July 17, 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.


AdWords Quality Score Reporting Update: Improved Transparency for Advertisers

On Tuesday, Google released an update to their AdWords Quality Score reporting that lifts the hood a little on the individual components that make up your QS.

When you hover over the status icon in the Keywords tab, you will now see a rating for each measure, ‘Expected clickthrough rate”, “Ad Relevance” & “Landing page Experience”. The ratings are:- Average, Above Average or Below Average.

This should be a welcome addition for most advertisers (direct and agency) as it takes away a big chunk of the guess work and may actually save you time!.

This scenario may sound familiar to you:  You may be  (or have a client or a manager who is) obsessed with the QS for a particular group of terms. You may have them sitting at 7 or 8 out of 10, but no matter what you do, you’re cannot get it any higher…

STOP, breath slowly, and listen to me… As far as QS goes, NOT ALL KEYWORD TERMS ARE CREATED EQUAL. If the intent of the query is not all that commercial, QS will likely never get to double digits. So now you can stop wasting your time.

Check out the new rating for your keywords, and get a more accurate read on the Quality Score potential. If you’re getting Average to above average on all three measures, but your QS is only at 7, then perhaps this is close to as good as it gets for that term.

Image credit: Inside Adwords blog.

Attack the low hanging fruit first – look for terms that are performing well for you (CTR ,CR, CPA – whatever your goals), but have below average ratings for one or more areas of the QS and focus on at least getting those to Average or above average.

Don’t waste your time obsessing over why you can’t get a QS 8 keyword to QS 10. if the ratings are telling you you are above average, then perhaps it’s as high as it’ll go.

Let me know what you think of this new reporting feature in the comments.


## Update: It’s worth being clear that this IS NOT a change to the way Quality Score or Ad Rank is calculated, It’s simply a change to the way Google are reporting it.



New Matching Behavior for Phrase and Exact Match Keywords in AdWords

Google announced today via the Inside AdWords blog that, from around mid-may, exact match and phrase match will actually have the option to no longer be as strict as they are now,  so an ‘exact match’ may also include very close variants:- misspellings, plurals / singulars, stemmings, accents and abbreviations. Wow. (As in ‘WTF are you doing Google?’ Oh yeah right, increasing yields.)

Interesting move for Google as it will no doubt increase impressions inventory and clicks revenue for certain keyword / account segments, but I would be careful when deciding whether to actually turn this on as it may not be the right move for all account types and verticals. Especially if you have already invested time in building out a kick-butt exact match campaign!!

If you’re only running broad match campaigns at the moment, then no stress, Google already love your money you long time.

Naturally, this will actually work well to help expand exact match impressions, but will it maintain a laser focus on intent and relevancy???  err. no. (which is why you built an exact match campaign – right?)

I’m seeing the setting available in AdWords now – But Google have said that the feature will not go live until mid May.

What was not clear from the Inside Adwords blog post was whether this setting would actually be the new default campaign setting, but looking at a live account now, the modified exact and phrase match (MEXPHAM for short!) looks to be disabled by default. phew, but do check your own exact / phrase match campaigns.

Screen shot of the options in campaign setting tab FYI!

## Update: I just checked another account and an exact match campaign defaulted to ‘Include plurals, misspellings and other close variants’. Cheeky Google.


iPad News: AdWords to Offer New Targeting Options for iPad

You heard it here first, Google AdWords will allow advertisers to independently target the Apple iPad in AdWords!

Ok – so I made that up… completely fabricated… but it’s made me think.

On the 21st of January, Google AdWords blog announced that they’ve now release new targeting options for mobile ads. It’s a good read so go take a look.

I’m going to cover mobile PPC advertising in later posts, but the thing that caught my eye is this image that they posted…

mobile screenshot 1

In the ‘Devices’ section above you’ll note how Google now allow advertisers to target specific devices: – Android, iPhone/iPod Touch and Palm WebOS. This is actually huge for certain markets as it will allow precision targeting for platform specific applications.

Anyway, with the launch of the iPad today I thought, hmmm will the iPad just be another addition to the ‘apple’ targeting? eg. iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad, or will it be a device category in it’s own right?

My gut feel, and if what Steve Jobs has said is true, iPad may well open up a whole new level of possibilities for many different market segments. Surely then if this is the case, the iPad will indeed be an individually targeted device within AdWords because ultimately there are going to be products, services and applications that users will be more likely to interact with on a tablet type device than they would on an iPhone. Time will tell.

Advertising in Gmail and targeting the Gmail ‘Funbox’

A little nugget here regarding targeting your Google Content Network ads to Gmail,  (thanks to Perry Marshall for the tip!).

This video briefly shows you not only how to placement target gmail (mail.google.com), but also explains how to get into the ‘funbox’, that little space above your messages. (screen shot below). Good luck

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