Higher AdWords Returns with Mirrored Campaigns

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Last Updated: November 18, 2021 | Paid Search Marketing
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Google Mirrored Campaigns

Simultaneously decreasing your cost per conversion, but still getting inspiration for new keywords in order to expand your successful AdWords campaign? It’s possible! Using so-called “mirrored campaigns,” the current campaign is split into two campaigns. One of these two campaigns contains keywords that are set at the keyword option exact match and the other campaign contains keywords that are set at broad match. This post describes how you can easily create these mirrored campaigns in AdWords, as well as sharing some real results.

AdWords advertising allows you to buy search terms in four different ways. These four keyword matching options determine which Google searches can trigger your ads to appear. The first option is broad match, in which the ad appears on similar phrases and relevant variations (e.g. synonyms and plurals). A second option is phrase match which ensures that the ad is showed when the search query contains the exact phrase. This search query can contain other words before or after this phrase. A third option is exact match whereby the ad is displayed only if the search query exactly matches the purchased keyword combination. Finally, there is the negative keyword option which ensures that your ad is not displayed when the search query contains this keyword. With mirrored campaigns, you can reap the benefits of both broad and exact match by creating two identical campaigns that differ only in their use of keyword matching options.

In 2021, Google made changes to keyword matching behavior to suggest that using multiple match types for the same keyword would no longer be necessary, but many advertisers disagree. Learn more about the changes here.

When to Use Mirrored AdWords Campaigns?

The use of mirrored campaigns is particularly suitable for difficult B2B campaigns, in which CPC rates are usually high and coming up with relevant keyword combinations can sometimes be problematic. In addition, testing this method can be worthwhile for campaigns that are currently limited by the daily budget. Since different campaigns already proved that the CPA (cost per acquisition) can significantly decrease it can be stated that the use of mirror campaigns is a must-try optimization for every industry.

Creating mirrored campaigns is especially interesting if historical data is already available in the AdWords account. In this way, the exact search terms can benefit from the historical data. Moreover, the historical data makes it possible to measure the effect of the mirrored campaigns on your CPA.

Creating Mirrored Campaigns in AdWords in 5 Steps

Creating mirrored campaigns can be done in five simple steps in AdWords Editor (partly based on the method of digital marketing specialist Joe McCarthy, 2011).

Step 1: Copy the current campaign for which you want to create a mirrored campaign. Make sure that you copy each ad group, text ads, keywords and negative keywords. Correctly label both campaigns. For example, use the labels “Mirrored – Broad” and “Mirrored – Exact” in the campaign name.

Step 2: Change the keyword matching option in the original campaign to exact match and make sure that broad match is used for keywords in the new campaign (you might also add your keywords at phrase match in this campaign).

Step 3: To ensure that the exact keywords are only activated by the exact mirrored campaign, it is important to add the exact keywords as negative keywords in the mirrored broad campaign.

Step 4: Spread the initial daily budget between the two campaigns. It is advisable to increase the budget allocated to the exact mirror campaign. Furthermore, it is recommended to raise the CPC bid for keywords whereby the message “low search volume” appears to ensure ad impressions for that specific search query.

Step 5: Measure and optimize the campaigns. Check the actual search queries for the broad mirrored campaign to find out which keywords convert. Next, you can add the converting keywords as exact keywords in the exact mirrored campaign. Also, you should exclude underperforming keywords in the broad mirrored campaign. It is important to keep a close eye on the real search queries because long specific search queries that are triggered via the mirrored broad campaign can result in interesting leads. Finally, in order to calculate the returns of mirrored campaigns you should compare the AdWords cost and conversion data of the mirrored campaigns with the non-divided campaign in the preceding period.

Results of Mirrored Campaigns

Online marketing agency Expand Online has tested the use of mirrored campaigns in multiple accounts to measure the impact on CPA. The table below shows the results for two different e-commerce campaigns.

AdWords Mirrored Campaign Results

Both campaigns have shown a substantial decrease in CPA during the period in which the mirrored campaigns have been created compared with the original non-divided campaign in the preceding period. To be specific: a decrease in CPA of 48.9% and 37.5% has been achieved. Despite the possible seasonal effects and the impact of other optimizations, the results are promising in such a way that we can assume that mirrored campaigns contribute to a lower CPA.

The table above also shows several interesting differences between the results of the broad and exact mirrored campaign. For instance, the conversion rate is higher for the exact campaigns and the average CPA for exact campaigns is considerably lower.

In general, a clear trend towards a declining CPC rate is created when using mirrored campaigns.  Therefore, the cost per acquisition (CPA) can also decrease. The underlying reason can be found in the exact mirrored campaign that usually achieves a higher CTR, due to the fact that keyword combinations are literally used in text ads. Google rewards keywords with higher CTRs by improving the Quality Scores. Subsequently, the average cost per click may decrease while maintaining the same average position. Therefore, you should make sure that the exact campaign is never limited by your daily budget in order to maximize this effect.


The initial results of mirrored AdWords campaigns show that the average cost per click (CPC) can dramatically decrease. Hence, more visitors within the same budget can be achieved. In this way the costs per conversion will fall and make your AdWords campaign more profitable. In short: start experimenting with mirrored campaigns as soon as possible for maximum returns!

by Esther Elberse, SEA consultant at online marketing agency Expand Online.

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WordStream’s guest authors are experts, entrepreneurs, and passionate writers in the online marketing community who bring diverse perspectives to our blog on a wide range of topics.

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