Google Ads automated rules help increase revenue and reduce unnecessary ad spend. Use these best practices and expert strategies to save time and improve performance.
Here, you’ll find:
- What are Google Ads automated rules?
- Why should you use automated rules?
- How do you set up automated rules in Google Ads?
- 7 Google Ads automated rules strategies to increase ROAS
- Best practices for automating Google Ads
Concerned your Google ads are underperforming because you don’t have time to check performance and adjust bids or budgets as often as you’d like? With Google Ads automated rules, you can streamline the process and put many of these tasks on autopilot.
But there’s a catch. A single set of automated rules can’t optimize every campaign. That means you have to understand how the rules work so you know which to use and when.
In this guide, we’ll share automated rule workflows, look at how to increase return on ad spend (ROAS), and cover best practices for automating Google ad campaigns.
What are Google Ads automated rules?
Automated rules are actions that adjust your pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns automatically, based on the specific conditions you select. They can change Google Ads settings like:
- Ad statuses
- Campaign budgets
- Keyword bids
Building these rules is relatively easy. To create them, you have to pick settings, choose conditions, and select when and where to apply each rule within your Google Ads account.
While the basic setup is simple, these rules can be incredibly nuanced. Below, we’ll walk through the step-by-step process of setting them up and tips for creating campaign-specific rules.
As an advertiser, you can also control the frequency and timing of these rules. You can essentially schedule changes to take place on certain days or at preset times.
When saving time is a priority, you can set automated rules to apply automatically. But you also have the option to get email alerts when conditions are met. Then you can review and adjust manually.
You can also update or switch off automations at any time. The “Bulk Actions” menu in your Google Ads account is your destination for managing all Google Ads rules.
Why should you use automated rules?
Using Google Ads rules can benefit your account, ads, and team in several ways. Positive outcomes often include the following.
Improve ad performance
With automated rules, Google ads can run more efficiently within the boundaries you set. As a result, they can deliver better performance without needing micromanagement.
Improve ad performance
If you find that your ad campaigns tend to overspend, automated rules can get costs under control without a lot of extra work. They’re designed to make ad spend more effective, which leads to better ROAS.
Reduce cost per acquisition (CPA)
Need to get results at a lower cost? The right automations can drive down CPA across campaigns.
“By utilizing automated rules in Google ads and matching that with our teams’ expertise and ConversionIQ, HawkSEM was able to help Nava Health reduce CPA by 39%,” shares HawkSEM CEO, Sam Yadegar.
Save valuable time
Without automated rules, you’ll likely check your Google ad campaigns daily to review performance and make adjustments. With automation, you can spend less time on manual tasks and limit checks to every few days.
Gain strategic capacity
Your team can use that extra time to do work that generates more value. Instead of devoting time to adjusting keyword bids, you can focus on building marketing strategies for your brand or clients.
“We use automated rules to manage routine tasks, while our team focuses on strategy and creative optimization,” explains Magee Clegg of Cleartail Marketing. “This hybrid approach allows us to leverage the efficiency of automation while maintaining the flexibility and human touch of manual optimization.”
If you find yourself second guessing or overthinking many of your Google Ads adjustments, automated rules can help. Once you create settings based on your advertising goals, rules apply automatically — without any guesswork.
How do you set up automated rules in Google Ads?
To create an automated rule, start by opening the “Bulk Actions” menu in your Google Ads account. If you haven’t configured any rules yet, your dashboard should look like the example below.
Select a rule type
Click the blue plus icon to create a new rule, and select an option from the drop-down menu. Google Ads has over a dozen rule types that apply to various aspects of the campaign, ad group, ad, keywords, and audience. For this walkthrough, we’ll choose “Campaign Rules.”
Choose rule settings and conditions
Next, configure the rule. First, decide where you want the rule to apply. You’ll have options to apply it across the account or in more limited circumstances.
Confirm which campaigns, ad groups, or ads you want the rule to apply to. For example, if you want Google Ads to notify you when campaigns spend a certain amount, you’ll want to select “Enabled” only.
Then map out the actions and conditions. You can select up to five actions in any order. In other words, you can set up a second rule as necessary. For this example, we’ll choose “Send Email” as the action.
To choose when the action should happen, set a condition. You can add as many as necessary. For this example, we’ll choose when the cost reaches $100.
Decide on rule frequency
Then set the frequency for the rule. It’s important to note that automated rules consider “All Data” by default. If you want to create a rule based on daily performance only, make sure to use data from “Today.”
Opt in or out of email results
Finally, confirm whether you want to receive an email when the rule is triggered. If you simply want the rule to apply without generating a notification, select “No Emails.”
Preview the automated rule
Before saving the rule and moving on to another task, always preview it. If you’re new to automated rules, the actions and conditions can take some time to master.
By checking the preview, you can see which campaigns the rule would affect if it were to run immediately. If something looks off, you can go back and edit as necessary before activating the rule.
7 Google Ads automated rules strategies to increase ROAS
Now you know the basics of setting up automations. So which rules are likely to be most helpful for your campaigns? Here are some of the best automated rules Google ads offers for increasing ROAS and improving ad performance.
- Schedule ads to start or stop
- Change bids based on cost
- Adjust bids based on performance
- Modify bids based on time
- Target an average position for keywords
- Cap monthly budgets
- Scale top-performing campaigns
1. Schedule ads to start or stop
Need to launch a promotion at a specific time or stop it on a certain deadline? Set up a rule to enable campaigns or pause ads at a preset time.
First, create the campaign, ad groups, and ads. Choose bidding strategies and set a budget. Publish the promotion but keep it paused. Then create two new rules for the campaign, ad groups, or ads.
Start with a rule to enable ad groups. Make sure to set the rule to apply “Once” at the correct time. Then select the ad groups you want to start running and save the rule.
Next, create a rule to pause the ad groups at the end of the campaign. Use a similar setup, except choose “Pause Ad Groups” as the action and set the correct end date.
2. Change bids based on cost
A major benefit of Google Ads automated bidding is that it can adjust your bids based on metrics like cost and performance. If you find that you’re wasting a ton of time on manually pausing keywords or adjusting bids for ads running on the Google search network, try this automated rule instead.
Create a new keyword rule with the action “Change Keyword Bids.” For underperforming keywords, choose “Increase Bids” and set an amount or percentage. Then choose the conditions.
For example, say you want to increase bids for keywords that have driven a certain number of conversions but that have a cost per click (CPC) or cost per conversion below a certain amount.
Be careful when setting up this type of rule. “I’ve run into a few hurdles using these rules. One big issue is they lack detail and context,” explains growth marketer Abhi Bavishi.
“For example, a rule focusing on CPC can actually hurt ad visibility. So, I started pairing Google Ads with Google Analytics to set rules based on ROI. It’s wise to dig deep into the data when setting up rules.”
3. Adjust ads based on performance
If you’re testing out various iterations, you’re likely to end up with at least some low-performing ads. You can pause them automatically based on your definition of success.
Create a new ad rule, and choose “Pause Ads” as the action. Then configure the conditions based on your own key performance indicators (KPIs). For example, you may want to pause ads with a click-through rate (CTR) below 0.3%.
Choose a minimum number of impressions to ensure that the rule doesn’t pause campaigns that just launched. For the frequency, choose “Daily” with “Last 7 Days” or “Last 14 Days” as the time frame. To track which iterations didn’t work, opt into getting email results when the rule is triggered.
Periodically, take time to review the ads that get paused. Look into the context to ensure the rule isn’t switching off ads in error.
“One challenge that we occasionally face with automated rules is ensuring that they align perfectly with the unique goals of each campaign,” Clegg shares. “For instance, we once had an automated rule to pause ads when the CPA exceeded a certain limit.”
The rule worked, but it also paused high-converting ads because the sales cycle was longer than anticipated.
“To overcome this, we adjusted the rule parameters and monitored it closely for a while.”
4. Modify bids based on time
Do you tend to see the highest click-through rates (CTRs) or conversion rates for your ads on some days of the week or at certain times of the day? Modify the bids automatically during these peak times so you can maximize impressions, clicks, and conversions.
To set up this type of rule, choose the keywords or ad groups you want to bid on. You can select all the keywords in an ad group, or you can use filters to configure and save a view that displays certain keywords or ad groups only.
For the action, choose “Change Keyword Bids.” Then choose how to change them. In this case, select “Increase Bids.” Set a percentage or amount increase, and add an optional cap.
Then choose the time when you want the modified bid to apply.
Don’t forget to set up the reverse rule to switch bids back to the original amount once the peak period is over. This time, choose “Decrease Bids” as the action. Do the math to reduce your increased bid back down to the original amount and choose when to end the rule.
5. Target an average position for keywords
To position your search ads as close to the top of the search engine results page (SERP) as possible, create an automated rule that targets the top positions.
Create a new keyword rule and choose “Change Keyword Bids” as the action. For the action, choose either “Raise Bids to Top of Page CPC” or “Raise Bids to First Page CPC.” Set a bid cap to avoid overspending.
“One misconception is that Google Ads will cost a lot more than you bargained or planned for. This can be true, but only if you don’t automate correctly,” cautions Lieu Dang, Marketing Project Manager at Ling App.
“An instance where we did overspend was on keyword bidding. Obviously, you want your ad on the first page results. If it falls off, Google can automate it so that you rebid to get back to top spot. This can end up costing a lot depending on how far you fell in ranking.”
To avoid overspending on this type of rule, consider adding a quality score condition. For example, set the rule to apply to keywords with a quality score of 7 or higher.
6. Cap monthly budgets
Need to stick to a strict monthly budget for campaigns or ad groups? Google Ads uses ranges rather than exact amounts for daily spend, which can make it tricky to limit monthly spend. An automated rule can keep monthly costs in check.
Create a new rule and choose either ad groups or campaigns where you want the rule to apply. For the action, select “Pause Ad Groups” and then add the budget amount as the cost. Alternatively, you can select “Send Email” if you want to get a notification and then decide whether or not to pause.
For the frequency, choose “Daily.” But make sure to choose “This Month” as the time frame to ensure the rule is using data from the current month instead of the default time period.
7. Scale top-performing campaigns
When campaigns are outperforming KPIs, you’ll likely want to scale them rather than cap their budgets. Start by creating a campaign or ad group rule and select specific campaigns or ad groups.
For the action, choose “Change Budgets” and “Increase Budget.” Next, choose the amount or percent to increase the lifetime or daily budget. Set a cap to avoid spending too much.
Then set the condition to trigger the rule. For example, you may want to increase the budget only when the campaign has generated a certain number of clicks or conversions.
For the frequency, choose “Weekly.” Make sure to select “Last Week” as the time frame to ensure the rule pulls the most current data.
Best practices for automating Google Ads
With the best automated rules, Google ads can deliver better performance and more cost-effective results. To make your automations as effective as possible, keep these best practices in mind.
1. Allow time to get up to speed
While the basic rule setup is easy to follow, mastering Google Ads automations isn’t so simple. Don’t expect to jump in, set up a few rules, and see results instantly.
“The learning curve to Google Ads is steep,” Dang advises.” It’s very much about A/B testing to see which automations will work for you. I recommend running simultaneous campaigns with different automations to test results.”
If testing various automated rules sounds daunting, we’re here to help. Reach out to our Google Ads experts, and we’ll get you on the right track with a free consultation.
2. Introduce rules slowly
If you have strict key performance indicators (KPIs) to hit, you might be tempted to make automated rules as rigid as possible so you can get the results you need. However, this approach doesn’t usually work well.
At SocialPilot, “We’ve faced challenges with automated rules, such as overspending. To overcome this, we regularly monitor and adjust rules and set up notifications,” explains digital marketer Suraj Nair. “Our advice: Start with conservative rules and gradually refine them for optimal performance.”
3. Review and refine rules regularly
If you start off with relatively conservative rules, it’s especially important to revisit and refine them occasionally. Plan to review all automated rules periodically to make sure they’re still delivering the best performance and the most cost-effective results.
“One common hurdle is over-automation, which can lead to unexpected results. The lack of control can cause Google to make decisions that can drive advertising expenses through the roof,” explains Nick Sforza, digital marketer at Opvital.
“To tackle this, I closely monitor the performance of all automated functions at least once every 3 days, but it’s usually once a day. Regularly reviewing and refining these rules is key to avoiding unwanted outcomes.”
4. Balance automation with manual checks
It’s all too easy to set up automated rules, forget about them, and let them continue to run. While these rules should certainly reduce the need for manual adjustments, they should never eliminate manual checks altogether.
“One common myth is that automated rules eliminate the need for manual management. In reality, they complement manual efforts,” Nair shares. “We’ve found that a balanced approach, combining automation with hands-on management, yields the best results and cost efficiency.”
5. Consider economic trends and market shifts
For advertisers, it’s crucial to remember that automated rules can only operate within the available limits. They can’t override themselves due to market shifts, economic trends, or global events.
Instead, it’s up to you to keep a finger on the pulse of your industry and consider the context. At times, you may need to pause automations and manage campaigns manually to keep them running efficiently.
“There’s this common thought that automated rules can fully take over from humans. That’s not the case. Sure, automation takes off some of the load, but we still need to keep an eye on things,” Bavishi cautions. “Machines work off past data, so they might not catch sudden market shifts or new strategies like we can.”
“I once set a rule to raise bids on ads with high conversion rates. But a quick market shift brought in low-quality leads and messed with the CPL,” Bavishi continues. “We had to stop and reset our rules. We now regularly check how our rules are doing against the current market trends.”
6. Customize automated rules for each campaign and account
There’s no magic set of automated rules that will work for every campaign. Instead, build rules based on the campaign type and KPIs.
If you’re managing ad campaigns for multiple brands, keep in mind that the same rules may not even apply across accounts. When building rules, it’s critical to consider the needs and goals of the business.
For agencies like HawkSEM, this best practice is particularly meaningful. “We take a detail-oriented approach to automated rules,” explains Rambod Yadegar, President of HawkSEM. “We won’t use the same ones for everyone, as each business has unique goals.”
Keep in mind that automation isn’t always the answer. In some cases, your campaign or account may be better off with manual adjustments instead.
“To strike a balance between automations and manual ideals, you have to really take a close look at your campaign,” Dang advises. “What’s the niche, target audience, etc.? If it’s very particular, manual manipulations will take you much further than automations.”
7. Integrate with optimization and attribution tools
As powerful as Google ads rules are, they aren’t the only tool you have at your disposal. With the right attribution and optimization tools, you can take automated rules a step further.
At HawkSEM, “Our automated strategy is focused primarily on increasing ROAS on campaigns,” Yadegar explains. “In addition to using Google ads automated features, we tie that in with ConversionIQ to ensure results and ROAS are optimized and properly tracked.”
Automated rules can optimize your PPC campaigns while simplifying your performance checklist. But these bulk actions require a strategic approach and regular manual checks.
Prefer to leave Google Ads management to a trusted performance marketing agency? We’re here to help. Connect with our Google Ads experts for a free consultation.