Back to Basics: Managing AdWords Ads

With all of changes in AdWords emphasizing the importance of ad extensions and quality score, it is easy to get caught up in those features and overlook your ads themselves. At the end of the day, they are just as important as everything else. Here I’ve outlined some tips and best practices for managing your ads, including tools to simplify your job.

Testing & Optimizing

I firmly believe in the ‘ABT’ motto: Always Be Testing. A few things to keep in mind to ensure you’re getting the most out of your tests.

  • Test vs. Control – Be sure you’re only changing one thing in each ad variation, so you can easily and clearly tell which version performs better. For example, if you want to test headlines, be sure your description lines, display URLs, and destination URLs are all the same.
  • Rotation Settings – I like using the ‘Rotate Indefinitely’ setting in Google Adwords and ‘Rotate More Evenly’ in Bing AdCenter. This will ensure your ad variations are getting shown equally and help you better understand which variation is truly performing better. Using ‘Optimize of Clicks’ or ‘Optimize for Conversions’ lets Google display the ad it thinks will get the most clicks or conversions, and doesn’t give your ad variations equal display time, resulting in skewed test results.
  • Declaring a Winner – First, be sure you’ve let your test run long enough to gather significant data. Depending on the account, I like to run at least 2 weeks or setup a click threshold before launching so I know when I can evaluate the ad variations. Next, be sure you’re reviewing the right metrics. While CPCs and CPAs are important to consider, these metrics may not tell the whole story. Looking at click-thru and conversion rates is also important, but again, they could be leaving out important insights on performance. I like to look at overall ad efficiency to determine a winning ad. To calculate this metric, multiply the conversion rate by the click-thru rate.

Let’s look at an example. The snapshot below suggests at first glance the first ad is the winner. It has a few more conversions at a slightly lower cost per conversion. With a target CPA of $100, both ads are meeting our goals. However, when looking at the overall efficiency of the two ads, the second ad looks better:


A Few Ad Reminders

Run at least one text ad with punctuation in Description Line 1 for the extended headline.

Google example:

huge selection widgets

Differentiate your ads:

  • Use trademarks and  registered marks for the terms you have registered and trademarked.
  • Try adding the Countdown Script for sales/holidays to text ads for a sense of urgency.

holiday sale

Create an ad group for each image size for image/display ads. This helps keep data around each ad size easier to see. You are able to easily manage the number of ads per ad group this way, making it much easier to test variations in your image ads. It also allows you an opportunity to “own” the page on site within the GDN. If the site offers multiple ad sizes, your ads could show in each of them if they are separated into different ad groups by image size.

Using Tools

3rd-party tools and platforms can help online advertisers greatly. Sometimes, we need that extra insight not offered within Adwords or AdCenter to help us make decisions. When it comes to ads and competitive insights, there are a few specific tools from The Search Monitor (TSM) that can be very helpful.

  • Rank Report – This report lets you see where you and your competitors are winning and losing ad ranks. You are able to compare your average rank and number of times seen versus your top competitors. You can leverage these insights in bidding decisions. For example, if your competitors are in a better rank than you, you might consider bidding up so your ad rank improves.
  • Trademark Report– This report lets you keep an eye on competitors bidding on your terms AND using your trademarks in their ad copy. If you notice a competitor wrongfully using your trademark, you can work with Google’s trademark policy team to restrict the use of your trademark within the competitor’s ads.

With tools and testing, you can rest easy knowing your ads are well managed.

If you have any tips of your own to add, please share them in the comments section … I’d love to hear them!

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