Google’s Ad Rotation Changes Suck. Here’s Why.

Hey Google:

Google's ad rotation changs are bad and they should feel bad.

There has certainly been no lack of words written about Google’s announcement last week that the ability to rotate ads evenly, indefinitely, is going away. But what the hell, I need to add in my two cents anyway. This is a ridiculously bad change that came without asking the PPC community for feedback, and there deserves to be a backlash.

In case you missed this week’s top story, Google has announced that starting this week, the “rotate” setting in text ads will rotate your ads evenly for 30 days, then optimize each ad for clicks. This is a huge departure from PPC best practices, since you need to rotate your ads evenly to get a valid statistical test. With most accounts, it’s going to take a lot longer than 30 days of even rotation to get enough traffic to make sure you have a valid result.

This change sucks because it eliminates any possibility of long-term manual ad testing. I’ve worked in PPC accounts with daily budgets from $50/day to $50,000/day over the last four years, and I’ve only seen a valid ad split test in 30 days happen a handful of times. When you’re properly segmenting your ad groups into segments of sufficient granularity, it takes some time to see results. With this update, Google has said that they really don’t care about PPC specialists managing accounts for better results – they would much rather just take your money via amping up your click-through rate without considering the fact that most advertisers are optimizing for conversions, not clicks.

This is different than your run-of-the mill bitching about SEO. Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land recently wrote an excellent article about the recent Penguin algorithm updates titled Google Doesn’t Owe You A Living, So Don’t Depend On It. And he’s absolutely right, at least in the SEO world. But this isn’t SEO. This is paid search, which is the big cash cow that allows Google to pursue all those other neat projects that lose a hell of a lot of money for them. If you do PPC, Google does owe you a living, and they should act like it. PPC advertisers are their customers, and to make a huge, impactful change like this without at least consulting some experts in the field is inexcusable.

There’s no telling if this change will be rolled back. But if you want your voice to be heard about this, I recommend that you sign the Google Ad Rotation petition. Maybe if we get enough people talking about this, Google might actually listen to their customers.

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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