Higher AdWords Returns with Mirrored Campaigns


Google Mirrored CampaignsSimultaneously decreasing your cost per conversion, but still getting inspiration for new keywords in order to expand your successful AdWords campaign? It’s possible! Using so-called "mirrored campaigns," the current campaign is split into two campaigns. One of these two campaigns contains keywords that are set at the keyword option exact match and the other campaign contains keywords that are set at broad match. This post describes how you can easily create these mirrored campaigns in AdWords, as well as sharing some real results.

AdWords advertising allows you to buy search terms in four different ways. These four keyword matching options determine which Google searches can trigger your ads to appear. The first option is broad match, in which the ad appears on similar phrases and relevant variations (e.g. synonyms and plurals). A second option is phrase match which ensures that the ad is showed when the search query contains the exact phrase. This search query can contain other words before or after this phrase. A third option is exact match whereby the ad is displayed only if the search query exactly matches the purchased keyword combination. Finally, there is the negative keyword option which ensures that your ad is not displayed when the search query contains this keyword. With mirrored campaigns, you can reap the benefits of both broad and exact match by creating two identical campaigns that differ only in their use of keyword matching options.

AdWords Mirrored Campaigns Offer

When to Use Mirrored AdWords Campaigns?

The use of mirrored campaigns is particularly suitable for difficult B2B campaigns, in which CPC rates are usually high and coming up with relevant keyword combinations can sometimes be problematic. In addition, testing this method can be worthwhile for campaigns that are currently limited by the daily budget. Since different campaigns already proved that the CPA (cost per acquisition) can significantly decrease it can be stated that the use of mirror campaigns is a must-try optimization for every industry.

Creating mirrored campaigns is especially interesting if historical data is already available in the AdWords account. In this way, the exact search terms can benefit from the historical data. Moreover, the historical data makes it possible to measure the effect of the mirrored campaigns on your CPA.

Creating Mirrored Campaigns in AdWords in 5 Steps

Creating mirrored campaigns can be done in five simple steps in AdWords Editor (partly based on the method of digital marketing specialist Joe McCarthy, 2011).

Step 1: Copy the current campaign for which you want to create a mirrored campaign. Make sure that you copy each ad group, text ads, keywords and negative keywords. Correctly label both campaigns. For example, use the labels "Mirrored - Broad" and "Mirrored - Exact" in the campaign name.

Step 2: Change the keyword matching option in the original campaign to exact match and make sure that broad match is used for keywords in the new campaign (you might also add your keywords at phrase match in this campaign).

Step 3: To ensure that the exact keywords are only activated by the exact mirrored campaign, it is important to add the exact keywords as negative keywords in the mirrored broad campaign.

Step 4: Spread the initial daily budget between the two campaigns. It is advisable to increase the budget allocated to the exact mirror campaign. Furthermore, it is recommended to raise the CPC bid for keywords whereby the message "low search volume" appears to ensure ad impressions for that specific search query.

Step 5: Measure and optimize the campaigns. Check the actual search queries for the broad mirrored campaign to find out which keywords convert. Next, you can add the converting keywords as exact keywords in the exact mirrored campaign. Also, you should exclude underperforming keywords in the broad mirrored campaign. It is important to keep a close eye on the real search queries because long specific search queries that are triggered via the mirrored broad campaign can result in interesting leads. Finally, in order to calculate the returns of mirrored campaigns you should compare the AdWords cost and conversion data of the mirrored campaigns with the non-divided campaign in the preceding period.

Results of Mirrored Campaigns

Online marketing agency Expand Online has tested the use of mirrored campaigns in multiple accounts to measure the impact on CPA. The table below shows the results for two different e-commerce campaigns.

AdWords Mirrored Campaign Results

Both campaigns have shown a substantial decrease in CPA during the period in which the mirrored campaigns have been created compared with the original non-divided campaign in the preceding period. To be specific: a decrease in CPA of 48.9% and 37.5% has been achieved. Despite the possible seasonal effects and the impact of other optimizations, the results are promising in such a way that we can assume that mirrored campaigns contribute to a lower CPA.

The table above also shows several interesting differences between the results of the broad and exact mirrored campaign. For instance, the conversion rate is higher for the exact campaigns and the average CPA for exact campaigns is considerably lower.

In general, a clear trend towards a declining CPC rate is created when using mirrored campaigns.  Therefore, the cost per acquisition (CPA) can also decrease. The underlying reason can be found in the exact mirrored campaign that usually achieves a higher CTR, due to the fact that keyword combinations are literally used in text ads. Google rewards keywords with higher CTRs by improving the Quality Scores. Subsequently, the average cost per click may decrease while maintaining the same average position. Therefore, you should make sure that the exact campaign is never limited by your daily budget in order to maximize this effect.


The initial results of mirrored AdWords campaigns show that the average cost per click (CPC) can dramatically decrease. Hence, more visitors within the same budget can be achieved. In this way the costs per conversion will fall and make your AdWords campaign more profitable. In short: start experimenting with mirrored campaigns as soon as possible for maximum returns!

by Esther Elberse, SEA consultant at online marketing agency Expand Online.

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Jul 03, 2012

It was holy new thing for me and now I will take advantage of this guide article in managing my nextadwords campaign for my blog promotion. 

Tim Gregory
Jul 04, 2012

HiI understand why you would get better performance out of exact-match rather than broad, and the cost will decrease.This is why a routine campaign optimisation activity should be looking at inbound search terms that are matching the broad and modified-broad keywords and turning them into exact-match keywords.What I don't understand is what advantage you will get from running them in separate campaigns rather than leaving them in your 'normal' campaign structure.Also, since Google will work the auction and deliver exact-match terms ahead of your broad matches, why do you need to add exact-match negative keywords?thanks for any further comments on how to use this technique effectivelyTim 

Esther Elberse
Jul 05, 2012

Hi Tim,You can benefit from mirrored campaigns by running them in separate accounts, since you can increase the daily budget for the well converting exact campaign (so this campaign will never be constrained by the daily budget). On the other hand, the broad campaign can serve as an "inspiration" campaign with a lower daily budget.We add exact-match negative keywords to the broad campaign to make absolutely sure that Google does not match the exact keyword combinations to the broad campaign. In addition, it might be that Google shows ads from the broad campaign instead of the exact campaign in cases where the max. CPC bid is higher.Good luck!Esther

Jul 05, 2012

Hi Esther,Isn't it against Google AdWords policy to run multiple accounts with similar set of keywords for the same website? I believe AdWords calls it Double Serving -http://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2600168

Jul 05, 2012

Hi Alex,

You can actually run multiple accounts for the same website. The double serving policy on AdWords is intended to limit one advertiser from stuffing multiple ads on the same SERP, which used to be a common gray hat practice. If you have the same keyword in more than one account, and the same display URL, then AdWords will show the ad that has the best ad rank (combined bid and quality score).

Splitting between accounts doesn't really provide much benefit to campaign performance since your essentially separating out your data and spreading your quality score history out, although I have seen it done when there are specific separations such as geography/language/currency. It is also a way to keep poor performing keywords (such as test keywords) separate from your stronger campaigns so that they don't sandbag the overall quality of the account,

Jul 05, 2012

Hi Mori,It is possible to do different things in AdWords, but some of them are against AdWords policy. For example:"... To comply with this policy, advertisers should avoid running ads from different accounts on the same or similar keywords that point to the same or similar websites..."from page http://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2600168

Esther Elberse
Jul 06, 2012

Hi Alex,I am sorry it should be "You can benefit from mirrored campaigns by running them in separate accounts campaigns" in the above comment.Sorry for the misunderstanding!

David Rothwell
Jul 05, 2012

This *only* works with the campaigns being in separate accounts, a point which wasonly briefly mentioned and is the key to the whole thing. Otherwise G serves your ads for related keywords from anywhere in the account, negating the effect.Keyword diagnosis clearly shows which related keyword is serving your ad.

Esther Elberse
Jul 05, 2012

Hi David,These mirrored campaigns were managed within the same account. Therefore, the results prove that it is not necessary to manage these campaigns in separate accounts.Have you tested whether mirrored campaigns perform better when managed in separate accounts instead of managing them within the same account?

Arve Kvaløy
Jul 05, 2012

Maybe a stupid question: since the exact campaigns are working so much better in both tests, why continue with using broad match? The article is excellent but i dont feel it answers the essential question: Why a mirriored (both broad and exact) campaign and not just go for exact?

Esther Elberse
Jul 05, 2012

Hi Arve,The broad match campaign is still very useful to get inspiration for new keywords in order to expand your AdWords campaign. Therefore, you should regularly check the actual search queries for the broad mirrored campaign to find out which keywords convert. Next, you can add the converting keywords as exact keywords in the exact mirrored campaign (see step 5).

Arve Kvaløy
Jul 05, 2012

Ahh.. I didnt think of that.
Wow then it makes a lot more sense :)

Shreyansh Modi
Jul 10, 2012

Using Broad Match Modifier match type instead of Broad Match can make this approach a lot easier.

Jul 10, 2012

Hi Esther,In my opinion, by splitting up match types into different campaigns you only proved that exact match keywords get a better performance than broad match keywords. You should actually also measure the performance of the same keywords (with the same ad copy, settings, etc..) when they are mixed within the same campaign.Who says that the broad match keywords will have a negative impact on the results of the exact match keywords when they are mixed? And if so, won't the exact match keywords, in turn, have a positive impact on the broad match keywords?Finally, I think it is not yet clear to everyone how keywords are competing with each other. Keywords within an ad group compete differently than keywords within different ad groups (and the same is probably valid for the campaign and account level).Curious about your reactions

Oct 23, 2012

What benefit do you see beyond budget control?  It seems like a lot of effort to duplicate all bidding, adcopy, landing page efforts for this.  If broad match bids were lower than their respective exact match bids, wouldn't the issue of broad match serving exact match queries solve itself?  I think the performance table above is expected and can be reported on withouth duplicate campaigns needed by just reporting at the match type level. If budget is not an issue, do you see additional benefit by having to create another campaign that you can't get by pulling the search query reports in one campaign with multiple match types and with exact match bids higher than broad?

Nov 13, 2012

Perfect post. Question though, why not have 3 campaigns for each match type?So a campaign for broad with phrase match negatives.Then a campaign for phrase with exact match negatives.And finally, a campaign of exact match keywords.That way, you are minimising your costs even further by paying for phrase instead of broad when an exact match isn't available.

Feb 11, 2013

I certinaly see the benefits of creating mirrored campaigns. I finally decided to test it out to see if I can end up with a lower CPC. Now, most of the exact's I have added based on collective data, are location-based keywords. The cost for these (only been running for a bit) but they are gradually increasing in CPC. I understand there are many variables that go into this, but now my concern is I am going to end up with a wide range of exact-match keywords that are being triggered all at different costs (and quite high at that, so far), which is going to result in an increase in my overall budget. My question here is, why should I keep this campaign running when I have 1 keyword (phrase match) at healthy CTR and okay CPC. Does anyone recommend I keep this campagin running for 3 weeks more before pausing it? Or do you just recommend I keep the exact matches for the future (not sure if they may potentially improve over time at this point). 

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