Troubleshooting performance fluctuations and changes in Display campaigns

In this article, we’ll outline different reasons for Display campaign fluctuations and changes, why they may lead to changes in campaign performance over time, and how you can use the tools in your Google Ads account to understand what’s driving these changes.

Keep in mind: It’s normal for your campaign performance to vary.


Before you begin

Assess performance based on your bid strategy and optimization goal

Before making conclusions about your campaign performance, it’s important to first consider whether the settings you are using match the metrics your campaign is optimizing towards. Updating your campaign’s bid strategy or optimization goal settings to align with your business and advertising goals will help to ensure that you are focusing on the relevant metrics when analyzing campaign performance to understand what drove fluctuations.

For example, Target CPA helps you get as many conversions as possible at or below the target cost-per-action (CPA) you set. In campaigns using Target CPA, cost-per-conversion and other conversion-related metrics may be better indicators of performance than cost-per-click and impressions.


9 reasons why your performance is fluctuating

 1. Recent changes to account or campaign settings

Editing any account or campaign settings, such as bid strategy, bid adjustments, bids, budget, keywords, audience, demographics, and ad scheduling can change your performance.

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 2. Conversion tracking setup & conversion delay

When using conversion-based bidding, such as Smart Bidding or automated bidding, sudden drops or increase in conversions or conversion value may result in performance fluctuations as Google Ads optimizes towards your set conversion action.

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 3. Bids and bid targets

Your performance may fluctuate if your bids, bid limits, or bid targets are set without taking into consideration the historical data Google Ads will use to serve your ads. 

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 4. Budget settings

Your campaign may be more likely to have performance fluctuations when budget is limited.

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 5. Creative coverage and diversity

If you’re running an asset-based campaign (Responsive Display Ads) in particular, it’s important to ensure you have a diverse set of creatives across ad formats.

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 6. Targeting settings and overlaps (Audiences, Keywords, Geo)

If your campaign is targeting a smaller group of users with very specific audience, keyword, placements, location, or language settings, it may also be more likely to have performance fluctuations. You may have multiple campaigns or ad groups in your account that are eligible to enter overlapping auctions due to similar keywords or other targeting. 

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 7. Policy and ad review status

Changes to the review status of your ads or keywords can impact your performance.

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 8. Other account issues

Issues with your payments, billing transfers, or other account level issues can impact the performance of your account and the performance of your campaigns.

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 9. Auction dynamics

The choices that other advertisers, who are participating in the same auctions as you, make can affect your campaign’s performance. 

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