6 Things you should do to give your Paid Campaigns a fresh start for 2017

- Luke Metcalfe
Start your 2017 Paid Campaigns off right

New year. New you.

The start of a new year isn’t just a good time to give yourself a fresh start. It’s also the perfect time to reset your paid campaigns and do all the little optimizations that sometimes fall by the wayside during the year.

New year. New campaigns.

Just like with your personal New Year’s resolutions, the best way to whip your Google Shopping campaigns into shape is to look back at how they did in 2016 and adjust accordingly.

Here are the top 5 areas to review and what to do to unlock their potential for 2017.

Update your Ad Copy

As we head into a new year, one of the most important things to audit is your Ad Copy.

Start by checking your account for disapproved ads. Just log in to AdWords and filter on ad level for status “disapproved“. Depending on how many have been disapproved, you can either fix them directly in AdWords of download them into an Excel file and reupload and load the adjusted Ad Copy via the AdWords Editor (AWE). Speaking of which, you can also filter for disapproved ads in the AdWords Editor. Again, you can work directly in the AWE or export the ads into Excel.

Once you’ve cleaned up all the disapproved ads, have a look at how many active ads per ad group you have in your account. In general, the number of ads per ad group should be the same across all your campaigns (depending on your account strategy).

Related: Google launches expanded Text Ads with Mobile in mind

If you usually run two different ads at the same time, pull up all the ad groups with more or less ads to see if there are any ads that are missing or if you have too many for one ad group.

For ad groups with only one ad, you can create a second one. But before you start adding new ads, make sure you check to see if the other ad has been paused for some reason. If it has, and you want to use it again, you can simply unpause it. Or, if the ad’s relevance has expired you can write a new ad to replace it.

For ad groups with more than two active ad copies, check to see if there are any duplicates which may have been loaded accidentally or Ad Copy which is outdated (old promotion, old Ad Copy test variation, etc).

Tip: Make your life easier by adding a fake parameter at the end of you final URL. This way you can easily filter for this parameter to activate or deactivate ads or to check which kind of Ad Copy is live at the moment. For example, you could add “&ad=free-delivery“ to the URLS of the ads which promote free delivery. This fake parameter also makes it easier for you to set automated rules in the AdWords to activate promotions on a schedule.

Put the right Ad Extensions in place

In a well-built account, Ad Extensions are a must have. They help you drive more clicks by showing your ads in a more prominent way. Therefore, it’s essential that you have the right Ad Extensions in place across all your campaigns.

First, check whether all your campaigns have all the Ad Extensions you want them to have. It sounds like a super manual process – and it is – but it’s absolutely worth the effort. To make the task slightly more manageable, sort your ads by the amount of traffic they receive and work backward.

There are a number of different Extensions you can use including…

  • App downloads
  • Call buttons
  • Address
  • Reviews
  • Sitelinks (links to popular pages or categories on your site)
  • Callouts (for free delivery, price match, sales etc)
  • Customer ratings
  • Previous visits (the last time the customer visited your website)

As you go through your extensions, think about revising your strategy. Sitelinks, for example, are great for promoting seasonal products. You can even go a step further and employ a more granular Sitelink structure at the ad group level.


Tip: Always keep standard Sitelinks at the campaign level in case you add a new ad group and forget to add Sitelinks at that level, the standard Sitelinks at campaign level will work as a fallback.

Related: Useful insights into Ad Extensions – Part 2: Sitelinks

Review your Remarketing Lists

Your Remarketing Lists (RLSA) are such an important part of your paid ad campaigns that you really should be reviewing them on a regular basis. However, the New Year is as good a time as any to sit down and actually do it.

Before you start analyzing last year’s RSLA performance, have a look at coverage. You want to make sure all your ad groups contain the RLSA lists you want to include in your paid search strategy.

Related: Google Customer Match – 4 strategies for success

This is a great time to rethink your strategy. Are you satisfied with your current RSLA setup and performance? It might be worth taking the time to increase your lists and go for a more granular approach.

Here are a few good rules to follow when setting up your RSLA lists:

  • Distinguish between different time frames (last 30 days, 31 to 90 days, 91 to 180 days, etc)
  • Exclude RLSA lists from each other to prevent cannibalization (a common mistake when setting up different time frames)
  • Think about using Google Analytics RLSA lists (makes handling lists much easier)
  • Include metrics like bounce rate to exclude users who leave your website immediately
  • Include demographic details to improve audience targeting
  • Create pure RLSA campaigns/ad groups for challenging keyword areas

Check your Negative Keywords

Negative Management is very important when it comes to traffic control. No one wants to spend money on audiences that are irrelevant! Which makes 2017 the perfect time to check in on your current negative keyword setup.

If you are using negative lists in the shared library, check if the lists you created are in effect across all the relevant campaigns. At some point, it might be helpful to separate big lists by topic into their own list according to your campaign structure.

Now is the time to dive deep and audit your campaign and ad group level negatives. You may be able to merge them into a single negative list on campaign level or in the shared library.

It’s also time to check in with your search query report. Take a wider angle look than you usually do (over a longer time range) to see if you can find any irrelevant queries that your ads are displaying for.

Add more Bid Modifiers

Google offers a bunch of different Bid Modifiers, all of which give you an additional layer of control over your Ad Campaigns. The start of a New Year is an especially important time to review which modifiers you have in place. Essentially, you’re checking to see if they are still accurate or if there are any new opportunities.

Despite its steadily increasing popularity, mobile is still quite challenging for most advertisers. Every year it seems someone predicts that this will be the “year of mobile”, but in 207 it looks like this prediction may finally come true.

Google now offers the ability to set modifiers for desktop, mobile and tablet individually, so it’s time to start treating each of these mediums independently. Review your Ad performance from last year and try to work out a new overall Paid Search strategy.

Related: How to make Device Modifiers work for you

Another Bid Modifier to make sure you’re using is the Geo Bid Modifier – especially if you’re business is restricted to a specific area. Take a look at your geo-location reports to see if you’re missing any opportunities.

Get scheduling

Last but not least, you should review your current Ad Scheduling. Hour-of-Day and Day-of-the-Week scheduling are really important when it comes to spending your budget efficiently. You want to make sure your budgets aren’t being spent too soon. Allowing your ads to run a little later in the day/week can often be very beneficial since there is usually less competition.

Related: Maximize revenue by scheduling bids according to Pay Day

Search behavior tends to fluctuate on a longer time scale as well, so take a look at the whole of 2016 and see if there are any trends you can take advantage of.

Let your hard work pay off

Once you’ve completed your 2017 ad update it’s time to relax! Okay, so you can’t checkout entirely. You still need to check in with your campaign performance and make any relevant updates.

But, setting up your campaigns right for 2017 will mean you’ll have a lot less work to do for the rest of the year. So take this time while you’re super energized to have a full audit of your paid search campaigns and get them in tip-top shape for the coming year!

Have more tips? We’d love to hear them!


Luke is a Content Marketer at Crealytics

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