Welcome to Part 3 in our series of blogs exploring the most common ways money can be wasted in AdWords.

Generic Targeting Mistakes

Not all searches are created equal and it is important that you focus your budget on clicks that happen at a time and place that are most likely to convert. Two things we always check when given access to a new account is where the ads are showing and at what time of day.
The answer? Normally, all of the UK and 24/7!!

Purchase intent is usually zilch overnight so why waste your budget on insomniacs who are just browsing to kill time?

Can’t ship to Northern Ireland? Don’t show your ads there then!
80% of your customers come from within 50 miles of your location? Don’t waste your money on showing ads outside of this area!

If you are restricted by budget then ensure your money goes into the areas most likely to deliver a return.


Heatmaps are really useful tools in identifying where and when your conversions are happening the fastest (thanks new AdWords interface, as we used to have to do this ourselves in Excel!)

The heatmap below shows conversion rate by hour of day for a client we recently audited. They were running ads 24 / 7 and bidding the same across all hours.

Google AdWords Heatmap

The darker colours show where conversions are happening the fastest. The white areas mean no conversions! This shows they had never received a conversion between late evening and about 8am. It would make sense to either not run ads at all during these times or lower the bids, as clicks during the night are clearly less valuable. In the previous 3 months, this client had spent £300 between 8pm and 8am for zero conversions. Their cost per conversion (CPA) between 8am and 6pm was about £30. If they had spent this money during the day, they would have had an extra 10 leads for the same spend!

AdWords Device Bid Adjustments

The AdWords overview chart below shows the data from another audit.

Adwords Devices overview

This shows desktop has more than 50% of impressions and clicks but mobiles have more than 50% of the conversions. Tablets never lead to a conversion. A click from a mobile is more valuable, so we should be willing to pay more for it (with the opposite true for tablets). It would be worth checking the mobile user experience on the landing pages for this traffic as well!

Our top 3 tips for avoiding wasting money with generic targeting.

  1. Don’t run ads 24 / 7. Target them when your customers are online and most likely to convert.
  2. Don’t think you have to target the whole UK, especially if you don’t do business everywhere!
  3. Review device performance to make sure you are paying for the right type of clicks.

In Part 4, we’ll cover Conversion Tracking.

If you missed them, check out Part 1 – Network Settings and Part 2 – Keyword Match Type

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