes to PPC platforms (New targeting options, new campaign types, discontinued ad types, bidding strategies, etc)
  • Budget increases/decreases
  • Changes to the business
    • Ex: The advertiser no longer wants to focus on a certain type of customer
  • Knowledge gained from the data you have collected
    • For some of the options on how to break campaigns out, you need data in order to make that decision. So you won’t be able to begin with that campaign structure
  • Testing new tactics can sometimes prove us wrong

Now that we have discussed the reasons on why this is so important, I am going to go over some of the things to think about when building an account structure.

I am going to focus on Google Ads but almost all these tactics can be used in the majority of PPC platforms. Here are some ways to segment campaigns (Keep in mind some of these options are only available for certain networks and/or campaign types):

1. Network – Search, Display, Shopping, YouTube


A different network means different campaign. It is as simple as that. There may be a few exceptions, like if you are testing the new smart shopping campaigns. For the most part, you should always breakout networks into separate campaigns. This is a strategy as old as dirt.

2. Brand vs. Non-Brand

In all accounts, you should always have your branded keywords for the search network in their own campaign. This allows you to control the bids and budget to ensure you are always showing above your competitors for your own brand. Everything else is non-branded! Still skeptical on bidding on branded terms? Check out this post on branded term bidding – it might be worth a test.

3. Demographics – Gender, Age, Parental Status, Household Income

Breaking out campaigns by demographics can be a great way to improve your overall account performance. Whether it be by writing more relevant ad copy for women vs men and improving your CTR and quality score, or maybe it would be spending more of your budget on the top 20% of household income users because they convert the best. Think about your options here and break them out into separate campaigns if you can.

4. Device

Desktop, mobile, and tablet all perform differently. Ads show up differently, CPCs are different, and ad customizers and extensions can be utilized for individual campaigns. You don’t always have to break campaigns out by device, but if you can, do it! You can control budgets and bids, improving your return.

5. RLSA Audiences

Consider breaking out your RLSA (remarketing list for search ads) into separate campaigns. This also allows for better ad copy and budget control.

6. Additional Audiences – In-Market, Similar Audiences

For these audiences, I am focusing on search campaigns. Now that you can target InMarket and similar audiences in search campaigns, you should take advantage if you can!

If you do, make them their own campaigns. If a user loves lamps, and you sell lamps, you will want to bid higher and spend more for those users than someone who is just searching for lamps but doesn’t love them…

For display campaigns, the targeting options are nearly endless, and you should break out campaigns as much as possible based on your targeting method.

7. Keyword Match Type – Broad Match Modified, Phrase Match, Exact Match

This is something I can not preach enough for search campaigns. Always break out your match types. By doing it at the campaign level vs the ad group level allows you to maximize your budget on what is performing the best (Maximizing your budget on best performers seems to be a them here, huh?). This also allows you to control negative keywords and filter searches to the right keyword/ad.

Having trouble with exact match keywords showing up for NOT exact match searches now since Google made changes to close variants? Here is a script you should try.

8. Grouping Keywords and Product Groups Based on Relevancy

Try to organize keywords and product groups by relevancy. This can be for service companies and retailers. For example, consider an insurance company running search ads in Google Ads. Keywords focused on individual health insurance vs group health insurance should be in different campaigns.

Retailers with a variety of products should segment product types into different campaigns. This allows you to ad cross campaign negatives to filter searches to the right products. That way, you won’t end up showing an ad like this:

Free tip: Want to take your Google Shopping Ads to the next level? Try a Query based bidding campaign structure.

Also, Smart shopping campaigns can work well for smaller advertisers with a lower variety of products. You need conversions before you can run a smart shopping campaign though.

9. Locations and Language

Maybe you offer a product in numerous countries. Each country will need its own campaign (Mainly due to the language and Time zone). Maybe you offer a moving service in a few cities around each other. Break those Cities into their own campaigns!

A more detailed example for a larger retailer. Perhaps you view PPC success in two different ways:

1) Sales

2) Store Visits

Consider breaking out your campaigns by location. Target a radius around your brick and mortar locations and make those their own campaigns. Success for these campaigns are store visits. For your other campaigns, target the countries, states, or cities you want and put those in separate campaigns. The success for these campaigns would be sales (ROAS).

10. Weather

Do you want to bid up and maximize spend when there is…..let’s say a blizzard (There is currently a blizzard going on as I type this).

Use a script in a separate campaign you build out to do this and increase your sales! Here is a handy script that bids based upon weather.

11. Managing Bids and Budgets

This is the main reason we want good account structure!

The simple fact is the more campaigns you have the better you can control your bids and budgets. This has the greatest impact on your bottom line!


Even though we covered many ways to segment campaigns, we only scratched the surface.

There are still breaking campaigns out by ad type (call only ads, etc), all the targeting methods for display, ad schedule, ad sizes on the display network, and much more. Every advertiser is different, and there will always be something special to consider when setting up your account(s). All you can do is take the time to think about this and build the best strategy possible.

About the Author:

Aaron has over 8 years of paid digital marketing experience working with a large variety of clients and budgets. He has helped startup companies emerge into the PPC world, as well as help large ecommerce retailers improve their return on ad spend by over 150% YoY. He has worked with annual budgets as large as $3 million dollars and as low as $30k. Aaron ensures companies are maximizing their performance and opportunity within their budgets, to continuously improve their bottom-line.  Before joining AlpineDG as a Partner and Senior Consultant, Aaron worked at several digital marketing agencies in Milwaukee, WI as their senior level Paid Media Manager.