Adjusting Campaign Settings Like A Pro: Google (Part 1)

Whenever I take on a new pay per click account, or examine an existing one for problems, the first thing I look at is the campaign settings. These settings can have a drastic effect on campaign performance, but many PPC users don’t know what each setting does, or how they should choose their options. I’m proud to introduce a new, multi-part blog series to help you decide what to do with those campaign settings for optimal PPC performance. We’ll cover the big three PPC providers: Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing, and MSN AdCenter. This week, we’ll start with the most popular ad network: Google.

Finding Your Campaign Settings

Like many PPC managers, I like to do most of my Google AdWords work in Google’s desktop tool, AdWords Editor. However, this program doesn’t provide all the options for adjusting campaign settings, so it’s best to adjust them in the web interface. Log in to your AdWords account, and go to the “Campaigns” tab.

To get a general overview of your campaign settings, you can go straight to the “Settings” tab (make sure your view is “All Online Campaigns”):

AdWords Settings Tab - Global

From here, you can get a quick overview each campaigns settings, including location targeting, language, networks, device targeting, bid type, budget, end date, ad scheduling, delivery method, and ad rotation. If you don’t see all these options right away, you can adjust your visible columns by clicking on the “Columns” link below the “Settings” tab:

AdWords Settings Column Selection

If you’re in a hurry, or if you have a big account, this is a great way to get a quick overview of your campaign settings. You can use this to diagnose any mistakes, such as any campaigns accidentally set to run on both the search and content network, or in the wrong location or language. But, if you want to take a look at each individual campaign’s settings in detail, you’ll need to select the campaign from the list on the left side of your screen, and then select the “Settings” tab in the main frame.

Now, let’s talk about how to adjust each option in the settings.

Campaign Name

This is pretty straightforward. Name it what you like, but my personal preferences are to label it with the general product or goal of the campaign (i.e. “Auto Sales” or “Branding Campaign”), along with a tag indicating the day the campaign was first activated (i.e. “Auto Sales 06-06-10″). This way, you’ll know exactly what the campaign is all about, and how long it has been running without having to look back on your account history or personal notes.

Locations and Languages

For most campaigns, you’ll just want to target your home country and the predominant language. But, Google has some highly effective geotargeting capabilities that you’ll want to take advantage of. There’s so much detail to talk about this that I won’t do it in this post, but definitely look into geotargeting if your business’ customer base is in a highly localized area (like if you advertise for a restaurant or school), or if you want to target specific geographic areas with customized landing pages.

The languages option is often overlooked (at least here in the States). Not every country speaks a single, uniform language, though. It may seem like a good idea to start a Canadian campaign set to English, but don’t forget that the province of Quebec predominantly speaks French. You might want to target English to all other provinces except Quebec, and create a special French campaign just for Quebec. Do your cultural homework, and you just might pick up a few conversions your competitors will miss. But, be wary if you’re going to target a non-English speaking country – you might spend all your time translating keywords and text ads, but forget that your campaign setting is still set to English! A simple mistake like this could cost you a lot of traffic.

Networks and Devices

In my opinion, the Networks option is the most important one to check. Google’s default settings for every new campaign is to put it on both the search and content network, which is usually a bad thing. There are very different strategies for success on each network, so make sure each campaign is either search-only or content-only.

You can also opt in or out of the Search Partner network – these are sites that utilize Google search on their pages, and show AdWords ads whenever a user does a site search. Performance can vary between Google search and the Search Partners, but it’s usually not enough of a difference to shut off the search partners entirely. Your best bet is to leave Search Partners active, but be sure to monitor the performance of this network to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

On the “Devices” option, you can choose whether you want your ads to show on computers, mobile devices, or both. Recently, Google opened up further mobile targeting options, letting you select specific mobile devices and carriers. This will probably start to impact PPC in the near future, but most campaigns won’t need to target at this level of granularity. However, if you sell a product that is highly relevant to mobile phone users, you may want to test out a campaign targeted specifically to mobile devices, and omit all traffic from desktop and laptop computers. Just be sure that your landing page is optimized for mobile device screen sizes.

That’s it for this week. Stay tuned next week for Google: part 2, and the following weeks for Yahoo and MSN.

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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One Response to Adjusting Campaign Settings Like A Pro: Google (Part 1)

  1. Loved this two part series. Very well written with some great PPC advice.