PPC Creative Excellence – According to AdWords

Recently, Google Partners hosted a live stream event as part of their Digital AdWords Bootcamp. They shared several of their best practices around ad creative & settings under the title of “Creative Excellence.”

You can watch the full event here, but there were 3 main areas they emphasized:

How Many Ad Variations Should You Use?

AdWords specifically recommends that advertisers have at least 3 extended text ads in each ad group. They also shared that ad groups with 3+ ETAs receive up to 15% more clicks or conversions. Seems like a no-brainer right?

I agree that ad testing is important, but you should also consider how much volume your ad groups have. For example, if you’re receiving thousands of impressions and hundreds of clicks each month, then your ad tests will get plenty of data. However, in low-traffic ad groups, you might find that spreading out impressions across 3+ ETAs leads to very thin data and long ad tests. So consider traffic levels as you create ads.

Also, here are a few tips on ad creation:

How Many Ad Extensions Should You Use?

The second component of creative excellence is in regard to ad extensions.

AdWords recommends using at least 4 ad extensions for every campaign. For advertisers heeding this advice, there is a 10-15% CTR uplift per new extension type added. That’s pretty solid and I recommend you follow this advice. I have my beef regarding the lack of control over which/when ad extensions are shown at any given time, but you’re putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage if you’re not playing ball here.

Don’t know what ad extensions to use? Here are AdWords recommendations:

Simply put, everyone should be using sitelinks, callouts, and structured snippets. Pick your 4th, 5th, etc. based on the needs of your business.

What Ad Rotation Setting Should I Use?

This setting has recently changed. It used to look like this:

Now you’ll see just two settings; one called “Optimize” that gives AdWords broad control and “Rotate Indefinitely” which AdWords strongly discourages and will more evenly show ad variations. This is a recommendation from AdWords that I take with a large grain of salt.

Consider this ad test from earlier this year:
AdWords Optimize For Conversions
While AdWords continues to improve their algorithms, there are still too many instances like this where ad testing isn’t being optimized for the metric I want. And just because you have chosen “Rotate Indefinitely” don’t think that AdWords isn’t still influencing the ad serving.


All advertisers need to be paying attention to these areas. You need to be constantly testing ad creative. You need to be using ad extensions. How you go about this may differ slightly from the AdWords recommendations, but if you’re doing it for the right reasons and actively managing the results you will succeed.

We’d love to hear your thoughts! Share with us in the comments!