5 Things New Advertisers Need to Know About Google AdWords Campaign Settings


The vast majority of experienced paid search advertisers fully understand Google AdWords campaign settings. However, these settings often go unnoticed by novice advertisers.

Simply being aware of these settings and their implications can save advertisers hundreds to thousands of dollars out of the gate. In this article, I’ll cover five tips for new advertisers related to Google AdWords settings.

1. Stick With “Search Network Only” (To Start)

First and foremost, when setting up your Search Network campaign within the Google AdWords interface, I would recommend against going with the Search Network with Display Select option, which Google advises is the “Best opportunity to reach the most customers.”

Stick with the Search Network only option to start (i.e., Google search and search partners), especially if you’re not an experienced advertiser on the Google Display Network. The Display Network will spend your budget extremely fast if the right controls are not applied.

Stick with the Search Network only option to start.

2. Choose “All Features”

After choosing the “Search Network Only” option, you’ll notice a choice between “Standard” and “All Features.” Google AdWords defaults to “Standard.”

Google AdWords defaults to Standard setting.

If you do not click on “All Features,” you’re limiting your options.

For example, by leaving the default setting as “Standard,” you’ll automatically limit your ad extension options during the campaign setup process to three out of the seven available with “All Features.”

The Standard setting limits your Ad extensions options.

Personally, I think it’s odd that Google would not select “All Features” as the default setting, especially after telling us that ad extensions play a role in Ad Rank. Why would they not just offer all the available options at campaign setup?

Furthermore, by not choosing “All Features,” you miss out on the following four advanced settings.

Advanced settings that are not an option with Standard campaign set-up.

Ad scheduling and Ad delivery are especially important for new advertisers to view while setting up a new campaign.

3. Expand “Location Options (Advanced)”

When setting up a campaign, newer advertisers may scroll past “Location options (advanced),” thinking that it’s actually an advanced feature that they don’t need to address at setup. Google AdWords does not display this option in expanded form.

Expand advanced location options.

There is really nothing “advanced” about this setting. When you do click to expand and see your options, Google AdWords “recommends” the broadest approach.

Here are the default settings for “Location options (advanced)” in expanded form.

Read Google's targeting options carefully.

Read Google’s recommended “Target” option carefully. This option can mean an awful lot of things and might be too broad for many advertisers based on their goals.

If you want to exclude clicks from anyone physically outside of a certain location, you’re going to want to choose “People in my targeted location.”

Without going into the many different scenarios where any of these may work for you, it’s just another example of how Google AdWords defaults to the broadest targeting option. If you don’t expand this option and proactively change out of the default setting, you could end up with hundreds of dollars of wasted spend before you catch this through analysis.

You’ll also find this same default setting in Bing Ads (along with other default settings that I’m mentioning in this post).

4. Expand “Ad Delivery: Ad Rotation”

Newer advertisers may also easily scroll past “Ad delivery: Ad rotation.” Google does not display delivery option in expanded form, either.

This is how it appears in the interface.

Be sure to expand Ad delivery.

Over the many years that I’ve been managing PPC campaigns, I’ve found that the default setting is often not the best choice for my programs, and I believe that the vast majority of my colleagues would agree with me. In expanded form, you’ll see the following options:

The default setting is optimize for clicks.

The default setting is “Optimize for clicks: Show ads expected to provide more clicks.” Google AdWords also states that this is the “ideal setting for most advertisers.”

However, clicks are not the primary metric by which most advertisers optimize campaigns. There are certain cases where this may make sense (limited time to manage the account), but the majority of experienced advertisers are going to choose another option. And you should, as well.

The setting that I use most often to start a campaign is “Rotate indefinitely.” This way, I can effectively test what messaging delivers clicks, conversions, actions, leads and opportunities.

This is a feature that advertisers appreciate. It gives us more control and the ability to run better testing. The option of “Rotate indefinitely” was actually removed at one time from Google AdWords until an outcry from the marketing community caused Google to reinstate it.

WordStream’s Larry Kim sent out a reminder at the time to double-check your “Ad delivery: Ad rotation” settings.

The rotate indefinitely ad rotation option was removed for a time by Google AdWords.

The ad rotation of rotate indefinitely makes a comeback.

Optimize for conversions” is also a good setting to test after you collect enough data.

Again, I rarely use the “Optimize for clicks” setting. Be aware of your campaign goals, and know you have options in how your ads are served.

5. Understand Google’s “Search Partners” Option

Understanding Google Search Network options is important, as well, and this can often be overlooked by new advertisers.

In Google’s default setting, “search partners” are included alongside the Google Search Network

Understand Google search partners performance.

Who are all these partners?

While Google does not provide a full partner list, I recommended taking the time to read this article at Search Engine Land and this article at Search Engine Journal. They provide some insight into what sites your ads might be appearing on, as well as tips to monitor performance and ensure that search partners are not negatively affecting your account.

I would recommend sticking with the default selection here of including these search partners. Be proactive in segmenting performance between the two to make sure it’s on track.

Lack Of Transparency

These are examples of a few default settings within Google AdWords that may lack overall transparency. Experienced paid search advertisers understand these options extremely well, but I can see how a novice advertiser could simply overlook them. Unfortunately, it might cost them dearly.

Could Google be a little more transparent?

In Google’s defense, there are links to various AdWords help pages throughout the setup process.

New advertisers should just remember that when establishing a new paid search campaign, you’re getting Google’s definition and Google’s examples.

Be Diligent: Do Your Research

I feel that Google AdWords, Bing Ads and other publishers could do more to be transparent and make it easier to not miss any of these options within their interfaces during the campaign setup process.

I recommend that new paid search advertisers do a bit more research to gain additional insights. You can find excellent reading and helpful tips on industry blogs, including Search Engine Land, PPC HeroSearch Engine Journal and Search Engine Watch.

And to keep up with the latest happenings from Google AdWords and Bing Ads, I recommend bookmarking Inside AdWords and the Bing Ads Blog.

I hope this article is helpful for the new advertisers out there. I know this topic has been discussed in the past, and it’s my hope that Google AdWords and Bing Ads will make a few small tweaks within their interfaces to make the campaign setup process fully transparent.

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