AdWords Update: Optimize for Conversions

Posted on Friday, February 25th, 2011 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - Featured, News, SEM

Google has announced a new ad rotation setting in AdWords that enables advertisers to better optimize their campaigns for conversions, rather than clicks.

When testing multiple versions of an ad creative, Google previously allowed users to either rotate the ads evenly, or favor the versions with higher click-through rates (CTR).  With this new “optimize for conversions” feature, users have the additional option of showing ads with the highest conversion rate more often.

According to their blog post, Google added “optimize for conversions” based on the feedback of their AdWords users.  As Mike Jarvinen, Vice President, Marketing Strategy at The Search Agency explains, this new feature could help advertisers with a broad conversion footprint, but may be problematic for small advertisers or new ad groups:  “I was initially excited about this feature but have some concerns about the fact that if there isn’t enough conversion data, AdWords initially optimizes to clicks instead of rotation before moving to optimizing to conversions. As a best practice, we put Google campaign settings for ads to rotate evenly (for clean ad testing) instead of the default ‘optimize to clicks’.  We find that focusing ad-testing on CTR is often in misalignment with client goals of CPA, ROI, or conversions per 1,000 impressions.  Though an interesting feature for marketers looking to leave ads on ‘auto pilot’, it may not provide a better solution for managed advertisers in competitive verticals.”

What are your initial impressions of Google’s “optimize for conversions” feature?  Should this be the default setting on most accounts?

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3 Responses to “AdWords Update: Optimize for Conversions”

  1. Ami Grant says:

    Pros
    -Google does the work for you of optimizing creatives to conversion data. In theory this should work if there is no creative testing in progress but how would Google handle serving a brand new ad with no history?
    Cons
    -Google maximizes for conversions only. CPA and ROI targets are irrelevant.
    -Google pixel data often differs from client tracking. In some cases client tracking is more robust than Google tracking i.e. first party cookies often capture more conversions than Google’s third party cookie. In other words, Google may be missing out on some important data in the equation.
    At first glance, I planned to turn this on for a few accounts and test performance, but the cons appear to outweigh the pros. As a search marketer, keeping ads on set to an even rotation offers more control for creative analysis and optimization.

  2. Y.S. says:

    It’s good to alternate between even and auto-optimize to at least have A/B results to compare. Initially it’s good to collect data, but even if you see better numbers, you can’t tell until you finally put the focus on the winners. Automating it is much faster, too.

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