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Spend Intelligently with the Shared Budget Feature

Published: February 20, 2013

Author: Molly Shotwell

Today’s post is by Cinthia Luna, Chief of SEM at White Shark Media.
illustration of shared budget
Google should be synonymous with innovation; 2012 was filled with new features that help make an Account Manager’s work a lot easier. Some of these include auction insights, Display ad builder, dynamic search ads, zip code targeting, etc. Right at the tail end of 2012, the Google Team introduced a helpful new feature called Shared Budget.
At White Shark Media, we were quite excited with the introduction of this new feature, which allows you to allocate a fixed daily budget for a series of campaigns that you choose to be part of the available spend.

Main Benefits for Using Shared Budgets in AdWords

The pros for having a shared budget are many and can benefit both larger accounts with multiple campaigns, or even smaller accounts with a single campaign by allowing it to break out and become more granular. Here are some detailed examples of the pros of this feature. 
Shared Budget Redistributes Budget Amongst Pre-Existing Campaigns
As any seasoned Account Manager knows, when you have designated budgets for different campaigns, the budget is limiting for some and excessive for others. The Shared Budget feature solves this dilemma by distributing the fixed total daily budget amount amongst all campaigns equally.
Here’s an example from one of our Clients, an online reseller of school supplies, to best illustrate my point:
I recently experimented with Shared Budgets for a client of mine. He has several campaigns, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll focus on just 3:

  • Whiteboards with a daily budget of $20
  • Backpacks with a daily budget of $15
  • Desks with a daily budget of $55

The Whiteboards and Backpacks campaigns both used up their budget and were limited by budget on a daily basis. The Desks campaign however, with the largest budget of $55, only used around an average of $10 per day and experienced high fluctuations in click volume.
With a Shared Budget of $90, which is the total of the entire campaign’s daily budget, we distributed the $90 amongst all campaigns and eliminated the limited by budget status for Whiteboards and Backpacks.
Most importantly, the new use of Shared Budget made the best use of the budget established and allowed the ads to be shown whenever possible.
adwords shared budget
Shared Budget Allows for Campaign Breakout
Another perk of Shared Budget is that advertisers can break out their current campaigns into further separate campaigns and have the same shared budget available amongst all campaigns; this gives us the ability to closely monitor performance for each campaign individually.
For example, let’s say I had a campaign for an online electronics shop that advertised four of their top-selling products, which included iPads, laptops, cell phone chargers, and video cameras with a daily budget of $100 dedicated to this campaign.
By enabling the Shared Budget feature, we easily separated each of these products into their own campaign and these shared the $100 daily budget amongst all 4 of them. This gave us better insight into individual product campaign performance and allowed for better reporting.
Shared Budget for Campaigns Broken Out by Devices
Another advantage to using this feature is that advertisers who still have mobile devices included in their current campaigns will be able to break campaigns out by device.
It’s important to have these separate since mobile clicks tend to vary on a day-to-day basis, and splitting will allow you to see the performance of your mobile campaign and what kind of individual budget it could have assigned in the future.
Other Benefits of Shared Budgets for Campaign Breakout
By being able to break your campaigns out into smaller, more granular efforts, you end up utilizing a shared budget that will also allow you to employ specific Ad Sitelinks relating to the campaign.
Lastly, a benefit of Shared Budget – and of being able to divide campaigns – is that you can start seeing results based on the ad groups that belong together under Dimensions.
The Dimensions tab only shows up as an option on a single campaign or on single ad group level. Now, when you put products within their own campaign due to Shared Budget, you can then probe further into the Dimensions’ stats.

Now for the Cons

As you know, everything has its cons… and the Shared Budget feature is no exception. Here are some of the Shared Budget cons:
Shared Budget May Be Unfair
Revisiting the first example of our school supplies Client, the Whiteboards and Backpacks campaign had the problem of constantly hitting a limited budget. One of the risks in enabling Shared Budget for these campaigns is that they may consume the entire $90 and leave nothing remaining for Desks.
The reasons for this may be many, including the type of match type (broad especially), which is used in the Whiteboards and Backpacks campaign, or the type of keywords that could eat up the entire budget as well.
Another concern is that the budget for primary keywords and branded keywords might also be used by less important keywords too. A good hedge to this, of course, is bid adjustments to certain ad groups and keywords.
Standardized Shared Delivery Feature
Lastly, something unfortunate about Shared Budget is that it also includes a shared delivery feature. All campaigns under the same Shared Budget could either all be under standard delivery, or accelerated. It currently isn’t possible to have separate delivery methods for each individual campaign.

So Should You Share?

It’s important to point out that before you consider enabling Shared Budget, you should weigh the pros and cons in relation to your campaign. If you are looking to expand your current campaign, or you currently do indeed have a certain budget you would like to assign to a series of campaigns, this feature is definitely for you.
However, always take into account current performance, spend, and keyword cost in campaigns you would like to enable Shared Budget for, in order to best track performance.
cinthia luna white shark media– Cynthia Luna is Chief of SEM at White Shark Media; a Paid Search agency for small to mid-sized businesses. Follow @whitesharkmedia for more AdWords insights and updates.

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