Thinking Simply About Ad Campaign Design

In the PPC ad business, complexity is to be expected as the cost of doing business. 

With all the different ad platforms and their capabilities, managing campaigns can become a herculean task. Complexity creeps in, requiring vast amounts of attention and organizing to keep on track. People are added, reporting is increased, and communication ramps up to tame that complexity. Yet, the complexity increases. Often in an exponential rather than linear fashion. 

So what is one to do?

While complexity cannot always be removed, I would challenge one to think more simply about their campaign design. Weighing the benefits of their design against the cost of the complexity it would bring.

There are no magic bullets, but by adopting a frame of reference one can at least consider the options and potential outcomes.

So what does one adopt as a frame of reference? There are many domains one could look to, but for our purposes we’ll look to industrial designer Dieter Rams and his 10 principles of good design. He may not have had ad campaign design on his mind when coming up with these principles, but his principles are pretty universal in their application.

We’ll specifically focus on the following principles to guide our thinking more simply:

  • #2 – Useful
  • #4 – Understandable 
  • #7 – Long Lasting
  • #10 – Little Design as Possible

Think this is a stretch? Let’s dive a bit more into it.


Each campaign should have a clearly defined purpose toward a clearly articulated goal. Maybe that purpose is sales, or leads, or some sort of sign up, but it should have a defined purpose that serves the greater whole. If it doesn’t or other campaigns do something similar, the usefulness of all the campaigns is impacted.

It’s very easy to roll out campaign after campaign without considering the added complexity and cost of what is being done. The cost of incremental change often seems small upfront, but looms large over the long haul. Careful consideration should be adopted.


For a campaign to be understandable it must be structured in such a way that someone beyond the designer can grasp what is going on. Is the structure easily grasped? Do the ads make sense for who they are targeting? Is the bidding strategy straightforward? Ultimately, can the campaign be easily measured and reported on? 

If not, then there is an understandability problem.

Long Lasting

Repeated work leads to more complexity. Campaign design should be long lasting to avoid the complexity of repeated work.

One example of this is not separating your core evergreen campaigns from testing initiatives. Testing implies temporary, fluid, subject to change. The exact opposite of long lasting. Core campaigns driving the bulk of performance should be left to do the work they were intended for, with minor changes and updates informed by the short term testing initiatives.

Having long lasting as part of the design upfront helps drive down account complexity and the problems that follow.

Little Design as Possible

Put simply, create your campaigns with the minimum needed to achieve a goal. What exactly do we need to target? How many ads and what content do we specifically need? What bidding will serve our purpose directly? 

One can always add more at a later time if needed, but often we’ll find the minimal and straightforward approach serves our needs.


Sometimes complexity is unavoidable, a lot of times it is. Hopefully this article has given you pause and helped you think more simply about your ad campaign design.


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