Common ways to use automated rules

Want to schedule ads while you're sleeping? Pause ads with a low clickthrough rate? Boost your bids so they stay on the first page? Automated rules can do this for you.

If you're considering using automated rules, you may want to first get some ideas about how they can help save you time managing your account. 

We'll review common ways to set up rules that will schedule ads, pause low-performing ads or keywords, adjust and schedule bids, and control your budget and costs.

Common ways to use automated rules

To get started, think about the tasks you perform frequently in your AdWords account and write down the steps you take. Then structure your rules to have these actions performed automatically for you.

We've included some examples of popular rules below. All rules are created by clicking the Automate button on the Campaigns, Ad groups, Keywords, or Ads tab.

These examples illustrate possible rules, but we encourage you to use your personal performance goals and expertise about your business to choose specific metrics and actions that make sense for you.

Once you've created rules, make sure to monitor their performance frequently and refine them to get the desired results.

Scheduling ads

Turn on or off several special ads for a promotional event

Say you have several promotional ads containing the phrase "Memorial Day specials" and you want to run them over Memorial Day weekend. First, create these ads in advance and keep them paused. Then create two one-time rules: the first to enable these ads at the start of Memorial Day weekend (for example, May 27, approximately 5 p.m.) and the second to pause the ads at the end of the holiday weekend (May 30, approximately 11 p.m.).

  1. Click All online campaigns in the left panel of your AdWords account, then click the Ads tab.
  2. Click the Automate button, then select Enable ads when... (rule 1) or Pause ads when... (rule 2) from the drop-down.
  3. In the "Apply to" section, choose All but deleted ads in all campaigns.
  4. In the "Requirements" section, choose Ad text, and the option contains Memorial Day specials.
  5. In the "Frequency" section, choose One-time and select May 27 at 5 p.m. (rule 1) or May 30 at 11 p.m. (rule 2).

Rule 1:

Common ways to use automated rules

Rule 2:

Pause Memorial Day promotion
Turn on or off several special ads on a repeating basis (e.g. every weekend)

Let's say you want to show special "Free Shipping" ads every weekend. Using two weekly rules, these ads can be enabled every Saturday morning (rule 1) and paused every Sunday night (rule 2). You can use the ad text to select the ads across your account (instead of selecting ads individually from the table, as shown in the example below).

  1. Click All online campaigns in the left panel of your AdWords account.
  2. Click the Ads tab.
  3. Click the Automate button, then select Enable ads when... (rule 1) or Pause ads when... (rule 2) from the drop-down.
  4. In the "Apply to" section, choose All but deleted ads in all campaigns.
  5. In the "Requirements" section, choose Ad text, and the option contains Free Shipping.
  6. In the "Frequency" section, choose Weekly and select Saturday 1am (rule 1) or Sunday 11pm (rule 2).
Free shipping start
Free shipping end
Turn on or off a special ad campaign for a promotional event

Say you have a special advertising campaign you want to run on Thanksgiving Day. First, create this campaign in advance and keep it paused. Then create two one-time rules: the first will enable this campaign at the start of Thanksgiving Day (for example, November 24, approximately 1 a.m.) and the second will pause the campaign at the end of the day (approximately 11 p.m.).

  1. Click All online campaigns in the left panel of your AdWords account, then click the Campaigns tab.
  2. Click the Automate button, then select Enable campaigns when... (rule 1) or Pause campaigns when... (rule 2) from the drop-down.
  3. In the "Apply to" section, choose Selected campaigns.
  4. In the "Frequency" section, choose One-time and select November 24 at approximately 1 a.m. (rule 1) or November 24 at approximately 11 p.m. (rule 2).
  5. Select the checkbox for your campaign in the table.

The screenshots below illustrate both of these rules. Note: you can turn on or off individual ad groups, ads, or keywords in a similar fashion.

Enable campaign
Pause campaign

Pausing low-performing ads or keywords

Pause low-performing keywords based on performance metrics (e.g., high cost per conversion)

Some advertisers experiment with different keywords and try to keep the ones that perform best, while optimizing the ones that are underperforming. You can use automated rules in this process by routinely pausing the ones that don't perform as desired so that you can optimize and re-enable them later. For example, you can use conversion data if you have conversion tracking enabled.

Here's an example of pausing keywords that have a very high cost per conversion: a monthly rule could pause all keywords with a cost per conversion that's more than $20 and at least 100 conversions in the last 30 days. Keep in mind, the performance metric ($20 cost per conversion) and data to be observed (100 conversions in a month) are very specific to each advertiser. They should be chosen based on your performance goals and your expertise about your business.

Here's how to create this rule:

  1. Click All online campaigns in the left panel of your AdWords account.
  2. Click the Keywords tab.
  3. Click the Automate button, and select "Pause keywords when..." from the drop-down.
  4. In the "Apply to" section, choose All but deleted keywords in all campaigns.
  5. Choose the Automatic action Pause keywords.
  6. Set the requirements for Cost / conv (1-per-click) > $20 and Conversions (1-per-click) >=100 .
  7. In the "Frequency" section, choose Daily using data from the Last 30 days.
  8. Name and save your rule.

Note: When you create rules based on conversions, we recommend that you use long "using data from" time ranges (e.g., last seven days or last 30 days) to properly capture your conversions. Conversions may take up to 30 days.

Pausing keywords with low conversion rate
Pause low-performing ads based on performance metrics (e.g., low CTR)

Some advertisers experiment with different ads and try to keep the best performing ones. You can use automated rules in this process by routinely pausing the ads that don't perform as desired. For example, you could use a daily rule to look for ads with less than 0.2% clickthrough rate and over 1,000 impressions in the last day (so that enough data has been collected to make a decision). These ads could then be automatically paused.

Keep in mind that the performance metric (in this case, 0.2% CTR) and data to be observed (1,000 impressions in a day) are very specific to each advertiser. They should be chosen based on your performance goals and your expertise about your business.

Here's how to create this rule:

  1. Click All online campaigns in the left panel of your AdWords account.
  2. Click the Ads tab.
  3. Click the Automate button, and select "Pause ads when..." from the drop-down.
  4. In the "Apply to" section, choose All but deleted ads in all campaigns.
  5. Choose the Automatic action Pause ads.
  6. Set the requirements for CTR < 0.2 and Impressions >= 1000.
  7. In the "Frequency" section, choose Daily using data from the Last 14 days.
  8. Name and save your rule.
Pause low-performing ads

The rule described above will work for ads meeting the requirements in all of your campaigns. If you want the rule to work for ads on only three specific campaigns, for example, you can add a campaign requirement and select those three campaigns.

Pause multiple campaigns with low-performing ads

Alternatively, you can navigate to each of those three campaigns and create the identical rule from the Ads tab. In this case, the "Apply to" option will be All but deleted ads in this campaign. Using this method is a bit more work (three rules instead of one), but this way you can edit each campaign's rule separately if needed.

Bids and bid scheduling

Adjust bids for keywords based on cost per conversion

You can use automated rules to increase bids for keywords that are converting well and at a low cost per conversion, and decrease bids for those that aren't. For example, a weekly rule could raise max CPC bids by 15% for keywords with more than 50 conversions and a cost per conversion under $10 that are triggering ads in positions worse than 3. Note that setting a maximum bid is recommended as a precautionary measure. A second weekly rule could decrease bids by 15% for keywords with a cost per conversion more than $12. Here's how to create the rules:

  1. Click All online campaigns in the left panel of your AdWords account.
  2. Click the Keywords tab.
  3. Click the Automate button, and select "Change max CPC bids when..." from the drop-down.
  4. In the "Apply to" section, choose All but deleted keywords in all campaigns.
  5. Choose the Automatic action Raise bid (to boost CPC bids for effective keywords) or Decrease bid (to lower CPC bids for poorly performing keywords).
  6. When raising the bids, set the requirements for Cost / conv (1-per-click) < $10 , Conversions (1-per-click) >=50, and Avg position worse than 3. When lowering bids, set the Cost / conv (1-per-click) > $12, and Conversions (1-per-click) >=50.
  7. In the "Frequency" section, choose Weekly using data from the Last week.
  8. Name and save your rule.

For the second rule to decrease bids, you'd follow the same steps but switch the action to "decrease bid."

Tip

When you create rules based on conversions, we recommend that you use long "using data from" time ranges (e.g., last 14 days, last 30 days, or more) to properly capture your conversions. Conversions may take up to 30 days.

Raise bid
Decrease bid
Change bids to get to a desired average position (Search Network only)

Some advertisers would like their ads to show in particular ad positions, e.g., in the top two spots, or positions 3 - 5. Adjusting keyword bids can help achieve this. Note, however, that a higher bid can sometimes lead to a lower average ad position. We recommend that you first learn more about this topic. For example, if you'd like to try being in positions 3 - 5, you can create two daily "Change max. CPC bid" rules. The first rule increases bids when the average position drops below 5, and the second rule decreases bids when the average position rises above 3. And remember, we recommend setting a max bid (e.g., $1) as a precautionary measure.

Here's how to create the rules:

  1. Click All online campaigns in the left panel of your AdWords account.
  2. Click the Keywords tab.
  3. Click the Automate button, and select "Change max. CPC bids when..." from the drop-down.
  4. In the "Apply to" section, choose All but deleted keywords in all campaigns.
  5. Choose the Automatic action Raise bid.
  6. In the "Requirements" section, set Avg position worse than 5.
  7. Set the Frequency to Daily using data from the Previous day.
  8. Name and save your rule.

For the second rule, follow the same steps, but choose Decrease bid as the action and set the requirements to Avg. position better than 3.

Raise bid position
Decrease bid position

If you're far from your desired average position, you can create several rules to help reach it more quickly. For example, when the average position is worse than 5 but better than 7, you could increase bids by 10%. Or if it's worse than 7, increase bids by 20%.

Raise bids to ensure ads show on the first page (Search Network only)

Some advertisers want to ensure that their ads are always at least on the first page. You can use automated rules to raise the bids of your keywords to the recommended first page bid, and run this rule on a daily basis. However, be sure to specify a maximum bid, and also add a requirement that the keyword status is "Below first page bid" so that you're only changing bids of keywords that aren't already showing on the first page. In addition, you might want to only raise bids for keywords that have a good Quality Score (for example, Quality Score >= 6), so as not to bid up keywords that need to be optimized. To create this rule:

  1. Click All online campaigns in the left panel of your AdWords account.
  2. Click the Keywords tab.
  3. Click the Automate button, and select "Raise bids to first page CPC when..." from the drop-down. Note that the "Max. bid" and "Below first page bid" boxes will be automatically checked.
  4. In the "Apply to" section, choose All but deleted keywords in all campaigns
  5. In the Requirements section, choose Quality score >=6.
  6. Set the frequency to Daily using data from Previous day.
  7. Name and save your rule.
Raise to first page bid
Raise bids to the recommended top of page bid (Search Network only)

You can use an automated rule with top of page bid estimates to raise the bids of your keywords to the recommended top of page bid, and run this rule on a daily basis. Note: Be sure to specify a maximum bid. In addition, you might want to only raise bids for keywords that have a good Quality Score (e.g., Quality Score >= 6), to avoid paying more for keywords that need to be optimized. To create this rule:

  1. Click All online campaigns in the left panel of your AdWords account.
  2. Click the Keywords tab.
  3. Click the Automate button, and select "Raise bids to top of page CPC when..." from the drop-down.
  4. In the "Apply to" section, choose All but deleted keywords in all campaigns
  5. In the Requirements section, choose Quality score >=6.
  6. Set the frequency to Daily using data from Previous day.
  7. Name and save your rule.
Raise to top page CPC
Bid scheduling (e.g., a higher bid during certain hours of the day)

You can use automated rules to raise and decrease bids based on day of week, or even based on hour of day. For example, you can set up two daily rules to increase your bids between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. every evening. The first rule would increase your bid by 25% at approximately 6 p.m. and the second rule would decrease the bid by 20% at approximately 10 p.m., thus bringing it back to the original value ($1 increased by 25% is $1.25, $1.25 decreased by 20% is $1 again).

Tip

Here's a handy way to calculate increase and decrease %. Given an increase of x %, the corresponding decrease d % to get back to the original value follows this formula: d = (100 * x) / (100 + x). In the above example, x = 25. Then d = (100 * 25) / (100 + 25) = 20.

Raise bids during the day
Decrease bids during the day

Controlling budgets and cost

Checking in on your budget

You can use automated rules to trigger emails when certain conditions occur. For example, let's say that you have a campaign with a daily budget of $100. You can set an automated rule to run at noon every day to email you if you’ve spent more than $50 so far that day. Upon receiving the email alert, you can then choose whether you want to increase your budget so as not to throttle your campaign for the rest of the day.

To create a rule that sends an email if specific campaigns have accrued more than $50 in cost by 12 p.m.:

  1. Click All online campaigns in the left panel of your AdWords account.
  2. From the list of campaigns below, check any that you want to monitor with this rule.
  3. From the Automate button drop-down button above your campaign details, select Send email when...
  4. In the "Apply to" section, choose Selected campaigns. See how to customize email rule
  5. In the “Requirements” section, enter Cost > $50.
  6. Set the Frequency to Daily 12 PM using data from the Same day.
  7. Name your rule and click Save.

You can set up similar rules to email you when certain conditions happen in ad groups, ads, and keywords.

Budget scheduling (e.g., higher budget on certain days of the week)

Automated rules give you the flexibility to increase or decrease campaign budget values based on day of week. For example, if you know that most conversions occur on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, you can set rules to increase the budget on Tuesday morning and decrease it to its normal value Wednesday night. The first rule would increase your budget by 50%, for example, and the second rule would decrease the budget by 33.3%, thus bringing it back to the original value ($100 increased by 50% is $150, $150 decreased by 33.3% is $100 again).

Here's how to create the two rules:

  1. Click All online campaigns in the left panel of your AdWords account.
  2. Click the Automate button, and select "Change daily budget when..." from the drop-down.
  3. In the "Apply to" section, choose All but deleted campaigns.
  4. Choose the Automatic action Raise daily budget for the first rule and set it to 50%. For the second rule, choose the action Decrease daily budget at 33.3%.
  5. For the first rule, set the Frequency to Weekly, Tuesday 1am using data from the Last week. For the second rule, set the Frequency to Weekly, Wednesday 11pm using the same data.
  6. Name and save your rule.

Tip

Here's a handy way to calculate increase and decrease %. Given an increase of x %, the corresponding decrease d % to get back to the original value follows this formula: d = (100 * x) / (100 + x). In the above example, x = 50. Then d = (100 * 50) / (100 + 50) = 33.3.

See what the two weekly rules would look like below.

Raise budget
Decrease budget
Pause campaigns that have spent a certain budget partway through the month

Though you can control a campaign's cost using its daily budget, you may also wish to limit its monthly spend. This can be approximated by using an automated rule that runs daily every morning and pauses any campaign that has spent, for example, $200 so far this month. You can do this by using a frequency of "Daily" and setting "using data from" to "Same month."

Limit monthly cost
Pause campaigns that have reached a certain number of clicks partway through the day

In some cases, you may wish to limit the number of clicks to, for example, 500 for a campaign in a given day. This can be approximated by creating several daily rules that each run at different hours of the day. Each rule checks whether or not the 500 clicks have been reached -- if yes, the campaign is paused. In a simplified case, this could be four daily rules:

  1. Rule 1: checks at approximately 6 a.m. whether 500 clicks have been reached; pauses the campaign if needed.
  2. Rule 2: checks at approximately 12 p.m. whether 500 clicks have been reached; pauses the campaign if needed.
  3. Rule 3: checks at approximately 6 p.m. whether 500 clicks have been reached; pauses the campaign if needed.
  4. Rule 4: enables the campaign at approximately 11 p.m., so it's ready to run the next day.

The screenshot below displays the first rule of the four that you'll need to create.

Limit daily cost
Increase budget for campaigns that convert well (using cost-per-conversion)

If you have a target cost-per-conversion and you see that some campaigns are doing better than expected, you may wish to allocate additional budget to these campaigns. An automated weekly rule could do this for you: for example, you could create a rule that any campaign with over 10 conversions and a cost-per-conversion under $5 should receive an additional budget of 10%. Note that setting a maximum budget is recommended as a precautionary measure.

Rule across campaigns
Increase bids for dimensions that perform well in your Display Network campaign

Let’s say you have a Display Network campaign that is targeting ages 18-24, 25-34, and 35-44, and you bid the same amount for each age group. However, as your campaign progresses, you notice that certain age groups are more likely to actually buy your products after they’ve clicked through to your website. For these high-conversion age groups, you might be willing to spend more money trying to reach those groups.

To do this, you could create a rule that runs regularly, looks at past performance data, and raises bids for any age group where you see a high conversion rate (and therefore a high return on your investment). Conversely, you can lower your bids for age groups where you see a low conversion rate. In this case you might also want to set a maximum bid so you don’t accidentally increase your bid beyond what you are willing to spend.

General guidelines and examples

Be cautious with daily rules that increase or decrease bids

Daily bidding rules that operate on an entire account should be set up carefully. If the rule is set up to run daily, it generally makes sense to use data from "previous day". Make small changes to your bids (e.g. 5% increases/decreases) and observe performance closely over time before considering larger changes.

Exclude specific keywords from a rule

Sometimes you want to apply a rule to all keywords, except for certain keywords that you want to manage manually. You can do this by excluding those keywords using "Requirements." For example, suppose you want to schedule a rule to raise CPC bids of all keywords in a campaign except those that contain the words "rustic wedding." Go to the Keywords tab for that campaign, and when you create the rule, make sure to set up a requirement that the keyword text does not contain "rustic wedding."

Exclude keywords from a rule Try it now

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