The Google Ads Nudge

As I was discussing with someone in the Facebook group yesterday, the quality of support you can expect from Google reps is… variable.

My first head-scratchingly bad experience of Google support was a few years ago. I took a call from a Google rep to go over some accounts I was looking after.

He drew my attention to a negative bid adjustment, that I had made (as I had mentioned to him) to squeeze out poorly converting mobile traffic.

He suggested that I should be raising my mobile bids…

60% of impressions are coming from mobile, he argued, and by bidding down, I was missing out on a big chunk of that mobile traffic.

I had to explain that the point of the bid adjustment was precisely to ‘miss out’ on that less profitable traffic, in order to improve overall performance.

I didn’t see it then, but that exchange was the first sign of a trend that’s now accelerating.


What’s the problem?


Restraint, caution, limits… these are all healthy for any advertiser with a limited budget…

And by its nature, Google Ads is well placed to enable a careful, a low-risk approach.

But boy does Google try to encourage the opposite!

I’ve mentioned before the ‘Alert’ status that was applied to campaigns ‘limited by budget’ a couple of years ago.

Similarly, in the recommendations report, you’ll find phrases like: ‘attract more clicks by adding these [not very relevant] keywords…’

Another one came in a couple of weeks ago. ‘Bid Strategy: Limited.’

All it means is that certain keywords are hitting their maximum bid.

That is – of course – perfectly normal. If that didn’t happen you wouldn’t need max bids at all!

but it means there’s potential to spend more by raising your bids, or by putting them in the hands of the algorithm, and that’s what this is encouraging.

Google is now removing the metric ‘average position’ from Google Ads, and recommending we use ‘Top impression share’ instead. This is arguably another move to push the value of competing aggressively…


Why does Google do this?


The thing is, as a public company, Google has to grow.

It’s not enough to make billions, it has to make more billions every year, to justify (and increase) its share price…

Unfortunately, there’s no way to do that without getting increasingly ruthless about how it makes its $$.

  • And as discussed above… the Google Ads interface introduces nudge after nudge to encourage cavalier spending…

Rant over. Two takeaways:


Be aware that the metric ‘average position’ is on its way out.

In its place, you can use the less precise but still useful metrics “Impression (Absolute Top) %” and “Impression (Top) %”.

and don’t be pushed into spending too fast or too widely. It’s one of the biggest dangers of Google Ads, but very avoidable if you stick to your guns.

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