Setting up automated rules

Automated rules let you make changes in your account automatically, based on settings and conditions you choose. You can change your ad status, budget, bids, and more. For example, if you want to boost your keyword bid any time your ad falls off the first page of results, you can set a rule for that. In addition, you can use automated rules to trigger emails, without taking any other action, when specific conditions occur.

Using automated rules can save you time, by cutting down the need to monitor campaigns and make frequent, manual changes.

By clicking the Automate button in your account, you'll choose the settings for your rule, preview it, and then sit back and relax while the system manages your account. Keep in mind, though, that the system isn't as smart as you are, so you'll need to set appropriate limits for your rules and review your logs occasionally to be sure the actions taken by the rules are the result of enough data.

About automated rules

Let's suppose you want a special promotion to go live next Sunday at 2 a.m. Chances are you don't want to be sitting at your computer at 2 a.m. to manually start the promotion. By creating an automated rule in your account, the promotion will go live while you're sleeping!

If you think about the frequent tasks you do manually, it's easy to put together a list of work you'd like automated rules to do for you, including changes to your ads, ad status, budget, and bids. Here are a few examples:

  • Schedule ads for special promotions or events
  • Pause low-performing ads or keywords
  • Change keyword bids to control your average position
  • Raise keyword bids to ensure ads show on first page
  • Send yourself an email if a campaign’s budget is nearly exhausted early in the day

You can have up to 100 active rules on each account for each user that accesses the account.

 

VIDEO

Note: Video instructions are up-to-date, but don't show the latest AdWords design.

 

How to create rules

To get started creating rules, just click the Automate button in your AdWords account. You can then create your new rule based on the settings you want, and click Preview results.

Step-by-step guide to creating a rule

Here's an example to show you how to create a rule that raises your maximum CPC bids for keywords with an average position worse than 5 over the past day.

  1. Click the Automate drop-down menu on the Campaigns, Ad groups, Ads, or Keywords tab.
  2. Select one of the rules from the menu options (for example, Change max CPC bids when...). Automate menu
  3. Enter your rule criteria and any requirements for the rule to be triggered. In this example, you can raise the bids by 3% for keywords that have an average position worse than 5. Decrease budget

    When you create a rule, you can define a maximum or minimum bid or budget. This ensures that your rule won't set a new bid or budget above your maximum or below your minimum.

  4. Select how often you want your rule to run (for example daily, or only once on a particular date and time) from the "Frequency" menu, along with the date range to evaluate your requirements. Then enter a name for your rule, and choose how you'd like to be notified when your rule runs. In this example, the rule will run daily at 2 a.m. and use the previous day's data for keywords with average positions that are worse than 5.

    Did you know...

    You can specify the hour of the day for your rule to run. A rule can start running at any time within the hour you select.

    Preview results
  5. Click the Preview results button to verify that you've set it up the way you want it to run. Previewing is just for verification and doesn't make any permanent changes to your account.
  6. Click Save.
  7. After you've created your rule, it's important to keep an eye on it to make sure it's working the way you want. To manage your rules, select Manage rules from the Automate drop-down menu, or select the Automated rules link in the left navigation panel of the Campaigns tab of your AdWords account. There, you'll see a list of your rules; you can pause/enable/delete them (in the Status column) or edit them (in the Actions column). List of your rules
  8. Each time a rule runs, an entry will appear in the logs table. Click the View details link to see specific information about which entities were changed with each rule. Logs

    Tip

    Using AdWords Editor or other third-party tools? If you're able to make manual changes to your bids, budget, or status, then you can automate these changes using rules without the other tools getting in the way.

Tips and guidelines for using automated rules

General tips

Use limits

  • Set minimum and maximum limits for your bids and budgets so they don't get too high or too low. Continuously raising bids can lead to unnecessarily high CPCs, while ongoing decreases could noticeably reduce your traffic.

Use enough data to make an informed decision

  • To ensure changes are being made based on enough data, we recommend using a long enough timeframe or adding an additional requirement like "impressions > X" to your rule.

Use consistent "frequency" and "using data from" options

  • Using a short frequency with a long measurement window can be problematic. Consider the rule, "If an ad's average position over the last 14 days is worse than 3, raise bids by x% daily." This would raise your bids more frequently (daily) than the rule is evaluating the ad's average position (on a 14-day window). It's generally better to use frequency and measurement windows that are consistent with one another (e.g., if you select a weekly frequency, then use data from the last seven days).

Preview

  • Preview your rules before saving them so you understand how they'll affect your campaigns. Depending on your requirements and settings, you could be making significant changes to a large portion of your account, so it's important to double-check.

Be vigilant

  • Try implementing a rule with a frequency of "one time" to monitor the actual impact. Once you're comfortable with how your rules are working, you can set them up to run on a recurring schedule (e.g., daily or weekly).

Configure rules appropriate for your business

  • Be aware of intra-day and intra-week trends (e.g. peak hour or weekday traffic could differ from non-peak hour and weekend traffic). Also be aware of how far away you are from your goals when setting magnitudes of changes (e.g. changing in small increments of 5% when closer to your goal and large increments of 20% otherwise). All these issues can be addressed by using multiple rules in conjunction with one another.

Be smart when scheduling two rules that affect the same items

  • What happens if you have two rules that affect the same items scheduled to run at the same time? Rules don't have a way to prioritize themselves, so even when you have two rules set to make concurrent changes to the same entities, both rules will run and make the specified changes to all entities. We recommend that you don't schedule multiple rules at the same time if they affect the same set of data. Instead, if you'd like to have two or more rules that make changes to the same part of your campaign, we suggest that you choose different times of the day for the rules to run.

If there are multiple rules on the same entities that are scheduled at the same time, our system will do its best to run them all, but there could be some errors resulting from trying to make conflicting changes at the same time. Setting different times for your rules not only helps avoid these errors, but it also serves as a way for you to prioritize your rules, so that the one scheduled earliest runs first.

Tips for rules that affect keyword bids

Setting up recurring bidding rules that operate on entire accounts or campaigns can be complicated. If they're applicable to your needs, you may want to try automatic bidding and Conversion Optimizer to help you manage your bids and budget. Here are some tips to help you configure automated rules that modify keyword bids and run on a regular basis.

Changing bids based on conversion data

  • Measuring a conversion is a longer process relative to measuring a click or impression; a conversion can happen many days after a click, and is only recorded if it happens within your chosen conversion window. Conversions also occur much less often than clicks or impressions. If you create any rules based on conversions, we recommend that you use longer "using data from" time ranges to properly capture your conversions.

Changing bids based on average position

  • Changing bids to control average position may not always work, because in some cases a bid increase results in more ad impressions. This could lead to your ads appearing in lower positions than they did before.

Changing bids based on clickthrough rate (CTR)

  • Your ad's CTR depends on its position on the page. If you create a rule that lowers your bid if CTR is low, this could result in a negative spiral where the ad declines further down the page and your CTR falls lower accordingly.

Next steps