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Google AdWords Standard and Accelerated Delivery: The Simple Story of The Tortoise and The Hare

Co-authored by Marcus McBride

When you have an account that has a limited budget, a Search Marketer is always faced with how to deliver their ads most efficiently.  Google AdWords gives you the option of delivering ads two ways [1] – accelerated or standard. This setting affects how fast your ads are served throughout the day, from 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Do you want to take the tortoise approach (standard delivery) and serve your ads more consistently throughout the day or the hare approach (accelerated delivery) and serve your ads as fast as possible? Both have their disadvantages. Setting your ads to accelerated delivery could exhaust your daily budget and keep your ads from running later in the day, when people may be home surfing the web. However, setting your ads to standard delivery may mean you miss customers earlier in the day. Please keep in mind your budget will also limit how often your ads are seen.

Standard delivery is the default for all campaigns. To find this setting, select a campaign, click on the “Settings” tab, scroll down to “Bidding and Budgeting.”

Our account team at The Search Agency decided to test the impact on performance of accelerated vs. standard delivery.  We partnered with one of our clients– a well-known manufacturer of consumer technology — to conduct this test and selected a non-brand campaign that historically performed very well for the advertiser.    We ran the campaign with a fixed daily budget of $2,000  for 14 days on accelerated and then switched to standard delivery at 12:01AM for the next 14 days.  The campaign was not affected by seasonality or outside marketing.

Here are the overall results:


For this particular campaign, the transition from Accelerated to Standard Delivery had a positive impact on performance:


The next questions we asked was “At what time of day do our ads appear under each setting?” and “When does the campaign shut off due to budget being spent?”


Looking at the data above shows that the campaign, when set to accelerated, was only live until about 8-10 a.m. on most days and was not live during the afternoons about 80% of the time. When set to standard delivery, the ads were more evenly distributed throughout the day, and the campaign was live every day until at least 6p.m.

So, the moral of the Google AdWords tortoise and hare story? Our test shows that, in this case, standard delivery performed better across all key metrics. Some search marketers only believe in accelerated delivery, as they want to make sure they serve their ads as fast as possible, especially those with limited time promotions. We will continue to test here and report back, but in the meantime, see what works best for your account and let us know who wins the race.

About Lindsay Crone

Lindsay is a Senior Creative Editor for the SEM and SEO Departments at The Search Agency. She is responsible for the day-to-day and long term creative optimization and maintenance projects for search engine campaigns. Specific duties include writing dynamic ad copy, creating extensive and well themed keyword lists, appropriately targeting audiences through geographic and demographic settings, testing creative components, and keeping up with advances in the industry. Prior to joining TSA, Lindsay worked as a Search Campaign Manager for Advertising.com/AOL. Before Advertising.com, Lindsay served in marketing roles for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. Lindsay graduated from James Madison University, in 2008, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration (Business-to-Consumer Marketing concentration) and a Minor in Non-Profit Studies. Outside of work Lindsay enjoys spending time with her family, renovating her home with her husband, exercising with her dog, and enjoying Maryland life.