Dawn of the Dead: Google To Remove Inactive Ads

By March 26, 2015No Comments

By Daniel Olduck

290-x-grave-yardOThere was no dark-cloaked figure lurking in your Adwords account clutching a scythe and hourglass.

Nonetheless, earlier this week Adwords began quietly removing ads that have been inactive for a specific period of time. This is the start of a pruning initiative that will grow throughout the year for Adwords to begin removing older assets in general.

Right now, this only applies to ads, but Google has indicated that additional assets (ad groups, campaigns) also will succumb to the deletion process. This will generally remove the ability to “reanimate” campaigns.

This is likely being done to reduce the amount of outdated assets being collected, stored and processed by Google. And while it’s certainly not all bad news, advertisers should be aware of some considerations if they want to ensure they keep their data.

The criteria for deletion:

  • The asset must have been in “removed/deleted status” for more than 100 days
  • The asset must NEVER have accrued any impressions
  • It is also suggested that soon, the “remove” feature also will be permanent and no longer be another status you can revert to easily

For many, this will be a benefit as it will reduce the amount of “clutter” from older assets that are no longer relevant to your day-to-day activity. Some of you may have a lot of important historical information/assets that are still valuable, so a few things need to be considered to keep them intact.[pullquote cite=”Daniel Olduck” type=”left”]We have reached out to Google to gain clarity on the biggest priority for us: the data.[/pullquote]

Does this change affect my campaign(s)?

This change will apply to all advertisers, but only a select number need to worry and adjust to it.

  • Advertisers with longstanding campaign builds that frequently go back into their old developed assets.
  • Advertisers with seasonal promotions that often are paused for long periods during the year
  • Advertisers who frequently used “remove” as a way to reduce clutter without intending to deep six these assets forever

Acronym’s paid search campaigns often fall into some or all of the above categories, so we’ve put together a plan of how we will adjust to the newly trimmed landscape.

What do I need to do?

We have reached out to Google to gain clarity on the biggest priority for us: the data. Since this will only affect items that have never received an impression, there will be no data loss – the risk is only now with the deletions of assets you may want to keep and the ability to re-activate.

Here are some suggestions of how to proceed:

  • Archiving data should not be necessary (although at first we thought it might). Data will still be available for anything that contains any important values; you just may not be able to re-activate them any longer.
  • Previously, as Adwords never permanently removed anything, it was very easy and convenient to “remove” assets that may have just been adding to recent clutter even if you wanted to keep them for later use. Now you must use “paused” instead.
  • It would be wise to avoid casually removing items in the short term and just pausing. However, this can create clutter in accounts, so make sure you’re using naming conventions or labels that ensure it is easy to spot your key campaigns
  • When Google implements the change around permanent deletion, you will need to be more careful not to delete!

On our end, this is a reasonably minor change in approach to how we treat “remove” campaigns. But the days of agencies casually resurrecting dead campaigns are over and they will need to be more creative with necromancy attempts in the future.

Here’s how Google explains it.


Daniel leads Acronym’s global paid search strategy across all media channels. For the previous four years, Daniel was based in Acronym’s Singapore office, specializing in regional PPC initiatives and was responsible for managing Acronym Asia’s key accounts. With particular expertise in the technology and travel industries, Daniel has extensive experience in enterprise-level paid search and has run campaigns in over 20 markets and multiple local languages and currencies. His Client portfolio includes IBM, Adobe, British Airways, Johnson & Johnson, Hewlett Packard, Virgin, Cisco, Sony and Yahoo!.