In the last few weeks, we’ve set up a PPC account for a small business that we’ve been using as a guinea pig for some of the things in AdWords that we’d like to poke with a stick without having to worry about blowing up an existing account. One of the things that we’ve found is that AdWords is very lackadaisical about choosing which ad to display for you.
In AdWords, you can have more than one ad that can show up per keyword group. We generally recommend at least two for testing purposes. (For example, I was testing ads that ask questions versus ones with specific calls to action.) The default setting under campaign preferences in your AdWords account is “Optimize for clicks: Show ads expected to provide more clicks”. In fact, according to Google, this is the ideal setting for most advertisers because AdWords can supposedly use advanced algorithms and demographic data to determine which ad people are most likely to click on.
From our experience, Google’s selection process can be described as thus:
After we switched the Guinea Pig account over to Tenscores, I fired up the ad analysis tool that lets me compare ads (including CTR, impressions, conversion rates, cost, ect) and found something odd. Every single one of my ads that were first put into AdWords had all the impressions; it was like my second ads didn’t even exist to Google. After scratching my head, I determined that the account was left on it’s default YOLO ad selection setting.
I was very suspicious that somehow every first ad that I wrote for a keyword group was the winner and the second ad I wrote was not up to snuff. Turned out I was right. In one particular case, the ad that AdWords refused to show until I changed the setting to “Rotate indefinitely: Show lower performing ads more evenly with higher performing ads, and do not optimize” actually performed 98 percent better than the one Google defaulted to showing.
I’m not saying that you should not trust AdWords to ever choose anything for you, but that is what I am saying.