Set up experiments

Tip

You may see different options in your campaigns' Settings tab. This is because different campaign types support different features. To see which features are available by campaign type, read Choose the campaign type that's right for you

You can run one experiment per campaign at a time, testing the performance of different keywords, ads, and ad groups. Your experiment can include existing keywords, ads and ad groups, new keywords, or both. When you set up your experiment, you can choose how long you want it to run and what percentage of searches will see your experimental changes. Whether you want your experiment to start on a scheduled date or start manually is up to you.

Creating an experiment and setting its scope and duration

To set up an experiment, start by defining the experiment's name, how much of your traffic should see your experimental changes, and how long your experiment should run:

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at http://adwords.google.com.
  2. Click Campaigns. Campaigns tab
  3. Click on the campaign you want to use for your experiment. Multiple Campaigns
  4. Click Settings. Click settings
  5. Under "Advanced settings" near the bottom of the page, click Experiment. Note that the availability of certain settings, like this one, may depend on the campaign type you choose. Compare campaign types in detailNew experiment
  6. Click Specify experiment settings. Start a new experiment
  7. In the section that appears:
    • Enter a name for your experiment. We suggest your experiment name describes what you're trying to test.
    • Choose how many of your auctions should be using your experimental changes by selecting one of the control/experiment splits from the drop-down menu. The fastest way to collect results is a 50-50 split, but if your experimental changes are risky or expensive, such as doubling your bid, you might want to have fewer auctions use your experiment. You can't change this setting after you start your experiment.
    • Choose whether you'd like to start your experiment manually or at midnight on a specific date. If you choose today's start date, the experiment will start immediately.
    • Choose whether you'd like to end your experiment after 30 days or on a certain date. We suggest your experiment runs two to four weeks. At any time after you start your experiment, you can extend it up to three months from that day. Choose settings for your experiment
  8. Click Save.
  9. Save your experiment

Choosing your experimental changes

You can make up to 1,000 experimental changes to your campaign's keywords and bids. You can also define entire ad groups to be a part of an experiment and set an experiment bid for the ad group.

Make sure that the settings for your keyword or ad are the same as the settings for the ad group they're in – otherwise, they won't show. For example, if an experiment-only keyword or ad is in a control-only ad group, it will receive no impressions. To receive impressions, the experiment-only keyword or ad will need to be in an ad group set to either experiment-only or experiment and control.

Selecting existing keywords, ads, or ad groups for your experiment

By default, existing keywords, ads, and ad groups will appear in both your control and experiment groups. If you want existing keywords, ads, and ad groups to appear in just your control or experiment groups:

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at http://adwords.google.com.
  2. Click Campaigns. Campaigns tab
  3. Click on the campaign you're using for your experiment. Multiple Campaigns
  4. Click Keywords, Ads, or Ad Groups depending on what you want to include.
  5. In the status column next to the keyword, ad, or ad group you want to include, select whether you'd like the keyword, ad, or ad group to be in Control and experiment both the control and experiment, Control only the control only, or Experiment only the experiment only. Change items to control or experiment only
Try it now
Adding new keywords to your experiment

Each keyword you add individually will be counted toward your maximum of 1,000 changes per experiment. To add experimental keywords:

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at http://adwords.google.com.
  2. Click Campaigns. Campaigns tab
  3. Click on the campaign you're using for your experiment. Multiple Campaigns
  4. Click Keywords. Keywords tab
  5. Click + Keywords. Click the Add Keywords button
  6. Select the ad group you'd like to use for your experimental changes. Choose an ad group for your experiment
  7. Add any keywords you'd like to use for your experiment. Add your experimental keywords
  8. Click the checkbox next to "Add as experiment only keywords." Mark your keywords as experimental
  9. Click Save. Save your experimental keywords
Try it now
Adding a new ad group to your experiment

Each ad group you add, regardless of the number of ads and keywords within the group, will only count as one change. To add an ad group:

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at http://adwords.google.com.
  2. Click Campaigns. Click the Campaigns tab
  3. Click on the campaign you're using for your experiment. Select a campaign to use for your experiment
  4. Click Ad groups. Click the Ad groups tab
  5. Click + Ad group. Create a new ad group
  6. Give your new ad group a name. Give your new ad group a name
  7. Create a new ad for this ad group. You can add more ads to this ad group after you create it. Create an ad for your ad group
  8. Add keywords for which you'd like this ad to show. You can add more keywords after you create the ad group. Give your new ad group a name
  9. Enter a default bid for your ad group. Select your default bid
  10. Click the checkbox next to "Add as experiment only ad group." Mark your ad group as experimental
  11. Click Save ad group. Save your experimental ad group
Try it now
Making experimental bid changes to keywords

You can change the bid amount for any keyword in your experiment:

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at http://adwords.google.com.
  2. Click Campaigns. Click the Campaigns tab
  3. Click on the campaign you're using for your experiment. Select a campaign to use for your experiment
  4. Click Keywords. Click the Keywords
  5. From the Segment menu, click Experiment to show the control and experiment details for each keyword. Split your data into control and experimental groups
  6. In the "Max CPC" column, click on the bid amount in the "Experiment" row for the keyword whose bid you want to modify. Choose which keyword to modify
  7. Select whether you'd like to increase or decrease the bid amount, and enter the percentage you'd like to change your bid. Change your keyword
  8. Click Save. Save your changes
Try it now
Making experimental bid changes to ad groups

You can change the bid amount for any ad group in your experiment:

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at http://adwords.google.com.
  2. Click Campaigns. Click the Campaigns tab
  3. Click on the campaign you're using for your experiment. Select a campaign to use for your experiment
  4. Click Ad groups. Click the Ad groups tab
  5. From the Segment menu, click Experiment to show the control and experiment details for each ad group. Split your data into control and experimental groups
  6. In the "Default Max CPC" column, click on the bid amount in the "Experiment" row for the ad group whose bid you want to modify. Edit your experimental bid
  7. Select whether you'd like to increase or decrease the bid amount, and enter the percentage you'd like to change your bid.
  8. Click Save.
Try it now
Making experimental changes to your ads
  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at http://adwords.google.com.
  2. Click Campaigns. Campaigns tab
  3. Click on the campaign you're using for your experiment. Select a campaign to use for your experiment
  4. Click Ads. Click the Ads tab
  5. Click + Ad. Create a new ad
  6. From the drop-down menu, select the type of ad you'd like to create.
  7. Select the ad group you'd like to use for your new ad. Select where to put your experimental ad
  8. Enter the text and URLs for your new ad. Craft your experimental ad
  9. Click the checkbox next to "Add as experiment-only ad." Mark your ad as experimental
  10. Click Save.

In addition to testing the effect of changing the text of your ad, you can also use this process to test changes to the display or destination URLs.

Try it now

Tracking your experiment traffic

If you have Google Analytics or use other traffic tracking, you can add a ValueTrack tag to your keyword's or ad's tracking destination URL to see whether a click is coming from the experiment or control split.

For example, If your web site is www.example.com, you can change the destination URL for keywords or ads in your experiment to www.example.com?type={aceid}.

A number corresponding to either the control ID or the experiment ID will show in the referral URL in your weblogs or within your tracking software. These will be the same IDs that are referred to in your ValueTrack tag. The control ID will be the higher number of the two.

Starting your experiment

If you didn't set a start date for your experiment, you'll need to start it manually:

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at http://adwords.google.com.
  2. Click Campaigns. Click the Campaigns tab
  3. Click on the campaign whose experiment you want to start. Select a campaign to use for your experiment
  4. Click Settings. Click settings
  5. Under "Advanced settings" near the bottom of the page, click Experiment if the experiment section is not open. Note that the availability of certain settings, like this one, may depend on the campaign type you choose. Compare campaign types in detailNew experiment
  6. Click Start running experiment.
Try it now