Audit Your PPC Account in 20 Minutes Using AdWords Segments

By Cassie Oumedian | @cass_oumedian | Associate Director of Services at Hanapin Marketing

PPC accounts can be complex and typically contain various layers of networks, targeting, devices, locations, settings and much more. As your account grows, the opportunity for wasted spend and/or unseen opportunities for growth increases. Performing regular PPC account audits can help you stay on top of these findings and in the end, save you money. However, a full-blown audit can be time consuming depending on the size and complexity of the account.


In the majority of accounts for which I perform audits, I would say about 80% of the time there are opportunities for increased efficiency or growth just by looking at campaign level segments. Below are 4 tips for performing a 20-minute audit of your account using AdWords Segments.


Segment > Network (with Search Partners)


When you create an AdWords Search Network campaign you have the option to advertise on just Google Search or Google Search and Search Partners. The default setting is to be opted in to Search Partners. Many campaigns are opted in and just forgotten about since top level reporting is rolled up to “Search” campaigns. However, by segmenting performance by Network (with Search Partners) you can drill down to see if the partners are actually helping or hurting your program.


In the example below, Search Partners may have lower conversion volume but CPA is 46% lower and conversions rate 32% higher.


SiteLockNetwork Segment


This data is great! This account may want to now focus on optimizing and increasing reach on Search Partner Networks. Unfortunately, AdWords does not give us the ability to segment Search Partners into their own campaigns (just Google Search). However, if you run the same analysis in Bing and find drastic performance swings, Bing DOES allow you to split Search and Search Network campaigns, which could be beneficial for budget control and optimizations.


Segment > Time


Next, we take a quick look and segment performance by time.




This segmentation allows you to see if there are days or times that are spending money and not converting, which is especially important if your campaigns are being capped by budget.


By understanding what days of the week or hours of the day your ads are performing better or worse, you can make ad scheduling bid modifier optimizations to maximize exposure during peak conversion times.


Tip** Be sure to use at least 30+ days worth of data when auditing performance for time segments and take into consideration any seasonality or holidays.


Segment > Top vs. Other


What is the Top vs. Other segment? Google explains below how to interpret the data.


  • Google search: Top — Your ad ran above the organic Google search results.
  • Google search: Other — Any AdWords text ads that don’t appear directly above Google search results are categorized as “Google search: Other.”
  • Search partners: Top — Your ad ran above the partner’s organic search results on a search partners’ page.
  • Search partners: Other — Ads that don’t appear directly above partner search results are categorized as “Other.”




How can you use this data to improve account performance? By running the Top vs. Other segment audit, you now have actual data to see where your ads perform better. As you can see in the image below, the ads showing in “Google Search: Top” positions’ performance is dramatically better. The results could partly be due to ad extensions but you now can see if it’s worth it to push for better average rank for specific campaigns.


Segment > Devices


Last, but certainly not least, is segmenting by devices. Now that enhanced campaigns are apart of our everyday PPC lives, it’s important to understand how these devices perform separately and come up with a strategy to improve.




As you can see in the image above, mobile is terrible for this account. So what do you do?


You could opt-out all together by setting bid modifiers to -100%. This move is drastic but it may be what is best for your business at the time. Or, a more strategic approach could be to create a mobile strategy by seeing if a mobile optimized landing page is available. Then create mobile specific ads and adjust mobile bid modifiers to lower bids.


What if you find mobile performance is great? Maybe you aren’t even aware of what a huge impact mobile has on performance. Mobile performance could be amazing and you didn’t realize since it’s bundled up in one campaign. If you follow the same optimizations described above, but instead increase mobile bid modifiers to help increase reach and incremental conversions, you may see even better mobile performance.




We get it. You’re busy, but as you can see in just 20 minutes of slicing and dicing by segments, you could save your account money or identify key areas for incremental conversion opportunities. As a PPC account manager it’s important to regularly audit your accounts at least on a quarterly basis to make sure there are no leaks or missed opportunities. Use this post as a reminder to run a quick 20-minute audit of your account to search for unseen opportunities as we head into Q4.