A little used Adwords feature can be an invaluable aid to analysing performance.

When taking over new accounts, one of the features I see used least are the Labels. On the one hand, this is understandable since they don't actually 'do' anything, but this is likely the very reason that such a handy feature is often overlooked.

The other reason for under use of labels is that they are still not supported in the editor. Despite both of these valid objections, I find the feature tremendously useful.

What are Labels?

When I'm talking about Labels i'm talking about regular labels within Adwords, not the custom labels added to Google Merchant Center datafeeds.

Google quietly introduced labels in 2012, and the feature was initially used by fairly few people, even in agencies.

In a nutshell, they allow you to stick a label of your own definition to various aspects of your Adwords account - principally campaigns, ad groups, keywords and ads (for those managing multiple accounts, you can label accounts themselves within a client center too).

As already mentioned, labels won't actually make any difference to how your account performs or how ads are served to users, they are purely for your own benefit in managing the campaign.

While those using third party software to manage campaigns will already have similar functionality, those making partial or full use of the interface can benefit in many ways from the additional organisational layer they provide. 

Use as you wish

One of the great things about using labels is that it's hard to go wrong, you stand only to gain by applying labels.

You can also add multiple labels to each campaign/ad-group/ad-group or keyword, meaning there is no opportunity cost to consider when adding a new set of labels. That said, some uses are more likely to be beneficial than others.

Although many Adwords accounts are structured logically, and in a way that the reflects the business being advertised, many, for practical reasons, are not.

Adwords campaigns bring a set of targeting settings (location, language, time of day etc) which cannot be set at any other level, meaning it is sometimes necessary to divide what you see as one campaign into multiple campaigns because , for instance, you need to advertise in multiple languages.

In this scenario, you may still want to report by category and labels are good way to preserve this structure by giving each campaign the label of the category of product they advertise. 

It's also the case that most businesses can break down thier product or services in multiple different ways. For instance, while the top level campaigns may be organised by product category, it might be very useful to be able to distinguish between b2b and b2c services. Labels could be applied in this instance at the ad-group level.

Some people have made good use of labels to indicate changes made to the account - for instance, adding the date that a keyword or Ad was added to the account - when viewing performance over a large date-range, it can be somewhat handy to know whether a keyword has been active for the whole duration, or just a few weeks. 

But my favourite use for labels has been in labelling Ad messages. Typically I agree a set of benefits/USPs with the client when creating ad-copy , and these end up being trialed in many different ad-groups across the campaign.

Although there is always a place for comparing the performance of ad varitions within an ad-group , it's often more interesting to see what key messages are working overall.

By labelling common benefits/USPs used in ads, it's possible to get a meaningful picture of what the customer was actually engaged by. An alternative on the same theme would be labelling all ads which draw refernce to price information, and all the ones which do not. 

Matthew Oxley

Published 19 March, 2015 by Matthew Oxley

Matthew Oxley is Head Of Search at Gravytrain Ltd and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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Comments (1)

Curran Dye

Curran Dye, Marketing Manager @ Lexoo.co.uk at N1 6FD

Great article. Labels are one of those 'hidden gem' features that you can't stop using once you find them.

about 3 years ago

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