Ecommerce Campaign Structure - The 3 Stages

Posted on November 6, 2011

Every account is unique because every account grows and develops in a unique way, tied to the business needs and goals of the site it is advertising. Having said that, I have noticed a few recurring patterns for the account structure in ecommerce campaigns; as ecommerce accounts grow larger they pass through the following three stages:

Stage 1: Just Starting Out / A Small Account

At this stage the account is fairly basic either because it is new or because it is too small to make the extra effort of moving to stage 2 worthwhile. Stage 1 accounts have some or all of the following features:

  1. A Brand campaign with one ad group.
  2. Campaigns for each of the top level product categories.
  3. A campaign called “generics” or “general” that acts as a catch all for everything else.

Stage 2: More Specificity / A Growing Account

In stage 2 whoever manages the account begins to use the account structure to help them show searchers the most relevant adverts as well as making changes to make their everyday tasks more efficient. Stage 2 accounts are moving towards the following model:

  1. More granularity in the Brand campaign to deal with navigational brand queries (e.g. “ electronics”
  2. Important head keywords are moved into their own campaigns. This enables optimisation of sitelinks as well as making it easy to access IS metrics for these keywords.
  3. Other campaigns start to crop up based on data driven themes arising from search query mining and looking at conversion rate. These can really drive performance by giving the searcher just what they need but they don’t quite fit in with the information architecture of the target site…
  4. Weaknesses in the site’s taxonomy start to make the account a little bit disorganised. Where to place an ad group advertising “apple products”? Does it go in the “Laptops”, “Mobiles” or “Tablets” campaign?

Stage 3: Through the Looking Glass

The move to stage three is a response to the growing complexity of a stage 2 account. A point is reached where, despite everyone’s best intentions, a stage 2 account grows into a bit of a mess. Eventually the account manager must bite the bullet and do a load of cleaning up to sort everything out.

  1. Three types of non brand campaign: Generics (tightly grouped by theme), Brands (for brands in stock, not the site brand) and Products (probably grouped by brand).
  2. The Brand campaign may be split into separate campaigns depending on the importance (and payment model) of brand keywords.
  3. Campaigns either contain very few ad groups (Generic keywords campaigns) or a large number (Products).
  4. It is easy to deduce which ad group any search query should match to (if any). This is in contrast to a late stage 2 account.

And Beyond?

I think I am probably only touching the surface here. It is pretty easy to think of features that might be part of Stage 4 or Stage 5 accounts. As my industry experience grows I will hopefully be able to add them to the classification.