August 19, 2018

AdWords Ad Rotation Changes – Here’s What You Can Do.

Three days ago while attending SMX Sydney, as I was sitting down contemplating the changing world of SEO, my mind was brought zooming back to PPC with this post from Google.

It seems nothing is sacred in our AdWords tool chest anymore! Hot on the heels of changing how Exact and Phrase match work,    Google have now updated ad rotation settings to, quite frankly, ensure they maximise overall ‘clicks’ on their network.


‘Facepalm’ as Search Engine Watch have also said

So what exactly have they changed on us?

As advertisers we have long had the ability to define how our ads are rotated within ad groups:

  1. ‘Optimise for Clicks’,
  2. ‘Optimise for Conversion’, or
  3. ‘Rotate’.

I’m assuming you know where to find these settings (campaign settings > advanced settings > Ad delivery: ad rotation…) but essentially they have, for a long time, allowed us to align out Ad delivery with basic campaign coals or tactics.

eg. After traffic – optimise for clicks, after sales – optimise for conversion, want to scientifically improve CTR & CR – rotate them!

No surprises here.

However Google have now said the following:

Starting next week, the “rotate” setting for ad rotation will change. Instead of rotating creatives for an indefinite period of time, this setting will only rotate for a period of 30 days. After that, the setting will then optimize to show the ads expected to generate the most clicks.

After 30 days (when there have been no edits to any ad within a particular ad group) the ads will begin to optimise for ‘clicks’. Each time an edit is made, the counter is reset for another 30 days.

There is no doubt here that Google have run the numbers and see a great opportunity to drive increased clicks (revenue) from advertisers who may be using the ‘rotate’ setting with minimal actual testing an optimisation going on. There will also be many advertisers with far too many ads in their rotating ad groups, diluting impressions across all and potentially hindering the account’s ‘performance’.

This however brings us to the crux of the issue. Google is defining performance for all as ‘clicks’. I don’t know about you, but for most advertisers, performance is about conversion, not ‘clicks’ alone.

This change will enable us to provide users with the most relevant ad experience and should help advertisers improve the performance of their AdWords accounts.

I don’t have a problem with Google making money, and we can pretty safely say that this change will help Google achieve more clicks from certain AdWords campaigns. What I am concerned about is the way Google have given us no option to opt out, or change, the behavior that occurs after he 30 day period.

Whya can’t we choose to default to ‘optimise for conversion’ after the 30 day period?

So,  Who will be most affected? What can we do moving forward?

Any ad group that does not receive a statistically valid number of clicks within a 30 day period is impacted the most – eg. there will not be enought data to make a call on the winning variant before you neet to reset the test by making an update.Those where volume is high can, at a minimum, produce a winning variant.

However the problem extends father than this.

Even with high click volumes, you will still have to remember, (after 30 days) to either reset the test (by changing something), set to optimise for converson, or pause all but the winning ad in a ad group, until you are ready to test again. This could work – but the challenge is scale. If you’re working in an agency on multiple accounts, get ready to fill up your calendar with ‘campaign ad setting reminders’ because no matter what your strategy is from this day forward, once those ads stop rotating, you’ll be optimising to the highest in CTR / click volume.

One last point – apparently, once this change is live, ad groups that are set to rotate, but have not had an update in the last 30 days, will start optimising to ‘clicks’ automatically.


## UPDATE (June 4th): Google have announced an update to the new rotation settings – the rotation period will be extended to 90 days (from 30) and advertiser will also able to opt out all together via filling in this form.


About Leigh Hanney

Leigh Hanney is a marketing consultant helping companies optimise and execute digital marketing strategy and improve ROI.
Connect with Leigh on Google+ Leigh Hanney+


  1. Thanks for the clear information Leigh and the update!

  2. You’re welcome Thomas! Glad it was useful.

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