Ad Rotation Options in Google AdWords – Do NOT Choose ‘Rotate’
You have a few ad rotation settings to choose from in a Google AdWords campaign.
1) Optimize for clicks: show ads expected to provide more clicks (this is the default setting for new campaigns)
2) Optimize for conversions: Show ads expected to provide more conversions
3) Rotate: Show ads more evenly
You can get to these settings in AdWords under any Campaign -> Settings -> Advanced Settings section -> Ad Delivery: Ad rotation, frequency capping -> Ad rotation (click “Edit” and you should see something similar to the picture below. Click the picture for a bigger version.)
Why I Always Choose Optimize for Clicks or Optimize for Conversions (and NOT Rotate)
I have been running my campaigns on either Optimize for Clicks or Optimize for Conversions settings for years. It can be hard to simplify or strive to back business metrics into clicks or conversions but it’s well worth the effort, in my opinion.
Optimize for Clicks
Optimizing for clicks let’s Google automatically choose the ad that will produce the highest click-through rates (CTR) in the near term.
When uploading a new advertisement, Google will automatically test that ad with limited impressions over time to see if it will produce a better CTR than the current winning advertisement.
I love this option for rapidly testing ads; not to mention that it helps my quality scores and gives me a competitive edge.
Rapidly testing ads under this setting is easy – and this is my primary reason for NEVER using Rotate: Pause the current winning ad, clone it and unpause the clone – test your new ad against that clone and Google will give each ad a fair shot at producing a better CTR before choosing the most relevant ad as a winner. Google makes you more competitive in the marketplace by not having to wait on you to revisit the test to pick a winner by CTR. In other words, Google is giving an advertiser traffic that their competitors likely didn’t receive by automatically running the advertiser’s winning ad more heavily than other active ads in their ad group.
One should only choose this option if they are confident that the audience arriving through that campaign will satisfy the business goals of the advertiser regardless of the volume of traffic.
For example, I am confident that my landing pages for a specific niche should convert at 12% given a specific campaign’s existing keyword list, bids, ads and historical metrics. It is safe for me to drive as much traffic as I can to that website because the business metrics for this campaign are stable at any traffic volume the campaign can give me.
Optimize for Conversions
Optimizing for conversions let’s Google automatically choose the ad that will produce the highest conversion rate in the near term.
When uploading a new advertisement, Google will automatically test that ad with limited impressions over time to see if it will produce a better conversion rate than the current winning advertisement.
Testing ads under this setting is easy too – but depending on your conversion metrics or tracking, it may take a little bit longer to determine the winning ad: Pause the current winning ad, clone it and unpause the clone – test your new ad against that clone and Google will give each ad a fair shot at producing a better conversion rate before choosing a winner. Google can drive more converting traffic to your website quickly by driving traffic through an ad that is more likely to turn into a conversion. Letting Google do this automatically is smart because conversions are not lost in the hustle if an ad test is on Rotate and simply waiting for you to revisit and pick a winner yourself. Why would anybody want to lose conversions to a competitor?
One should only choose this option if they are able to prove value to the business for every conversion they are tracking through AdWords.
Rotate (Please do NOT choose this option!)
I don’t recommend this option unless you have the time or the technology to do this in a more efficient way than Google can with the above options, or you have a different business metric that you’re striving to optimize for – for example: a low bounce rate/higher engagement, profit per impression (PPI), or other metrics.
Most advertisers should NOT use this option for a few reasons:
- Waiting for a person to pick a winner is inefficient. One will either lose clicks or conversions if they are unable to pick a winner based on CTR or conversion rates.
- Most advertisers are not optimizing for PPI or other metrics. Even if one is optimizing toward PPI, money could be lost to costs due to lower quality scores on ads that might produce decent PPI but lower volume traffic and conversions. There’s almost always going to be an opportunity cost…but if you’re optimizing toward PPI on Search Campaigns, you likely already considered or tested the alternatives.
- AdWords recently decided to optimize this setting toward clicks automatically after 30 days. You might as well Optimize for Clicks now if you’re going to Rotate. Or you better carve out plenty of time in your routine to review hundreds, thousands or millions of ads each month – depending on how big your AdWords account(s) are.
You Have a Choice
It’s up to you as an advertiser or business owner to determine which metrics or settings will work best for your business model. Currently, AdWords gives us 3 options: Optimize for Clicks, Optimize for Conversions or Rotate.
I recommend running with Optimize for Clicks or Optimize for Conversions. Make either of those options work for your business and I’m confident that you will be on your way towards a high quality, highly relevant, and highly profitable Google AdWords account.