Keyword Match Types – Segment or Consolidate?

To consolidate or to segment, that is the question.  In today’s digital world we continue to evolve into more automation and smart bidding.  To make the most of these strategies, is it best to segment keyword match types by ad group or campaign to improve performance, or to combine them?  There is an array of search best practices and a handful of campaign structures that lean towards segmentation.  

We decided to run a test on this exact question.  We consolidated all match types that had the same search intent into one ad group under the same campaign and compared it to a campaign with each match type segmented into their own ad group.

Reasoning

Before automation, segmenting match types was a way to have more control over keyword bidding.  Google continues to roll out more automation when it comes to its bidding strategies.  Manual CPC and eCPC are no longer best practices, and Google continues to urge you to switch over to a more automated structure.  These bidding strategies use hundreds of signals to make real-time auction bids that are designed to hit your goals, which allows you to focus more on strategy. 

Test & Results

We ran this test on a few different clients and verticals.  One was a lead gen B2B SaaS client, the other was a lead gen B2B & B2C client and lastly, we tested on an ecomm B2C client.  

The results for the B2B SaaS client show that before the consolidation we were not maximizing our visibility and reach with the data we were feeding back to the system.  By combining the ad groups we were able to generate additional impressions and clicks, which provided more signals to the platform to optimize towards a higher quality converting user.  Not only did we see an increase in impressions and clicks, but we were also able to reduce their Avg. CPCs by 213% as well as increase their conversions by 60% and decrease their CPA by 157%.

The results for the B2B & B2C lead gen client are very similar to the above.  Overall, we saw the test campaign outperform the control campaign in Clicks, Conversions, Conv. Rate and CPA.    

Lastly, we ran this on an ecomm client to see if consolidation acted in the same manner across different verticals.  After the testing period (2 months) we saw our Conversions and Conversion Rate go up, but our Impressions, Clicks, and Avg. CPC had a negative result.  Analyzing the results against the client goal, which is conversions, our test won out against the control by increasing our conversion volume by 13%. 

These test results confirmed our reasoning that consolidation would outperform segmentation by allowing the ad groups to generate more traffic and create additional signals to feedback to the automation strategy.  

Conclusion

What campaign structure will result in better performance: consolidation or segmentation?  In the case of the tests we ran, consolidation fared to be the outperformer.  I would urge anyone that is thinking this same question to test out both structures to see how the results play out.  The performance will differ for each account and each vertical because there are still too many factors that come into play, such as smart bidding.  Good luck testing!       

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