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3 Smartest Ways to Spend Your Google Ad Credits



Google issued ad credits as part of their COVID-19 relief effort.

If your account qualified and you recently got the credit, what are some good ways to use it?

I’ll share a prioritized list of ideas, along with tips on how to turn a temporary gain of some free money into a long-term proven way to get more from your investment in Google Ads.

Priority 1: Get 100% of What Works for You

During uncertain times, it’s wise to focus limited resources on things that have already been proven.

So if you have Google Ads campaigns that were delivering the results you wanted before, get more of that with your free money from Google.

The easiest place to start is to make sure you are not losing Impression Share due to budget for campaigns that are meeting your targets.

And just as a reminder, a budget optimization even applies to campaigns that are automated with Smart Bidding or Smart Campaigns.

Remember that automation in PPC doesn’t mean set-it-and-forget-it so don’t overlook opportunities for automated campaign types.

Here’s how to get 100% of what drives profitable sales and leads:

  • Filter campaigns so you are left only with those meeting your targets for CPA or ROAS.
  • Sort the remaining campaigns from best to worst CPA or ROAS.
  • Now go down that list and make sure “Search lost impression share (budget)” is a low number.
  • If Lost IS due to budget is high, refer to the status column and use the “Budget Explorer” to estimate the additional traffic you could get with different budgets.
  • Increase the budget if you like what the Budget Explorer forecasts.

” alt=”Budget Explorer” width=”2120″ height=”1502″ data-src=”” data-=”” />The Google Ads Budget Explorer shows the difference in performance by changing the budget

If you only want to increase budgets until you’ve spent your ad credits, divide the ad credit by the amount you increased daily budgets and set yourself a reminder to restore the previous budget levels after that many days.

Approximate days until budgets should be set back to old levels


Amount of ad credit / Amount of daily budget increase

Better yet, create an automated rule that will change the average daily budget back to the old amount on the day when your ad credits are supposed to run out.

” alt=”Automated rule from Google Ads” width=”2088″ height=”2284″ data-src=”” data-=”” />An automated rule in Google Ads can be set up to restore the previous budget setting on a specified future date

Hopefully, you’ll drive enough new leads and sales to convince your stakeholders to permanently increase budgets.

But even if they don’t want to continue spending at these new levels, consider doing the same optimization I just covered by shifting budgets away from campaigns with lower performance.

So for every dollar added to the daily budget of a well-performing campaign, remove a dollar from the daily budget of an underperforming campaign.

Overall account performance should improve when you do this.

If your client is budget sensitive, be sure to use a tool or an ad script to help you stay within the allotted budget for your client or company.

Priority 2: Try Something Different

If you’re already capturing most of the Impression Share for your campaigns, the ad credits can be useful to test a new strategy on an existing campaign.

The goal here is to spend the extra money from the credits on a slightly more aggressive strategy, one that you may have been reluctant to test with your own money.

A more aggressive strategy may lead to discovering new pockets of valuable traffic that you can continue to benefit from long after your credits run out.

Here are ways to target growth for existing campaigns:

  • Increase geotargeting.
  • Increase CPC or target CPA.
  • Decrease target ROAS.
  • Add query coverage with looser match types.
  • Test responsive ad formats.

The first three amount to relatively quick settings you can change.

The last two require a bit more work but are still relatively quick compared to creating an entirely new campaign.

More aggressive bids allow Google to show your ads for a larger set of search terms (the change in bid causes a change in query mix).

Looser match types achieve a similar change in query mix.

Adding responsive ad formats, somewhat counterintuitively, also lead to incremental gains to leads and sales because they help Google achieve a higher Quality Score for search terms where expanded text ads weren’t relevant enough.

As a result, responsive ads can increase ad rank and make your ads eligible to show on queries that were unattainable with a lower rank.

Priority 3: Try Something New

The third way I recommend using the ad credits is to test something entirely new.

If you’re already capturing all the impressions for profitable campaigns, and you’ve exhausted your immediate options for optimizing them, try something entirely new.

It can be a great way to use Google’s money to test something your boss or client never even considered.

Unlike tweaking existing campaigns, this strategy requires new campaigns that may take a bit more time to set up correctly.

New campaign types you can try:

The amount of the credits Google is issuing is limited so you’ll have to be focused.

Use it in a way that delivers enough data to make a decision on whether to continue running the new strategy with your own money after the ad credits are depleted.

This means you should keep your efforts pretty focused, even with a new campaign type.

Dynamic search ads are the easiest to try.

They can be set up as a campaign or a new ad group that automatically finds relevant queries for pages on your website.

Google handles the targeting and part of the ad text, and with automatic bidding, they’ll also handle bids.

Shopping ads are an absolute must for retailers.

Thanks to their engaging format and the inclusion of a price, they are responsible for 63% of paid search clicks for retailers in the U.S., according to Merkle.

As an added benefit, Google is now offering some free listings on their shopping search pages to any company that has their data in Merchant Center and who have enabled their products to be shown across all surfaces on Google.

” alt=”Google Shopping Tab” width=”2560″ height=”1965″ data-src=”” data-=”” />Retailers who submit their product data to the Merchant Center and enable all surfaces across Google can get free listings on the Google Shopping tab

Finally, consider a YouTube video ads campaign focused on performance.

You could start with an in-stream ad format, with a goal to get sales and leads for your site.

Not having any video ads is no longer an excuse not to try video ads since YouTube recently launched a free and easier way to create video ads, called the Video Builder.

A recent PPC Town Hall with video ad experts Cory Henke and Joe Martinez covered several tips related to video advertising.

Try It with an Experiment

If you’re using the ad credits to try something new or different, make sure you come away with reliable results about the performance of what you tried.

If you’re creating an entirely new type of campaign, the results of that campaign relative to your other campaigns will be your main indicator of whether it makes sense to keep the new campaigns turned on when your own money is at stake.

But if you’re testing something new in an existing campaign, don’t rely on before-and-after metrics to make a decision about how well the test went.

PPC is too volatile, especially now, to make a decision based on test data where you don’t have a control group.

The better way to get reliable data is to use Drafts and Experiments where you can split test your results.

I recently shared some ideas and a script for running better experiments on Google Ads.


Usually, we only get free ad credits when we test a new ad platform for the first time.

But Google Ads has evolved quite a bit since most of us started using it so it’s almost like a new platform.

Along the way of Google Ads’ evolution, we may have skipped trying some new capabilities because we couldn’t justify the potential cost if the experiment didn’t go well.

But thanks to the COVID-19 relief ad credits Google has issued, we now have some free money in our accounts to test new strategies.

Clearly, Google will benefit from us discovering new things that work well, but in the end, we will benefit too so it’s worth putting that free money to good use.

More Resources:

Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, June 2020

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This Week in Search News: Simple and Easy-to-Read Update



This Week in Search News: Simple and Easy-to-Read Update

Here’s what happened in the world of Google and search engines this week:

1. Google’s June 2024 Spam Update

Google finished rolling out its June 2024 spam update over a period of seven days. This update aims to reduce spammy content in search results.

2. Changes to Google Search Interface

Google has removed the continuous scroll feature for search results. Instead, it’s back to the old system of pages.

3. New Features and Tests

  • Link Cards: Google is testing link cards at the top of AI-generated overviews.
  • Health Overviews: There are more AI-generated health overviews showing up in search results.
  • Local Panels: Google is testing AI overviews in local information panels.

4. Search Rankings and Quality

  • Improving Rankings: Google said it can improve its search ranking system but will only do so on a large scale.
  • Measuring Quality: Google’s Elizabeth Tucker shared how they measure search quality.

5. Advice for Content Creators

  • Brand Names in Reviews: Google advises not to avoid mentioning brand names in review content.
  • Fixing 404 Pages: Google explained when it’s important to fix 404 error pages.

6. New Search Features in Google Chrome

Google Chrome for mobile devices has added several new search features to enhance user experience.

7. New Tests and Features in Google Search

  • Credit Card Widget: Google is testing a new widget for credit card information in search results.
  • Sliding Search Results: When making a new search query, the results might slide to the right.

8. Bing’s New Feature

Bing is now using AI to write “People Also Ask” questions in search results.

9. Local Search Ranking Factors

Menu items and popular times might be factors that influence local search rankings on Google.

10. Google Ads Updates

  • Query Matching and Brand Controls: Google Ads updated its query matching and brand controls, and advertisers are happy with these changes.
  • Lead Credits: Google will automate lead credits for Local Service Ads. Google says this is a good change, but some advertisers are worried.
  • tROAS Insights Box: Google Ads is testing a new insights box for tROAS (Target Return on Ad Spend) in Performance Max and Standard Shopping campaigns.
  • WordPress Tag Code: There is a new conversion code for Google Ads on WordPress sites.

These updates highlight how Google and other search engines are continuously evolving to improve user experience and provide better advertising tools.

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Exploring the Evolution of Language Translation: A Comparative Analysis of AI Chatbots and Google Translate




A Comparative Analysis of AI Chatbots and Google Translate

According to an article on PCMag, while Google Translate makes translating sentences into over 100 languages easy, regular users acknowledge that there’s still room for improvement.

In theory, large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT are expected to bring about a new era in language translation. These models consume vast amounts of text-based training data and real-time feedback from users worldwide, enabling them to quickly learn to generate coherent, human-like sentences in a wide range of languages.

However, despite the anticipation that ChatGPT would revolutionize translation, previous experiences have shown that such expectations are often inaccurate, posing challenges for translation accuracy. To put these claims to the test, PCMag conducted a blind test, asking fluent speakers of eight non-English languages to evaluate the translation results from various AI services.

The test compared ChatGPT (both the free and paid versions) to Google Translate, as well as to other competing chatbots such as Microsoft Copilot and Google Gemini. The evaluation involved comparing the translation quality for two test paragraphs across different languages, including Polish, French, Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Tagalog, and Amharic.

In the first test conducted in June 2023, participants consistently favored AI chatbots over Google Translate. ChatGPT, Google Bard (now Gemini), and Microsoft Bing outperformed Google Translate, with ChatGPT receiving the highest praise. ChatGPT demonstrated superior performance in converting colloquialisms, while Google Translate often provided literal translations that lacked cultural nuance.

For instance, ChatGPT accurately translated colloquial expressions like “blow off steam,” whereas Google Translate produced more literal translations that failed to resonate across cultures. Participants appreciated ChatGPT’s ability to maintain consistent levels of formality and its consideration of gender options in translations.

The success of AI chatbots like ChatGPT can be attributed to reinforcement learning with human feedback (RLHF), which allows these models to learn from human preferences and produce culturally appropriate translations, particularly for non-native speakers. However, it’s essential to note that while AI chatbots outperformed Google Translate, they still had limitations and occasional inaccuracies.

In a subsequent test, PCMag evaluated different versions of ChatGPT, including the free and paid versions, as well as language-specific AI agents from OpenAI’s GPTStore. The paid version of ChatGPT, known as ChatGPT Plus, consistently delivered the best translations across various languages. However, Google Translate also showed improvement, performing surprisingly well compared to previous tests.

Overall, while ChatGPT Plus emerged as the preferred choice for translation, Google Translate demonstrated notable improvement, challenging the notion that AI chatbots are always superior to traditional translation tools.


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Google Implements Stricter Guidelines for Mass Email Senders to Gmail Users



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Beginning in April, Gmail senders bombarding users with unwanted mass emails will encounter a surge in message rejections unless they comply with the freshly minted Gmail email sender protocols, Google cautions.

Fresh Guidelines for Dispatching Mass Emails to Gmail Inboxes In an elucidative piece featured on Forbes, it was highlighted that novel regulations are being ushered in to shield Gmail users from the deluge of unsolicited mass emails. Initially, there were reports surfacing about certain marketers receiving error notifications pertaining to messages dispatched to Gmail accounts. Nonetheless, a Google representative clarified that these specific errors, denoted as 550-5.7.56, weren’t novel but rather stemmed from existing authentication prerequisites.

Moreover, Google has verified that commencing from April, they will initiate “the rejection of a portion of non-compliant email traffic, progressively escalating the rejection rate over time.” Google elaborates that, for instance, if 75% of the traffic adheres to the new email sender authentication criteria, then a portion of the remaining non-conforming 25% will face rejection. The exact proportion remains undisclosed. Google does assert that the implementation of the new regulations will be executed in a “step-by-step fashion.”

This cautious and methodical strategy seems to have already kicked off, with transient errors affecting a “fraction of their non-compliant email traffic” coming into play this month. Additionally, Google stipulates that bulk senders will be granted until June 1 to integrate “one-click unsubscribe” in all commercial or promotional correspondence.

Exclusively Personal Gmail Accounts Subject to Rejection These alterations exclusively affect bulk emails dispatched to personal Gmail accounts. Entities sending out mass emails, specifically those transmitting a minimum of 5,000 messages daily to Gmail accounts, will be mandated to authenticate outgoing emails and “refrain from dispatching unsolicited emails.” The 5,000 message threshold is tabulated based on emails transmitted from the same principal domain, irrespective of the employment of subdomains. Once the threshold is met, the domain is categorized as a permanent bulk sender.

These guidelines do not extend to communications directed at Google Workspace accounts, although all senders, including those utilizing Google Workspace, are required to adhere to the updated criteria.

Augmented Security and Enhanced Oversight for Gmail Users A Google spokesperson emphasized that these requisites are being rolled out to “fortify sender-side security and augment user control over inbox contents even further.” For the recipient, this translates to heightened trust in the authenticity of the email sender, thus mitigating the risk of falling prey to phishing attempts, a tactic frequently exploited by malevolent entities capitalizing on authentication vulnerabilities. “If anything,” the spokesperson concludes, “meeting these stipulations should facilitate senders in reaching their intended recipients more efficiently, with reduced risks of spoofing and hijacking by malicious actors.”

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