Here’s an AdWords script to check for empty ad groups

Is your AdWords account running on empty?

Last month, I showed you how to check that you’re not still showing ads for last year’s deals. But what if you’re not showing any ads at all?

Maybe you’ve just paused all your sale ads and forgotten to reactivate some of the old ones. Or maybe you’ve been rolling out new ads for some copy testing but accidentally missed a few ad groups off the bulk sheet. Or maybe you’ve had all the ads in an ad group disapproved and haven’t noticed it yet.

Or maybe there is ad text, but the keywords are all disapproved. Or paused. Or are just missing. It doesn’t matter how compelling your ad text is if there’s nothing to make them show up!

So we’ve got a script that goes through all your ad groups and lets you know if they’re empty of ads or keywords. It even does a few “best practice” checks as well. It can also say if there are too many keywords or too few ads, if there are no mobile preferred ads, or if there are broad keywords with no negatives to keep them in check.

To use the script, copy the code below into your AdWords account, and then change the following settings. (If you’ve never run a script before, please read paid search reporter Ginny Marvin’s brilliant series on AdWords Scripts for every level).

  • You’ll need to create a blank Google Doc spreadsheet and enter its URL in spreadsheetUrl. The script will list the campaign and ad group names of the groups it finds in this spreadsheet.
  • If you don’t want to look at some campaigns, you can add their names (or part of their names) into the array campaignNameDoesNotContain. These have to be in quote marks and separated by commas — for example, [“Display,” “Shopping”] to exclude all campaigns with names containing “display” or “shopping.”
    • Leave blank, [], to not exclude any campaigns.
    • This is not case-sensitive.
    • As Shopping, Display and Dynamic Search campaigns don’t require keywords, use this to filter them out.
  • Alternatively, if there are only a few campaigns you want to look at, you could enter their names (or part of their names) into the array campaignNameContains. Like campaignNameDoesNotContain, these should be in quote marks and comma-separated — for example, [“Brand,” “Generic”] to include only campaigns with names containing “brand” or “generic.”
    • Leave blank, [], to include all campaigns.
    • Again, this is not case-sensitive.
    • If you need to put a double quote into campaignNameContains or campaignNameDoesNotContain, put a backslash before it. For example, if the campaign name is 9″ Tablets, you’d enter it as 9” Tablets.
    • If your account is very large and the script keeps timing out, or if you’re running into the size limit of the output spreadsheet, you could try running the script multiple times using campaignNameContains or campaignNameDoesNotContain to look at different campaigns each time.
  • If ignorePausedCampaigns is true, then the script will only look at currently active campaigns. Set them to false if you want to look at currently paused campaigns, as well as the active ones.
    • You can use this to check new campaigns before they go live.
    • Note that paused ad groups are always ignored.
  • If ignorePausedKeywords is true, then the script will only look at active keywords: If an ad group has only paused keywords, then it will be reported as empty. If it’s false, then they won’t be reported as empty.
    • Removed keywords are always ignored. You can’t reactivate them, after all!
    • If ignorePausedKeywords is false, then paused keywords will also count toward the maximum number of keywords in an ad group.
  • Similarly, if ignorePausedAds is true, then paused ads are ignored: If an ad group has only paused ads, then it will be reported as empty.
    • Disapproved and removed ads are always ignored.
    • If ignorePausedAds is false, then paused ads will also count toward the minimum number of ads in an ad group.
  • maximumKeywordsPerAdGroup is a number. If an ad group has more than this number of keywords it will be reported.
    • I recommend having one keyword per ad group, to keep ads as relevant as possible and make sure ad testing is fair, so I’d set this to 1. But if you use a different account structure, you could set it to a higher number.
  • minimumAdsPerAdGroup is also a number. If an ad group has fewer than this many ads (but more than zero), it will be reported.
    • This is a basic way to make sure you’re testing ads everywhere. Ad testing is important! But if you only care that there is at least one ad in a group — so that there is something to show — you can set this to 1, and it won’t report anything.
  • If findAdGroupsWithoutMobileAds is true, then the script will output ad groups that have ads but don’t have any mobile preferred ads.
    • If ignorePausedAds is false, then ad groups that only have paused mobile ads won’t be reported here.
  • If findAdGroupsWithNoNegatives is true, then the script will output a list of ad groups which contain broad match keywords but don’t have any negative keywords.
    • The script will check if there are any negatives at ad group level, campaign level or in shared negative lists linked to the campaign.
    • If ignorePausedKeywords is false, then ad groups will be reported if they have no negatives and paused broad match keywords.

Here’s the script:

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