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Google “Simplifies” AdWords Ad Rotation Settings

Ad rotation is the way that Google delivers ads on both the Search Network and the Display Network. If there are multiple ads within an adgroup the ads will rotate, because no more than one ad from the account can show at a time. The ad rotation setting is therefore used to specify how often the ads in the adgroup are to be served relative to one another.

On 25th September 2017, three updates were made to simplify and improve ad rotation:

1. There will only be two ad rotation settings:

  • “Optimise” will use Google’s machine learning technology to deliver ads that are expected to perform better than other ads in the ad group. This setting will optimise ads for clicks in each individual auction using signals like keyword, search term, device, location and more.
  • “Rotate indefinitely” will deliver ads more evenly for an indefinite amount of time.

Now that this change has taken place, the previous “optimise for conversions” and “rotate evenly” settings will be greyed out in the AdWords interface. This means:

  • Campaigns using “optimise for clicks”, “optimise for conversions” or “rotate evenly” will now just use “optimise”.
  • Campaigns using “rotate indefinitely” will stay the same.

2. Campaigns using Smart Bidding will use “optimise” regardless of their ad rotation setting.

3. Ad rotation settings will now be available at the adgroup level, rather than at campaign level. This enables the use of multiple rotation settings across a single campaign.

It’s not critical to take any immediate action but Google states that to continue optimising for conversions, the use of Smart Bidding is “recommended” (and there is no other way to do it). This helps to tailor bids based on the likelihood of a conversion, and chooses the ad most likely to drive that conversion, although the results will be dependent on Google’s automated system and the more conversions there are, the more effective this is likely to be.

Google states this change is to simplify the settings, but the fact that the previous “rotate evenly” option will now automatically optimise for clicks encourages a more cynical view, and the reversal of these options comes after the numerous complaints made some years ago when the choice of rotation was originally changed. Furthermore, Smart Bidding using Google’s machine learning has yet to be proven to be highly effective at increasing conversions and lowering the average Cost Per Acquisition, since it’s still relatively early days for that technology and advertisers should review the changes after this change and decide which rotation setting to use.

It’ll be interesting to see if Google ever back-flips on this decision due to more industry dissatisfaction at there being less control (as has happened previously with device bid modifiers). In an attempt to appease a similar outcry, Google is still thankfully providing the option for ads to “rotate indefinitely”. AdWords managers who prefer more control with an even rotation can still do that to split test the ads without any automated optimisation input from Google, although it will require more monitoring and changes to ensure the best results. That will, according to them “be the sole option for an even rotation going forward”, but how long that possibly unpopular decision stays in place remains to be seen.

You can read more about simpler ad rotation or contact us now for more information.