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Google has simplified their Adwords Ad Rotation Settings. Adwords will now only support two ad rotation settings; Optimise (using Machine Learning to deliver the ads that are more likely to perform better) or Rotate Indefinitely (rotate evenly for an indefinite period of time).

What’s changing? What does this mean? What can you do? We explore the hubbub and give you actionable insight to help you and your Paid Search performance.


The hubbub

Search Engine Land AdWords ad rotation settings to get trimmed. The machine learning-powered ad rotation setting comes front and center.

Search Engine Round TableGoogle AdWords Ad Rotation To Offer Optimize & Rotate Indefinitely

Inside Adwords – Introducing a better, simpler ad rotation

Campaign – Adwords updates to aid conversion rate optimisation

Media Post – To Optimise or Not?


What’s changed about the Adwords Ad Rotations?

We currently have 4 Ad Rotation Settings to choose from

Ad rotations is a campaign setting that allows advertisers that have more than one ad running in an ad group to choose which ads show more often.

PPC hubbub - Ad Rotation Settings

Credit: Google Adwords

Currently, we have the below options to choose from;

Credit: Search Engine Land

For those that have more than one ad per ad group, Google recommends that you either ‘Optimise for Clicks or Conversions’. But some advertisers will probably go for ‘Rotate Indefinitely’ and this is usually what I have used personally in the past for reasons i’ll explain later. You can find out more about the current settings here.

We will soon only have 2 Ad Rotation options

Google are now simplifying these options to ‘Optimize’ or ‘Rotate Indefinitely’.

Credit: Inside Adwords, 2017

…and we will be able to set these at Ad Group level

Currently, we can only set Ad Rotation settings at campaign level, meaning that all ads within a single campaign must have the same Ad Rotation setting. Now, Google are allowing us to have this at Ad Group level.


Whats the difference between the 2 Ad Rotation Settings?

Optimise Ad Rotation Option:

Using Machine Learning, Google will show the ads in your ad groups that are expected to perform best. This will use a combination of individual auction signals such as keyword, search term, device, location and more.

Why use this option?

It gives more control to Google over which ads should appear to users. It could potentially help you to drive more clicks and/or bookings by optimising your ads to each auction (which isn’t something you can do otherwise).

Rotate Indefinitely Option:

This setting gives each ad in the Ad Group equal preference and will rotate them around more evenly than the above.

Why use this option?

This option is best used if you prefer to have control over Ad Copy testing. This will allow you to evenly rotate your ads which could give a clearer picture over which one’s work best for you.

This option effectively gives you more control. Instead of only showing 2 out of the 4 rotations you have in an Ad Group it will show all 4 evenly.


Why have Google updated the Ad Rotation Settings?

Google say that they are making this change for a number of reasons…

  • Simplifying settings for advertisers and businesses

    • Google say that sometimes it’s not always clear which setting is best for which business. Simplifying this is therefore meant to help us.

  • Google Marketing Next 2017 spoke about more Machine Learning, and we are definitely getting it this year.

    • As we have discussed, Machine Learning is a key focus for new Google Adwords products and services moving forwards. Moving away from Manual optimisations, Google is pushing us to utilise it’s own learning and technologies to make decisions for us.
  • Forcing the use of more Smart Bidding

    • Most advertisers will no doubt be opted into ‘Manual CPC’ as their bidding strategy at the moment in Google Adwords. Google says that the ‘Optimize’ option will look to “…optimize your ads for clicks in each individual auction using signals like keyword, search term, device, location and more.” (Inside Adwords, 2017). Google therefore recommends that if you want to optimise more effectively towards Conversions, then you will need to look at utilising the Smart Bidding options available here.
  • There is an argument that having an ‘Optimized’ ad rotation setting can boost your Quality Score

    • It’s not confirmed, but makes sense. If you show ads that are more relevant then Google will show your ad more often. This will then likely drive more clicks then your CTR will go up. We know that CTR has an impact on your Quality Score. Therefore, you can see that this argument has some truth behind it.

What does this mean for you?

Does it really simply things for advertisers?

On the face of it, the answer is yes. But it could cause some issues for some advertisers;

  • What if my KPI was only Clicks or Conversions?
  • What if I don’t have Conversion tracking set up in Adwords?
  • What if I use DoubleClick conversions instead of Adwords?

In these cases, the ‘Optimize’ rotation setting may not work that effectively.

Even though Google have attempted to make it simpler for the masses, those businesses with complicated setups and KPIs may need to review things.

Expect more Machine Learning options to come

As previously discussed, this is going to be an ongoing theme with all of the new products and options that Adwords gives us over the next few years; particularly with the wider rollout of Adwords Next. If you don’t like it, tough; it’s coming anyway.


What do you need to do?

We’ve created the below guide for you to navigate this “simpler” new world of Ad Rotations settings.

PPC hubbub (ppchubbub.com) - Ad Rotation Settings - Options

Credit: PPC hubbub

Dan Roberts
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Dan Roberts

Founder & Author at PPC hubbub
Dan is a Google Shopping Specialist and was recently awarded Rising Star at The Drum Search Awards for the work delivered for his clients, agency and wider industry. Dan founded PPC hubbub after becoming frustrated with the lack of actionable insight and meaningful points of view for the industry.

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Dan Roberts
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