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TPE #94: Why Consolidation is the Key to Success with Google Ads

May 20, 2024

Read time: 4 minutes

GM, Miles here!

If you ask me what the key is to success with Google Ads, I’ll say account consolidation.

It's the foundation on which great performance is built.

By aggregating data, you enable Google’s Smart Bidding algorithm to be more effective at reaching your goals.

But how does it work and how do you implement it?

I’ll show you in today’s issue of The PPC Edge.

Do this well, and your results are very likely to improve.

Let’s dive right in!

 

The biggest mistake I see in accounts: over-segmented campaign structures.

Smart Bidding needs a lot of data to work well.

So the biggest mistake you can make in your Google Ads accounts is over-segmenting your campaign structure.

In other words: creating too many campaigns with fragmented data leads to ineffective use of Google’s Smart Bidding algorithm.

If your traffic is segmented into too many campaigns and/or ad groups, Smart Bidding has to attain the efficiency target for each segment independently (essentially spreading itself too thin).

This can result in a higher marginal cost for some conversions, reducing the overall efficiency of the bid strategy. That’s why I discourage over-segmenting (unless you have a good reason).

Let’s look at the solution: account consolidation.

 

What is account consolidation?

“Account consolidation” is the act of merging campaigns and aggregating data to make Smart Bidding more effective.

By simplifying your account structure, you’ll have better input (more data), which leads to better output (results).

Again: Google’s Smart Bidding algorithm needs a lot of data to work well so it’s our job to aggregate as much data as possible (while remaining relevant).

 

 

Before I explain why it works so well, let’s look at some results from ourselves and The PPC Hub:

 

βœ… My account: +345% conversion value & +22% ROAS.

One of the biggest wins I had in my own accounts came from consolidating an Ecom account structure in 2020 (around the time when Smart Bidding became best practice): I merged 44 Non-Branded Search campaigns into 7, resulting in a conversion value uplift of +345%, and a ROAS increase of +22%.

This opened my eyes to the power of consolidation and data aggregation. If I were to do the consolidation again in 2024, I’d probably make even fewer campaigns.

 

βœ… Bob’s account: +253% conversions & -60% CPA.

Bob recently shared an insane Lead Gen case study in which he increased conversions by +253% and reduced CPA by -60% by consolidating 19 campaigns into 4.

 

 

βœ… Ramial’s account: +94% conversions & -17% CPA.

Ramial went through our Search Mastery course in The PPC Hub and consolidated his campaigns for a Lead Gen client. The results speak for themselves: +94% conversions at a -17% lower CPA.

 

βœ… Niklas’ account: +9% conversion value & +18% ROAS.

Niklas also aggregated as much data as possible by consolidating his campaign structure, which led to a +9% conversion value increase at a +18% higher ROAS (Ecom client).

We have many more examples but let’s move on to why this works so well!

 

Why is account consolidation so effective?

By consolidating traffic, Smart Bidding can look across all searches within a campaign to obtain the most conversions at a singular efficiency target. It has maximum flexibility to compete in more auctions to find the most conversions.

In simpler terms: Smart Bidding has more data and will be better at predicting future conversions and driving results.

Smart Bidding works best when it can optimize towards the same marginal cost per conversion across all related traffic. In theory, this will lead to the highest possible (conversion) volume at a given efficiency target.

And that’s exactly what we’ve seen in the examples above.

 

Mature accounts with lots of conversion data can generally experiment a bit more with campaign segmentations, but consolidation is typically very important in accounts with lower conversion volumes.

Here’s 3 reasons why consolidated campaign structures with aggregated data are so effective:

 

 

How do you consolidate campaign structures?

I wish I could tell you there’s one road to success with consolidation, but there isn’t.

How you consolidate your campaign structures depends on a lot of factors (like your data, conversions, goals, targets, etc.)…

I can’t tell you how you should CONSOLIDATE your campaigns, but I can teach you how to THINK about consolidating your campaigns.

I always follow our ‘Golden Rule’ of campaign structures:

“Always consolidate as much traffic as possible. Only segment when there is a good reason to do so.”

 

 

The starting point is always consolidation and data aggregation. From there, you can think about campaign segmentations.

But always keep it simple and consolidate as much traffic as possible, while retaining relevancy.

 

Only segment (aka create additional campaigns) if…

  1. If you have a different business objective (e.g. use different bid strategies or targets).
  2. If you want to allocate specific budgets (e.g. allocate more budget to service X).
  3. If you want to use campaign-specific goals (e.g. use different conversion actions).
  4. If you want to use campaign-specific settings (e.g. NCA and location targeting).
  5. If you have specific insights the algo won’t know (e.g. business specific insights).
  6. If you want to provide additional insights or reporting (e.g. for specific categories).
  7. If you see attribution discrepancies (for different segments in your 3rd party tools).
  8. If you want to isolate an experiment (e.g. structure, bid strategies, etc).

Don’t have a compelling reason to segment? Consolidate. Always keep it simple!

(Aka simplify your account by merging/consolidating campaigns to aggregate data)

 

How do you consolidate Ad Groups?

I also recommend you to consolidate your ad groups, in addition to your campaigns, with the primary goal of aggregating data to make your Responsive Search Ads perform better.

 

 

Our Golden Rule for ad group consolidation: create one ad group per creative theme.

  • A creative theme is a unifying concept that binds together the keywords, ad copy, and landing page of a particular ad group.
  • It ensures that there is a tight correlation between what the user is searching for, the ad they see, and the page they land on after clicking the ad.
  • Use one ad group per unique landing page if possible.
  • You need >2.000 impressions per month per ad group for asset performance labels but I recommend you to aim for more.

 

Only segment your ad groups if…

  1. If a keyword does not fit a current ad group and will mess up your creative relevance.
  2. If you want to further specify ads and landing pages for different user intents.
  3. If you want to segment high-performers for better analytics, reporting and optimization.
  4. If some keywords warrant a different ad message, tone, or offer than others.
  5. If there are landing pages that could be more directly relevant to specific keywords.
  6. If you need to apply negative keywords to only a subset of keywords within an ad group.
  7. If you want to use different efficiency targets for a subset of keywords.
  8. If you want to isolate an experiment (e.g. assets, landing pages, QS, etc).

Avoid any unnecessary segmentation. This will only hurt the algorithm.

Again: keep it simple!

 

(I will dive deeper into this in a future issue of The PPC Edge!)

 

The 4 biggest mistakes while consolidating campaign structures.

Lastly, here are the 4 biggest mistakes Google Ads Specialists make when consolidating their campaign structures:

 

1: Unnecessary segmentations.

You’re seriously harming your performance if you’re segmenting campaigns based on match types, locations, demographics, or audiences. Avoid unnecessary segmentations to improve performance (Smart Bidding uses these datapoints as signals already so no need to segment out any further).

 

2: Consolidating Branded & Non-Branded traffic.

I love simple and consolidated accounts. However, I will never consolidate Branded & Non-Branded traffic. They typically have vastly different goals, budgets and bid strategies (segmentation rules 1 & 2) so in 99.99% of the cases I keep them in separate campaigns.

 

3: Not thinking about cannibalization between pMax & Search.

The most basic form of data aggregation would be to create 1 Performance Max campaign — but that’s generally speaking not the best way approach consolidation.

Understand how pMax and Search work together (or better: how pMax cannibalizes on Search) and adjust your campaign structures and consolidation accordingly.

 

4: Not focusing on simplicty.

Below is an example of how Bob consolidated his Search campaigns into 1x Branded Search & 1x Non-Branded Search. His results improved significantly and the account became easier to manage (win-win!).

 

 

Over to you: audit your account and consolidate your campaigns.

To recap: consolidation is the key to success with Google Ads. By aggregating data, Smart Bidding is more effective at generating conversions and reaching your goals.

It’s the foundation on which great performance is built and it almost always improves results.

Unfortunately, you can’t A/B test your entire account structure so you’ll need to run an A/A (before & after) experiment to test the effectiveness of consolidation.

Remember our Golden Rule: “Always consolidate as much traffic is possible. Only segment when there is a good reason to do so.”

 

A final note: If you want our help consolidating your Search campaigns, then you will love our Search Mastery course.

It’s only available in The PPC Hub (our membership exclusively for experienced Google Ads Specialists) and shows you all the best practices of “Modern-Day Search” so you can confidently drive results with this powerful campaign type (for both Ecommerce and Lead Gen accounts).

If you want to improve results, open yourself up to new opportunities for your life and career, and join a community of like-minded PPCers who all learn and grow together, then consider joining The PPC Hub here.

Thanks for reading — that’s all for today.

I hope it was valuable, and see you next week!

Cheers,

Miles (& Bob)

​



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