Google Adwords follow pretty much a hierarchical structure. First, you have an account. Inside the account you have the Campaigns….and you can have several campaigns in your account but you should have at least one campaign. Inside each campaign, you can have several ad groups but you should have at least one ad group inside a campaign. Inside each ad group, you should at least have one keyword and one ad.
You can technically have a perfectly running campaign with just one campaign, one ad group, one keyword and one ad. Even if you are marketing for multiple keywords, you can have just one campaign and one ad group. You can stuff all your keywords into the same ad group.
So, the question is why the second level of abstraction (ad groups) and why would you need to have multiple ad groups with in the same campaign. What are the potential benefits of having multiple ad groups? And how is it different from having multiple campaigns?
In order to understand the benefits, we should look at the properties that are shared between ad groups and also the properties that can be set differently for these groups. It is also helpful to pick an example to go through so as to better understand the benefits.
Let’s pick the example where you have a camera store that sells different types and brands of digital cameras. Now, let’s see how this example works when creating ad groups.
Tighter coupling between keywords and ads
Having several ad groups gives you the ability to create ads that tightly couples with a very specific set of keywords. To put it another way, you can split up your keyword list into separate lists that are much more closely connected.
Ideally, each of your ad group will have one very specific keyword and some variations of that keyword.
As an example, we can have separate ad groups for “Canon DSLR“, “Nikon DSLR“, “Sony DSLR” etc. If you are a dedicated camera store you should go even further. Create a Campaign for “Nikon DSLR“, then create separate ad groups for each product such as “Nikon D5“, “Nikon D500” etc.
This will now allow you to create highly optimized ads for the specific queries such as “nikon d5 camera” and not a generic ad that captures all Nikon cameras. This will significantly improve the quality score and CTR of the keyword.
To me, this ability to tightly couple these two (keywords and ads) is probably the best feature of ad groups.
Better use of Long Tailed Keywords
When you target long tailed keywords, the conversions tends to be better than other keywords. This just does not happen…you still have to write a compelling ad that gets the user to click and an optimized landing page that can convert.
So, creating separate ad groups for closely related long tailed keywords will allow you to do it. This is an extension of the earlier section, we have just extended it even further by creating a group of long tailed keyword.
We could create a group for long tailed keyword such as “which camera should a beginner buy“. Now it gives us the chance to specifically target this user, with specific pitches. We can create a landing page and ad which compares different beginner cameras etc etc.
Also, going back to the previous example, we can find long tailed keywords based on the seed “nikon d5 camera” and add it to the ad group “Nikon D5“. The ads and landing pages would match and will be optimized for these keywords well.
Optimized Landing Pages
Again extending on previous sections, we have a good idea of what exactly the user is searching for. We have a highly optimized ad that entices a click and now we need a landing page that co-relates well with these two.
In this example, it gives the ability to create separate optimized landing page for both of the queries….in this example “which camera should a beginner buy” and “nikon d5 camera“. With out separate ad group we would have no control over which ad is shown to the user and which page or where he ends up.
Ideal for performance monitoring
It is never the case that you will set up the campaign once and let it run till eternity. You could do that but it is not usually the best use of your budget. You will need to constantly tinker with keywords…adding new ones and deleting the ones that don’t work.
You can easily create new ad groups for your new keywords with out disrupting the existing ones. You can easily monitor the new keyword and its performance with out muddling the stats with existing ones.
When you have separate ad groups for each keyword, it allows you to optimize your ad, keyword and landing pages with out worrying about the impact on other keywords.
Separate default bids
Different keywords convert at different rates which means you will need to bid differently so as to maximize the revenue from each of them. Technically, you can do this at the keyword level so it is not precisely an ad group benefit.
But, this gives you the ability to set default bid on each ad group meaning you can modify the bids for a closely related set of keywords easily. For example, if you have a ad group which caters to sales and promotions such as “Nikon D500 Sales“, then you can easily bid up (or down) all the queries that are looking for sales of Nikon brand.
Easier Budget Control
All of these changes can directly impact your overall budget. You can set the overall budget at the campaign level. That means that you can preset a budget for all the ad groups combined and not worry about exceeding it.
It also works the other way, a quick surge in queries in one ad group will absorb the cost from another group. This can be quite beneficial in the case of small business that have a very limited budget to start with.
Can I NOT do all this using separate campaigns?
Yes….Technically. You could create a separate campaign that corresponds to each of the ad group that we created. We could then divy up the total budget between them. This would work just as well.
But it is much more cumbersome to do it. As soon as you have several campaigns you will notice that many of them are similar and you want to group them together. That is what ad groups are for….
Also, budget management is not the most efficient with just the campaigns. It lacks the ability to transfer the budget between groups of similar campaigns which means either you will spend too much or you will lose a lot of traffic, especially if you have an erratic traffic behavior.