How I Increased My Click Through Rate By 75% With A Dynamic Countdown Timer In Adwords

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Many of us are familiar with dynamic keyword insertion, where you can replace text in an ad with the keyword searched. You no doubt noticed the crazy, funny dynamic ads of ebay…

What you probably aren’t aware of is the “Ad Parameterizer” feature within adwords. This nifty tool lets you dynamically change text in an ad using pretty much any variable you can put in a spreadsheet. For example, you can change your ad as your inventory changes, enabling you to say something like, “Only 3 left” or you can adjust it by the weather and say, “It’s above 90 Degrees outside, Doesn’t Ice Cream Sound Like a Good Idea?” . You can pretty much go wild and use your imagination.

This is one of the little known features within Adwords.

It is an Adwords Script, which is a tool that lets you use Javascript to make changes to your account, ads, set alerts, and all sorts of nifty tricks. Let’s be honest, marketing is changing quicker than you can read this sentence. If you stop and smell the roses, someone will jump ahead of you. If you want to stay ahead you have to have a dynamic strategy that moves as quick as the world around us. One great way to stay ahead is to utilize the full power of Adwords and deploy a bunch of scripts. You don’t need to be a programmer, you just need to know how to copy, paste, and read English. In fact, Google actually wrote a bunch of scripts, so if You don’t know how to write JavaScript you can still run these scripts just by copying and pasting the code. One of my clients is my Dad’s business. I tried my hardest not to take on this account because there’s nothing worse than having your mom call you asking how their campaigns are doing :( All in all though, family comes first, so I reluctantly dove in to help out. My dad and his business are experts on medicare reimbursements and preparing the required medicare and medicaid cost reports for nursing homes, hospitals and home health agencies. They offer preparation of cost reports as well as a software for accountants to prepare cost reports on their own and even offer training sessions to help operators prepare their own medicare cost reports. There is a HUGE deadline this coming Monday for submitted your Medicare cost reports, so I used a countdown timer in their ads. Check it out.

Here is what you see when you search in Google for Medicare Cost Reports.

Every hour that ad changes dynamically. This was a script written by Google meant for businesses to run a sale countdown.

Pretty awesome, Huh? But, let’s get down to brass tax, did it really help? Well, the data sample is small, so I am reluctant to say this is statistically significant, but look at the difference in Click Through Rates.

Ok, You See How I boosted Click Through Rates By Close to 75%, and cut CPC by 8%

Here’s step by step instructions for you to deploy the same script… (or you can follow Google’s Directions like I did.)

First, here’s how to setup an Adwords Script in your account.

Start by logging in to Adwords. On your left side you will see a menu of items including, All Online Campaigns, Shared Library, Bulk Operations, Reports & Uploads, and Labels. You want to click on “Bulk Operations,” and a new menu will appear with a few options. Choose the one that says “Scripts”

Now, You will need to click on the “+ Script” button to create a new script. Here is what your screen should look like…

The first thing you should do on this page is name your script. Then, you need to copy and paste the code for this script into the main area where it says, ” function main ()  ( ” You will copy and paste the following code below, just keep in mind you will need to modify two small details which I will highlight and discuss after posting the script.

// Date to use to find out how many days are remaining. var END_DATE = new Date(‘June 2, 2014′); // Change this to the Ad Group you set up with text ads with AdParams. var AD_GROUP_NAME = ['Medicare Cost Report']; function main() { var timeLeft = calculateTimeLeftUntil(END_DATE); var adGroup = getAdGroup(AD_GROUP_NAME); var keywords = adGroup.keywords().get(); while (keywords.hasNext()) { var keyword = keywords.next(); // We want to update {param1} to use our calculated days and {param2} for hours. keyword.setAdParam(1, timeLeft['days']); keyword.setAdParam(2, timeLeft['hours']); } } var DAY_IN_MILLISECONDS = 1000*60*60*24; function calculateTimeLeftUntil(end) { var current = new Date(); var timeLeft = {}; var daysFloat = (end – current) / (DAY_IN_MILLISECONDS); timeLeft['days'] = Math.floor(daysFloat); timeLeft['hours'] = Math.floor(24 * (daysFloat – timeLeft['days'])); return timeLeft; } function getAdGroup(name) { var adGroupIterator = AdWordsApp.adGroups() .withCondition(‘Name = “‘ + name + ‘”‘) .withLimit(1) .get(); if (adGroupIterator.hasNext()) { return adGroupIterator.next(); } }

Just copy and paste that code into the script section. For your purposes you only need to modify two small details. First, you need to change the date to the time you want your countdown timer to run until and you need to tell the script which adgroup to run the timer within. There is a way to do this on a campaign level which you can read about in the Adwords Scripts documentation linked above. Now you will need to Authorize the script to access your account, and save the script. When you click save it will ask you if you want to preview it. This is a good idea because it will tell you if there are errors or not. If there are errors, there is an official Adwords scripts community that you can tap into for help. Once the script is saved you need to tell Adwords how often to run the script. Since my script countdowns by the hour, I set it to run once an hour. Here is how to do that.

Once your script is saved and ready to run, you need to Click RUN to let Google know to start running the script. Finally, You need an ad that the script will modify, so you need to add ad parameters into your ad. Here is an example…

Only {param1:a few} days {param2:and} hours left!

Just like dynamic keyword insertion, you need to tell Google what to display if the countdown timer isn’t working. That’s what the text after the colons are. You’re all set . You can even check in the Ad Preview Tool if it’s working or not. What ideas can you think of for using the Ad Parameterizer feature? I bet there are some pretty creative ways to modify ads based on the news, or what’s going on in People’s lives, etc… Share your ideas in the Comments. I’ll get you started. 1. Countdown to a sale 2. Change ad by weather 3. change ad based on inventory 4. Change ad based on price 5. change special offer 6-100. ???

You Know What… I’ll Do You One Better Than Step By Step Instructions. I WILL DEPLOY THIS SCRIPT FOR YOU.

Here, Let Me Do That For You. Why Would I do it for you? What’s the catch? You have to be willing to let me publish a case study of the results on Shoemoney. Click below if you are interested. Yes, Please Setup a Countdown Timer Adwords Script For Me.

About David Melamed

David Melamed is a Thought Leader on Search Engine Optimization and Marketing featured on Mashable, Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, Adotas, and Shoemoney. David writes regularly at DavidMelamed.com offering tactical tips, tricks, and startegies to find, engage, nurture, and retain customers. David Melamed is the Founder of Customer Hunter Corp. A content development and promotion agency and Tenfold Traffic a search marketing agency.

27 thoughts on “How I Increased My Click Through Rate By 75% With A Dynamic Countdown Timer In Adwords

  1. Mary

    Many different things coming up this summer that you can use a countdown for….think of local events and use that in your marketing!

    1. David Melamed Post author

      It would be interesting to see how well this works to sell event tickets. I can see an ad saying,
      Broncos vs. Ravens Tickets
      Only 3 Tix Left – Only $139 Each
      Hurry, Only 2 Hours Left To Buy!

      I was hoping some comments would have other creative ways to use the Ad Parameterizer than just a countdown timer.

  2. Tyler

    With the 4th of July coming up I will definitely be using this to sell some of my products using the holiday theme

    1. David Melamed Post author

      They’ve written more than just the ones I mentioned. For example, I use a script to make sure I never send traffic to a 404 page or other error page with Adwords.
      Nothing is a bigger waste than not making sure all your URL’s are working.

      They also have code snippets which you can use if you know a little javascript to write your own… There are also other resources online for Adwords Scripts like from Russ Savage, and OPTMYZR .

  3. Natalie

    You can pretty much modify an ad for ANYTHING that is coming up….for example a countdown for simply just the weekend..things like that

  4. Michael

    How long have you been using this tactic yourself and how would you say overall results have been?

    1. David Melamed Post author

      Every time I tried it the CTR increased siginificantly.

      There are other case studies floating around the internet about it working well as well.

  5. Tom

    Do you have any previous case studies you have written for people that I may take a look at? I am interested

    1. David Melamed Post author

      IF you are interested make sure to connect with me either by emailing me at david (at) davidmelamed.com or via the link above that says, “Yes, please setup an adwords timer script for me.”

  6. Kramer

    What kind of publicity are we looking at from a case study? I am very interested in that! And also very interested in seeing what running this script can do for me

    1. David Melamed Post author

      I can’t make any claims to what type of publicity a case study will get. All I can point out is that you noticed this case study :)
      Connect with me via the link above or email me at david at davidmelamed.com to learn more.

  7. Seth

    I’m based here out of Nebraska as well. A great way to use this would be to run a weekly sale in the fall that is themed towards every Husker football game weekend

  8. Scott Cooper

    David, this is another homerun. I wish I sold widgets, so I could get you to manage my ppc campaign. We would crush it!

    1. David Melamed Post author

      Thanks Scott. If you ever get in the widget business please do drop me a line. There are few things that excite me as much as tackling a new industry with creative ways to make the competitors irrelevant.

  9. shaheena

    Hi ,

    This is article really amazing Post , good title , useful all writing points , i love this blog .

    Thank you for sharing .

  10. Mabz Rahman

    Hey David, Great bit of information. I wasn’t aware of this. I guess if you adapt your “call to action”, it can make or break your campaign. Would you consider it to be ethical to put for example “only 3 left” etc when you know you’ll end up selling more?

Comments are closed.