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Tutorial: Beware of Default Settings in AdWords

We’re trained to take default settings as a safe bet. However, when you are starting an AdWords account that’s not always the case. Blindly accepting default settings could cost you money. Before you launch an AdWords campaign, you might want to turn some of those off (or edit).

1. Don’t take the combo deal.

Google suggests that you start with a package deal — search and display advertising.

The display setting will eat through your budget before you’ve had a  chance to find your groove. Start with search only and, following testing and some discoveries about your messaging, then expand into display.

2. Choose your own features

Once you select the search network, it turns on the Google AdWords Campaign Default Settings. Usually when you are just starting, added features can cloud the process. We suggest that, here, you turn on “All features.”

This will give you a few more choices that make sense at this stage.

Expand Your Extension Options

The hidden extensions are a bit more advanced and probably used more once you’ve got a campaign underway. I can see Google’s reason for cutting potential distractions, but they might be a good fit for you. Decide for yourself. These are the options you would otherwise miss:

  • App – This shows up on mobile and tablet searches, letting you connect your ad to your app.
  • Reviews – Your ads can include customer feedback from 3rd party review sites.
  • Callouts – This is additional information to highlight a unique service like “free shipping” or “price matching.”
  • Structured Snippets – Pull details about a product or an offer from your landing page into your ad.
  • Site links extensions – Offer extra real estate for your ads and help your ads stand out a bit more. Also, they provide links to possibly more relevant content.

Advanced Settings

Even more options come available when you turn on “all features.”

  • The schedule setting is a budget stretcher. It helps you reach people at the right time. It also starts and ends your campaign if you need to run your ads across specific dates.
  • Ad delivery/ad rotation – You can run multiple ads for the same search. It lets you try new messaging or spread out what you want to say. (See more details below.)
  • Dynamic search ads – This is a unique setting for businesses with many products or services. AdWords will serve up content from your landing pages (that Google has indexed) to match the search.
  • Campaign URL options – Give you flexibility to add tracking codes to your URLs.

A word about ad delivery/ad rotation

There is some tricky language in the ad rotation options that could give you a false sense of confidence.

Unless you have a short amount of time to manage this campaign, avoid the auto-optimize options. They’re tempting, but you need objective data to really know what is working well. Remember, testing is crucial to your business success.

Rotate your ads evenly until you have enough feedback about click through rates, conversions, and costs to choose a winning message.

3. Target a location

The default setting captures a broad group. If you have location-based products or services, a targeted location is a good way to save money from clicks that aren’t likely to convert.

If you don’t want to show ads to anyone outside of your geographic coverage area, be sure to choose “people in my targeted location.”

Don’t scroll past this one. It’s shown as “Location Settings (Advanced).”

4. Understand Who Search Partners Are

Google turns on “Search Partners” by default. It’s important that you learn more about where your ad might appear outside of a Google search result page.

Other than YouTube, Google doesn’t clearly state the full list of their search partners, but it mentions that there are hundreds of qualifying sites. That includes sites that use the Google search tool on their page as well as other search engines like AOL and Ask.com.

That expands the potential reach of your ads, and click through rates on those sites do not affect your overall Quality Score. However, Google leaves room for adjustment when it states that your ad might appear on “other pages related to the person’s search.”


Google continues to update and grow its ad platform, so–even if you are creating your third, tenth, or 20th campaign–review the default settings with a bit of scrutiny. They aren’t always in your campaign’s best interests.