PPC Campaigns: When to Rebuild and When to Start Over

To start from scratch or not to start from scratch: that is the question.

If you’re at an agency, usually when you get a new client, they already have some sort of paid campaign running. This presents the question: should you change the campaigns’ structure or start over? This question is a hot topic in our industry, and can definitely open the door to many discussions, but we’ll take a look at this one question for now.


The first factor to consider is this: why would clients leave their current PPC agency and come to you? Is it because they are unhappy with results? A problem of transparency? The fees were too high?

There could be any number of reasons, but if your answer is “results,” then you are bound to have to restructure their current campaigns. Yes, you may think that you could just do a better job at managing the current campaigns but the fact is that most of the time those campaigns have flaws. Those same flaws are dampening your ability to successfully deliver greater results and you will probably end up losing the client.

For now, though, let’s assume you don’t want to fully restructure those campaigns and you are going to work off of them.

You review keywords, match type, ad texts, extensions, settings, and certainly add keywords. No problem.

Now if the ads are written incorrectly (read: bad), you will need to create new ads and pause the existing ones. However, when you start fresh with those ads, you won’t have any historical data to support your decision until you gather enough information to decide whether it works or not. Let’s assume that some of the match types used are not working in this account and you want to add identical keywords with different match types and pause the current ones. You will not have historical data for the new keywords, either.

So in this route, your ability to keep historical data as you implement new ideas is pretty limited to none. But at the end what is your goal? Providing results at a minimum cost, right? To do that you’ll need more precise targeting and a lowered CPC. For the former, you are working hard at converting those keywords but for the latter, you will need to improve quality scores first.

Most of the time, when you take over an account your first thoughts are about whether or not you can improve upon the existing campaign, but unfortunately, doing so will eventually result in a loss of information.

So why not start from scratch? New ads, new match type, extensions, settings and so on. If you end up with better quality scores and higher conversions, won’t that meet the end goal after all?

Starting from scratch has its benefits.

First off, you are keeping the old campaigns as is and keep all historical data intact. If needed, you can always turn them back on until your new campaigns perform better. Also, a new structure (think keywords grouped more tightly, additional ad groups, new ad texts) will end up with higher quality scores.

We all have our own style, strategies and tactics, so working off of someone else’s structure can throw you off and weaken all your hard work. If you’re going to run this campaign—own it, too.

Pausing a campaign and creating new ones will not cause you to lose any historical data or lower your chance of increasing your quality score. In fact, completely restructuring an account gives you a chance to improve performance, apply best practices, test your ideas against previous results, and most importantly: keep those old campaigns intact to compare the data.

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Richard Antille