Ad rotation settings in Google Ads changed in 2017, eliminating the “Rotate evenly” setting. If your account has been set up for more than a couple of years and you don’t have AdWords rotate ads evenly in your account, there may be some performance improvements you can make. Let’s look at the best ad rotation setting for AdWords going into 2020.

ad rotation

Old Google Ads Ad Rotation Settings

Four settings existed at the campaign level.

  • Optimize by clicks
  • Optimize by conversions
  • Rotate ads evenly
  • Rotate indefinitely

Best Ad Rotation for AdWords - Symphonic Digital

Current Google Ads Ad Rotation Settings

Three settings now exist at the campaign and ad group level.

  • Use campaign setting
  • Optimize: Prefer best performing ads
  • Do not optimize: Rotate ads indefinitely

If you choose “Optimize”, then Google Ads/AdWords will automatically favor ads with the best CTR unless you utilize Smart Bidding (more on this below). The option “Do Not Optimize” will rotate your ads indefinitely until you choose otherwise.

How to Optimize to Conversions

You may be asking yourself, “what happened to optimize to conversions?” Technically, it has just moved. If you want AdWords to optimize to conversions, you’ll need to choose a bidding strategy via Smart Bidding. There are three targets to choose from:

  1. Target CPA
  2. Target ROAS
  3. Maximize Conversions

If you don’t want to rely on AdWords’ machine learning, you can always manually optimize keywords and ads. Ads will default to “Optimize” when Smart Bidding is used. This means even if you chose “Do Not Optimize”, your ads will still automatically optimize. Learn more about Smart Bidding.

What to Know Before Choosing the Best Ad Rotation

First, we must understand that Google Ads makes optimizations decisions based on machine learning. AdWords automates what you’d try to achieve manually. However, machine learning is only as strong as the person operating the settings and inputs. Therein lies the flaw, we’re human and don’t always choose the correct settings. Here’s what can happen.

1. We forget

If you set your ads to “Do Not Optimize”, they will evenly rotate forever. It’s ok to rotate ads to give them a chance, but the day will come when you must pause poor performing ads. By this time, you may be neck deep in work tasks and poor performing ads will end up stealing your top performing ads’ thunder.

2. Doing well in one area can hurt another

You’ve selected “Optimize” and your CTR is booming, so you leave it alone. What you may not realize is your conversion rate is suffering because of this. There is often an inverse relationship between CTR and Conversion Rate. Let’s understand this through ice cream (I use this a lot).

You have two ad variations going to a landing page that says, “buy one ice cream, get one free!”.

  • Ad 1 > “Get Free Ice Cream!”
  • Ad 2 > “Buy 1 Get 1 Free!”

Ad 1 will have the higher CTR because who wouldn’t want free ice cream? Yet, your conversion rate will suffer when people realize it’s not completely free. Ad 2 will get fewer clicks, yet at a higher conversion rate because consumers know exactly what they will get.

3. More options, more management

Now that rotation settings exist in two areas and optimizing options exist in other areas, the time you spend adjusting settings may increase. Not only this but the more buttons you press, the more possibilities for human error.

4. We skip details

Google recommends 30 conversions for the past 30 days before using the “Target CPA” setting and 50 conversions for “Target ROAS” – this applies to each ad group. This means, if you use Smart Bidding for an ad group that doesn’t accrue enough conversions, AdWords will automatically default to optimizing to clicks.

Now that we understand this …

So What’s The Best Ad Rotation Setting for Google Ads?

At this point, you should be optimizing to an end goal and not just traffic. The best ad rotation for AdWords exists under two separate conditions.

1. If particular ad groups DO NOT receive enough conversions for the system to adequately optimize

a. Choose “Do Not Optimize”. This means your ads will rotate until you say otherwise. Gather enough conversion data to make an educated decision. Then pause all ads except your top performer – the one that delivers most conversions at the lowest cost (due to a combination of click volume and conversion rate).
b. Create new ad copies to a/b test and rotate in to replace the poor performers you paused.

2. If particular ad groups DO receive enough conversions

a. Choose “Optimize”. From here you’ll want to choose a Smart Bidding strategy that makes sense for your business goals.
b. If you are weary of AdWords’ machine learning decisions and/or you want more immediate control, you can always leave the bidding strategy to manual and avoid Smart Bidding. From there, you can always manually activate/pause ads as you see fit and make manual keyword bids based on your goals.

Some of these bidding strategies and tactics can be granular and confusing. Give us a shout for any questions surrounding these topics. Feel free to share your thoughts with us. Perhaps you have a better best ad rotation for AdWords; we’d love to hear about it.

More on ad rotation settings