Death by Default 24 Jul 2012

Google AdWords makes pay-per-click (PPC) advertising seem so easy. You visit and you see 3 bullet points to success:

  1. You create your ads
  2. Your ads appear on Google
  3. You attract customers

In just 12 words (and a perfect ad-fitting 65 characters), Google describes the silver bullet of online marketing. You write some ads. You get customers. Any idiot could do that right?

Getting Started

Let’s say you’re a small business news site like and you’re looking to get some traffic to your site and some subscribers to your RSS feed and newsletter. The signup process is equally simple as Google walks you through the process of writing your first ad, picking a few keywords, setting your bids and voila! You’re attracting readers now. Awesome! But as they say, the devil is in the details and AdWords has a lot of little details. I want to focus on the default campaign settings and how they’re probably hurting the inexperienced advertiser.

Defaults 101

These are the 4 most important defaults that new advertisers should look at, and most likely change.

  • Networks – By default Google opts campaigns into Google Search, Search Partners and the Display Network. Experienced PPC professionals create separate campaigns for Search and Display since the targeting and performance are so different. Change this default accordingly.
  • Devices – The default is to target all devices. However, do people browsing the web on their phone behave the same way as people on their desktop at home? Even if they do, think about the difference in screen size, load time, and user experience. Yet again, you’ll want to separate for best results.
  • Delivery Method – Default here is standard. That means Google will try to spread your budget over the day as evenly as possible. I recommend accelerated so that your ads show on every available search until the budget runs out. You can use dayparting later to make sure you hit the best hours if budget is an issue. Changing this default is all about maintaining control.
  • Ad Rotation – The default here is Optimize for clicks. Sounds great right? But who is it being optimized for? Your spend is Google’s revenue, so their idea of optimization might not match yours. Choose Rotate evenly so you can test your ad copy and pick winners based on your criteria, not Google’s.

As you become more familiar with AdWords you’ll find more defaults that could use tweaking, but starting with these 4 will greatly improve your control and performance right from the start.

Peter Daisyme is a writer, computer nerd, Virtual Tour Fan, Writer at & Follow me on Twitter @peterdaisyme

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