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In-Depth Breakdown of the Ad Rotation Options in Google AdWords

Lauren Lawson

12 years ago



Ad Rotation settings determine which ad within your ad group will appear.

Some people take Ad Rotation settings for granted and simply use the default settings, but it actually makes a huge difference to switch these settings, depending on your advertising goals.

There are 3 Ad Rotation options you can choose from:

    • Optimize for Clicks: Show ads expected to provide more clicks
    • Optimize for Conversions: Show ads expected to provide more conversions
    • Rotate Evenly: Show ads more evenly for 90 days, then optimize for clicks

I will in this article review the three options and allow you to choose the one that’s best suited for your needs.

Ad Rotation Option: Optimize for Clicks

When to Use Optimize for Clicks

Optimize for Clicks is ideal if your main campaign goal is brand awareness or to get a lot of traffic to your website.

Personally, I use Optimize for Clicks Rotation after I have trimmed a campaign a bit:

First, I prefer conducting some good A/B testing with the ad copy in each ad group and I also add plenty of negative keywords (to the point that 95%+ of my search terms are highly-relevant).

Once you have laser-targeted ad groups, you’ll know most of your clicks are valuable clicks. At that point, it is the perfect time to change your Ad Rotation setting to Optimize for Clicks in order to drive as many visits to your site as possible from highly-qualified prospects.

A Couple of Tips when Using Optimize for Clicks

In addition, using the Optimize for Clicks setting works well for advertisers looking to increase call leads (as opposed to contact-form leads).

I don’t have statistics or surveys to substantiate it, but I have noticed that in certain industries where people prefer to speak to someone before making a purchase, such as custom-manufactured products, Optimize for Clicks is your best choice, hands down (given that you don’t have call tracking).

Optimize for Conversions will put limits on the number of calls you may receive. Rotate Evenly after a while may simply not drive the highest profit. So, if you know most of your business is made via phone and you’ve already done ad testing: Go for it!

Of course, combining the proper ad rotation option with a call-to-action that emphasizes picking up the phone and call, will best help leverage results further. For example, instead of using “Learn More!” use “Call for More Details” or instead of using “Get a Quote!” use something such as “Call for a Quote Now!”.

Ad Rotation Option: Optimize for Conversions

When to Choose to Optimize for Conversions

You can only opt for Optimize for Conversions if you already have a decent amount of conversions recorded. Precisely, you need more than 15 conversions registered in a 30-day period.

It makes no sense to ask Google to determine which ad will drive more conversions if there is no historical data associated with your ads. So make sure you perform some ad copy testing first. If there is a particular ad that seems to drive a higher amount of conversions, then do further ad testing.

Make mild variations to the original “converting ad”, let it run for some time (a few days, to 2 weeks) and then set-up Optimize for Conversion and you’ll observe even better results.

What’s the Purpose of Optimize for Conversions?

If your AdWords campaign goal is getting online sales or online quotes, then this is the best option for you.

Some Tips When Using Optimize for Conversions

Besides E-Commerce websites, I recommend this feature for services that require reservations, businesses that offer online quotes (and have good pricing within their industries), or advertisers who offer high-demand product rentals. For example spas, contractors, and logistics services.

If you are looking to drive a combination of online leads and call leads, I would recommend enabling Optimize for Conversions, as well.

Even though I mentioned above that Optimize for Conversions may limit the number of call leads (Assuming you have an ad that’s tailored to lure people to call and another that is designed to entice people to request an online estimate), you still need to test. PPC marketing is all about testing. You may have a winning ad that drives more conversions and more calls, simultaneously.

So go ahead and test it. If your conversions were to increase, but the number of calls you receive were to decrease to an undesirable number, then simply opt back to your previous rotation settings.

Ad Rotation Option: Rotate Evenly – Great for Testing!

This used to be my favorite Ad Rotation option.

Back when I started doing PPC advertising, the definition for this rotation setting was: Show Ads More Evenly – period. Even Rotation is ideal to conduct continuous testing on your ad copy. It is great for testing anything and everything. From testing your headlines, call-to-actions, to choosing between using a dot or an exclamation mark, among many others.

Discovering your best performing ad can take more than 30 days if your goal is really getting ROI and not just a good CTR.

The Rotate Evenly option helps you identify the ads which bring in more profit: Ads that get higher amounts of conversions or higher amounts of quality clicks, at a lower cost. The ability to test (and test) is very valuable for continuous improvement in your advertising.

So this setting is perfect for those who strive for constant improvement and higher ROI.

Limitations to the Rotate Evenly Feature

Currently, after 90 days, your ads will automatically opt into Optimized Rotation.  Meaning Google will show either ad expected to bring in more clicks or more online conversions, but you cannot really tell which of the two.

One way to get around this 90-day limit is by pausing your ads for a few minutes before the 90-day period is over and then unpausing the ads. This will reset the option back to Rotate Evenly.

Since you may make changes to ads in various ad groups at different points throughout a month, I recommend that you schedule the date in which you have to pause and reactivate each ad.

Better yet, you can set up an automated rule to pause your ads at a certain time during the week (and another rule to unpause them!)

To get more details on how to do this step-by-step, please refer to this thorough article on the subject by Brad Geddes:

One Final Tip:

In general, a good strategy for discovering what Ad Rotation feature that best suits your needs is to define clearly from the start what is it that you are looking to gain from AdWords:

  • Brand awareness
  • Sales
  • Online leads
  • More calls
  • Walk-ins

Or a combination of some of the above mentioned.

Once you know what you’re striving for, create ads targeted to get those results using different styles within your ad copy. Then start by enabling Rotate Evenly for a while. Gather data and do some more testing (and bypass some obstacles in doing so). Depending on your findings, you will clearly see whether it is more convenient to switch to Optimize for Conversions, Optimize for Clicks, or leave it on Even Rotation.

Do you have any additional tips?

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