Google AdWords Campaign Best Practices: How to Name & Organize Campaigns


This is the first post in our series on the GoogleAdWords settings tab, where we’ll be looking at various options and best practices surrounding settings within your AdWords campaigns.

In this post we’ll be focused on the general idea of what you actually designate as a campaign, and how you settle on a naming convention. For a lot of first time advertisers this seems pretty straightforward, but there are actually a lot of considerations that go into making a sound decision about how to organize your campaigns and even how to name them so that as your account grows your campaign structure can easily scale with it.

Creating an AdWords Campaign Structure: What Do You Need Categories For?

In thinking about your AdWords campaigns you want to consider: what actually deserves its own campaign? Obviously campaigns are collections of ad groups, which house ads and keywords, but when do you need to create a new campaign versus just putting all of your ad groups into the same campaign you already have? There are really two high-level reasons you might create a new campaign:

  • Staying Organized – You might create a new campaign purely for organization and measurement: you could create a campaign structure based on taxonomy and semantics: all of the keywords in your campaign that contain the word “shoes” are in one campaign, and everything that contains the term “footwear” is in another. You might also segment your campaigns based on product lines so that you can quickly report on performance broken down by product line, and easily monitor this from your campaign tab on a daily basis.
  • Settings Drive Campaign Structure – This is really the most common reason for creating a new campaign: there is a specific setting that is controlled at the campaign level that you want to set one way for one collection of ad groups and another way for another collection of ad groups.

Important to note here: most of the time you’ll want settings that are truly critical to the success of your campaigns to trump an organizational approach to organizing campaigns. Here’s an example:

Let’s say we sell shoes. We want to break our campaigns out by product names, and then include all of the different variations of that product in various ad groups. This would let us see the product performance at a quick glance.

But obviously we want to create separate search network and content network campaigns for each of these products. OK, so maybe we do something like Product Name – Search and Product Name – Content. This is a little messier but we can still probably manage it.

Now what if we find that the sales process on mobile is a bit suboptimal with our shopping cart? While the dev team works on it we want to split out mobile traffic into its own campaign so our content network costs won’t be so high. Now we have three versions of each product campaign, and things are starting to become a bit messy.

Your campaign structure could become downright unmanageable as you run into issues with different campaigns requiring different budgets, location targeting issues, etc. As with anything these types of things are much easier to think about and architect around “in the hangar” rather than in mid-flight, so as you create your campaigns sit down and map out the various considerations you’ll have to take into account:

  • Locations & Languages – Are your campaigns going to be geo-targeted? If your business is highly local this will be an obvious concern, but you’ll want to consider the value of breaking out non-obvious campaigns to target different geographies with the same keywords but different messaging, for instance.
  • Networks & Devices – Consider how you’ll be setting up both search network campaigns and content network campaigns, and if you have data about how existing campaigns or traffic sources perform on mobile versus desktop and laptop devices that would suggest you’d want to handle those sources differently consider that as well.
  • Bidding & Budget – Are there campaigns you’ll want to use conversion optimizer on? Are there specific budgeting considerations that would cause you to put groups under specific campaign umbrellas (i.e. different departments within a company having very specific budgets allocated to AdWords campaigns, for instance).

These are the items you want to think about in mapping your campaign structures. Think about each item you’d want to be able to create different campaigns around and make sure that they are incorporated in your campaign structure, and also think about how expanding with new products, services, or strategies might affect that structure.

Naming Your AdWords Campaign

You also want to think about how you’re naming your groups. In the example above naming campaigns by product might work well, but you might even want to try to create campaign names that align more closely with your site’s categorization. Basically in choosing a naming convention you’ve already decided how to actually order your campaigns (based on settings and potentially some organizational factors) and you’re thinking about data analysis: how can you best order the campaigns to segment the data? So here we might want to do something like:

  • Running Shoes – Product Name – Content Network
  • Basketball Shoes – Product Name – Search Network
  • Etc.

Now when we’re filtering in Excel or just customizing a view in AdWords we can quickly pull a report for all of our running shoes or for a few different products, or just for performance for a specific product across some of the different campaign segmentations we’ve created.

Again the real focus here is to be sure you’re considering the right factors in creating a campaign structure and naming convention, and to consider the best way to have all of this set up to scale well as your account expands. One thing that can help in mapping this out is making sure you understand each of the “levers” available to you in your campaign settings, which is precisely what we’ll be covering in the next few installments of this series.

Find out how you're REALLY doing in AdWords!

Watch the video below on our Free AdWords Grader:

Visit the AdWords Grader.


Dec 28, 2011

This artcle is just a tease - to make you click from the email newsletter. It didn't offer any real tips just the obvious anyone who's used adwords for 5 minutes would know. Adwords is a complex beast that must be fed daily yet never can be tamed. This article doesn't help at all, is just seo blog spew.

Oct 24, 2015


Feb 01, 2016

I probably have been fussy but the more semantic and efficient way to cover the campaigns naming is not what Wordstream solution is offering. The reason is when your channels and campaigns are increased this is where you get confused. It is always better to have the channels listed first then category and then more details. Below naming would be extremely easy to find the campaigns in matter of seconds. It is all about efficiency when the number of campaigns grow.

They should be as below as you can see you can see all :
Content - Running Shoes - Product 1
Content - Running Shoes - Product 2
Content - Running Shoes - Product 3
Content - Running Shoes - Product 4

Search - Basketball Shoes - Product 1
Search - Basketball Shoes - Product 2
Search - Basketball Shoes - Product 3
Search - Basketball Shoes - Product 4

Shopping - Basketball Shoes - Product 1
Shopping - Basketball Shoes - Product 2
Shopping - Basketball Shoes - Product 3
Shopping - Basketball Shoes - Product 4


Leave a comment