Marketing & Advertising

How to Manage AdWords Campaign Settings, for Overall Success

When it comes to advertising on Google AdWords, much emphasis is placed on keywords, ad copy, and landing pages. These are the Big Three, and rightfully so. However, without a solid foundation, even the best keywords, ad copy, and landing pages can fail to live up to their potential. It is the campaign settings that make up your foundation.

Campaign Settings

Let’s start by locating your campaign settings. First, log into AdWords and go to the “Campaign” tab. Then choose a campaign and click the name. You’ll see the following set of tabs and then you’ll click “Settings” (second from the left).

Campaign settings are in the "Campaign" tab.

Campaign settings are in the “Campaign” tab.

Below that row of tabs you’ll see buttons for “All settings,” “Locations,” “Ad schedule,” and “Devices.” Notice that these are duplicated further down the page.

The “Type” field is important because it dictates what your campaign can and cannot do. “Search network” campaigns are for keyword targeting on Google properties (and its search partner network, if you choose). “Display campaigns” will place ads in Google’s content network according to your targeting criteria, such as contextual targeting, interests, or remarketing.

The “Networks” option is where you can select-deselect to “include search partners.” This is a network of sites that have special contracts with Google, to display Google search ads on their search results. For example, Ebay and can serve Google ads in addition to their own ads.

I’ll cover “Devices” and “Locations” later, since they have their own screens. Moving on to “Location options (advanced),” don’t be scared by the “advanced” tag here because this is an important setting.

Here are your options.

"Location options (advanced)" are important settings.

“Location options (advanced)” are important settings.

If you’re trying to reach people in a geographic area, this is critical. The “recommended” selection is the most broad and allows Google to match your ads to people far outside your geographic area if they include a word that matches your area.

Therefore, if you’re a restaurant targeting the city of Milwaukee and you have the keyword “local restaurant,” someone in Hawaii searching “local restaurant that serves Milwaukee” could see your ad even though she could be looking for a restaurant in Hawaii that serves Old Milwaukee beer. In this case, you should consider using the “People in my targeted location” setting, since it will limit your ads to just searchers that are physically in your targeted area.

“Languages” and “Budget” are straightforward, but there are several options in Bid strategy. I could write an entire post on the nuances between these options. But for the beginner (and many advanced users), I recommend the “Focus on clicks, manual maximum CPC bidding” option because it provides more control.

Next, there is “Deliver method (advanced).” This is another place to not get scared by the “advanced” tag. There are only two options. First, you have “Standard,” which will take your daily budget and pace it to last the entire day. This gives Google some control over when your ad shows, but can help small budgets last longer into the day. Second, you have “Accelerated,” which puts you in as many auctions as possible until your budget is exhausted — then you’re done until a new day starts.

Down in the “Advanced settings” section, there are many options that I won’t get into, other than “Ad delivery.” You have four options here.

In the "Advanced settings" section, note "Ad delivery." You have four options.

In the “Advanced settings” section, note “Ad delivery.” You have four options.

Each option comes with explanation. Here is how you should decide.

  • Use “Optimize for clicks” only if getting the most clicks out of your budget is the goal. You have a higher likelihood of showing on less relevant, yet inexpensive, queries with this setting.
  • Use “Optimize for conversions” only if you have conversion tracking installed and a healthy (a minimum of $30 per month) number of conversions for AdWords to base its adjustments on.
  • Use “Rotate evenly” if you’re running two or more versions of ad copy — you always should be doing this — and want to have an even test between the versions. AdWords will begin favoring the ad with the highest click-through rate after 90 days. But you should be making changes more regularly than that, anyway.
  • “Rotate indefinitely” is for the hardcore ad tester that wants to make sure AdWords isn’t messing with his tests. I use this a lot.


This is the geographic targeting section. The large, red “+Locations” button allows you to add new locations, including income level targeting. Once you have locations added, you can implement a bid modifier, as shown in this screenshot.

Implement a bid modifier once you have locations added.

Implement a bid modifier once you have locations added.

The benefit here is that instead of creating one campaign for Texas and another for California (to bid differently for each), you just add both states here and then give each the appropriate bid modifier. For example, use +25% for California if you believe consumers there are more likely to buy, and -15% for Texas, if consumers there are not your best prospects.

Ad Schedule

Here is where you can instruct Google what times of day you want to show your ads. The interface clearly shows you when your ads are eligible. It’s fully customizable to 15-minute increments.

Under "Ad schedule," you can instruct Google what times of day you want to show your ads.

Under “Ad schedule,” you can instruct Google what times of day you want to show your ads.

If your campaign is driving people to your physical store, you can run ads only during store hours. Say you want to promote your lunch specials. Run a campaign that only runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day. Scheduling ads, in other words, is easy and powerful.


Lastly, note that each campaign has the ability to modify bids based on device. See the interface, below.

For each campaign, you can modify bids based on device.

For each campaign, you can modify bids based on device.

A couple of important things to remember here. First, AdWords connects users on computers and tablets, though they are reported on separate lines. No matter how better or worse one performs than the other, you have no way to treat them differently. It’s one of the unfortunate side effects of Google’s Enhanced campaigns from 2013.

However, you do have the ability to modify your bid on mobile (smartphone) devices. If you are looking to drive phone calls, consider increasing bids on mobile to ensure you’re in the top 2 positions on search results. If your site isn’t mobile friendly, you can exclude mobile entirely with a -100% bid modifier here.


The settings in each AdWords account are critical to performance and can vastly affect your results. Review settings periodically — quarterly, for example — to monitor the following.

  • Are settings consistent across campaigns? You may, for example, change strategy on newer accounts, but forget to make the changes in legacy campaigns.
  • If setting are different, why are they different? This ensures that you’re making deliberate decisions about settings and they are accomplishing specific purposes.
  • Should a setting be changed? In my experience, this simple check increases opportunities for improvement in the overwhelming majority of accounts.
Robert Brady

Robert Brady

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