What You Need To Know About the Google Ads Learning Period
You did your research. You took the time to learn about how Google Ads work, created an account, and launched your first campaign. Or maybe you went through the painstaking process of vetting companies and hiring someone to do it for you. The hard part is over, you think as you navigate to your dashboard to check on your newly approved ads’ performance—only to be confronted by an unexpected status:
If we had a dime for every client who contacted us in alarm and confusion after seeing the “Learning” status on their Google Ads campaign, we wouldn’t have to work anymore (but, who are we kidding, we probably would anyway because we love what we do!).
While the learning phase can be disconcerting for people who are new to the world of Google Ads, rest assured that it’s a normal (even productive)—and unavoidable—part of any Ads campaign. Here, we’ll run through some of the most common questions people tend to have about the Google Ads learning period.
What Does the Learning Period Mean?
In short, the learning period is the time it takes Google to find the optimal ways to use your Ads for the purposes of your Bid Strategy. During this time, Google displays your Ads in specific ways and then analyzes their performance according to myriad metrics (location, time of day, user profile, etc.) to determine how they will be most successful at the lowest cost over time. As such, your Ads go into learning mode every time substantial changes are made to the parameters of your campaign(s). These changes might include:
- Updates to your Bid Strategy (for example, switching from Maximize Clicks bidding to Maximize Conversion bidding)
- A significant change to your budget (~20% or more)
- The addition or removal of conversion actions or changes to your conversion tracking settings
- Changes to the ads themselves, such as the addition or pausing of new ad groups or keywords
Basically, Google’s algorithm is built to determine and then give you the best performance possible for the parameters and priorities you’ve set for your account. When you shift those parameters by making any of the changes listed above, the algorithm takes some time to readjust to its new settings.
During the learning period, Google’s algorithm is collecting data for you on your target audience, your competition, your industry/products/services, and more. The algorithm will then integrate all of this information and use it to optimize and improve Google Ads performance.
How Long Does It Last?
Assuming that your account has already been approved, you can expect the learning period to last around 7 days. If the changes you made were particularly extensive, it might take a bit longer.
How Will My Ad Performance Be Affected?
Google tells users to expect “minor performance fluctuations” while Google Ads optimizes your campaign’s bids during the learning period. It’s not abnormal for many accounts to see a dip in performance during this time.
Assuming that your ads have been built well, once the learning period is over, you should see your campaign performance stabilize and (hopefully!) improve.
What Should I Do During the Learning Period?
The short answer is: nothing!
The most important thing to keep in mind is that your campaign’s performance during the learning period is not indicative of its overall performance.
Many people make the mistake of panicking when they see a decline in their performance during the learning period, then making additional changes to their ads to try to correct that trend. However, this is actually counterproductive, as it not only extends the learning period due to these new changes, it also prevents you from accurately assessing the success or failure of the previous changes. You may end up undoing something that would have produced great results once Google was done learning how to bid on it effectively.
While it can be concerning to watch your clicks and conversions decline, the best thing you can do is sit back, avoid making any further changes until the learning period is over, and trust the algorithm to do its thing.
If performance remains low after the learning period is over, then it may be time to consider re-optimizing.
Know When To Get Help
Creating, monitoring, and maintaining a Google Ads campaign can be challenging and time-consuming—particularly for nonprofits using the Google Ad Grant, which has its own set of guidelines and compliance requirements. It’s not unusual for new Google Ad users to feel like they’re constantly fumbling around in the dark.
Nonprofit Megaphone takes the guesswork out of Google Ads and the Google Grant for nonprofits. Our trained team handles Google Grant acquisition and reactivation, ad creation and maintenance, weekly account optimization, and regular compliance updates for our clients, leaving you free to focus on the work that matters to your organization. As a Google Premier partner, we’ve helped hundreds of nonprofits expand their reach and achieve their goals. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you through your learning phase and beyond!