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How to Opt Out of Auto-Applied Recommendations in Google Ads

January 31, 2024

By Christine Zirnheld
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In this article, we’ll cover what auto-applied recommendations are and how to opt out of them. Plus, we’ll share a step-by-step tutorial video to guide you through the process.

If you’ve ever logged into Google Ads, or even walked by someone’s desk who was logged in, you’re familiar with recommendations. They’re practically shoved down advertisers’ throats all over the Google Ads UI. 

But, what you may not know is that Google Ads can (and will!) implement recommendations in your account on your behalf. Like other automated features in Google Ads, these settings are tricky to find if you don’t know where to look and could result in increased spend, a higher CPA, and poor performance.

In this post, I’ll show you how to turn off auto-applied recommendations in your Google Ads account.

What are recommendations?

First, let’s make sure we’re familiar with Google Ads recommendations in general.

Here’s what Google says about recommendations

The Recommendations page looks at your account’s performance history, your campaign settings, and trends across Google to automatically generate recommendations that could improve your performance.”

I take umbrage with the use of the word “performance” in that sentence. I run multiple Google Ads accounts, all with different conversion goals and KPIs. However, the recommendations page often has the same suggestions for advertisers:

  • Add broad match keywords
  • Turn on optimized targeting
  • Opt into search partner placements

Or, my favorite: 

Raise your budget!

That’s because Google Ads isn’t looking at your goals to make these recommendations. They’re giving all advertisers the same generic “tips.” Interestingly enough, most of these tips will cause your account to spend more. 

What are auto-applied recommendations?

Auto-applied recommendations take the propaganda a step further. If an advertiser is opted into auto-applied recommendations, Google ads can make updates to that account on an ongoing basis without approval from the advertiser. 

Advertisers do have to opt into auto-applied recommendations manually. But, unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for someone to be opted in without their knowledge. Whether it’s because a previous account manager opted in, or someone clicked to opt-in without realizing it, it does happen. So it’s important to know how to check these settings and make sure they’re turned off.

Here’s a list of auto-applied recommendations that are available for opt-in in Google Ads: 

  • Recommendations to help maintain your ads
    • Ads & Assets
      • Use optimized ad roateion
      • Add responsive search ads
      • Improve your responsive search ads (improving headlines and descriptions)
    • Keywords & Targeting
      • Remove redundant keywords
      • Remove non-serving keywords
      • Remove conflicting negative keywords
      • Use optimized targeting 
    • Measurement
      • Upgrade your conversion tracking (use data-driven attribution)
  • Grow Your Business
    • Keywords & targeting
      • Add new keywords
      • Add broad match keywords
      • Use display expansion
    • Bidding
      • Bid with target impression share
      • Bid with maximize clicks
      • Bid with maximize conversions
      • Bid with maximize conversion value
      • Bid with maximize conversions using a target CPA
      • Set a target CPA
      • Set a target ROAS
      • Adjust your CPA targets
      • Adjust your ROAS target 
      • Add store visits as an account default goal 

If you opt into any of these auto-apply options, Google Ads could take that action in your account at any time. 

Why do I want to opt out of auto-applied recommendations?

I’ve heard other PPC practitioners talk about how auto-applies can be a good thing. The main benefit is that they can save advertisers some time on manual tasks. 

Some options that might seem harmless are:

  • Remove redundant keywords
  • Remove conflicting negative keywords 
  • Add a target CPA

In theory, these are all things that you might do in your account anyway. 

However, in 2023, Google Ads set a scary precedent. They announced that they were changing the way their “remove redundant keyword” recommendations worked. If advertisers were already opted in, they would stay opted in moving forward. 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Google Ads making changes in my account without my approval, especially knowing that the feature I’m opting into could change in the future.

How to opt out of auto-applied recommendations

The hardest part of opting out of auto-applies is finding your auto-applied settings. Follow the steps below to turn them off!

  1. Click into the recommendations tab (under overview) in the Google Ads interface
  2. Click the little clock symbol at the top to see your auto-applied settings
  3. Make sure all boxes are unchecked

How to check auto-applied recommendations settings at the MCC level

If you do find out you’re opted in, you’ll probably want to check back and see what changes were made through auto-applied recommendations. The good news is, the change history tab makes this easy!

Simply navigate to the change history tab and add a filter for the tool. Then, select “auto-applied recommendations.”

Auto AppLIES

Do you need more help opting out? We put together this short video to guide you through the process.

Now you know how to turn auto-applied recommendations off if you choose to do so. 

For what it’s worth, I do know some good advertisers who use auto-applied recommendations. But for me, it’s not worth the risk. Google Ads takes more and more control away from advertisers every day, but I don’t need them making changes in my account. 

If you ever need advice on Google Ads recommendations, or anything else in your account, we’re always here to help! Contact us with any questions you have.

Christine Zirnheld

Christine Zirnheld

Christine is a digital marker at Cypress North specializing in content marketing and paid advertising. “Shep”, as she is affectionately known to our team, is co-host of Cypress North's digital marketing news podcast, marketing O'Clock and was named a 2020 Rising Star in PPC by PPC Hero. Christine is Google Analytics individually certified, a Microsoft Advertising Accredited Professional, and certified in Google Ads search, shopping, and display. She is also a weekly Search Engine Journal contributor, writing Marketing O’Clock recap posts and breaking PPC news stories. When Shep’s not at her desk or behind the mic, you can find her at home watching Murder, She Wrote.

See Christine's Most Recent Posts

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