Updated June 2019: Since this article was written there was an update to the Google Ads web interface. Part of the article was updated as a result.
Google is known for innovation and (usually) rapidly moving products forward. And each innovation and added feature usually gets a lot of attention in various outlets and blogs. I mean, I’m not pointing fingers here as we are certainly part of that. Glass houses… stones… something like that.
Google Ads (formerly AdWords) is part of that ecosystem with frequent updates and features. To be fair, many of the updates are (what I call) background updates. They are changes to the ad matching system or algorithm updates. Basically machinery updates regarding how it works and operates and are things that are out of the control of an end user or advertiser. But occasionally, there is an update that puts a few feature directly at our fingertips, that an adjust how we use the platform to push ads out to the web.
With Google’s rapid innovation, we tend to following the tech giant and keep our eyes looking forward as much as possible. That is kind of our mission statement around here at NextSearch: discovering what’s next. The unintended consequence of this is we can miss (forget?) a feature that’s been around forever. And with Google Ads, there is one feature that definitely qualifies.
One of the most overlooked features in Google Ads are labels. This is not a new feature to the platform. Quite the contrary, it’s been around for years. But with new features released, especially the new Ads platform update this year, old features can get overlooked. Labels are a powerful secret weapon that can open up many benefits, the least of which is the ability to save time.
What are labels in Google Ads?
Labels make more sense if you think of them based on how they behave. They behave much like keyword tagging, in a similar fashion to how keyword tagging works in WordPress. It allows you to assign tags to various areas in Google Ads. Once you do that, you can use labels in a variety of ways. They have been a part of Google Ads since mid-2012, but they are frequently overlooked as an important function.
I want to be clear: on their own labels have no function or inherent value. By creating them, they do not perform an action. They are a way to categorize types of information in Google Ads. It’s how you use them after creating and assigning labels that they really flex.
What Things in Google Ads Can be Assigned a Label
You can assign a label to–essentially–any part of Google Ads: campaigns, AdGroups, Ads, and individual keywords. In fact, you can assign multiple labels to any of those items, which then let you do all sorts of cool stuff later. More on that below.
So as Foghorn Leghorn used to say, “What the big idea around here?” Yes, let’s get to that. What’s the big idea with these labels?
The Value of Using Labels
Labels are the unsung hero’s of Google Ads campaigns. Once you start using them, they will save you a lot of time and worry. You can run rules from labels, easily turning things on or off at set times, or you can filter views in order to find items very quickly. But you might be thinking, yeah, I can do that with rules anyway… Sure, you can. But with labels, you have have significantly more flexibility.
Let’s walk through an example with a real client of mine. One of my clients (we’ll call them Client X here) sells enterprise-level software to medical clients. We run a wide variety of paid search campaigns for them across the country. Each campaign has its own goals, KPIs, targeting, etc. Labels add crazy amounts of flexibility. Let me show you.
How to Ad a Label in Google Ads
Labels can be easily added to nearly any aspect and areas of Google Ads. Right now, the easiest way to add them is via Google AdWords Editor. Once they are created and assigned, you can use them inside Google AdWords Editor, or from the web interface.
On the left hand pane of the AdWords Editor, go to Shared Library. Here you will see all the items that can be shared across campaigns. The one at the bottom is Labels.
Near the top, click on Ad Label. When you do this, an empty field will appear in the middle pane. It will have a warning indicia next to it, which will remain until you have filled in all the required fields for this action. For labels, the only required field is the label name.
The AdWords Editor will auto assign a color to that label, which you can leave or change it to whatever color you like. Create as many labels as you like.
You can also create and assign labels in the Google Ads web interface. If you click on the check box next to a campaign, ad, AdGroup, or keyword, a blue bar will appear. One of the options is to create a label.
Why Use Labels?
Using Labels to Sort Data
Client X offers free demos of their software to people that are interested in the product. We put that language in some of the ads, but not all of the ads in every campaign. We test a variety of ad messages to see what resonates with consumers, and “Free Demo” is one of many. So we put that ad variation in a few different AdGroups, to test it against the individual messaging already being used.
But, Client X likes to see the response rates of the free demo ads. Since these ads span across various AdGroups and campaigns, it can be tricky to pull just the free demo stats quickly for a report. But by adding a label, sorting this information becomes very easy.
By clicking on the Ads & Extensions sub-nav, I can add a filter so I can see only the ads labeled “Free Demo.” And by doing so, I can quickly see just the stats from those ads, across all AdGroups.
Run Automated Rules in Google Ads
One of the most frequent things I do with labels is run automated rules. Most people don’t realize rules in Google Ads can run based on the label. Our team will create ads for promotions that span a dozen or more AdGroups, and give them the appropriate label, such as “Mother’s Day Promo.” Then we create a rule that turns all those ads on and off at the appropriate time. Using labels as the trigger point allows run to flight the specific ads no matter where they reside across the campaign. Then, we can use the labels to sort out the data after the promo to report to our client the ROAS or any number of other stats.
While we commonly use them with ads, you could use rules for specific keywords, running conquesting ads on a competitors name when you know they will be at a specific trade show, for example. Using labels and rules, you could turn ads on for specific keywords, then turn them off later.
There are so many creative ways to use labels in Google Ads, but sadly, not many people utilize this overlooked tool. It can create efficiency, and power the inner workings of your campaigns.