In late September Google will be ‘simplifying’ ad rotation

Sep 7th, 2017

According to an announcement last week, Google will limit AdWords rotation options to two – ‘optimise’ and ‘rotate indefinitely’ – which, they say, will simplify ad rotation

As with any decision made by Google, the announced changes to AdWords rotation options has been met with plenty of discontented muttering within the paid search sphere (just as changes were back in 2012 – see this pretty funny response from the Search Engine Land back catalogue).

However, while there are a number of blogs expressing dissatisfaction, the majority of industry experts (including those here at Click Consult) see it as another in a long line of changes which has been telegraphed by a number of previous changes (not to mention a 2015 blog by Director of Performance Ads Marketing for Google Matt Lawson).

Google’s clear preference for the ‘optimise ad rotation’ setting is about to be taken to a new level from late September on, when the four current options are combined in to two adjusted options.


Changes will combine click and conversion optimisation and remove ‘rotate evenly’.

Over the last 17 years, PPC has built up a reputation as a scientific pursuit – a marketing endeavour more reliant on equations and testing than its conventional counterparts, and it is a reputation that has been deserved.

The level of testing required to fully optimise a paid search account is still a significant investment despite changes Google have made to AdWords to allow for smaller businesses to enter the market, and though (as Wordstream has pointed out) many brands have seen improved performance historically from switchovers to optimise from rotate indefinitely, it remains to be seen how a combination setting will effect brands using one or the other.

We believe that while moving over to an optimised rotation is in general beneficial (which this change is moving advertisers towards), it can never be a substitute for replacing and refreshing ad copy variations with new fresh creatives. It would be my fear that advertisers over-extend their expectations in what an ‘optimised’ at rotation can do; full ad optimisation only happens with constant refreshing of creatives based on significance testing.

Dave Karellen – Head of Paid Search, Click Consult

The fear outlined by our Head of Paid Search sums up the possible issues with the change. While optimisation is undoubtedly a good thing, it is difficult to apply universally a description of what it means. While a dedicated PPC professional can perform adjustments, refresh content, and carry out testing to reach an idea of what optimisation represents to a specific brand, an algorithm cannot have the same level of brand knowledge for each account. However, properly combined with ad reviews, the potential is there to implement continual improvement through updating and changing the worst performing iterations.

The changes are due to roll out from the 25th September and will noticed first by those accounts employing either the ‘rotate evenly’ or ‘optimise for conversions’ settings (and those using smart bidding strategies like enhanced CPC, target CPA etc). As these are common within the industry, it pays for all PPC practitioners and AdWords account holders to keep their eyes peeled over the next few months.

The upcoming change (according to the official AdWords blog) will be executed like this:

  1. Ad rotation settings will be reduced to two (optimise and rotate indefinitely) – this is the main change and will, Google says, simplify ad rotation.
  2. Optimise will be just for clicks – each individual auction, based on keyword, device, location etc will be optimised for clicks, meaning smart bidding will be the only way to prioritise conversions.
  3. Rotation will also be reduced to one option – rotate evenly will be removed in favour of rotate indefinitely will be the only way to give your ads equal preference.

With all this in mind, however, for those looking to ensure the best possible performance of their AdWords account, advice remains the same – that continual testing and improvement remains the order of the day.

In this regard, it is entirely possible to test the different ad rotation methods against one another using AdWords Experiments to determine which of the rotation options, if either, offers any improvement in overall performance.

For more help with your PPC, you can take a look at our extensive catalogue of paid search resources, or contact us today. For more PPC expertise, why not come along to our Benchmark Search Conference?


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