Separating Your Matches Types into Different Campaigns is a Bad Idea

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We have inherited a couple PPC accounts recently that had some odd campaign structures. Within Google AdWords these accounts had the various match types (broad, phrase, exact) segregated into separate campaigns. Since I’ve now seen this a couple times, I think this campaign structure is worth commenting upon and discussing why it’s a bad idea.

First, let’s explore the different match types within Google AdWords:

Broad match: This is the default option for keywords within AdWords. This match type reaches the widest audience. By using broad match, your ad may appear whenever a user queries any word in your keyword phrase.

Broad match example: If you have the keyword ‘tennis shoes’ your ads could appear when a user’s query contains either or both words (‘tennis’ and/or ‘shoes’) and in any order. Google may match these phrases to other terms including singular/plural forms, synonyms or other queries it deems relevant to your keyword.

Phrase match: Phrase match is the middle child when it comes to match types. This is because phrase matches provides a higher level of control, but your ads can still show for additional search queries. Your ads may appear when a user’s search query contains your keyword in the exact order you have entered them.

Phrase match example: If your phrase match keyword is “tennis shoes” then your ad may show for other search queries such as “red tennis shoes,” “buy tennis shoes,” and “tennis shoes reviews.” However, your ads will not appear if the search query does not match the order of your keyword, so your ad would not appear for, “shoes for tennis,” “tennis woman shoe,” or “tennis sport shoe.”

Exact match: This is the most tightly targeted and specific match type. By using exact match your ads will appear only when a user’s query matches your keyword exactly.

Exact match example: If your keyword is [tennis shoes] then your ads will not appear for any other search other than “tennis shoes.”

There are other keyword match types within Google AdWords such as negative match and embedded match, but for the sake of this article, I’ll just focus on the three match types listed above.

The accounts that we inherited had each broad, exact, and phrase match keywords separated into their own campaigns. This account structure is a bad idea for a few reasons:

Complicated PPC reporting

Each of these match types will have different results, however they are still the same core keyword. If you want to get an idea as to how your “tennis shoes” keyword is performing, you would have to look within at least 3 different campaigns, and three different ad groups. This makes reporting complicated.

Wastes a lot time

This is the major reason not to separate match types into their own campaigns. Creating this structure will take a lot of time, and then anytime you do keyword research, run keyword-level reporting, you are will have to deal with three different campaigns. This will waste a ton of time when you are trying to manage your PPC account efficiently.

Ad text confusion

When you are split testing ads, you will have to keep track of which ad texts are working best with each match type. Anytime you launch a new ad text for testing, you’ll have to insert this ad into three different campaigns. How can you keep all of this straight?!

Optimization difficulties

Account/ad group optimization never ends. As time goes on, you’ll see that there are always opportunities to make your ad groups more focused and tightly grouped. If you have all of these match types broken into their own campaigns, this means you’ll have to do three times the amount of keyword moving/re-grouping. This will make optimization very difficult.

For keywords that generate a large quantity of traffic, it can be beneficial to separate your match types into different ad groups within the same campaign. You should do this for your most important keywords. However, creating entire campaigns has so many negatives that any positives will be heavily outweighed.

I would suggest having all three match types for the same keyword within the same group. This will provide easier management and reporting.

If your account is structured so that your broad, phrase, and exact match keywords each have their own campaigns, you should rethink this strategy and give some thought to restructuring your account.

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18 thoughts on “Separating Your Matches Types into Different Campaigns is a Bad Idea

  1. Ken Aston

    All your negatives sum up to “more complicated to handle”. I am missing some consideration of why the previous account manager decided to split it up in to campaigns.

  2. trebuchet

    I have to disagree, mainly because having different ads per match type often yields more accurate insight into ads. Perhaps the keyword is “red widgets” and broad match could potentially serve up “red widgets” and “old red widgets”, how would one benefit from having only one type of ad copy for both situations?

    Keyword reporting is generally done regardless of ad group or campaign, so how would this ‘complicate’ reporting?

    If your campaign is mature enough to warrant breaking your ad groups out it’s a necessary and proper step in the right direction to intelligent campaign optimization.

    As long as SEM’s consider this level of granularity too much work to be worthwhile, it will continue to be one of the more important guidelines as there will be less players taking advantage of the decisions to make their campaign relevant in a misinformed space.

  3. Kevin Adams

    Great post Joe! I went threw this in my head more times than I can count, but I came to a different conclusion.

    First, Embedded Match as a terminology is gone since there are now Negative Exact, Negative Phrase, and Negative Broad. This is significant for isolating search queries.

    The search query report has always been great but lacking too many queries. The new changes seem to be reversing that trend, but I have to look through more reports to see if all queries are being included.

    A great way to START is by using multiple match types for the same keyword. Over time I see some exact matches don’t get much traffic, but some do. The ones that do I delete, ad a campaign level negative exact match for, and isolate into their own adgroup in an exact-match-only campaign. If they are performing great, I can make them perform better. If they aren’t performing very good, I can improve them. If I can’t get anything out of them in the new adgroup, I eventually get rid of them never to worry about that exact keyword again.

    The phrase match is great at isolating segments of the possible search queries that my broad matches qualify for so that I can in-turn create more exact matches in my initial adgroups. Rinse-repeat.

  4. Kenny

    Totally agree with you here. Proper match typing is one of the things people in the PPC world understand the least, but it is one of the most beneficial and crucial items in a successful account. Understanding match type differences and using them strategically to essentially help you achieve appropriate coverage while simultaneously producing the best iterative keyword research tool you could ever have (real query data) is key. Separating match types of the same keyword is usually unnecessary if you’re doing the above. In fact, if you tightly theme your ad groups for maximum QS and ad relevance benefit, in most cases that will mean that the 3 match types (if all are used) should be in the same ad group. If it’s that high volume of a keyword that the phrase/broad match possibilities warrant actual different messaging, then maybe. After all, that is what an ad group (at least by Google’s design) is for.

  5. JoeJoe Post author

    Hey everyone. Thanks for the all of the great comments!

    @trebuchet: I think testing different ad copy for different match types can be beneficial. This is why I think that separating match types into different ad groups can help improve performance in certain case, but I think separating them out into different campaigns has no direct benefits. The complication of reporting comes from having to pull cobble together a clear picture of a certain keyword’s match types by pulling them from completely different campaigns.

    @Kevin Adams: Thanks! Yes, the term ’embedded match’ is the same idea as Negative Exact, Negative Phrase, and Negative Broad. Didn’t mean to confuse anyone. You are so right about the search query report, but at least now Google is providing deeper data for this report (we wrote on the expansion of this report previously). Yes, exact match is certainly the least trafficked of all the match types. It is the most tightly focused, therefore having the shortest scope. I guess it is a good idea to cleanse your campaigns of exact match keywords that aren’t generating any impressions. Good point!

    @Kenny: I agree with you. I think campaigns and ad groups are structured properly, then all 3 match types can reside in the same ad group. You can then adjust your bids at the keyword/match type level. Thank you!

  6. Amanda L

    I always split my match types into separate ad groups as the exact match groups get a much higher click through rate. It also makes it easier to ensure that your exact matches will always show over broad or phrase match. It’s also a long term strategy for eventually getting rid of broad matches that are costing money and not generating conversions. With AdWords Editor it’s so easy to manage anyway! I don’t find it a chore at all.

  7. Dan PPCPROZ

    Hey Joe,

    I’ve used the campaign match type methodology, and I agree with you 100%

    In theory it seemed very clever, but as you described, optimization was actually more difficult, not to mention the extra time downloading into Editor.

    That being said, I do have a best practice suggestion that spans the fence, which I will post to my blog soon.

  8. Matt

    I have to disagree too.
    I’ve been recently separating match types for a whole bunch of large accounts, which lets me pick different budget strategies depending on each campaign’s proprer match type.
    For instance, I can uncap budgets on my exact campaigns if i want to achieve a maximum Impression Share on these high profitable keyword, while limiting my exposure on Broad Match which gets a higher CPA… and so on.
    I would say as a conclusion that separating match types through several campaigns depends on your will (and the money too!) to cap/uncap campaign budgets.

    1. Ari Apelian

      @Matt and @ Pablo –

      Completely agree – (Yes I know I am bringing back on old thread here).

      Separating match types into different campaigns allows you to control budget per each match type.

      It is also quite easy to contol canniblization of exact into phrase/broad – especially when using adwords editor and excel and quickly uploading neg exact and neg phrase versions of your keywords into the broad campaign, and neg exact into your phrase.

      After you gather enough historical data, you can see at the campaign level that Product XYZ never converted in exact, for example, but did in phrase and thus act accordinly.

      Also, Google loves to spend your $$ on broad (yes, I know they serve the most restrictive match-type first). Having said that, you can do some interesting things with the data via campaign-level targeting:

      different dayparts per match type
      accelerated serving for Exact

      Lastly, as it has been stated here, match types and their respective CTRs vary greatly. In general, broad match CTRs will be much lower. Separating match types by campaigns (or ad groups), lets you identify which match types need ad tweaking/testing.

      Already, a CTR of an ad doesn’t tell you the full story by virtue of having multiple keywords pointing to the same ad. Your CTR could be skewed by, for example, a low-volume keyword with a high ctr in the same adgroup as high volume keywords with average CTRs. Now, imagine throwing in different match types into this. You dont see the whole picture when optimizing ads.

      Is it more complicated to run this way? Yes. But if you really want to know how your keyword Blue Widgets performs across all match types, just dump the data it into Excel and Pivot and you will see the data blended.

      Also, Google will decide which keyword to serve based on ad rank (QS * max cpc).
      I read that having the same keyword across three match types in the same ad group means that Google will first serve the most restrictive match type that matches the

      By contrast, having them sepereated by either ad group or campaign is when Google relies moreso on the ad rank formula than their “restrictive match type bot”. Thus, you can better control which match types are served by bidding greater for one match type vs another.

  9. Markus


    Maybe you can help me with that: Google write´s “Listing the same keyword more than once in a single campaign works against you (our system interprets this as increased competition for this keyword, resulting in a higher CPC for it).”

    How should I use matchtypes from that point of view. Separated in campaigns or use different mt in separate adgroups of the same campaign?


  10. Alan Mitchell

    Hi Joe,

    Nice post. I completely agree that splitting out match types into their own ad groups (or campaigns) is a bad idea. As long as the structure of the account is well though-out so that keywords in each ad group are very tightly themed – as Kenny pointed out – then having all three match types in the same ad group shouldn’t present a problem.

    Obviously some irrelevant searches might get broad-matched to your keywords, so you could argue that they might bring down the Quality Score of the whole ad group, but I think this is out-weighed by the benefits of a simpler account structure and an increased amount of ad group data made available for ad text analysis, insight and optimisation.

    What’s more, now that we can run detailed search query reports at an ad group level, it’s relatively easy to identify broad-matched searches that are being matched to the ‘wrong’ ad groups (see my ‘10% Clicks Rule’ post). The search query report also makes it relatively easy to add new keywords and negatives, so that only searches which are highly-relevant to that ad group’s keywords are triggering that ad group’s keywords.

    So as long as the account structure is granular and closely themed, I’m all in favour of keeping broad, phrase and exact match types together.

  11. Pablo

    It’s unclear why this strategy is called a “bad idea” but all of the reasons say “it’s too confusing,” but ignore the benefits. Someone else already highlighted the simplicity of capping/uncapping the expensive broad match campaign. This feels more difficult if broad keywords are included with the exacts.

    A broad match keyword can compete with exact when Google gets fancy with broad matching. Workaround is adding exact match negatives of every broad match keyword in the broad campaign. This forces the broad campaign to ONLY be used for broad matches, just as it should. You can’t do this with the proposed technique above.

  12. pravakar

    Separating match type is not a bad idea, i can say using different match type we can save money and time. If we will need only sell or target leads then different type match is necessary in order to get more revenue

  13. Ranjan Jena

    Thanks for your details. Even I’ve a huge campaign list, which have been segregated based on each match types. Its good in a way to do it intially to understand, which match type is performing well compared to the other two for a specific campaign, and then focus on the remaining two for your long term goal. Also its a waste of time and money, if you are doing it on a long run.

  14. CAS

    So 3 years later this is the generally recommended strategy for large campaigns with overlapping KWs because it allows you to isolate negatives and trouble spots. I’ve had nothing but fabulous luck using a match type strategy/implementation. AND with the changes in Google’s algorithm over the last year it would be interesting to see a follow-up post as to (a) whether this is still a “bad idea” or not and (b) if it is still a”bad idea” why or (c) if it is no longer a “bad idea” why? (I’m just sayin ….)

  15. Jon

    Can we bump this? We split out match types in our agency but I’m not sure it’s worth it because accounts can become overwhelmingly large. And it would be interesting to know whether the keywords then compete against each other which is negative for the account overall? Anyone done any more recent research? A lot changes in 3 years! 🙂

  16. Poe Masoud

    I agree with Cas. I thought that this was generally one of the better strategies to test your PPC campaign success/keywords. I hadn’t initially noticed how old the post was.

    1. PPC Hero AllyPPC Hero

      Hey Poe,

      This post is definitely out of date. We’ll add updating this post into our hopper and hopefully someone will come up with a much more topical response.

      Thanks for reading!


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