2.1K members online now
2.1K members online now
Improve your AdWords performance and boost your ROI, CTR, and Quality Score
Guide Me

Negative keywords to control which campaigns/ad groups

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭



I have 2 different campaigns.


1. I have my main search term in phrase match. I will use "travel" as an example.


2. In my second campaign I have a lot of destinations, which I combine with keyword "travel".


Keywords such as:

+travel +argentina

+travel +australia



I have a lower bid for my second campaign, as I get a much better quality score here.


Now, I notice that sometimes my first campaign is triggered for search quries such "I wan to travel to argentina", "how to travel to australia"..


I am not really interested in this, as I want my 2. campaign to be trigged, as it is more relevant, better landingpage, higher QS etc.


Therefore I add negative keywords to my 1. campaign. Negative keyword such as: "australia" and "argentina".


Now my ads aren't showed at all. When I use the preview tool, I get the answer that my negative keywords are blocking the ads.



Does any know how to control, which adgroups/campaigns are triggered under such circumstances?


I appreciate any inputs, but my travel keywords are used to create an illustration of my problem.


Best regards,




Re: Negative keywords to control which campaigns/ad groups

Top Contributor Alumni
# 2
Top Contributor Alumni
Hi Magnus,
Are you sure you just added the Negative Keywords to Campaign 1? The first thing I'd check is Campaign 2's Negative Keywords.
Also, click into Campaign 2 and click on the Keywords tab. Then, hover your mouse over the bubble icon in a column next to your Keywords. This will tell you if you have those Negative Keywords in Campaign 2. If you do, you can remove them and only have them applied to Campaign 1.

Re: Negative keywords to control which campaigns/ad groups

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Thanks for the input. That could certainly have caused the problem, but I have only negative keywords like those described (argentina, australia) for the first campaign.

They do share some common negative keywords lists, but those doesn't include these keywords.

Re: Negative keywords to control which campaigns/ad groups

Top Contributor Alumni
# 4
Top Contributor Alumni

Hi Magnus,

Are your Ads in Campaign 2 still not showing?  

If you have Negative Keywords at the Campaign level in either Ad Groups or at the Campaign level in just Campaign 1, they will not prohibit your Ads from displaying in Campaign 2.  Negative Keywords will only restrict Ads from showing in the Ad Group or Campaign where they're located.  


My first recommendation was to double-check your Negative Keyword lists in all Ad Groups and at the Campaign level for Campaign 2. Next, I'd suggest double-checking your Negative Keyword Lists and ensure that none of the Keywords there are blocking the Ads.


When logging into AdWords and clicking into Campaign 2 - click on the Keywords tab and then hover over the bubble icon in the Status Columns.  If it's saying that your Ads aren't showing because of Negative Keywords, either there are some Negative Keywords that are being overlooked, or there is an error with the AdWords system.


Edit Negative Keywords

Re: Negative keywords to control which campaigns/ad groups

Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Magnus,

If the above solution is not the issue there is one obscure reason that this could be happening. If your location settings are set to 'users searching in my location' and not 'users searching in or about my location'.

If your location settings are the former then what is happening is that your 'location' specifiers on your keywords are being triggered by Google as location restrictors. Thus any keyword will only show to users in the area that the keyword specifies.

So if you are only targeting say UK users, and use location specifiers on your keywords like Argentina then this keyword will not show to any users, as Google is restricting that keyword to users in Argentina and your location settings are restricted to user in the UK.

You will need to change your advanced location settings back to searching with intent to get around this problem. Once intent is back in as an option those location specific keywords will no longer be restricted to the location they mention.

Make sense?

Hope this helps

Re: Negative keywords to control which campaigns/ad groups

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 6
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Clynton

Thanks for your answer/theory.

We are talking about "Location options (advanced)" right?

I have the choosen the option "People in, searching for or viewing pages about my targeted location (recommended) "

And I don't have any "excluded locations".

It really puzzles me.

Re: Negative keywords to control which campaigns/ad groups

Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
# 7
Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Magnus,

Yep I was talking about advanced location settings, but as I said that is only of the above answers was not the case as they are the most likely scenarios. My case could happen in that your ads are not eligible in campaign 2 and negatives are blocking them in campaign 1 thus AdWords would give you the same error.

What are the keyword status bubble in campaign 2 saying? As vorke did point out, this is possibly the quickest way to get to the root of the issue if it is something simple that has been over looked. Let me know what the status bubble says and we can delve further into the issue.

Re: Negative keywords to control which campaigns/ad groups

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 8
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Well, it does depend on keywords and yes maybe, that's the reason:

Users don't search for this term very often on Google properties, so it's not eligible to trigger your ads. If this is a term that you expect to increase in popularity soon (like a new brand name), then you don't need to do anything; the keyword will start triggering ads automatically. Otherwise, we recommend trying Keyword Planner to find different keyword ideas to increase the traffic to your campaign. Learn more about building an effective keyword list.

So perhaps I need to remove all the negative keywords for locations, that have a "Low search volume" in the other campaign. This would be the more rare/obscure geographic locations.
Marked as Best Answer.
Accepted by topic author Magnus S
September 2015

Re: Negative keywords to control which campaigns/ad groups

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 9
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Magnus,

I’ve run into this problem myself a few times.

Essentially what I noticed is happening, is that when negative keywords are location type keywords (names of cities, countries, provinces etc), Adwords treats them as a territory exclusion.

If you want Adwords to stop treating these negative keywords as location signals, you need to go to campaigns ’Location options’, and in section ‘Exclude’ select ‘People in my excluded location’ instead of ‘Exclude people in, searching for, or viewing pages about my excluded locations’ , so that Adwords doesn’t make assumptions about the intent of your negative keywords.

Other ideas:

a) Add the same keywords you have in phrase with the place version in your place targeted ad groups. Eg, if you have general “travel deals”, you should also have “travel deals Australia”, “Australia travel deals”, etc in your ‘Australia’ groups.

b) pay attention to the bids. If you are bidding much higher on the generic bids, they will show up more often, all other things being equal

c) Sometimes Adwords seems to be better at separating keywords around within the same campaign, than between campaigns. I therefore tend to keep them in the same campaign, but split by adgroups. Eg of groups would be:

Travel Deals
Travel Deals Australia
Travel Deals Argentina
Naturally this is more applicable for smaller campaigns.

d) if the keywords for specific area are ‘low search volume’ you have no choice but to go with the generic version for those, and making sure they are not excluded in negative keywords of the respective campaign.

Hope this helps.