Get Your Time Back: Rescue Your PPC Life With Automated Rules

Feeling overwhelmed trying to monitor all your keywords?  Going on vacation and no one else is available to make changes to your Search ads?  Worried about going over budget?  Automated rules to the rescue!  They can simplify your PPC life when you need it the most.

Think about automated rules as customized “if/then” directions that you decide yourself based on your unique needs in Google and Bing.  These rules will implement your requested changes for you and you can have those changes emailed to you so you can see exactly what was changed.  Rules exist at the campaign, ad group, keyword or ad levels and can be created from any of those tabs. See the screenshot below for where to find the Automate tab in the AdWords interface (left) and Bing (right).

(You may have noticed that Adwords has an extra feature for Scripts, but we’ll cover that in another blog post next week.)

You can have up to 100 active rules per user on the account, so you there is plenty of room for all the rules you or your team could ever want.  Some rules are meant to fly solo (say, changing keyword bids that fall below a set CTR or position) and others with a partner (think one rule to pause an ad featuring a special sale that ends at midnight and a second rule to un-pause an ad with your new sale that starts at midnight).

You also get to decide the time period for the data to be analyzed (one time, daily, weekly, or monthly), the date/time of day you’d like the rule to run, and how often the rule should run.

Examples for Applying Automated Rules

There are so many scenarios of how you can use automated rules and options for your requirements (your “ifs” for your rules) that I could go on and on forever. Here are a few common automated rules to leverage in your accounts:

  • Turning Campaigns off for a holiday, sales event or other occasion, then reactivating the campaigns on a specific day.
  • Pause ad groups when spend reaches a certain amount without any conversions.
  • Increase keyword bids by x% if they fall below first-page bid.
  • Pause an ad after x number of impressions and CTR is below a certain threshold.
  • Increase a daily budget when CTRs and Conversion Rates are above a certain percentage.

Actually, Adwords Help Center has a great section completely dedicated to automated rules including some common ways they can be implemented.   You can also read through Bing’s automated rules information.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Automated Rules

Here’s some suggestions for getting the most out of automated rules before you start implementing new rules.

  • Always preview your results to make sure your rule is set up as you intended it to be (see the third arrow in the screenshot above).
  • Consider running the rule just one time as a test to see results before scheduling it to automatically run at set time intervals.
  • Remember that AdWords assigns a value of $0 when there aren’t any conversions for your criteria and time period. Keep that in mind when creating rules involving CPAs by adding a requirement that CPA does not equal zero (and possibly create a separate rule for when the CPA does equal zero).
  • Your time-period matters. Be cautious when setting up daily rules, especially if you are choosing not have the system look at and use data from the previous day.
  • Make sure you have enough statistically viable data to make the rule worth running and valid. If not, change the time parameters and/or set a minimum value (such as impressions must be greater than 1000, clicks greater than 10, etc).
  • Too many rules can quickly and unintentionally sabotage an account. Start slowly and not too aggressively.
  • You can always undo a rule using the “Change History” tool.
  • If you import a campaign into Bing from Google, the rules associated with that Google campaign will not be imported.

Differences Between AdWords and Bing Ads

While AdWords and Bing Ads rules are fairly similar, I encountered very few differences when examining the two channels. Bing offers almost the same variables across all 4 rules areas, but includes some unique ones like Languages at the campaign level, imported ad groups or imported keywords. AdWords offers some additional options such as:

  • Campaign Rules: Type, subtype, start date, end date
  • Ad Group Rules: Cost per View – this is huge for True View video ad groups.
  • Ad Rules: Final URL, mobile URL, policy details
  • Keyword Rules: Click-assisted values, final URL, mobile URL
  • Across all rules: Gmail ads, You Tube earned and active view performance metrics.

Not Sure Where to Start?

If you are feeling overwhelmed, try creating one or more of these lists in relation to your campaign, ad group, keyword and/or ad management strategies:

  • Tasks that take you the longest.
  • Tasks you wish you had time to do, but never seem to be able to get to.
  • Tasks that you should do, but always seem to forget about.

These lists will quickly reveal a few areas for you to try.  Read about some of our recommended rules here.

We’d love to hear your favorite applications for automated rules in the comments!