Account-Wide Ad Countdown Customizers in 15 Min: A Step-By-Step Guide

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“Use ad customizers,” they said.

“It will be easy,” they said.

“Anyone can do it,” they said.

Yeah, except not all of us are freakazoid half-programmer, half-marketer geniuses.

programmer freaks

(To be clear, I use “freakazoid” with the utmost respect since I secretly regret not being one of those “freakazoids” who own our programmatic future as our upcoming overlords.)

However, for the rest of us muggles trying to muddle around in the trenches of PPC with the free tools we’ve been given, anything bulk can seem intimidating.

This was made especially clear to me in a recent PPC Chat in which we discussed Ad Customizers. The vast majority of the comments against and hesitations on utilizing them were about the complicated nature of setting up and managing customizers. I admit, I’m no Ad Customizer genius (you’ll have to go to Matt Umbro for that), but I do think I have a way of bulk-creating and managing Countdown Customizers that will make your life much easier.

Who Cares?

“Why even use Countdown Customizer ads?” you may inquire. As has been written elsewhere, Countdown customizers are a great addition to your account for things like sales, or any time limited event.

We recently had our annual “dent half the cars in Billings” hail storm and I heard a radio ad (confession, I listen to the radio in the car once every 6 months) for a local car dealership clearing out their dented merchandise. What a great chance to use Countdown Customizers!

ad customerizers for countdown sales

Countdown customizers help to increase urgency in customers, this is reflected by your conversions and conversion rates. It’s always interesting to see those jump up toward the end of a sale as the urgency increases! In fact, according to Matt Umbro, CTR, CVR, and Conversions themselves can see a significant increase from static ads: Gauging the Impact of the AdWords Countdown Customizer.

But I’m Lazy & Don’t Want to Build Out A Million Ads For Every Sale

If that’s the case, stop being lazy. Your clients hired you to work for them, not to put in as little work as possible for as high a fee as possible.  On the other hand, there comes a point when massive overhauls can be unrealistic for your given fee.

Thankfully, once you know the trick, it’s really not difficult to do this with the provided tools.

Once you master this process, it will take you approximately 15 minutes with no coding or scripts required to:

  • Create Ad Customizers for every ad group.
  • Create a static sale ad for every ad group.
  • Pause every live ad in your account automatically when the sale begins.
  • Enable the sale ads automatically at the start of the sale.
  • Pause the sale ads and enable the pre-sale ads automatically at the end of the sale.

The only tools you will need are:

  • The AdWords UI
  • Excel
  • AdWords Editor

This sounds like a lot, but I promise you it can happen.  Ready? Buckle your seatbelts.

Step-By-Step Countdown Ad Creation

Our sale setting for today will be my previously used Hail Sale example. Primarily because I like saying Hail Sale (if we were a traditional marketing industry in 1957 targeting a specific demographic, this could be even more entertaining as a Male Hail Sale Mail… but I digress). Your manager comes to your desk and tells you that they are clearancing out the lot, beginning next Tuesday, and he wants you to get all the ads to shout the news far and wide. They’re going to run the sale for 4 weeks.

The details:

  • Sale begins Wednesday, June 29.
  • $2000 off any car MSRP.
  • Sale ends Friday, July 29.

In the past, you would have groaned inwardly knowing that the rest of your day, and some of tomorrow, is now shot. You would hop into your calendar and begin placing calendar reminders to pause and enable ads, and then would begin manually building out your ads.

Now, you smile knowing that you can take your 15 minutes, set everything up, and then still get to lunch on time.

STEP 1: Identify Currently Running Ads to Be Paused

The first thing you will need to do is to figure out which campaigns/ad groups you want your sale ads to be in. Unfortunately, this is the part of the process that involves some level of thought (I kid, I kid).

In this case, your objective is easy and clear because your manager told you “I want every flipping ad anywhere to have this sale in it!” Sometimes, you will only run a sale on some ad groups/products and that’s ok. You would follow the same instructions.

What you want to do is filter in the AdWords UI for all of your live text ads (in the Campaigns/Ad Groups that you want to show sales ads for).

ad customizers step by step

The reason it is important that you only select Text Ads, is so you avoid accidentally labeling (and thus pausing) any display/image/app/whatever other ads you have running. Remember, this is ONLY for the purpose of Countdown Customizers.

Note: You can use Countdown Customizers in Dynamic Search Ads if you like, but they cannot be bulk-imported in a CSV, so you will have to edit those manually.

Total time spent thus far - 30 seconds

STEP 2: Label Pre-Sale Ads

Now that you have everything filtered, you are going to select all of these ads and label them. I usually pick something ultra-specific like “PRE-Sale Ads July 2016 Hail Sale.”

countdown ads with customizers

The key here is to designate clearly in your label that these specific ads were live previous to your sale, and are the ads you want live again immediately following the sale. I usually use something like Pre-Sale in these labels.

Total time spent thus far - 1 minute

STEP 3: Create Customizer Ad in AdWords

Now comes the fun part, and one that Google made much easier once they added their little help option into the UI.

how to create countdown customizers

Simply select the “countdown” option and then you will see this screen.

creating countdown ads

Now, just fill in the details of the sale and save the ad. Since we are going for a fairly local campaign, I’m just going to set the timezone to be the account timezone to simplify things. You can also see, that I set the time to end at 4:59 in the afternoon.

coundown sale ads google

If you want to test your customizer for character limits, use the buttons in the Ad Preview section.

countdown ad preview

countdown preview ad

preview coundown customizer ad

Thus, your countdown description “code” will look like this:

Hurry, sale ends in {=GLOBAL_COUNTDOWN("2016/07/29 16:59:59","en-US",5)}.

Total time spent thus far - 3 minutes

STEP 4: Label Sales Ads

Now, save this ad and then immediately create a new label for it. Let’s call this one the “July 2016 Hail Sale.”

adwords customizers

Total time spent thus far - 3 minutes, 30 seconds

STEP 5: Export Labeled Ads to CSV

Now hop on over to AdWords Editor, open it, and get recent changes.

Once you have these, Filter your Ads view by label: “PRE-Sale Ads July 2016 Hail Sale” like so.

manage customizer ads in editor

Then simply Export Current View, and voila! You now have a csv of all your Pre-Sale Ads thus far.

ad customizer export

Total time spent thus far - 4 minutes

STEP 6: Create Bulk Customizer Ads

This is the part you’ve been waiting for! Now, depending upon how crazy you want to get with testing, the next part is up to you. I tend to have smaller clients who run smaller sales, so I stick with the following in each ad group for sales:

  • 1 “All” Customizer Ad
  • 1 “Mobile” Customizer Ad
  • 1 “All” Regular Sales Ad
  • 1 “Mobile” Regular Sales Ad

If you want to get crazier and have multiple customizer ads running, then by all means do so. It will just take a little more Excel magic, but not at all difficult.

What you will do now is find your countdown ad, and then copy and paste the description into the first row of the Excel spreadsheet, as well as add your custom title and new Label.

Once you have done that, simply copy and paste the Label, Title, Description, and Display URL into the rest of the spreadsheet ads.

adwords customizers spreadsheet

Now, you need to remove duplicate rows, since you only want 1 “all” and 1 “mobile” ad running with customizers in each ad group.  This is quite easy with Excel’s remove duplicates option in the Data tab.

removing duplicates from google ads

Voila, you now have a countdown ad, mapped exactly to each live ad group with current running ads.

Total time spent thus far - 7 minutes, 30 seconds

STEP 7: Create Bulk Text Ads

But wait, you say. We need a non-customizer ad in each ad group! Now what do we do?

I’m glad you asked, because this will only take another 30 seconds of your time!

Simply grab these customizer ads, copy, and paste them at the bottom of the sheet. Then, edit the Customizer text to be your static text, like so:

bulk text customizer ads

Total time spent thus far - 8 minutes

STEP 8: Import New Ads into Editor

Now that your spreadsheet is done with all your fancy new sales ads, save the file as a .csv and import it into AdWords Editor.

google adwords customizer ads

Total time spent thus far - 9 minutes

STEP 9: Verify New Ads Are Ready and Push Changes

Now comes the part where you glance over everything and ensure that all is as it should be.

Make sure to note at this time that all of your new ads should be correctly labeled and set with a status of Paused!

If all looks correct, go ahead and push your changes up to the AdWords UI. You should have all of your currently running ads still running, but labeled with “PRE-Sale Ads July 2016 Hail Sale,” and your sales ads should be all set up and ready to go but paused with label: “July 2016 Hail Sale.”

Look good? Post your changes.

Total time spent thus far - 11 minutes

STEP 10: Create Automated Rules

Now you have a bunch of ads labeled, but why? Well, it’s so you can rapidly identify exactly which ads you want to push live after the sale. Nifty huh?

Now what if I told you you could set everything up today so you don’t have to think about the sale again and all your ads will go live and pause themselves at the correct time? Too good to be true? Keep reading!

automated rules in google adwords

This last part will actually take you the longest (probably), as you get quicker at doing the whole process. It requires you to create 4 automated rules to manage your ads.

Automated Rules for Sales Ads

  1. Pause currently running ads at beginning of sale
  2. Enable sales ads at beginning of sale
  3. Pause sales ads at end of sale
  4. Enable previously running ads at end of sale

Here is how you will build out each rule after navigating to the “Ads” tab in your AdWords UI:

Rule 1: Pause currently running ads at beginning of sale

  • Click the Automate button & select “Pause ads when”
  • Apply to “All enabled ads in all campaigns”
  • Requirements: Labels contains all of label: PRE-Sale Ads July 2016 Hail Sale
  • Frequency: 1-time, June 29th, 12 am
  • Name your rule something like: Pause Pre-Sale July Hail Sale Ads - June 29
  • Set email to notify you “every time” it runs (I do this since it is a one-time rule).

Here is what it will actually look like in the UI:

pause ad customizers

Rule 2: Enable sales ads at beginning of sale

  • Click the Automate button & select “enable ads when”
  • Apply to “All but removed ads in all campaigns”
  • Requirements: Labels contains all of label: “July 2016 Hail Sale”
  • Frequency: 1-time, June 29th, 12 am
  • Name your rule something like: Enable SALE July Hail Ads - June 29
  • Set email to notify you “every time” it runs (I do this since it is a one-time rule).

Here is what it will actually look like in the UI:

ad customizers with automated rules

Rule 3: Pause sales ads at end of sale

  • Click the Automate button & select “pause ads when”
  • Apply to “All enabled ads in all campaigns”
  • Requirements: Labels contains all of label: “July 2016 Hail Sale”
  • Frequency: 1-time, July 29th, 5 pm (when sale ends)
  • Name your rule something like: Pause SALE July Hail Ads - July 29 End
  • Set email to notify you “every time” it runs (I do this since it is a one-time rule).

Here is what it will actually look like in the UI:

creating automated rules in google adwords

Rule 4: Enable previously running ads at end of sale

  • Click the Automate button & select “enable ads when”
  • Apply to “All but removed ads in all campaigns”
  • Requirements: Labels contains all of label: “PRE-Sale Ads July 2016 Hail Sale”
  • Frequency: 1-time, July 29th, 5 pm (when sale ends)
  • Name your rule something like: Enable Pre-Sale July Hail Ads - July 29 End
  • Set email to notify you “every time” it runs (I do this since it is a one-time rule).

Here is what it will actually look like in the UI:

customizer ads in adwords

Don’t forget, once you have created the rules you can always see them in your “Bulk Operations” section of AdWords.

adwords bulk operatoins

Total time spent thus far - 15 minutes

And that’s it! You are 100% ready to go in roughly 15 minutes with countdown customizers!

Now, to be fair, it may actually take you longer than 15 minutes in the beginning as you are getting into the swing of things, but I bet you can get it down pretty fast as you begin running multiple sales. (Also, I basically guesstimated those times so no going off and twitter-ranting at me if it takes you 25 minutes, mmmkay?)

The beauty of doing things this way, is if you have a client running many sales, you can set things up to be fairly automated at the time you first receive the sale details so you no longer have balls dropped when it comes to sales ads.

Anyone else spend time in the early AM hours pausing sales ads??? Hmm??? No, just me?

Regardless, I do hope this has been helpful for you. I’m sure there are even better tricks or tips to share that could ease our time as well so please feel free to share those in the comments below.

Peace out!

About the Author

Kirk Williams is the owner & minion of ZATO, a PPC marketing agency, and has been working specifically in paid search since 2010. He has written for Search Engine Land, Moz, PPC Hero, and the Bing Ads blog. In 2015 Kirk was named 1 of the Top 5 Rising Stars of PPC by PPC Hero and 1 of the 30 Best PPC Experts to Follow by White Shark Media. Kirk likes to chat PPC, and you can find him speaking at various conferences across the US. If you follow him on Twitter, you know he likes to make dumb PPC memes.

 

 

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Comments

Jagsch Wolfgang
Jul 17, 2016

Thanks for this great info. I really keep on reading this great blog with all its practical tips.

best regards

wolfi - seo-texter from linz austria

Creative Solutions
Jul 20, 2016

Well explained

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