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Nathalie Godoy

Nathalie Godoy Director | Consumer Marketing

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PPC Over-Optimization Is a Thing

With access to ever more precise PPC optimization tools, it can be tough to resist tweaking every minute detail.  Like a child let loose in a candy store, refraining from touching and trying everything can take serious willpower.  Most of the available tweaks are great ideas individually, but as a whole they can possibly impair performance.

Typically, data needs to accumulate in order to make decisions.  On a large PPC budget, a lot of data can be gained quickly, however making daily or even weekly tweaks can derail an account's success when over-optimization occurs.  Google has actually suggested 2-4 weeks worth of data be collected before considering data optimizing on a particular area of an account.  While 3 or even 7 days might seem like enough time, many times this is still too small a window to actually have any actionable data.

Most PPC accounts have more than one ad group, so just because a marketer or business is letting data accumulate in one area of an account does not mean they are not doing anything towards the betterment of their campaigns overall.  While an A/B test occurs in one area of an account, other things can usually be tweaked elsewhere that will not contribute to over-optimization.

The capability exists to make big changes fast, and sometimes those changes are obvious and need to happen immediately.  However, sometimes something good might be changed before it has a chance to prove itself.  What are your thoughts on how much data is enough to make a decision for PPC?

Angie Phares
Agreed; in the realm of PPC, playing the waiting game can actually be a good thing.
Carl Maeda
The timeframe you wait depends. As a start, a week is a good rule of thumb to wait but it should still be monitored daily during the A/B test. Sometimes, you can see an immediate positive or negative effect. But the timeframe really depends on many factors. A small budget campaign testing a few keywords may take 3 or 4 months to yield any conclusive results. While a very large budget campaign testing the same keywords may yield conclusive results after a week.
Nancy Lim
Digital ad space is limited and bids are competitive. While you shouldn't change your strategy day-to-day, and you should test it out over a period of time, real-time optimizations day-to-day to compete with the aggressive digital marketplace are necessary. It's constantly changing. Even as we sleep. The issue with the way ads are operated right now is that they're typically managed by a person- sometimes, someone who is turning knobs for the sake of turning knobs. Over optimization happens because a person can who can only see what they can see. They see CPC spike, so they react. Tech has been built to prevent this over optimization. Tech will see a CPC spike and look for a trend or a reason in data and make those real-time optimizations without over optimizing.

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