Pause Low CTR Ads In AdWords Automatically With Rules / Alerts

Author: Gab Goldenberg

While looking around for AdWords alerts, I discovered a very handy time-saving feature in AdWords called Rules. You can use AdWords Rules to automatically pause low-CTR ads, high-CPA keywords and likewise auto-manage other aspects of your account that don’t require human judgment.
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Here are some things you can do automatically with rules without having to manually make the changes online or with AdWords Editor (whose interface sadly won’t let you setup rules):

1. Pause or start ads, ad groups or keywords
2. Increase or decrease bids by a specified amount or percentage (this amounts to bid management built into the AdWords platform)
3. Save AdWords management time on the weekend, special event, or other seasonal happening
4. Control costs and budget

Do all these things based on parameters you set for performance data:

  1. CTR,
  2. impressions,
  3. cost,
  4. conversions (with over a dozen submetrics like viewthru conversions etc),
  5. average (avg). cpc,
  6. avg cpm,
  7. avg position,
  8. clicks,
  9. ad text, (typically for
  10. display URL,
  11. destination URL,
  12. approval status,
  13. ad group,
  14. ad group name and
  15. ad type.

A useful point made in the AdWords Rules FAQ is that you want to be careful in when (i.e. how frequently) you set the rule to operate and how long a sample period it’s checking.

For example, imagine the rule: ” ‘If an ad’s average position over the last 14 days is worse than 3, raise bids by x% daily.’ This would raise your bids more frequently (daily) than the rule is evaluating the ad’s average position (on a 14 day window). It is generally better to use frequency and measurement windows that are consistent with one another (e.g., if you select a weekly frequency, then use data from the last 7 days).”

That makes a lot of sense and that tip helped me set up my rules properly. Initially I set up rules to pause low performing with too short a time window. So I had ads that I could see had a CTR below 2% (my minimal acceptable CTR for a new ad in this campaign) based on the interface, but the rule preview wasn’t showing them as being paused according to the rule I set up. Why not? Because I was viewing data from the last 30 days while the rule was set up to use 7 days data including today’s.

On that same note: the terms used for when the rule will run / what data it checks aren’t entirely clear, notably due to overlap.

Here are some clarifications:

Same day – same day the rule is run

Last day – the day before the rule is run

Same month – all days of that same month, which is not a great option because this could be anything from 1 day to 31 days! A better alternative, unless you’re just running the rule one-time to make mass changes (in which case you can run it at the end of the month for the same month and often have enough data):

Last 30 days – i.e. prior to the rule executing. Except for low volume keywords, this typically suffices.

P.s. Pro tip: Don’t have AdWords email you every time the rule runs because you will be inundated. Alternately, create a secondary email address that gets the emails, so you can track what changed and when, but without being overwhelmed.

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