These Settings In An AdWords Search Campaign Are So Hidden Even Your Marketers May Not Know About Them

Wayne Liew

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to 4 business owners.

They were intrigued when I told them I help businesses generate leads using Google AdWords. They couldn’t wait to show me their AdWords account.

Their campaigns are yielding results, but they are not satisfied. They know there’s plenty of room for improvement seeing how well their competitors are doing online, but they are clueless on the how.

These are business owners just like you. They are non-technical, they see the potential of the Internet bringing them additional sales, and they know how important it is to see a positive return on their marketing spend.

Two of them have freelance marketers managing their AdWords campaigns, one of them hired an agency and the other is running the campaign herself.

When I sat down to have a closer look at their accounts, I noticed a mistake, a big mistake that many AdWords advertisers make – not changing the default campaign settings in AdWords.

Changing these settings are easy, but the positive impact they have on your campaign is huge.

Yet, business owners skip them because Google made these settings so hard to find and understand.

Interested to find out what are these campaign settings? Let’s get started.

Campaign Type

Campaign Type Settings in Google AdWords

By default, “Search Network with Display Select” is chosen whenever you create a new campaign on Google AdWords.

Search Network with Display Select is a campaign type that allows your ads to reach customers that are searching on Google (Google Search Network) and visiting websites across the web (Google Display Network).

On the surface, this may look like an ideal option to have a wide reach for your ads. However, for a small and medium enterprise (SME) with a limited marketing budget, you need to focus on acquiring leads or customers instead of going after reach, which can be very costly.

Moreover, people who are searching online for what you are offering shows a higher intent of becoming a customer. Thus, limit the scope of your campaign to the Search Network only when you are just starting out.

Recommended Settings:

Instead of choosing “Search Network with Display Select” as your campaign type, choose “Search Network Only”.


Today, more consumers are browsing the web on various devices like desktops, mobile phones and tablets.

However, this worldwide trend does not mean that have to show your ads across all these devices unless your answer the two questions below is a loud and resounding YES!:

  • Is your website mobile-friendly?
  • Are visitors more likely to convert into a lead or a customer when they are on their mobile device?

The second question is important.

Our past campaigns in different industries revealed that while mobile devices can bring in more leads at a lower cost per lead, there are some other industries that portray the contrary.

Case Study: Cinema with Ticket Orders as the Goal


Number of Ticket Orders / Conversion: 752
Cost per Ticket Order / Cost per Conversion: SGD 4.74

Mobile Devices

Number of Ticket Orders / Conversion: 11
Cost per Ticket Order / Cost per Conversion: SGD 116.82 (Almost 25 times higher than computers.)

Case Study: College with Open House Registrations as the Goal


Number of Registrations / Conversion: 1,206
Cost per Registration / Cost per Conversion: SGD 8.94

Mobile Devices

Number of Registrations / Conversion: 521
Cost per Registration / Cost per Conversion: SGD 19.49 (More than double the cost per conversion for computers.)

As you can see, more people accessing the Internet using their smartphones does not necessary mean that mobile devices are going to give you more leads or customers.

You can find out the figures above for your own campaign by clicking on Segment >> Device in your campaign dashboard as shown below.

Segment Campaign Performance by Device

Recommended Settings:

There is no option to target your ads by device.

You can only specify your bids for mobile devices relative to your bid for computers and tablets. This setting can be found under Settings >> Devices.

Mobile Device Bid Adjustment Campaign Settings

Advanced Location Options

Location targeting is self explanatory, but there is a little-known setting related to it called advanced location options.

These options are:

  • People in, searching for, or who show interest in your targeted location.
  • People in your targeted location.
  • People searching for, or who show interest in your targeted location.

The first option is recommended and selected by default for every new AdWords campaign, but it does not mean that it is the best option for your campaign.

Visitors outside your targeted location can still trigger your ads if “People in, searching for, or who show interest in your targeted location” is selected.

To illustrate how they can do so, let’s assume you are a tuition provider in Singapore who is running a search campaign targeting Singapore.

People who are not in Singapore can still trigger your ads by:

  • Searching on a Google domain related to your target location. For example, a Singapore tourist in India can be doing a search on even though they are not physically in Singapore.
  • Appending your target location to their search query. For example, a searcher in Thailand searching for “tuition provider singapore”.

If you are an SME serving local customers, the default option may be getting you clicks in foreign countries and wasting your precious budget.

Recommended Settings:

Unless your customers are mostly foreigners or tourists, do not use the default setting for advanced location options.

Head over to your campaign settings and go under Location options. Then, choose “People in my targeted location”.

Advanced Location Options in AdWords Campaign Settings

Ad Rotation

Part of what is needed to improve the performance of a campaign is to pit two ad copies together in an ad group. This method of ad campaign optimization is also known as ad copy A/B testing.

The two ad copies will run concurrently, and the results will then be compared to determine the winner.

The default ad rotation settings for a new campaign in AdWords does not allow for a fair competition and comparison between the ad copies within an ad group.

You can find ad rotation settings under campaign settings, and there are 4 options to choose from:

  • Optimize for clicks (default setting)
  • Optimize for conversions
  • Rotate evenly
  • Rotate indefinitely

You may find detailed explanation on these settings in AdWords Help, but in a nutshell, the “Optimize for clicks” option does not favor ROI-oriented advertisers.

To quote AdWords Help,

(Optimize for clicks) gives preference to ads that are expected to attract more clicks than other ads in the ad group, based on your past clickthrough rates (CTRs).

If your objective is to get more clicks on your ads, then the default setting makes sense.

However, from our experience of running hundreds of lead generation campaigns for our clients, ad copies that generate the most clicks may not always be the ones giving us the most leads or goal conversions.

With that in mind, there is no incentive to have Google optimize for more clicks, especially when you are paying them on a per click basis.

Recommended Settings:

Hop over to your campaign settings now and change your ad rotation settings to “Rotate indefinitely”.

All the ad copies in an ad group will start getting a fair share of impressions.

Revisit the ad copies’ performance after 7 to 14 days, do a comparison and decide which of them is doing a better job of acquiring leads or goal conversions for your campaign.

Ad Rotation Settings in Google AdWords

Search Partners

Many AdWords advertisers overlook the fact that search campaigns on AdWords does not only run on Google Search by default.

Google works with search partners like, local directories and others, which are non-Google sites that serve its search ads.

Your ads will appear in the search results, site directory pages or on other pages related to a person’s search on these non-Google sites.

Here is an example of ads showing up on a Google search partner:

One Stop Malaysia Example of Google Search Partner









The performance of these partners varies from one campaign to another, and requires close monitoring to decide whether they are good for your campaign.

Furthermore, there is no clear disclosure on who these partners are and advertisers do not have a way to exclude certain partners from serving our ads.

Recommended Settings:

If you have limited time and budget to spend on your search campaign, we recommend disabling search partners completely by unchecking the “Include search partners” box under campaign settings.

Exclude Search Partners in Google AdWords

Language Targeting

Language targeting is especially interesting in multiracial countries like Singapore and Malaysia.

Advertisers may have the following false assumption on how language targeting works:

To target the Bahasa Melayu audience in a campaign, all you need to do is to pick Bahasa Melayu under language targeting and insert Malay keywords into your ad groups.

However, the way how language targeting works is not as straightforward.

When you specify the language targeting of your campaign to be Bahsa Melayu, your ads will only show up if a searcher is using Google offered in Bahasa Melayu.

In Singapore and Malaysia, although some of your target audience may search in Mandarin, Malay or Tamil, a large percentage of them are searching through Google’s English interface.

Recommended Settings:

The right way to reach your target audience in Singapore or Malaysia who are searching in languages other than English is by using non-English keywords while including English as part of your language targeting.

Do You Want Us to Look Into Your AdWords Account?

Take some time out and have a look at your AdWords campaign. See if you have missed out any of the settings above.

If you have a marketing professional or an agency working on your AdWords campaign, set up an appointment with them to go through your campaign settings as soon as possible.

Else, you could be paying Google day-after-day without getting any returns.

Do you need one of our consultants to look at your AdWords account or website to provide you with practical insights like the above?

Let us know who you are and how we can get in touch with you by filling up the form on this page.

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