Set up experiments

Some advertisers may see different options in their campaigns' settings tabs. This is because different campaign types support different features. If you can't locate the options below, learn how you can switch campaign types to see those options.

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 all. 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 https://adwords.google.co.uk.
  2. Click on Campaigns.
  3. Click on the campaign that you want to use for your experiment. Multiple Campaigns
  4. Click on 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 that you choose. Compare campaign types in detail
  6. Click on Specify experiment settings.
  7. In the section that appears:
    • Enter a name for your experiment. We suggest that 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 using 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 begin immediately.
    • Choose whether you'd like to end your experiment after 30 days or on a certain date. We suggest your experiment runs for two to four weeks. At any time after you start your experiment, you can extend it; up to three months from that day.
  8. Click Save.

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 https://adwords.google.co.uk.
  2. Click on Campaigns.
  3. Click on the campaign that 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.
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Adding new keywords to your experiment

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

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.co.uk.
  2. Click on Campaigns.
  3. Click on the campaign that you're using for your experiment. Multiple Campaigns
  4. Click Keywords.
  5. Click + Keywords.
  6. Select the ad group that you'd like to use for your experimental changes.
  7. Add any keywords that you'd like to use for your experiment.
  8. Click the tick box next to "Add as experiment-only keywords".
  9. Click Save. Save your experimental keywords
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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 https://adwords.google.co.uk.
  2. Click on Campaigns.
  3. Click on the campaign that you're using for your experiment.
  4. Click Ad groups.
  5. Click + Ad group.
  6. 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 have created it.
  8. Add the keywords for which you'd like this ad to show. You can add more keywords after you have created the ad group.
  9. Enter a default bid for your ad group.
  10. Click the tick box next to "Add as experiment only ad group."
  11. Click Save ad group.
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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 https://adwords.google.co.uk.
  2. Click on Campaigns.
  3. Click on the campaign that you're using for your experiment.
  4. Click Keywords.
  5. From the Segment menu, click Experiment in order 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.
  7. Select whether you'd like to increase or decrease the bid amount, and enter the percentage that you'd like to change your bid by.
  8. Click Save. Save your changes
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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 https://adwords.google.co.uk.
  2. Click on Campaigns. Click the Campaigns tab
  3. Click on the campaign that you're using for your experiment.
  4. Click Ad groups.
  5. From the Segment menu, click Experiment to show the control and experiment details for each ad group.
  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.
  7. Select whether you'd like to increase or decrease the bid amount, and enter the percentage that you'd like to change your bid by.
  8. Click Save.
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Making experimental changes to your ads
  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.co.uk.
  2. Click on Campaigns.
  3. Click on the campaign that you're using for your experiment. Select a campaign to use for your experiment
  4. Click on Ads.
  5. Click + Ad.
  6. From the drop-down menu, select the type of ad that you'd like to create.
  7. Select the ad group that 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.
  9. Click the tick box next to 'Add as experiment-only ad'.
  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, destination or final URLs.

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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 template or 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 or tracking template 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 https://adwords.google.co.uk.
  2. Click on Campaigns.
  3. Click on the campaign where you want the experiment to start.
  4. Click on 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 that you choose. Compare campaign types in detail
  6. Click on Start running experiment.
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