You’re scanning your PPC account on an innocent Thursday morning, and voila – you see it. It’s the big nasty, the dreaded find of PPC account managers and marketing directors alike: an ad group that has spent quite a chunk of change with almost no conversions. You should pause that thing immediately, right?


Now, don’t get me wrong, there are absolutely some cases where a poor performing ad group is so bad, has no chance to be turned around, and should be paused immediately. But more often than not, we don’t have bad ad groups and keywords in our accounts as much as we just have bad bids.

What do I mean by that?  I think the easiest way to explain is with a quick example. Let’s take a look at a “bad” ad group from one of my client accounts. Our goal is a $40 cost per conversion. Over an eight-week span, this ad group has spent just shy of $400 for one conversion. Clearly it should be paused. It’s a poor performer, it’s 10x above our CPA target, it’s toast. Get rid of it now!

But do your thoughts change when I break this ad group’s performance down in the following two-week optimization chunks?

table describing high spend, no conversion ad group until recent period

The problem with the ad group was not the ad group itself – it was that our bid was simply way too high upon initial launch. For reference, we target position 2.0 when we launch new keywords for this client, but if the terms don’t perform, we’ll adjust bids accordingly to find a sweet spot.  Clearly the sweet spot for these terms was just below a 4.0 average position, where we could sneak in $5 clicks and still pick up a conversion every other week.  Had we paused it too soon based on the first eight weeks of data, we’d have cost ourselves those potentially very profitable conversions for the rest of the year.

Iterate the above example thousands of times across all your poor performing ad groups, and you will be left with one of two outcomes:

  • You pause an ad group every time it reaches a certain threshold of spend-to-conversion performance and cut off thousands of potential conversions for your business throughout the year.
  • You carefully optimize your “bad” ad groups throughout the year, thus earning your business additional conversions that the above PPC approach misses out on.

Moral of the story: don’t pause your bad ad groups immediately! And of course, if you need help with implementing these types of optimizations (or any others) on your PPC account, reach out to the Metric Theory team; we’d be happy to help!