My Google Ads Wishlist

Around Halloween, I wrote a post called The Google Ads Graveyard, listing some of the most useful features that Google has removed from our toolkits over the years.

Now, Google, this season of goodwill, here is a list of currently missing features that might be nice to have.

Feel free to slip them into our stockings at your leisure…

GOALS AND TARGETS

Show the hidden (inner) target

It’s absolutely right that ad group-level ROAS/CPC targets should override those at campaign level. (Keyword-level targets might be useful too, but park that for now…)

The problem is that it’s very easy to be misled by the campaign-level target which typically appears in the campaigns view, when that target may not have much (or any) relationship to the actual targets in play within the campaign.

There’s a particularly high risk of this confusion when multiple users access an account.

To remedy this we could have an ‘average target ROAS’ column – taking into account the various ad group-level targets in play (perhaps with an ad-group spend weighting to make it more salient)… Or at the least, a subtle alert that ‘ad group level targets are in place’.

Make bulk changes to ROAS target at ad group level

Google may prefer us to leave this to machine learning, but the fact is, bidding levels need to be monitored and managed by someone who knows the shifting priorities of the advertiser, and knows how to keep the algorithm from veering too far off course as we pursue them…

With a Target strategy in place, adjusting the ROAS/CPA target is the key, day-to-day method of managing bid aggression levels.

In doing that, we tend to use ad group-level targets in any moderately sized account.

But there’s an oddly-missing functionality when it comes to manipulating those ad group-level targets.

We can’t adjust them in bulk.

You’d expect to see a ‘change target’ option among this list under ‘edit’ (like the ‘change bids’ option we have in the same place for campaigns on manual bidding) – but no 💁🏽‍♂️.

Incidentally, it’s clear that the functionality to make those bulk changes is lurking just under the surface, as it poked its head out in conjunction with the new ‘limited by target’ recommendation workflow.

If you happen to spot that rare new campaign alert (possibly in BETA at time of writing?) and follow its lead, you’ll see this option to change the ‘average target ROAS’.

After applying, you’ll find that your ad group level targets have all shifted down to create the selected new average – sometimes giving you oddly-precise individual targets like this…

Beyond this, there’s no bulk target adjustment option.

There should be.

(and even the elusive method above has the distinct disadvantage of only allowing ‘downward’ average ROAS target changes:

Bring your own cynical comment…)

Allow goal values to be calculated metrics

Google quite rightly recommends ‘value based bidding’.

Smart Bidding relies on the success data we feed it. The closer to real, bottom-line value we can make its diet, the better its chances of multiplying that value.

The problem is in the practicality of manipulating ‘conversion value’ itself in a meaningful way.

For example, there are lots of ways to improve our view of ‘ultimate value’ using custom columns…

• A simple adjustment to account for cost of goods sold (e.g. Conv. value x 0.5)

• Maybe something more sophisticated to differentiate margin based on product type, using conversion parameters

• Adjustments for lifetime value or return rate, without having to go down the usually-prohibitive route of offline/downstream-conversion data

These kinds of refinements to raw revenue can give useful extra information…

But wouldn’t it be good if we could make a calculation like this and feed it to the algorithm as the most suitable representation of value?

REPORTING

The reporting section in the interface is one area that has greatly improved over the last few years, but these two further enhancements would be nice…

'Total' row in reports

A total row to appear by default (or by an optional checkbox) would be very useful for tables created in the reporting section…

It would provide essential missing context in ultra-high-cardinality data sets like this:

(and yes this is a real example of a Performance Max placement report – and no it’s not good! But that’s one for another time…)

While we’re at it – it would be extra nice if we could set an ‘average’ row for function metrics like CPC.

'Or' clauses for ‘contains’ in report filters

Creating reports on a given set of ads / locations / labels etc can get unreasonably difficult when those values don’t happen to share a unique string in their name, or range in their metrics.

Simply, we can’t choose X OR Y for our dimension. (I’ve often had to create a unique set of labels with a particular prefix just to select them for a report).

The notable, valuable exceptions are campaigns and ad groups which allow  specific one-by-one selection in their filter.

In short, we either need an ‘or’ button here…

or we need a regex option here…

(please, Santa).

Plot Rows

Picture this: You’re opening a large account for the first time, perhaps for an audit. Long date range; tonnes of campaigns; unclear naming; one particular campaign looks like it’s doing the bulk of the heavy lifting. You want to know, quickly, how long that campaign has been running.

Nothing in the table itself tells you the answer. The obvious method is either to fiddle with the date range to isolate its starting point, or click into the campaign itself and check when you see its metric lines jump up from zero on the associated graph.

Not very convenient.

What I’d like to do, is tick the campaign’s checkbox and ‘plot rows’ like we can in UA.

'Pause' ended experiment campaigns

How many times have we made a double-take after seeing that deceptively green beaker icon next to a long-dead experiment campaign?

Green = active is a deeply ingrained association – so this UI choice was always going to cause psychological friction.

Not only do these old experiment campaigns retain their green icon by default – but it can’t be altered with a manual state change.

Since these campaigns are paused – or at least, definitively inactive… That should be reflected with ‘paused grey’ (someone give me the number for Farrow & Ball – I have an idea…)

AUTOMATED RULES

Automated rules to be triggered by aggregated data

Automated rules improved this year… The key updates being the ability to set multiple actions from a single trigger,

and to run rules at an hourly frequency

(I’m not sure when the latter came in but it’s very welcome).

Even more useful than these though, would be the ability to base a trigger on metrics aggregated from multiple campaigns.

Say we want to cap spend on a certain group of campaigns in a given month. There is currently no way to have an automated rule check that aggregated spend and use it as a trigger.

In this particular case – the account-level budget cap covers the most common scenario of needing to cap spend for ‘all campaigns’…

But the inability to use automated rules for this or any other situation that rests on the behaviour of multiple campaigns, has always been a major missing piece of functionality.

We can turn to scripts of course… but frankly, we shouldn’t have to.

Schedule multiple actions on the same entity

Yes, we can now create multiple actions for multiple entities based on a single trigger. It’s a nice option to have… but I’ve never used it.

What I would use – often – is the option to enable and pause the same entity, at different times, without having to create separate rules to do so.

Probably the most frequent use of rules is to enable or pause a campaign, or set of ads, at a given time.

More often than not, both actions are required (e.g. enable these Black Friday ads on 24th – pause them on 27th) – currently requiring two separate rules to be created.

If we could set these ‘enable’ and ‘pause’ actions together… with ‘enable until’ – it would make an old man happy.

I see the barrier. A single-time action makes for a cleaner process… If Santa saw fit to grant this change, we would have to make room for an ‘in progress’ or ‘part completed’ rule status.

But it might be viable – after all – ad extension scheduling achieves something similar.

Automated rules to adjust target ROAS

Not a lot of explanation required for this one. For some reason, a change in ROAS target isn’t available at the campaign or ad group level as an action in automated rules.

Target CPA by contrast is available to change through automated rules at the ad group level:

ADS

Ability to pause and schedule assets in RSAs

RSAs have a lot going for them in theory (less in practice, perhaps) – but they’re pretty clunky units when it comes to trying or changing a particular message with our ads.

Say we want to call out the current sale in our ad text, or test the impact of emphasising the green credentials of the hotel we’re advertising…

All perfectly possible with RSAs – but while in theory we could nimbly change messaging with assets and pinning, to do it in a structured way generally requires separate RSAs (a much more involved undertaking than it was with ETAs – and one that quickly runs up against the ‘three-active-RSAs per ad group’ limit).

And if we want to schedule those changes, it’s separate RSAs or nothing.

So imagine if we could pause and schedule individual assets as we can with our extensions assets 🙃.

Bulk change asset position in Google Ads Editor

Let’s say in the example above, we have 40 RSAs selected, and don’t want Description 3 any more, in any of them.

Removing it will cause the error of having values for Description 4 but none for Description 3, so…

What if we could move all of the (various) values in Description 4 up to position 3?

Cutting and pasting the ”<varies>” doesn’t do it… In fact there’s no way to do this within the editor itself.

I submit to you that there should be.

Ads should not get disapproved when paused

Have you ever created or uploaded a set of ads ready for an about-to-be launched site… or linking to a page for an upcoming sale or new product that’s due to go live shortly…

congratulated yourself on your preparedness…

and then been hit by one of these:

or worse, one of these, from a client?

The answer is probably yes. It happens ALL THE TIME.

Now, Google doesn’t want to run ads that lead to 404s. No argument there; it would be a disaster.

But if ads are PAUSED and their final URL points to a 404, there’s a very good chance that the URL is either old news or imminent, and the barrage of disapprovals does no-one any good whatsoever.

So in short, could you stop disapproving paused ads please, Father Google?

Tell me which account

While we’re on unhelpful emails…When we get these messages from a rep wanting to schedule a call,

…it would be rather useful for Google to add the name of the account (as appears to us through our login) – not just the ID.

We may be dealing with a lot of accounts… and which one you’re proposing to discuss is a crucial piece of information that we shouldn’t have to research on our side.

EXTENSIONS (OK... 'ASSETS')

Show scheduled dates for extensions on mouseover

I could almost swear this used to be available…

We gained the ability to pause extensions not long ago 👍🏼 – but extensions are more often enabled-but-inactive after having been scheduled for a certain period.

That means that we can’t tell at a glance whether now-unwanted extensions are still active until we click into them.

If we could see the scheduled dates with the rest of the information shown on mouseover, we could make that check far more quickly and easily.

Take expired extensions off the ad preview

The ad preview on the RSA editor screen should show us how an ad could (actually) look in the wild.

As it is, those enabled but inactive extensions are eligible to show in the preview – though not in the SERPs.

This would be a minor gripe, except that

a) this gives rise to the same unnecessary ‘is that actually still active?’ alarm mentioned in the last point and

b) if we want to use this preview to show ads to our clients, this can be a dealbreaker.

‘Fall Sale’ promotion extension - but…

Ooo-ooh, I’m an alien…

‘Autumn’, please!

So, Google, if we’ve been nice enough this year, perhaps you might consider delivering some of the above?

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