Last week, I wrote a post about how one of Google’s updates, the Venice update, affected local search. Well, also last week, Google announced another update, one that has not gone down too well in PPC circles: the retirement of its “Rotate: show ads more evenly” feature in AdWords. And people are not happy.

AdWords current ad rotation settings

In your AdWords campaign settings, you have three options when it comes to ad rotation:

  • Optimise for clicks – where ads expected to provide more clicks are shown
  • Optimise for conversions – where ads expected to provide more conversions are shown
  • Rotate – where ads are shown evenly.
AdWords Ad Rotation Options
Ad rotation allows you to test different variations of your ad copy against one another to see what works best. ┬áBut Google is getting rid of this option. When you create new ads, they WILL be rotated evenly for 30 days; after that they will automatically be “opted” into being optimised for clicks.

In AdWords, and on its Inside AdWords blog, Google says this change is an “improvement”, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in the PPC community who thinks so. Most blog posts on the subject seem to decry the decision.

AdWords Improvement to Ad Rotation message in AdWords Interface

In fact, there is now a petition to get Google to reconsider their ad rotation change, so unpopular is it with online advertisers.

What does the ad rotation change actually mean?

In theory, the ad rotation change means that advertisers will only be showing the ads that Google deems to be most relevant… in terms of clicks. But what gets the best clickthrough rate may not get the most conversions. In other words, Google seems to be failing to take into account that advertisers might measure their success by other metrics.

In practice, it means that advertisers will only have 30 days to make decisions of their own about whether their ad copy is working. And 30 days isn’t always enough to make an informed decision.

It’s worth noting that, if you make changes to an ad, or add in a new one, this resets the clock, and you get another 30 days. But if you’re split testing your ad copy (and you really should be!), this pretty much renders any data useless as, again, there’s not enough time to make an informed decision.

As things stand, it’s hard not to see the whole thing as a money-making exercise on Google’s part. AdWords is its only paid-for service, and more clicks means more money. But small businesses and agencies – in fact all online advertisers – are going to have their work cut out for them to see what really works and what doesn’t.

Is the ad rotation change a massive fail on Google’s part, as many seem to think? Let us know in the comments.

Further reading:

Google AdWords: Pros and cons

For Goodness Sakes. What is Google changing now?

A Guide to AdWords Keyword Match Types


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