Category Archives: Adwords

A Google A/B test for Adwords adverts

Yesterday I noticed when I was searching in Google using a Chrome ‘incognito’ window I was seeing a different version of Google’s search results than normal. Here’s what I was seeing in the incognito window:

New 'Ads' next to Adwords adverts

And for reference, here’s what I’d normally see at the moment:


The difference is the Adwords block of adverts above the search results had a white background rather than the yellow they’ve shown for many years, and each advert at the top is noted with an ‘Ad’ label on a dark yellow background. The adverts on the side also have this more noticeable label above them, where the subtle, grey on white label currently sits.

This is what’s known as an ‘A/B’ test – Google are showing me (or the one version of me represented by that web browser) a different version of their results page and seeing how I react to it. They’ll do this to thousands, potentially hundreds of thousands of people, then statistically judge which of the layouts is best, under whatever criteria they have set – understanding for the person seeing them, amount of people who click on the adverts, or anything you can record.

Does this mean we’re going to see a change in the search results soon? Well… maybe. Google are well known for testing potential changes before they go live, but most are subtle enough that you don’t notice them.

They have received criticism in the past because apparently a large percentage of searchers do not notice the yellow background to the adverts above the main results, and therefore don’t realise they are paid adverts and not part of the ‘natural’, unpaid for results. Perhaps this label next to each advert is a way for Google to ensure people do realise what each of the adverts above the main results are – paid placements.

I think this could be a good change if it is indeed true that people do not realise they are adverts. I also prefer the way the ‘sitelinks’ under the the adverts work – they’re the extra links under the top advert in the upper screenshot of the new layout, under the second advert in the lower screenshot.

Only time will tell if there is enough response to this for Google to decide to roll it out to everyone. Today, I don’t see it in any of my browsers. Such is the constant change that goes on behind most of the big sites we visit every day, most of which we never even notice.

Pausing Adwords campaigns over Christmas

Like a lot of companies, one of my clients closes down over Christmas and re-opens their offices in the New Year. They don’t want their Adwords campaigns running during this time as there is no-one in the office to handle any enquiries, so getting the leads in would be mostly wasted money.

Adwords has a tool to help schedule when you want campaigns paused, called ‘Automate’, but I didn’t find the help for it particularly useful for pausing over the Christmas period. Once I’d got it sorted out, I thought a write up would be useful, for me next year if for no-one else.

What we’re going to do is set up two Automate rules in Adwords, one to turn off the adverts before the holiday, the second to turn them back on after the holiday. This only takes a minute or two once you know the options to click:

First, login to Adwords and go to the ‘Campaigns’ section.

Tick the campaigns that you will want to pause for Christmas / your holiday season (in my case, five campaigns.)

Click the ‘Automate’ menu on the bar just above the campaigns.

Menu from Adwords

Choose ‘Pause campaigns when…’

On the ‘Create Rule: Pause campaigns’ panel that opens up, change the ‘Frequency’ to ‘One time’, and the date and time next to it when you want the campaigns to pause. In my case that’s 12AM (midnight) on 24th December – Christmas Eve. Set ‘using data from’ to ‘Same day’, it’s not actually needed for this rule.

Name the rule something useful, and choose to receive an e-mail whenever the rule runs – this is so you can make sure it runs properly on the day it’s supposed to.

Here’s all that in a screenshot:

Panel in adwords letting you pause a campaign

If you preview the results, it told me the five campaigns would pause if the rule ran now. The rule is going to trigger on 24th December at 12AM so that’s fine.

You can now hit ‘Save’.


To start the campaigns running again after Christmas, select the same campaigns as you did for the pause step, then from the ‘Automate’ menu choose ‘Enable campaigns when…’

Set the frequency to ‘One time’, the date to the date you’re going to get back to work (in this case, the client wants to set the campaign to start the day before they return to the office in the new year as they know their customers will start to search for their services to get a jump on their work) and set ‘using data from’ to ‘Same day’.

Once again, given the rule a name so I can work out what it is without having to edit it, and opted to receive an e-mail when it runs (I’ll also set a calendar alert to remind me to check it has run.)

Adwords panel letting you automate re-starting a campaign

If you click ‘Preview results’ it will say none of your campaigns will be affected if you run the rule now. That’s fine, as in the future when this rule runs all the campaigns will be paused and you’ll want them to come back to life the way they are now.

There’s lots more to be done with the ‘Automate’ facility, but that’s all you need to use to pause your campaigns over Christmas. Good luck with it!