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Google recently announced that they were going to change how ads rotate. In the past, if you choose ‘rotate evenly’ then the ads would rotate throughout the ads in an ad group. In the new setting, ads will rotate for 30 days and then Google will automatically change the setting for that ad group to Optimize for Clicks.

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The New Ad Rotate Problem

There are a few big issues with this change:

  • If you don’t get enough data in 30 days; you can never test your ads.
    • This is a common problem is you are testing small accounts or use cross ad group testing techniques
  • The best CTR ad might not be the best profit ad
  • If you get busy and forget to finalize a test, Google will make the decision for you (I believe that ‘optimizing accounts means taking control from Google so you can make all the decisions).

Now, rotate never was 100% accurate before due to how Quality Score and ad serving worked; however, it was directionally accurate and allowed for testing.

When Rotate Is Reset

After talking with a lot of people and some insiders at Google, I finally have an answer to when rotate is set:

  • When a new ad is added to an ad group
  • When an ad is unpaused

The biggest issue is that you cannot see what ad groups are on ‘optimize’ and which ones are on ‘rotate’. There’s no visibility into the ad serving by ad group. The best you can do is look at ad serving percentages within the last 30 days.

Fixing the Ad Rotate Problem

If you’re an API user; you can just fire off a command to pause ads for a few minutes each week and then unpause them and all will be reset. However, most people don’t access AdWords through the API, so I wanted a solution that would work for non-API users.

After some creative thinking, I came up with a solution:

Step 1: Use the AdWords labels to designate an ad in each ad group as ‘pause’

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Step 2: Create an automated rule that pauses ads with the label ‘Pause’ an hour each week or month

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Step 3: Create an automated rule that unpauses all ads labeled ‘Pause’ one hour after previous rule ran

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The advantage of this method is that you don’t have to create new ads in an ad group.

The disadvantage is that you have to ensure you always have to be careful that if you choose an ad labeled ‘Pause’ as an ad testing loser that you delete the ad. If you were to just pause it, the rule will then unpause that losing ad.

Modification to the Fix

I posted an initial question about this method on Google+ and Chris Kostecki came up with a great modification to this plan. Instead of tracking all the ads in the current ad groups, do this instead:

  • Create an ‘evergreen’ ad in each ad group with the label of Pause
  • Unpause those ads for just an hour each week/month
  • After an hour, pause the ads with the pause label again

The advantage of this fix is that you don’t have to keep track of ads.

The disadvantage is that you’ll have an ‘average’ ad running for an hour each week/month.

I’m a fan of this modification; and will most likely use it instead of my original proposal

Update on Rotation – 90 Days or Opt Out Forever

Google has changed their mind on this setting after a lot of vocal complaints. Rotate will now work for 90 days. If you would like to opt out of this change, you can fill out this form to try and opt out forever. If enough people opt out; they will add Rotate back as a feature (so go fill out the form).

If you don’t opt out; or are reading this post way to late to opt out; then feel free to just have the rule run every month. That way you will continue to have rotate forever even if you forget to opt out.

Get Back to Testing

It’s a shame that there has to be a workaround for this ‘feature improvement’. It makes me feel like we’re in the early days of PPC when you had to duplicate campaigns at different bid levels to manage the content network.

However, if you are serious about testing for Profits or doing cross ad group testing then using ‘Rotate’ is the best setting to use.

With this ‘fix’ it only takes a few minutes to deploy these rules and labels so that you can back to your normal ad copy testing routine.

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