Why You Must Choose A Winning PPC Ad

One of the worst ways of testing ads is:

  • Writing new ads
  • Turning on one of Google’s ‘optimize’ features
  • Letting Google serve your ads
  • Writing new ads
  • Let Google serve your ads
  • repeat…

However, I find this is a very common testing method. There’s a big problem with this method: there’s no delete. Just by deleting ads, you can increase your account efficiencies significantly.

I recently saw a few accounts where just by picking winners, their traffic and conversions increased from 30% to almost 300%. That’s right, hitting the delete button was the best optimization that could be done in the accounts.

How Google Serves Multiple Ads

First off, you must choose how Google is going to rotate your ads. My personal preference is rotate indefinitely as I’m a testing control freak. However, there are times that using one of the ‘optimizes’ is a good idea.


Now, if you have more than one ad in an ad group; and you are using Optimize for Clicks or Optimize for conversions; then Google will start to show a winner more often. You can see this under the % Served in the ads tab.

However, Google will never show an ad 100% of the time if you have multiple ads in an ad group. They will also show the other ads some percentage (even if its small) to make sure another ad shouldn’t be displaying more often based upon your settings.

Therefore, if you are just creating ads, and never deleting them, your losers are still showing (potentially a lot) if you have lots of ads.  Therefore, I wanted to show two quick examples of where deleting helped accounts more than any other change to their account.

A Quick Case Study

The first account averaged 19 active ads by ad group. Some ad groups had more than 50 active ads in them.

The account’s goal was simple, get the most clicks possible. They were a publisher and they monetized their site with CPM ads and paid content subscriptions. Because their bids were lower than their CPM take, every single click was profitable. Therefore, they wanted to get the absolute most clicks possible for their target bids.

When you look at the ad percentage served (this is ad group level), the absolute best ad was only being shown 14.88% of the time. The second best ad 4.10%, and the 3rd best 3.37% and so on. That means the top 3 ads in terms for CTR, their main goal, are being displayed about 22% of the time.


In this ad group, the CTRs ranged from 6.8% to 1.2%. Ads with under a 2% CTR were being shown roughly 30% of the time. Ads with a CTR higher than 6% were showing roughly 24% of the time.

So by deleting many ads, this single ad group almost tripled in total clicks. As every click was profitable, that’s a lot of money to be had just by hitting the delete button.

In this case, the goal was traffic, but it could just have as easily been conversion rates, Profit Per Impression, or another metric that’s important to your overall success.

Misaligned Ad Serving Goals

The other big issue that occurs is that your goal is conversion focused, but you are using Google’s default settings for optimizing for clicks. In that case, the ads with the highest CTRs will be shown more often and not the ads with the highest conversion rates or the lowest cost per conversion.


In this case, you can delete the losers, or even just be lazy and change the setting to show ads with the highest conversion rate the most.

In this account, the ad with the highest ad serving percentage, had one of the lowest conversions rates.  However, because it had the highest CTR, Google was showing it more than any other ad. The ad with the highest conversion rate was being served less than 10% of the time.

Just by hitting the delete button, this account raised its total conversions quite significantly. It was a very profitable day by just hitting the delete button.

If The Default Setting Isn’t Right For You – Change It

The default ad setting is to optimize for clicks. If you are looking for the most traffic, this is a good setting. However, if you are a testing guru and want to make sure that your ads rotate evenly so you can use Conversion Per Impression or other testing metrics to determine your winners, you will want to use the rotate evenly setting.

If you want the most conversions possible, and are not going to closely watch your ad tests, then use optimize for conversions.

Each setting has its place. If you are serious about testing, you will use rotate evenly the most. However, if you realize you want to be serious but you don’t have the time, then just make sure you are using an ad rotation setting that is in alignment with your overall goals.


You must test ads – that’s a PPC requirement for any account that wants to grow and improve.

Even if you have a large account, enterprise ad testing can be easy once you have a strategy in place.

However, most companies don’t have a good strategy in place for testing ads regardless if it’s a small account or a large one. It’s time to put a strategy in place, and when you do create it, make sure that ‘deleting losing ads’ is one of the steps in your testing workflow.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Paid Search Column


About The Author: is the Founder of Certified Knowledge, a company dedicated to PPC education & training; fficial Google AdWords Seminar Leader, and author of Advanced Google AdWords.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=709325254 Dan Gillen

    Great article, plenty to think about. Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.brasoveanu Dan Brasoveanu

    I totally agree with Dave. If you just pause the poor performing ads you get the same effect as deleting them. I don’t understand why deleting them is better.

    @Dave: Even if you delete them the data is preserved, just choose for an ad group show “all ads” in the upper left above the adwords graph for a year for instance and you will also get the deleted ads with their historical data.

  • http://twitter.com/bgtheory Brad Geddes

    Pause and delete are view states. If you are never going to use an ad again, then delete it – you can always see the data, and if you ever want to run it again; then you can just recreate the ad.

    If you want to use the ad again in the future; then pause it.

    This makes it easier when you have thousands (or millions) of ads to know if you are done with the ad because it lost or if you are just pausing it because you want to use it again.

    You never lose data inside of AdWords. You can get data on anything that’s been deleted in your account.

  • http://www.eBizROI.com Rick Noel, eBiz ROI, Inc.

    Excellent advice Brad on how search marketers focused on traffic and ROI can more efficiently manage their PPC budget. Understanding an ads performance relative to how they are being served based on campaign settings is huge. I agree that building the delete/pause into your optimization workflow can have tremendous impact as demonstrated by the case study, making the impact more real. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://twitter.com/Leah_Kinthaert Leah Kinthaert

    I wholeheartedly agree with Dave and Dan. I like to keep all those poorly performing ads handy by pausing them so when I think I have just thought up some winning ad copy I realize I have already tried it out and it bombed. Thanks for the great post, however, some great advice.

  • Russell Savage

    For anyone interested in doing this but doesn’t have the time, i wrote a little AdWords Script to automatically pause all but the highest performing ad in your adgroup. Check it out and let me know if you have any problems with it. http://www.freeadwordsscripts.com/2012/11/automatically-pause-ads-with-low-ctr.html

  • http://twitter.com/EVEMilano EVE Milano

    Hi all, please tell me if there is any kind of difference in pause or delete.
    My ranking will benefit most if i delete? or it is the same? Thanks a lot

  • Pat Grady

    Plus paused ads are subject to review, if a URL changes, your maintenance is higher. If it’s for an ad you never intend to show again, wasted time and you grow your compliance track record by one teensy notch each time.

  • http://twitter.com/bgtheory Brad Geddes

    @Nordstrom:disqus I agree with all the segmentation you are mentioning. That’s why I really like AdWords labels (http://searchengineland.com/how-to-easily-manage-test-millions-of-ads-137187) and campaign segments before running reports.

    I find the lables have saved me a lot of time on search. For display, sometimes they are great; other times; as you mentioned; they aren’t granular enough – and that’s when you have to think about time vs possibility in picking winning data.


Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide