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TPE #6: create the best pMax campaign structure (ecom)

Aug 29, 2022

Welcome back to the PPC Edge!

One of the biggest reasons why Performance Max campaigns succeed or fail, is the way the campaign structure has been set up.

Your campaign structure can truly make or break your performance.

On a basic level, Performance Max may seem very simple, but it's actually very complex.

In this issue, I'm giving you a framework you can use to create a winning campaign structure that's working for your specific account.

Big disclaimer up front: don't believe anyone who says they have THE, one true winning campaign structure. The ideal campaign structure should be tailored to your specific case.

My goal with this article is not to act as though I have THE solution for campaign structures. My goal is to give you a framework that you can use to create a winning campaign structure for your specific account.

This issue will be a bit longer than normal, because there is actually a lot more to campaign structures than meets the eye.

Let's dig in - I hope it'll be of value to you!

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Take back some control with your campaign structure

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Quick recap of the basics. With PMAX, you have:

  • One or multiple campaigns
  • One or multiple asset groups
  • These asset groups contain assets like text, images, videos, products, a URL, logos, business name, a CTA and audience signals

The way you set this up, is going to determine whether your campaigns will be successful or not.

There is no "one-size-fits-all" campaign structure. Don't listen to people who say there is one golden campaign structure you need to follow.

The ultimate campaign structure cannot be templatized, because it's dependent on a lot different factors like your business type, goals, product inventory, monthly conversion volumes, infrastructure to create ads and many more.

What CAN be templatized, however, is the way you THINK about your campaign structure.

Let's continue to the next part of this article, in which I show you a mental framework that you can use to create the winning campaign structure for your specific situation.

Before we continue, it's important to understand the goals of your campaign and asset group structures:

  • The goal of your campaign structure is to take back control by providing additional information to Google's algorithm, which it will use to make better targeting and bidding decisions
  • The goal of your asset group structure is to bundle assets together to tailor ads and landing pages to the right products and audiences

Don't make these 2 major mistakes: people either oversimplify, or overcomplicate their campaign structures

An example of oversimplification: a "one-size-fits-all" approach with all of your products and assets in 1 single campaign.

This is an example of a one-size-fits-all campaign:

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Here's the problem with that:

  • You have very little control
  • Your performance is at the mercy of Google's algorithm
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As you can see in the example above, one product was getting 90% of clicks in a specific campaign. The ROAS on other products was higher than the products with most of the clicks.

If you have one campaign with all of your products in it, you have 0 control over which products get shown when.

An example of overcomplication is a structure with too many campaigns:

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Here's why that's bad:

  • Having too many campaigns will fragment your data
  • This makes it very hard for the algorithm to optimize well
  • This only works if you have a lot of conversions per month per campaign

So if oversimplification and overcomplication are bad, what is the optimal strategy?

The 4 golden rules of the optimal campaign structure

We now know there is no campaign structure that fits every single account. However, there are a few golden rules that apply all the time:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Try to keep as much data in 1 campaign as possible
  3. Only segment if you have enough data or good reasons to do so
  4. Don't copy what someone tells you to do. Test and find what works best for YOU!


The optimal campaign structure is like a LEGO set

Look at your campaign structure like a LEGO set.

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Let's say you're building a tower. You have 2 components:

  1. A base layer that serves as the foundation of your tower (left)
  2. Building blocks to actually build the tower (right)

If I give a base layer and a set of LEGO blocks to 100 different people, you will see 100 different towers...

But they are all built on the same foundation.

I propose you should look at your campaign structure in that way too (from a building blocks perspective).

Start with the base layer, the foundation of your campaign structure

Always keep the 4 golden rules of campaign structure in the back of your mind while going through this strategy.

In most cases, your campaign structure should start off with a base layer of campaigns that are segmented based on high value and low value products (basic segmentation).

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The reason we do this, is because we don't want to overcomplicate your campaign structure in the beginning.

Then, once you are a bit more advanced, you can create more segmentation in your campaign structure by adding additional building blocks (i.e. additional campaigns).

Only do this if you have a good reason to do so, and if you have enough monthly conversion volumes. We'll dig into good reasons to create segmentation in a bit.

Your campaign structure may then start to look more like this:

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Your base layer (basic campaign structure) has now been expanded with a few building blocks (extra campaigns).

The general rule of thumb with building blocks: only use them if you have specific products/categories that have separate goals (i.e. push harder/slower, different ROAS targets, clear stock, loss-leader, visibility goals, seasonal influences etc.).

A list of building block ideas to add to your base layer campaign structure (these are just examples). The goal is not to add as many as you possibly can. The goal is to use them only if you have a compelling reason to do so:

  • Bestsellers
  • Products on sale
  • Specific categories
  • Low impression products
  • Single-product campaigns
  • Products with low/high stock
  • Products with poor performance
  • PMAX with only image/video assets
  • Standard Shopping for specific products
  • Standard Shopping to catch branded search terms
  • Standard Shopping catch all campaign with low manual CPC bid
  • ... And the list goes on and on

Always revisit the 4 golden rules when you're looking at your campaign structure.

The final question then is: how do you determine what building blocks you should use?

I created a mental framework on how to use the building blocks:

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It's basically an "if-this-then-that" framework. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Should you add building blocks (i.e. new campaigns)?
  2. WHY do you want to add a building block?
  3. Do you need extra control over specific products/categories?
  4. Do you have enough data to create additional campaigns?

The base layer + building blocks strategy is a very strong foundation for your campaign structure.

Now please note: a winning campaign structure is different for every business.

A retailer with 50.000 products might have a vastly different campaign structure than a brand with 1-5 product categories.

My goal with this article was not to give you a cookie-cutter template to follow.

My goal was to provide you with a framework that you can use, to create a winning campaign structure that works for your specific case.

I hope this article does exactly that.

Whatever you do when you create your campaign structure: always follow the 4 golden rules and try to keep it as simple as possible.

TLDR recap

  • Don't oversimplify or overcomplicate your campaign structure
  • Use the base layer + building blocks strategy
  • Keep as much data in 1 campaign as possible
  • Only segment if you have a good reason to
  • Don't copy others, test for yourself
  • Keep it simple!

That's it for today. Happy building!

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