As most of you should have heard by now (and if you haven’t, read Kathryn Lally’s article Changes to Google’s Rotate Ads Option for more detailed information), Google recently updated how they were rotating their paid search text ads for campaigns set to “Rotate Evenly.” Basically, after 30 days the system automatically changes the ad setting to “Optimize to Click.” Okay, so it doesn’t automatically change it (and you won’t even see the change on the settings tab for the specific campaign). According to Google, there has to be a statistically relevant click through rate (CTR) winner for the change to take place (no official statistic was given, although 75% has been bandied about around the water cooler). They also say that the ad rotation won’t be 95% one ad versus 5% of the other, but more like 60/40. It doesn’t matter, because you can’t run an ad test where one ad gets more of the impression share due to its click volume than the other (just ask anyone who’s tried to test on Bing).
Needless to say, many advertisers and their agencies are angry at the change, and why wouldn’t they be? In response, there is a petition going around voicing opinions for Google to change it back. And if you read the comments of the people who have signed, it makes sense. No one wants Google deciding, based on CTR, which ad is a better ad.
In fact, I rarely if ever use it as a measure of success (mobile click to call campaigns excluded here). Oftentimes, my higher CTR ad is the worst performer in the test, because a high CTR doesn’t necessarily equate to a high conversion rate. And you can now forget about testing in ad groups where there isn’t enough data after 30 days to call a winning ad – there is no longer a choice to continue the test. In fact, even Adwords Campaign Experiment is affected by the change, so if you thought you could get around the change that way, think again.
Will the petition work? I doubt it. It’s like trying to talk those Wall Street bankers into giving back the bonuses they received after the government bailout of their bank. Why do I say that? Because it’s simple. Google is in the business of making money. They can say it’s for the good of the users, that advertisers wanted it (I don’t think they asked very many), that it will provide better ad copy that will drive better traffic to your site, yadda yadda yadda. But what it boils down to is that it makes them more money. More clicks = more dollars in their bank account. They think that an ad with a higher CTR is a better ad, and it is, for them.
If you’re angry about the change and think that Google will listen to the masses, then go vote and prove me wrong. Let’s see if the power of the people can change Google’s mind about this ad rotation setting. Maybe they aren’t like those bankers on Wall Street.