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Google Ads Auto-Applied Recommendations: The Complete Guide (2024)

Google has been actively expanding its Auto-Applied Recommendations, a set of AI-powered enhancements to the ads and bidding strategies you can use on your Google Ads account. This suite of recommendations has now grown to include 24 options in 2024, split into two categories. The “Maintain your ads” category focuses on an enhancement that may have an impact on keywords and ad copy, while the “Grow your business” category promises to help you bring in more revenue or, at least, lower your costs.

We will delve into each recommendation, evaluate its benefits and risks, and provide guidance in making decisions based on your business particularities.

google ads auto-applied recommendations


While Google’s automated application feature promises to streamline your ad management process, it has garnered mixed reactions from advertisers. Some users express concern about the potential downsides of these auto-applied recommendations.

Advertisers may already know, but auto-apply recommendations will allow Google to make changes to your account and campaigns without even notifying you. They packed it nicely, especially by Google’s Reps, but the effects are rarely good.

google ads auto-applied recommendations

Maintain your ads

Ads & assets

Use optimized ad rotation

When to enable: Almost Always

The optimized ad rotation recommendation promises that Google will show your best ads at auction time. Taking into account that you most likely want to use the best-performing ads anyway, we can safely say that this recommendation is not harmful.

However, once the algorithm picks a winning ad, it will show that ad more often than the rest. Keep that in mind.

If your audience is somehow limited or if you prefer to show all ads evenly and have more control over them, then you may want to untick this recommendation and rotate your ads indefinitely before picking the winning one manually.

Add responsive search ads

When to enable: NEVER

Ticking this recommendation will allow Google to add responsive search ads to your campaigns by using your existing headlines and descriptions in the same ad group. However, it also uses your ad’s final URL content. This sounds good in theory, but in practice, it’s very hit-and-miss.

The ads Google creates might not be on brand, or might be completely irrelevant. It’s best to maintain control.

Improve your responsive search ads

When to enable: NEVER

Same as the Google’s recommendation above, we suggest to stay away from this one.

These will always pop-up under the Recommendations sections and you can review them, they don’t need to be auto applied.

Keywords & targeting

Remove redundant keywords & Remove non-serving keywords

When to enable: NEVER

Google states that applying this recommendation will make your account easier to manage. However, by removing “redundant keywords” you risk deleting data that may be important for your business.

There is also the issue of what Google considers ‘redundant keywords’. These days, anything phrase or exact can be considered redundant by Google.

For non-serving keywords, this recommendation doesn’t consider the seasonality of some businesses or any other particularity only a human would understand. It’s a hard “NO” on this one, as well.

Remove conflicting negative keywords

When to enable: NEVER

Sometimes you may add a negative keyword that blocks a legit keyword. Google has always had a notification for this, and taking action is easy.

Leaving this in the hands of Google to automatically remove negative keywords can have undesired effects, one of the most common being removing brand negative keywords from generic campaigns.

So, if you have separate campaigns for branded and non-branded keywords (or product categories, sub-brands, or any other segmentation), this recommendation can disrupt your negative keyword settings, leading to skewed data and hindering your ability to analyze campaign performance effectively.

You can learn more about Common Mistakes with Negative Keywords here.

Use optimized targeting

When to enable: NEVER

Google’s optimized targeting feature extends beyond your predefined audience targeting to identify potential new customers. Optimized targeting can be effective for awareness stage-focused campaigns, while it can be harmful for bottom-of-funnel campaigns that also include retargeting audiences.

If enabled, this will ruin remarketing campaigns.

What to do instead: Manually enable Optimized Targeting on campaigns of your choosing.


Upgrade your conversion tracking

When to enable: ALWAYS

The first 100% yes recommendation. Google is switching the attribution model to Data-Driven, and it’s the best one we have going forward. So you want your conversion tracking to switch to Data-Driven as soon as that’s available.

If you haven’t already applied this recommendation, it’s likely to have a minimal impact on your campaign performance. However, it can distribute conversion credits across multiple campaigns, providing a more holistic view of the user journey and the touchpoints that lead to conversions. This is a “YES” from us.

Grow your business

Keywords & targeting

Add new keywords

When to enable: NEVER

Don’t use this. Granting Google the power to select keywords without your input is a recipe for wasted ad spend. Additionally, be mindful of Google’s recent update to keyword match types, which now considers exact and phrase match to be more like broad match.

If you look at the normal recommendation for adding keywords, you’ll find that Google doesn’t pick the best keywords. Having this enabled is not only going to lead to wasted ad spend, but it will butcher your account structure, and possibly lead to keyword cannibalization.

Add broad match keywords

When to enable: NEVER

You can add broad-match keywords whenever and wherever you see fit in your account. You don’t need an auto-applied recommendation to do that for your account and your money—another recipe for disaster and money thrown out of the window. We strongly recommend against this one.

Broad match can be good, especially when paired with a good number of conversions and automated bidding. But make sure you make that decision yourself.

Use Display Expansion

When to enable: NEVER

Make sure you don’t have already this box ticked at the search campaign-level settings. The goal of this recommendation is to allocate your budget to the Display Network when it’s not being fully utilized on Search alone. This can lead to unnecessary spending on placements that may not align with your target audience or conversion goals. You will be spending money you don’t have to. Another hard “NO”.

google ads auto-applied recommendations - display expansion


This section requires a separate paragraph to draw attention to a couple of things.

Firstly, we consider all “Bid more efficiently” recommendations to be deceiving (intentional or not), and we’ve discovered that not even the Google reps know that these actually do.

The most widespread explanation that you’ll find is that if you already use a bidding strategy (like Maximize Conversions), enabling the “Bid more efficiently with Maximize conversions” recommendation will somehow improve the bidding. That’s not the case. At all.

The devil’s in the details, these are auto-APPLY recommendations. Something needs to be applied. The only thing these do is give Google the power to switch any campaign to them whenever it wants.

Enable any one of these and you won’t know why your account started spending more, why the CPA increased or why your ROAS tanked. They’re relatively tricky to diagnose as well, as most people know ‘they haven’t changed anything’.

Bid more efficiently with Target impression share

When to enable: NEVER

This recommendation is the first of the devil-in-disguise recommendations. It sounds too good to be true because it is. Target impression share is a rarely used bidding strategy that requires careful consideration and should not be left solely to the control of an AI algorithm.

Bid more efficiently with Maximize clicks

When to enable: NEVER

While maximize clicks can be an effective strategy for top-of-funnel campaigns, it’s crucial to recognize that Google’s ability to generate traffic doesn’t necessarily guarantee quality. In many cases, this traffic may not align with your target audience or conversion goals, leading to wasted ad spend and ineffective campaigns.

You don’t want to spend your budget on cheap clicks that will not benefit your business, do you? Not to mention, the clicks won’t always be cheap.

Bid more efficiently with Maximize conversions

When to enable: NEVER

Use maximize conversions when it makes sense for your account. For your account to be ready to benefit from this strategy, it should meet some prerequisites. You don’t need Google to automatically apply this. Just change the bidding strategy at the campaign level, when it serves your business goals.

Bid more efficiently with Maximize conversion value

When to enable: NEVER

Same as the above. Don’t tick it. Change the bidding strategy at the campaign level.

Bid more efficiently with Maximize conversions using a target CPA

When to enable: NEVER

Same as the above. Don’t apply it. Instead, manually modify the bidding strategy at the campaign level. This approach grants you the flexibility to adjust the target CPA based on data insights. Just don’t do it too often.

Bid more efficiently with Maximize conversion value using a target ROAS

When to enable: NEVER

Similar to the previous recommendation. Don’t apply it. Instead, manually adjust the bidding strategy at the campaign level and avoid frequent modifications to the target ROAS.

Set a target CPA

When to enable: NEVER

This auto recommendation may seem like a good idea at first glance, however, the effects of it are not what you would expect. The algorithm sets a CPA that may not align with your actual cost structure and may lead to inefficient bidding.

Instead, it’s recommended to manually set a target CPA at the campaign level that reflects your business’s break-even point and overall profitability goals. How can an algorithm know your business costs to calculate the break-even CPA? It doesn’t. We haven’t found any drop of logic whenever we’ve seen this applied.

Set a target ROAS

When to enable: NEVER

Same as the recommendation above. An algorithm cannot take into account the cost of acquiring customers. See below how this recommendation changed the bidding strategy for a campaign and set an unrealistic target ROAS of 88%. A business cannot be profitable with such a high ROAS, and the algorithm is not aware of the business’s profit margins or customer lifetime value. It’s a NO.

auto-applied recommendations irrelevant roas

Adjust your CPA targets

When to enable: NEVER

You will lose control over your CPA and Google will set a CPA based on past data. Ideally, you’ve made calculations and know what a good target CPA is for your business. Imagine letting Google set that to whatever it wants.

We don’t recommend this. You can read more about why we advise you against it here.

Adjust your ROAS targets

When to enable: NEVER

This will modify your ROAS to whatever Google sees fit. Same as above and almost everything else in this section, it’s a NO.

Add store visits as an account default goal

When to enable: Sometimes, Maybe

Don’t apply this recommendation unless your business can benefit from foot traffic to your physical store. If you’re an online-only business, or lead-gen, you don’t need this.

I wouldn’t recommend this even if you have an online business and a brick-and-mortar store. It’s fine to track Store Visits as a Secondary conversion, but this will make it an account default goal, effectively inflating the conversion numbers.


Auto-applied recommendations for Google Ads are rarely helpful and will most likely harm your account. The ones under the Bidding category are especially dangerous, since not only they’re formulated ambiguously, but not even the reps that are pushing them know how they work.

As we have seen in this article, many of Google’s auto-applied recommendations can lead to wasted ad spend and poor campaign performance.

We recommend that you manually review and approve all of Google’s auto-applied recommendations before applying them to your account. This will help you to ensure that your campaigns are performing as expected and that wasted ad spend is minimized.

Here are some additional tips for Google Ads efficient management:

  • Regularly monitor your campaign performance.
  • Test different ad copy and landing pages.
  • Use negative keywords to avoid wasting money on irrelevant clicks.
  • Use enhanced conversion tracking to measure the results of your campaigns. 

By following these tips, you can create and manage Google Ads campaigns that are effective and profitable.

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Denisa C.