New Interface, New Syntax: Automating Rules in Google Ads

By Zach Bruner | @zbruner12 | Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing |

As every digital advertiser should know by now, AdWords has officially rebranded to Google Ads. Whether you are pro-change or anti-change with Google’s advertising services, there is one certainty – You have to change regardless. That in mind, there have been a ton of updates recently with name changes, new offerings, shuffled offerings, the completely new UI, and the list goes on. With the seemingly endless changes, it can be easy to lose sight of the little areas that previously helped us streamline account management. Although there are many modifications and innovations you should be aware of, in this post I want to focus specifically on automated rules.

Automated rules can be great assets whether they make decisions or simply alert you to account trends. Although they haven’t drastically changed, there are still some updates worth noting. The automated rule changes that stood out to me the most were the first page and top of page bid adjustments (as an added feature), UI navigations, increased condition options, and the language around average position. I’ll cover these changes below by discussing how to find automated rules and some of my favorites. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that there are multiple uses and capabilities of automated rules but I’m only going to focus on bids, primarily. That being said, here’s a great read on 4 automated rules to try that go beyond the bid.

Navigating to Automated Rules

To find automated rules in Google Ads, you’ll need to go to Tools > Bulk Actions > Rules.

From there, you’ll simply select the “+” button and choose your rule type (i.e. Campaign rules, Ad group rules, Keyword rules, etc.)

To get create a bid rule, you’ll need to select the “+ Keyword rules” option. Then, you’ll select “Change keyword bids”.

You’ll then be presented with a number of different options starting with the scope of your rule. In other words, you can apply to keywords in the following:

  • All enabled keywords
  • All enabled and paused keywords
  • Keywords in selected campaigns
  • Keywords in selected ad groups

I typically focus on all enabled keywords. However, choosing your campaign or ad group scope can help adjust to seasonality, areas of interest, etc. From there, you need to select the action:

  • Set new bids
  • Increase bids
  • Decrease bids
  • Raise bids to first page CPC
  • Raise bids to top of page CPC

Based on what action you select, you then choose an amount or percentage to increase/decrease by. You can also choose a max CPC bid if you’re worried about overbidding, but this feature is optional.

Next, and arguably one of the most important aspects of setting up automated rules, is Conditions. Conditions allow for increased customization around your automated solutions. For example, if I only want to focus on quality keywords, I can set a filter to only look at quality scores greater than 7. Or, if I want to focus on device clicks, I can specifically call out “mobile clicks” as a condition. As far as conditions, we now have many new options at our disposal. Whether you’re using them for bids, reminders, KPI reporting, etc. there is guaranteed to be a useful combination for your account.

The last key element in automated rules is frequency. You can elect to have your rules run once, daily, weekly, or monthly. Beyond that, you can also choose the scope of time that Google analyzes your data. For example, you can select to use data from:

  • Same day
  • Previous day
  • Same week
  • Previous week
  • Previous 7 days
  • Previous 14 days
  • Same month
  • Previous month
  • Previous 30 days
  • Previous 60 days
  • Previous 90 days
  • All time

If you choose recurring automation, however, keep in mind that automated rules don’t have priorities, so make sure they aren’t working against each other. Your final options with the setup involve email options and naming conventions. Now that we’ve established the basics, here are some sample automated rules that I’ve used in accounts before.

Keep in mind that automated rules don’t have priorities, so make sure they aren’t working against each other Click To Tweet

Increase CPCs First Page

The purpose of this bid rule is to move quality keywords to first page. Though you can add in different elements for statistical significance, select campaigns, etc., I tend to be broader. In this case, if my keyword has a quality score of 7 or better with at least one conversion, I like to make sure it’s showing at least on page 1. I also added a $10 max bid limit. Keep in mind, however, this is optional and will vary by account. Here’s an example of what that rule looks like.

Increase CPCs Top of Page

The purpose of this rule is to ensure higher-return keywords are moved to the best position possible. In this case, I’m moving all keywords with a ROAS better than 500% to top of page (when they are eligible to do so). Keep in mind, however, I also have bid decrease rules to counterbalance any increases that turn out to be unprofitable.

Decrease CPC Bids 15%

On the topic of having counterbalances in place, this would be an example. With this rule, I’m focusing primarily on keywords that have a negative return and decreasing bids accordingly. Furthermore, I’ve added a qualifier to this rule that spend must be greater than $60 over the last 30 days. However, remember that statistical significance for your rule will depend on a number of variables such as average CPC, length of conversion windows, attribution, and the list goes on. With that in mind, here’s an example of what this setup would look like.

Send An Email When…

My final point isn’t as specific, but more of a general comment. When we think of automated rules, it’s all too easy to default to bidding, pausing, and enabling. However, email alerts can also be extremely beneficial. For example, you can send yourself an email for when ad groups have spent a certain amount, but not converted. Or, you could send an email for ad groups with a certain number of impressions, but no clicks. Or, if you don’t fully trust the automated rules, you can even send yourself an email for any of the rules I mentioned above, and then make changes after you’ve approved them. In any case, email alerts can help automate the delivery of account points of interests and KPIs that you have always manually navigated to.

Conclusion

In closing, keep in mind these rules are not perfect and are more so templates for starting points. While the goals of the rules are directionally helpful, you’ll need to customize them to your account to see the best impact. I’ve only scratched the surface of what rules are available and how detailed you can make them. To reiterate, whether you are full-blown automation or 100% manual, automated rules offer helpful, tailored solutions to every advertiser.

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