How To Optimize AdWords Display Campaigns Fast

When you start running a new Adwords display campaign, you’ll often generate visitors from hundreds of different placements (i.e. domains). The main challenge is how to find the ones that perform well without wasting too much budget on low quality traffic.

Most marketers will focus on conversions in order to determine which placements to keep and which ones to eliminate.

The problem with this method is that if you want to do it properly you typically need a few hundred visitors for every display placement before you can decide to eliminate it. So if you want to give hundreds of display placements the chance to generate a conversion, you need to pay for tens of thousands of visitors.

Luckily, there’s a much faster and cheaper way to do it:

Exclude display placements based on bounce rate and average time spent on site. Both of these metrics are directly linked to performance. Makes sense right? Visitors who convert into enquiries or sales obviously don’t immediately bounce and they tend to spend more time on the website.

Ultimately, high quality traffic always exhibits a lower bounce rate and higher average time spent on site compared to low quality traffic.

How To Optimize AdWords Display Campaigns Using Google Analytics

First of all, make sure that your AdWords and Analytics accounts are linked.

1. Then log into Analytics and click on Acquisition -> AdWords -> Display Targeting.

2. Below the graph click on the ‘Placements’ tab.

3. Then click on ‘Automatic Placements‘.


4. After clicking on ‘Automatic placements’ you should see a full list of domains that have generated traffic in your display campaign. Now check the average bounce rate of your display campaign, in the example below it’s 31.71%.

bounce rate2

5. Then click on ‘Advanced’ and setup a filter to show all placements with a bounce rate that is significantly higher than the average. In this case I would pick 40%.

bounce rate4
After clicking apply, you will see a list of placements with are higher than average bounce rate. Using eCommerce tracking or goal tracking in Google Analytics you should now be able to verify that these placements have generated hardly any conversions.

You can now download the list of poorly performing placements as a spreadsheet. Simply copy the ones you want to add as negative placements from your spreadsheet into AdWords Editor.

Repeat this process every week or so and the performance of your display campaigns will continue to improve!

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  1. Nicolas COlombres July 30, 2015 at 5:54 am #

    Great tip for display campaigns! Thanks men!


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