If there’s one thing all paid search advertisers can agree on, it’s that ad testing is important. It’s long been a best practice to include multiple ads in each ad group so that you can see which ads perform better and create better ads within your account.
That may be where the agreement ends, though, as advertisers have lots of opinions on how you should test your different ads in each ad group – should you rotate them blindly, wait 90 days to make any changes, or optimize them to drive more clicks or more conversions?
Well, Google is looking to finally end the argument over ad rotation by simplifying the options advertisers have when testing multiple ads within an ad group. Today on the AdWords blog, Google announced three important changes to ad rotation, all of which will go into effect starting on September 25.
Here are the three changes you need to know about:
1. Going forward AdWords will only support two ad rotation settings – “Optimize” and “Rotate Indefinitely.”
- “Optimize: Prefer best performing ads” will use Google's machine learning technology to deliver ads that are expected to perform better than other ads in your ad group.
- “Do not optimize: Rotate ads indefinitely” will rotate your ads without favoring better performing ads to a user’s search.
The current settings “Optimize for conversions” and “Rotate evenly” will be retired. Campaigns currently using “Optimize for clicks,” “Optimize for conversions,” and “rotate evenly” will automatically be switched to the “Optimize” setting.
2. Campaigns using smart bidding strategies, such as Enhanced CPC, target CPA, or target ROAS bidding strategies, will always be set to “Optimize” their ad rotation, regardless of how they set their ad rotation settings.
3. Advertisers can also manage their new ad rotation settings at both the campaign and ad group level.
Who’s Affected By This Change?
This is a rolling change, which you’ll notice in your account sometime after September 25, if your campaigns:
- Use either the “Rotate evenly” or “Optimize for conversions” ad rotation setting.
- OR use smart bidding strategies, such as Enhanced CPC, target CPA, or target ROAS bidding strategies.
These are common ad rotation and bidding strategies, so many advertisers will be affected! To review your campaigns’ ad rotation & bidding strategies, look under the settings tab:
What Should You Expect to See Change?
Although some advertisers have been skeptical about trusting Google to optimize their ad rotation, advertisers generally see positive performance from making the change. As recently as last quarter, we transitioned 419 accounts from the “rotate evenly” to an “optimize” rotation setting and saw, on average, an 8% increase in CTR and 11% increase in CVR!
What Should I Do?
This transition will occur automatically starting in late September; you won’t need to do anything in advance. As noted above, most affected advertisers will notice improved performance in their accounts, but it’s always best to keep a close eye on your accounts following a change like this!
Advertisers currently using the “Rotate Evenly” setting may want to conclude any current ad tests and consider migrating to an optimize setting in advance to get the most out of their future ad tests.
Advertisers currently using the “Optimize for conversions” setting may want to consider adopting a Smart Bidding strategy to help optimize their bids in real-time auctions. Google recently made changes to enhanced CPC to better accommodate these auction dynamics and help advertisers improve their ads’ conversion rates.
If you still prefer having complete control over your ad tests within each ad group, consider taking advantage of the new ad group level settings to manage your ad rotation in ad groups where you’re closely monitoring your ad tests.
If you’re not happy with the changes Google is looking to make in your account, you can always switch to the “Do Not Optimize” ad rotation. This will allow you to rotate your ads evenly into every search auction. However, with great power comes great responsibility – multi-variate ad testing can be particularly laborious for many advertisers, and if you don’t regularly review and refresh your ads, don’t expect performance to get better on its own!
About the author:
Mark is a Senior Data Scientist at WordStream, focused on research and training for the everchanging world of PPC. He was named the 5th Most Influential PPC Expert of 2017 by PPC Hero. You can follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google +.