When to switch to standard delivery in Google Ads (hint: you should have switched yesterday)

Long thought to be an easy, one-click optimisation, accelerated delivery might be doing more harm than good (if it’s doing anything at all). Here’s why that is and what you should do about it.

In the world of Google Ads, there’s a choice for each and every campaign’s ad delivery method: standard or accelerated. Do you want to spend your budget evenly over time (standard), or do you want to spend your budget more quickly (accelerated)?

I understand the impulse to go accelerated. It sounds better in some ways. For years, that “sounding better” squishiness has led to all sorts of people recommending accelerated delivery as a no-brainer optimisation. It’s time for those days to come to an end. It’s safe to say that you should only use standard delivery for your budgets in Google Ads.

The downsides of accelerated delivery

Accelerated delivery only comes into play when your campaigns are limited by budget. Since most campaigns aren’t limited by budget, accelerated delivery is usually superfluous. The sixth toe of Google Ads, if you will.

If your campaigns are limited by budget, though, you should update your ad delivery settings as soon as possible – right this very second, even. Standard delivery is better. You’ve all heard that patience is a virtue, and that applies to your daily budgets in a big way.

To start, there’s no guarantee that the first part of the day is the best time for you. In most cases, I’d imagine it’s actually a worse time of day for your business. If you’re spending an entire day’s budget by 8 a.m. on a given day, think about the geographic effects of that. If you’re in the US, your ads might only be seen by night owls on the West Coast and early risers on the East Coast. Maybe that’s what you want, but I’d argue there are far better ways to control for location and time of day than accelerating your budget. Also, if certain auctions have a number of advertisers on accelerated delivery, CPCs may even be higher in the morning. When you and your other accelerated peers all jump in en masse at midnight, competition is hotter than it otherwise would be.

And to finish that thought: by accelerating your budget you might be saving your competitors money. If you’re only present at the start of each day, CPCs are likely to be lower in the afternoon hours for them when your budget is exhausted and there are fewer competitors. I’m not one to say how you should feel about saving your competitors on CPC, but I can imagine how you might feel about that.

Performance dropping off to nothing at an arbitrary point in the middle of the day.

How to hit your daily spend targets (again, it won’t be with accelerated delivery)

If you want to ensure that you’re spending your average daily budget each day, the perceived goal of the accelerated setting, there are other more effective ways to go about it.

To start, think differently about your bid and budget settings. If you’re limited by budget, accelerated ad delivery won’t get you more clicks or conversions. In fact, standard delivery is more likely to get more clicks (and conversions) for you.

Some people use accelerated delivery in an attempt to spend more even if they aren’t limited by budget. If you do that, know that using accelerated delivery isn’t an impactful optimisation. It’s a placebo at best and doesn’t help you increase your spend in any way. If you are constrained by budget on only on a few days each month, our budgets work in a way to maximize utilisation. You’ll spend above your set average daily budget on busy days and below your average daily budget limit when volume is low, and by the end of each month things should even out.

If you aren’t limited by budget, the best way to get as many impressions, clicks and conversions as possible is to increase your bids, find new keywords to include in your account, or improve the quality of your creatives. This delivery setting by itself doesn’t do anything.

Our recommended approach to bidding, the best way to get ads to show at the right time, continues to be Smart Bidding. The right bidding strategy is the best way to focus on your goals. If you want to get more aggressive, reevaluate your performance targets for those bidding strategies.

If you’re budget limited and still going for manual bidding for whatever reason, start using Enhanced CPC to add some auction-time optimization to each bid, then take a look at your time of day bid adjustments. Instead of telling the system to be as aggressive as possible early in the day with accelerated delivery, you can tell the system to be as aggressive as warranted by performance across each hour of the day. (Reminder: Smart Bidding does this for you automatically.)

When it comes to the bids themselves when your budget is truly inflexible, you should consider reducing your bids so that you get more clicks or conversions for the same spend levels. You might even have seen this as a recommendation on your Recommendations page. But monitor those bids – you may take yourself out of quality auctions and spend below your target. Maximize conversions or Maximize clicks bid strategies are the recommended ways to drive performance within a strict budget.

Alternatively, you could pause less-successful keywords and ad groups so that you can invest where it matters the most. If you’re limited by budget at all, you’re already limiting your top performers within each campaign by default. There are better ways to manage spend.

If I’m limited by budget and I switch to standard delivery, what can I expect?
There are a ton of reasons to make this change. I’ve asked around and I really can’t think of a reason to keep using accelerated delivery. Make the change now.

You can change the delivery method for all of your campaigns on the settings page in a couple of clicks.
If you are limited by budget and use standard delivery, here are the likely benefits:

  • More clicks (and ideally conversions) from the same budget
  • Better return on investment
  • Reaching the entirety of your targeted regions (no more inadvertent geotargeting for regions in earlier time zones)
  • Logical spending patterns based on performance
  • This is a setting with extremely limited utility.

Conclusion
Budgeting in Google Ads is important. Average daily budget limits should be used sparingly. Your bidding and targeting settings are usually more productive ways to dictate what your campaigns spend each day. If your campaigns must be limited by budget, though, please update your settings to standard delivery. Your performance (and your newfound customers in later time zones) will thank you.

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