September 15, 2017
The industry continues to buzz about Google’s recent announcement to simplify ad rotation settings from four options to just two: “Optimize” and “Rotate Indefinitely”.
These changes are to take place later this month. You may think to yourself, “Sure, that’s neat but I’ll continue to rotate indefinitely. I have my A/B testing routine down pat. I’ve been doing it this way for my whole career. It’s trustworthy. The data is solid and I can get the best view of performance with a relatively even number of impressions and clicks.” And many seasoned PPC managers would agree with this assessment. They’ll spend a small amount of time pondering the implications of the rotation changes, shrug, and move on with their work. Many PPC managers may fear that the new option to optimize rotation will only serve Google more. The prospect of full automation feels like a black box, and since it is impossible to understand how Google’s improved optimized rotation setting algorithms work (or how they might work to best serve Google’s bottom line), many advertisers will continue to run ads on even rotation and manually test ads.
But Google (as usual) and the new AI technology have a different idea.
In the post referenced above, Google points out that when using the optimized rotation, it is strongly recommended that three or more ads are placed in each ad group in order to increase clicks and impressions and allow Google automation to work most efficiently. According to Google, more ads are better when it comes to stronger ad visibility and performance when using optimized rotation. And by more ads, they are referring to a minimum of 3 up to 5 maximum.
After internally struggling with this issue myself… You know what? I agree. It’s time we did away with 2 ad groups. They’re outdated. And hear me out: Consider the many other manual parts of our work that are going the way of the dinosaur in favor of smart automation tools. Most of us have automated bidding of one kind or another giving us great returns (who’s clicking on each and every keyword to tweak bids these days?), programmatic is becoming more important for PPC strategy, smart display is a thing now, and in short we’re living in a world where there are webinars entitled: The PPC battle of humans vs. machines. Oh, it’s happening all right. Machine learning is changing the face of how we manage campaigns. And now AI is revamping the way we write and test ads.
And from our limited testing, it shows promise.
See? Robots and people can be buddies!
Making the Case for More Ads per Ad Group
Here’s a case study from one of our e-commerce clients. We added additional extended text ads to a popular ad group. In this extreme case, the ad group had just 1 ETA ad prior to the test. For the test, we added 2 more ads for a total of 3 ads running in a single ad group.
Our results showed a huge uptick in impressions and clicks while there were no drastic bid or budget changes. More opportunity was naturally given to the ad group with more ad variety, and Google allowed this updated ad group to show in more auctions with the addition or more ads in the group.
The Second Advantage: Make use of Greater Ad Variety
Far beyond the benefit of appeasing our machine overlords, adding more than 2 ads to an ad group is a huge opportunity to take advantage of the many ad types that are now available to us. The types of ads we see today are those we could’ve only dreamed about when traditional A/B testing was developed back in the day. In our brand new 3-5 ad groups we can take full advantage of the extended text ad double headlines, URL extension text, a bucket of ad extensions from callouts to price extensions, and such ad types as:
- Dynamic ads that personalize city name listings, promote sales countdowns, and highlight inventory. It’s the coolest ad feature you may not be using.
- Good old keyword insertion headlines
- Testing different ad tones, such as benefits vs. pain avoidance, simplifying your audience’s life vs. making them the hero.
- Greater display ad variety, from static banners to responsive ads including those with product remarketing
Everything is a test, so why not give it a try?
Google reps continue to push agencies to evaluate their PPC ad rotation settings and this is just one more hit to the heart of those who love the traditional method of 2 ad A/B testing in ad groups. Some account managers are experiencing joy at the prospect of leaving old two ad A/B tests behind and diving into a fully automated ad rotation setting. No longer will the data have to be sorted through pivot tables and calendar reminders, carefully tended to ensure new tests are not left to languish on “rotate indefinitely” for a longer period than is necessary or beneficial. The bottom line is that the world of PPC is ever changing and to not give multiple ads and optimized rotations a measured test with a solid deadline is just closing out an option that could be a game-changer for your accounts, today.
And with the new rotation settings rolling out on the ad group level, it will be far easier to give it a test.