Automate Your AdWords Management with Automated Rules, Part 2

by Joseph Kerschbaum

Director of Client Services, Clix Marketing

Automated rules recently became available in all Google AdWords accounts, so now is the perfect time for you to learn all about this powerful new feature.

Need to catch up or just joining us? Part 1 focused on campaign-level rules that you can set within your AdWords account.

Today, we’ll switch gears and discuss the numerous requirements/criteria that you can use when setting up automated rules. Then we’ll review the rules you can use at other levels of your account: ad group, keyword, and ad variation.

Basics of Setting up Automated Rules Within AdWords

For each rule, there is one specific action that will be taken (e.g., pause an ad group). But you can use a wide range of specific performance criteria in order to trigger any automated action.

Here’s what the rule setting section in AdWords looks like:

AdWords Rule Setting Section

The two most important requirements you use when creating a rule are:

  • E-mail results: Always choose to receive an e-mail every time your rule runs. This way you can make sure that everything is working properly and no automated mistakes hurt your campaign.
  • Preview results: Always preview the results of your rule. This preview shows you what changes would be made if the rule ran right now. This will give you a very good indication if you’ve set up the rule correctly and if it will be of use within your account.

Use Multiple Rule Requirements

For each rule, you can set up extremely specific requirements. Your imagination is your only limitation here. You can set requirements by cost, CPCCPACTR, conversion rate, and numerous other metrics.

The key to success is using multiple requirements for each rule. Remember, most requirements use a comparison matrix (e.g., you may look for ad groups with spend greater than $500, or keywords with a CTR lower than 2 percent).

Looking for ad groups that have spent more than $500 probably isn’t very useful. However, wouldn’t you want to find ad groups that have spent more than $500 with less than five conversions when your CPA goal is $50?

We don’t have the space in this article to go every possible combination, but here are a few criteria you may want to consider when setting rule requirements:

  • Look for elements of your account (keywords, ad groups, campaigns, ads) that are significantly under-performing. Think about your threshold for poor performance and set up rules that reflect the criteria of these KPIs. Your automated rules can lower bids or pause the stragglers until you get a chance to do a deeper analysis.
  • Look for elements of your account that are doing awesome. For example, you may want find keywords with a low CPA and a low average position, and boost their minimum bids. This is the way to accentuate the positive within your account. If something is working, why not make it work better?

Set the Right Frequency Setting

You can set your rules to trigger at varying intervals: one time, daily, weekly, monthly. The frequency of your rule should be determined by the rate of volume in your campaign.

If you have a high volume campaign, then setting daily rule reviews may make sense. You may find that daily rules aren’t a good fit (your campaign just doesn’t accrue enough performance data quickly) — so you should try the weekly option.

For each frequency setting, you can determine the day and time that your rule will run (for example, Mondays at 10 a.m.).

Timeframe Comparison

AdWords Timeframes

Rules within AdWords are based on comparing timeframes. As you can see in the image above, you have quite a few options when it comes to selecting the timeframes for your rule.

For example, you can set your rule to compare data from the previous seven days, last work week (Mon – Fri), or last 30 days.

Similar to setting the report frequency, you need to establish a timeframe that makes sense for your account. If your account is fast-moving with lots of volume, then comparing day-to-day would work. If you want to be more conservative, you can try out the longer timeframes.


That was a walkthrough on the criteria that you can set up for rules.

Automated rules can be helpful when deployed correctly. Remember, you must monitor all automated changes closely. Unfortunately, nothing works perfectly so watch these rules like a hawk.

Here are the other rules that you can use within AdWords (campaign level rules are covered in Part 1):

Rules for ad groups:

  • Pause ad groups: This rule will automatically pause an ad group. When the performance of your ad group hits the criteria of your rule, automated action will take place.
  • Change ad group default CPC: This rule automatically increase or lower default ad group bids.
  • Enable ad groups: This rule automatically enable ad groups if a certain criteria is established.

Rules for keywords:

  • Pause keywords: This rule will automatically pause keywords based your rule criteria.
  • Change max CPC bids: This rule will automatically increase or decrease bids.
  • Raise bids to first page CPC: This rule will automatically increase keyword bids to the first page minimum.

Rules for ads:

  • Pause ads: You can automatically paused if they reach a certain criteria.
  • Enable ads: This will automatically enable ads that match your rule criteria.


This article was originally posted February 18, 2010 on