Our Top 5 “Must Have” Safety Checks For Small Ad Accounts

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by Shaun Bond

May 19, 2021

This article follows our Top 5 High Impact, Low Effort Optimizations For Small Ad Accounts article, and is specifically written for agencies managing small ad accounts. If you haven’t read that article yet, I’d suggest checking it out.

Let’s dive straight into the highest impact safety checks you should be running on your small ad accounts. These checks revolve around critical issues that will dramatically reduce (or even stop) your ad account’s ability to run ads, while also preventing serious spend wastage.

Put it this way – if these things happen and your client finds them before you do, you’re in for a very tough conversation and a possible client loss.

1. A Live Campaign Is Not Serving Any Ads

Follow the checklist below from the top down until you find your problem (the most common issues are at the top).

 

  1. Check there are no payment issues
  2. Check campaign budget – is it high enough?
  3. Check bids to make sure they are high enough to get impressions
  4. Check ads – do they exist and are they approved?
  5. Check keywords – do they exist and are they approved?
  6. Check audience targeting (should be set to “observation” – only use “Targeting” in specific circumstances like remarketing)
  7. Check geographic targeting
  8. Check ad schedule
  9. Check device bid modifiers
  10. Check demographic bid modifiers

2. Live Ads/Sitelinks Are Pointing To Landing Pages That Have 404 Errors

This is worse than not showing any ads at all because your client is spending their hard-earned money to buy clicks that go to a dead web page and are suffering brand damage at the same time. And, it’s more common than you might think. Unless you can quickly point your ads and sitelinks to the correct URL, it’s best to pause the ads/sitelinks and seek direction from the person in charge of the website (often the client).

3. Disapproved Ads Or Keywords

This issue can sometimes be quite an easy fix (change wording in an ad for example) but sometimes it can be quite difficult to get on top of. We have seen many cases where Google’s application of policy violation disapprovals is not consistent, even within the same account. For example, in one adgroup an ad may get disapproved yet in another adgroup the same ad copy gets approved! If you are having trouble with disapprovals and you are compliant with the policies, here are a couple of tips that might help:

  • Try running those same ads and keywords in a Smart Search campaign.
  • If you only have a few ads that are disapproved, try playing around with ad copy that is slightly different to try and work out the wording that’s causing the problem. Do this directly in the Google Ads interface rather than using Google Ads Editor (mass uploads seem to trigger ads being checked more often than single ads being adjusted directly in the interface)
  • Worst case scenario, contact Google themselves to see if they can point you in the right direction.

4. Conversion Events Have Stopped Firing

With small ad accounts, it’s incredibly important to get your conversion tracking set up correctly from the start, as you will likely be relying on smart bidding and that requires reliable conversion data to work well. Given these accounts often have very small budgets, it may be appropriate to set up micro-conversions (time on site, video watched, pdf downloaded etc) as well as macro conversions (form fills, phone calls etc) in order to give the automated bidding algorithm more data to work with.

Watching to make sure that these conversion events continue to fire over time is critical – otherwise, the fuel you are putting into your bidding engine will be contaminated, and your engine will start to sputter and possibly stall.

5. Account Has Stopped Serving Ads

Finally, and by far the most important check of all, is the “account has stopped serving ads” check. If your whole account grinds to a halt it’s a massive red flag and should be identified and fixed asap.

The most common cause is credit card failure, but sometimes we see account suspensions or identity checks not being done which also result in no ads being shown.

Automation Is The Key Here To Get This Really Humming…

PPC Samurai can automate almost every aspect of these safety checks for you (and many more of course!). In our experience, running a full suite of safety scans, fixing any problems that are uncovered, plus these five optimizations on small ad accounts would take an average account manager less than 15 minutes per month to complete. This should give you time up your sleeve to spend on the accounts that really need it.

Now that’s time well spent!

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