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In this week’s PPCChat session, host Julie F Bacchini discussed the changes made by Google Ads that impacted the way experts structure their accounts, if their philosophy about account structure changed in the past year, what was the main driver of the change in thinking and more.

Q1: Has your philosophy about account structure changed in the past year? If so, what was the main driver of the change in thinking? Does it differ by platform?

We have really been trying to simplify account structure over the past year. Rarely do campaigns or ad groups by match type make sense anymore. This goes for G and B. @beyondthepaid

Hey all- late start, great to be here. Definitely rethinking just about everything on Google Ads right now. @ynotweb

It DEF differs by platform, and by client needs. Trad (exe/bmm)|(brand/generic) isn’t always best for every company, particularly smaller ones. Now that exact doesn’t function like it used to, I’m all about themes. @JuliaVyse

We have definitely started segmenting less over the last year thanks to Google’s match type changes. We carry the account structure from Google to Bing. @ClixMarketing

My overall philosophy hasn’t changed – which is be flexible and willing to try new things as the industry shifts. We’ve certainly varied how we set things up in the last year, and it does differ by platform. @amaliaefowler

Not overly as google had already diminished what phrase and broad match meant. @stevegibsonppc

I’ve been Team Consolidation for a while now, but this past year has just put gas on my flames. We’ve consolidated some of our programs to 2-4 campaigns over the last few months. We go for parity across Google & Bing (generally) @nataliebarreda

I feel like Google Ads has had a major shift in the past 6+ months. And, Facebook is all kinds of messed up since ATT rolled out. @NeptuneMoon

My structure choices have been cemented over the past year: 1. Going with keyword champions as opposed to bidding on everything. 2. Ad groups/ad sets are persona/objective based. 3. Audiences are mandatory. @navahf

Not really. I never was one for skags or match type specific campaigns/ad groups. The main thing that has changed is which match types I start with. Used to be BMM and phrase, now exact and MAYBE phrase depending on budget. @selley2134

Never been big on single keyword as groups, but match types being what they are now that’s even more so. @jstatad

And speaking of size, think about billing. There are times when it makes sense to have different account splits. like one for video, one for display. Other times you’ll want certifications. One for health, one for employment – twitter actually requires this. @JuliaVyse

The only thing I really “changed” is going from phrase match as my match-type hero, to exact. I still will have one really long tail broad match keyword in an ad group by itself to help new campaigns ramp up and gather data. @navahf

With how match types have evolved, I go with less is more approach. Try not to micro segment as earlier & keep the structure simple. @bufoting

Main drivers: changes in platforms, changes in data access, and changes in privacy/landscape which have affected performance in different ways. A1c. Definitely differs by platform. Some have minor changes or low priority shifts, some require major overhaul. @ynotweb

It has changed some, but not too crazy as I usually do things by category or audience for the most part. Match types have shifted how I do keywords though. @lchasse

If as @siliconvallaeys has said it’s purely about the relationship between the keyword+adcopy+QS+LP, then structure is about convenience & scalability. What works for a single in-house pro is unlikely to be how an agency with a conveyor belt approach operates. @beyondcontent

My philosophy has flip-flopped over the last year. 12 months ago, I was merging campaigns and ad groups that were identical other than match types. I’ve now gone back to splitting some campaigns by match type to compare performance differences. @C_J_Ridley

If this counts as a “structure” change – I build in an extra 15-30 days to blitz the campaigns with micro conversions so the learning periods don’t suck. Every time I’ve tried skipping that step in the past few quarters i get slammed with huge cpc spikes. @navahf

I think there are a few main changes: 1. Negatives are now more important than positives 2. Clustering AG around topic + intent vs. SKAGs 3. Audiences + KWs + Targeting vs. Just KWs + Targeting 4. Balancing ML-Friendly Scale w/ Specificity @DigitalSamIAm

My perspective hasn’t changed. Everyone insists their way is best and arguing religion is best avoided by having a contract clause that determines who has final say. Avoids too many cooks situation. @beyondcontent

On display and video campaigns – I actually find that treating them like facebook campaigns (short bursts with contained budgets) performs better than the conventional thinking that Google likes old things. Curious if anyone else has seen that? @navahf

Account structure changes to cater for AI I really liked the concept @jimbanks coined as “liquidity”. The one element you need to build into your account structures so that you can get the best out of the Human pilot and the AI optimizer working hand in hand @soanders

Not so much by platform but with loosening match types and more transparent device breakdowns, I am no longer segmenting campaigns by match type and device as much. @JonKagan

It hasn’t for me, but if I had been building based on match type, it would have @revaminkoff

I started structuring accounts different with the rollout of smart bidding, DSA, etc. Previously my accounts housed many more very specific campaigns but have become more general lately, allowing smart bidding to have more data to optimize upon. @sonika_chandra

Q2: Have you changed anything about the way you structure your Google Ads accounts and campaigns in the past 6 months? If so, why? If not, why not?

Yes and no? Yes in the sense that I’m not using the same approach everywhere. no in the sense that nothing should feel like it came off an assembly line. bespoke or begone! @JuliaVyse

We are structuring ad groups by theme/topic these days. We do like to keep different countries/regions separate and definitely keep Search/Display separate. @ClixMarketing

I have been trying to embrace more automation, with varying degrees of “success”. It still really struggles w/ low conversion volume accounts. I feel like I am thinking more about what I DON’T want and building with that in mind almost first. @NeptuneMoon

Gone a little less crazy with the amount of keywords in each ad group (even exact will catch most of the variants. And definitely leaning a lot more on exact and no broad match unless testing some different prospecting campaigns. @selley2134

Honestly, not that much. Old habits die hard. @JonKagan

Yes in that I have stopped using phrase match as my hero. I also find conversion action sets are VITAL in today’s account structures so you’re not dealing with weird value weighting. @navahf

Keywords, obviously. I’ve actually *gasp* had an account work well with some broad match where I would never have tried it before. But mostly sticking to root terms, phrase match and tight adgroups. @amaliaefowler

Trying to think on this, but I guess not as many different types of keywords since the match types have taken that away. Needing to do a lot more negative keyword research as well. I do have more automated bid types of campaigns running as well. @lchasse

For accounts with more granularity (by product type, as an example) we are pulling back to less, including more AI driven in *some* and way less in others. For established accounts, this is a lonnnng phased approach with A/B testing @ynotweb

Simple account structure 1) Brand with manual bidding 2) Product & negative brand with smart bidding 3) Category & negative Brand with smart bidding or Just run a Smart Campaign. @soanders

Really pushing people to not SKAG anymore @revaminkoff

It was always important to make sure campaigns were organized around the same goal, but now it seems more important that Google is able to figure out what that goal is without you. @revaminkoff

I’ve recently started working on e-commerce accounts so this has made me rethink my Search campaign approach as well as having the opportunity to utilise Display and Shopping campaigns. I focus more on quality over quantity of keywords for Search. @C_J_Ridley

Low conversion vol accounts in G & FB possibly having toughest time due to privacy and cookie changes. Getting that initial data for lesser known brands is really tough. New entrants need to ask if paid media without a healthy marketing mix is even worth it. @beyondcontent

100%. Reaching & training the right audiences is an art form in itself. @beyondcontent

Q3: Are there specific changes that Google Ads made that impacted the way you structure accounts and campaigns? What was the specific impact(s)?

BMM Match Type, loosening concept of match types, and easier way to see performance by device @JonKagan

The changes to match types and ‘close variants’ (which should just be called ‘variants’ now in my opinion a la Loki) had a huge impact. That and the loss of the SQR. @amaliaefowler

The match type change was crucial. No need for BMM anymore @revaminkoff

Exact really did it for me in 2019. At the time I flipped the exe/bmm strat and others I worked with quite disagreed. lots of lively conversations were had. That and more custom audiences had us all rethinking how to set up a new account. @JuliaVyse

Losing BMM was big, if only that we’d essentially stopped using phrase match in favor of BMM. We also got rid of SKAGs a long time ago in most cases due to close variants. @beyondthepaid

The match types piece has been huge, just because it’s helped me evangelize a more thematic structure (vs. super granular). But tbh, most of the recent changes have been more to optimize real-time bidding. @nataliebarreda

Is this the part where we talk about Close Variant matching? Because that. Also go read @bill_slawski‘s article on query re-writing for paid search:… @DigitalSamIAm

When close variants first became a thing (2016), keyword theory became all about finding the best champion to enter the auction (and knowing what we want to active/passively bid on). Prioritizing first party data has made me hone in on landing page CRO efforts. @navahf

Echoing @AmaliaEFowler on the match type continued fuzzification + the loss of query data has been especially difficult. Again, especially for lower conversion volume accounts. @NeptuneMoon

Sunset of BMM, lack of insight into search terms have made it an interesting year. @ClixMarketing

What Google Ads did? they messed with matching they pushed algos into the hands of gold diggers (handed out shovels haha) they removed the data marketers used for optimization And so we were lost. @soanders

+1 the “fuzzification + the loss of query data” @beyondcontent

The lack of SQR data, placement data for any “smart” ish campaigns, and average position has made it a lot harder to gauge and optimize performance. @revaminkoff

SO many. The BMM change, the removal of search term transparency (and our initial data on how poorly they were following negative KW and matching), their aggressive push to Recommendations and the performance penalties for falling under their threshold (twice weekly) @navahf

Changes to the match types and the improvements in Smart bidding capabilities. Match type changes – I have to invest a lot more time into review search terms and adding negatives keywords. @C_J_Ridley

Q4: What is something that you always do now that perhaps you did not do previously and vice versa (something you used to do a lot but now never or rarely do)? Why the change?

Test audiences on RLSAs. It used to be a nice-to-have, or a way to shape towards a specific target. now it’s baseline. @JuliaVyse

As has been mentioned already today, audiences and the issue of personas keeps coming up. This article is a counterpoint just to fuzzify the debate further! Check out:… @beyondcontent

Due to the changes to match types, I spend a lot more time on negatives than I had to previously. @lchasse

Something I do now Checking auction insights and looking back over my shoulder all the time. Feels like positions are flying around more than before. @soanders

I don’t allow the brands I work with off the hook on lead quality and AOV anymore. With the obscured visibility into user behavior and conversion tracking, cross-department transparency is vital. I always pushed for the info, but now it’s mandatory. @navahf

We have a more robust keyword research and setup process, to look for more ‘negatives’ and pre-empt what we think the algorithm is going to do. On the flip side, we use the SQR less – because it gives us weird, unreliable data. @amaliaefowler

Yes, would love to see auction insights get a revamp. When you’re paying to be in an auction, you’d think they’d share a bit more of what’s actually going on in said auction. It’s not ALL secret sauce is it? @beyondcontent

I put a little less stock in SQRs and more stock in proactive negatives and making sure bid settings/goals are accurate. @revaminkoff

I used to do highly segmented ad groups based on keyword variant and set up campaigns by cost bracket. Now with keyword (or persona) champions, I’m much more focused on message mapping the right creative (always leveraging google trends to find the right wording). @navahf

We spend more time on competitor analysis/research & identifying negatives that may not be appearing in the SQRs. Some of those ‘suggested keywords’ from Google are great negatives! @ClixMarketing

I don’t just accept when I don’t have a good understanding of what a conversion is actually worth. Before, if you wanted to drive traffic, I’d help you drive traffic. Now, I’m much more aggressive in pushing for a KPI that actually matters to the business. @nataliebarreda

I do a lot more experiments and A/B tests. Whether that is through Google Ads’ experiment and ad variation tools or simply by setting up two similar campaigns or running two sets of ads on “rotate indefinitely”. And it’s mostly due to my lack of faith in Google. @C_J_Ridley

Forced to constantly review/deny recommendations that go against client policies and are poor fits. Every 3-4 days, which is exceedingly frustrating. Also, we are starting to require secondary ways to confirm conversions. Because we’re seeing more inconsistencies. @ynotweb

Nothing particularly huge. Google Ads today is just a slightly worse version of what it was 12 months ago. But worse in the same direction it’s been getting worse for the last 10 years. @stevegibsonppc

Contemplate if I really need to subdivide the campaigns @JonKagan

I used to separate ad groups by match type and now house all match types on combined ad groups. @sonika_chandra

Q5: If you are also running ads on @MSFTAdvertising (Microsoft Advertising), have you changed the way you structure accounts or campaigns there? If so, why?

Not so much. Microsoft negatives and broad match have always been slightly different than google’s, and volumes are such that traditional structure didn’t make sense for the different budget. @JuliaVyse

Tl;dr – you need a whole strategy for microsoft, not just a copy of your google account, imo. …bespoke or begone! @JuliaVyse

I LOVE @MSAdvertising specific rules of engagement, and so as soon as I got comfortable with them, I stopped doing auto imports. Yes it’s helpful to get the initial winning structure in there, but ad group level settings are much more robust. Plus time zone wins! @navahf

Microsoft Advertising First questions first. Should I just import from Google or should I invest in building a dedicated MS Bing ship? I feel I am missing out on some good stuff from Microsoft because of the small scale in my markets. @soanders

Only in ways we have before- when performance or A/B tests dictate. This is at a normal pace we are used to. @ynotweb

We typically start with what we have in Google & customize the strategy/structure for @MSFTAdvertising from there. @ClixMarketing

Poor Microsoft Ads gets the dregs of my energy. So nothing has changed. Just the occasional account import. @amaliaefowler

The subtle differences between Google and Microsoft Ads are interesting. I used to be more apt to just import from Google and get rolling and adjust from there. Now I make more mods before launch, especially on keywords. @NeptuneMoon

We use a lot of LinkedIn targeting in MS Ads. While it’s not as robust as what LI Social has, it’s better than Google’s targeting. @beyondthepaid

I’ve been experimenting a lot more with their Audience Network and and proving out creative there before moving to more expensive channels has been clutch. Automation still needs work – but the levers at your disposal make it easier to partner with the machine. @navahf

Honestly, not really. MSFT is a different beast than Google, so most of the G issues that make me want to pull my hair out don’t present the same way on MSFT. That being said, I do think focusing on topic + intent is helpful to users, so we do that on MSFT too. @DigitalSamIAm

Also, the MSFT LinkedIn Targeting is gold. Definitely using that. @DigitalSamIAm

Shopping feeds via @MSFTAdvertising feels like the biggest missed opp in search. Like they sold all their inventory to third parties rather than build a solution you’d want to put ad budget into. Harsh? @beyondcontent

TBH Msft Ads has really lost it’s luster for me over the last few years. It uses to be this really nice whitespace to unlock and now I’m always asking myself “is the juice worth the squeeze” @nataliebarreda

I haven’t changed how I structure my MS Ads account. I still go down my usual route of importing Google Ads’ best performers &then streamlining and optimising where necessary. The fact MS Ads are only a few months behind Google after each major change helps. @C_J_Ridley

We’re begging clients to never use the new “do-iit-all-trust-us” import option from Google Ads. Too much of a chance for uneducated to destroy an entire MS ad account @scottclark

Yes, the structure largely mirrors Google. Only difference is we separate out the syndication network in standalone campaigns or adgroups. @JonKagan

Q6: Are there any things that you’re “keeping an eye on” that you think could impact your thoughts on account and/or campaign structure? Does it vary by platform?

I don’t think we’re done seeing the death of keywords yet, so I’m watching changes in that space, and with the extended text ads, really closely. @amaliaefowler

Still keeping an eye on keyword match type updates & how Google continues to further push automation (like making RSAs the default ad type for Search). Definitely varies by platform since MS will likely follow Google’s lead. @ClixMarketing

I’m watching keywords/variants and queries closely. I don’t think we have reached the final destination on that train ride yet. Also automation – when will manual options start getting retired? That is, I think a when, not if question. @NeptuneMoon

Every platform has their own rules of engagement, yet the single undercurrent is audiences. Own your audiences and take the time to craft creative and account structures that honor your most profitable people. @navahf

We did not really get into Facebook today and there is a lot to talk about on that front. Perhaps next week’s chat topic will be “The Dumpster Fire That Is Facebook Advertising – Summer 2021”? @NeptuneMoon

*Deep breath* ads. It’s all going to RSA/asset type vs one coherent message. get ready. @JuliaVyse

As previously noted, we are watching the validity of counted conversions. We also watch the “recommended” KW to help determine where shifts need to be made–not in adding KWs, but in how campaigns can either be merged or to judge how much automation can be applied. @ynotweb

Google’s obsession with Recommendations and their belief that “they know best”. No, G I do not want you to pause keywords whilst I sleep. Nor do I want you to “Optimize” my targeting behind the audiences I’ve applied. Beyond that it’s keyword matching/variants. @C_J_Ridley

Keeping an eye on: I believe the #datawars between the big players is making cross-platform advertising increasingly difficult. So I am keeping an eye on what I call Native Ecommerce capabilities. Advertising driving into their own sales channel. @soanders

Only the survival of the keyword itself @JonKagan

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