41 Experts Answer: If You Could Only Use Three Google Ads Tools for Optimisation, Which Would You Choose?

Have you ever wondered what Google Ads tools the experts are using to consistently achieve fantastic results with Google Ads? 

We decided to ask 41 seasoned pros what their top three Google Ads tools are.

Top Five Google Ads Tools:

  1. Google Ads Editor – 19 votes
  2. Excel 17 votes
  3. Google Ads Scripts – 12 votes
  4. Unbounce tied with Call Tracking Technology (CallRail) and Adalysis – 5 votes
  5. Optimizely – 4 votes

Matt Van Wagner – Find Me Faster

  1. My Brain: All other Google Ads tools pale in comparison. I find that this tool, though universally available, is used far too sparingly by PPC account caretakers.
  2. Microsoft Excel: I have yet to find any aspect of account management that Excel isn’t useful for. Creating and uploading, ads, ad groups, campaigns, analysing performance, generating stats, reporting and charting performance trends and budgets. If I only had two Google Ads tools, it would be my brain and Excel.
  3. Google Ads Reports: In particular, Search Queries and Placement reports.

Kevin Lee – Didit

  1. Maestro: Our internal bid management platform.
  2. Google Ads Editor
  3. Regular Google Ads Reporting

Kirk Williams – Zato 

  1. Google Ads Editor: Once you begin to identify tips and tricks available for bulk editing, you will be amazed how quickly you can make bulk optimisation decisions.
  2. Automated Alerts in Google Ads Interface: There are many alerts you can set up that don’t change anything, but notify you of changes in important campaigns or ad groups, so you can quickly identify issues.
  3. Optmyzr: I recently began using Optmyzr and have been extremely pleased with the quality of its suggestions, as well as the Google Ads tool options. If you are an ecommerce marketer, so using Google Shopping a lot, Optmyzr is practically a must-have for quick account builds.

Brad Geddes – Certified Knowledge

That’s pretty easy; these are the three Google Ads tools I use by far the most in managing Google Ads:

  1. Excel
  2. Google Ads Editor
  3. Adalysis

While Excel and the Editor are probably common answers, they are the two most indispensable Google Ads tools.

Adam Lundquist – Nerds Do It Better

The three Google Ads tools I consistently use to optimise for Google Ads are:

  1. Unbounce: This allows me to update, change and optimise my landing pages for my lead-gen clients. It makes it way easier for me, as most of my clients care much more about leads and conversions than clicks.
  2. SpyFu: This Google Ads tool allows me to get the jump and see what keywords and ads my competition has found to be successful.
  3. CallRail: Lately, clients have been telling me about the value of calls. CallRail allows me to track them as granularly as I need to.

Rocco Alberto Baldassarre – Zebra Advertisement

  1. Search Query Report: This is an essential Google Ads tool for finding new long-tail keywords. It is also a great tool to add negative keywords to your campaigns. I recommend using it at least twice a week or more if you have enough traffic
  2. New Google Ads Reporting: The new reporting system is ideal for identifying data trends and consequently optimising the account. Its simplicity makes it easy to use for all advertisers.
  3. Google Analytics: Google Analytics is a key Google Ads tool not only because it tracks the performance of a website but also because it allows advertisers to identify new opportunities, such as geographic and device performance, across multiple traffic sources. Google Analytics is especially important for ecommerce websites since it also tracks sales across multiple sources.

Luca Senatore – Genie Goals

  1. Excel
  2. Google Ads Editor
  3. Optimizely

Ann Stanley – Anicca

  1. Analytics: So you can see all the additional data associated with the keyphrase – such as assisted clicks and comparison with other channels (even though you can import a lot of this data and goals into Google Ads).
  2. Google Ads Editor: In combination with Excel – the ability to manipulate ad groups and campaigns offline.
  3. Call Tracking Technology: Google or third-party, so you can optimise against calls for lead-gen campaigns.

Frederick Vallaeys – Optmyzr

When asked what my three favourite Google Ads tools are for optimising Google Ads accounts, note that I may be biased, because I’ve been building some of these tools for over a decade, either at Google or now at Optmyzr.

  1. Google Ads Editor: I was one of the founding members of the team that started the Google Ads Editor at Google. The purpose of the tool was to help agencies and advanced PPC managers complete the tasks they needed to do often more quickly, by removing the constraints associated with a web app. Remember that, back in the day, when Google Ads Editor was introduced, the internet was not as fast, browsers were slower, and Ajax was not commonly used, so we spent a lot of time waiting for pages to reload to do even the simplest of optimisations. If you need to make optimisations in bulk, Google Ads Editor is definitely the tool to try.
  2. Google Ads Scripts: This is another free offering from Google but it hasn’t quite gotten the adoption of the Google Ads Editor, partly because it requires some coding knowledge, and that scares many account managers. The thing to know about Google Ads scripts is that if you know how to copy and paste, you can use them. There are plenty of free scripts that you can install in your account, where you can either run them as they are or make minor modifications to integrate them with the secret sauce of how you manage accounts.
  3. Optmyzr: Me and my team created Optmyzr because we found that there are certain workflows that virtually all account managers like to follow, but that are not easily done using existing tools. For example, methodologies as simple as finding queries that have conversions and adding them as new keywords, or finding and pausing underperforming ad variations simply take too long using most other tools. That’s why we built a set of over 20 specialised Google Ads tools to help you manage PPC accounts more effectively. Our offering includes PPC reporting, Enhanced Scripts, One-Click Optimizations™ and data insight tools, such as the Historical Quality Score Tracker.

David Szetela – Bruce Clay

My three favourite Google Ads tools are:

  1. Google Ads Editor
  2. Bing Ads Editor
  3. iSpionage

Aaron Levy – Tinuiti

  1. Conversion Optimizer: I believe this tool is way undervalued, even for those who use a bid tool. I trust Conversion Optimizer for just about anything dynamic in the Google realm (DSAs, dynamic and regular remarketing). Google has much more predictive data on the back end than it would ever let on the front. Let CVO take care of the bidding so you can handle targeting and creative.
  2. Supermetrics (and Google Sheets): Admittedly, I’m only starting to get my feet wet with Supermetrics, but it’s a Google Ads tool that can automate a ton of pesky data pulls that you’d otherwise have to do manually. Spend your time digging through the data, not harnessing it. Plus, it plugs into SEMrush!
  3. Google Ads Labels: These are criminally underused by, well, everyone, but especially anyone with a hyper-segmented account. Create labels for promotion copy or ad test to make automated rules fire correctly. Put labels to identify the source of new keywords. Break your campaigns down by country? Label them by region, continent and native language to roll up behaviour. Label everything, and label often.

Christi Olson – Point It

  1. Excel: If I could only use three Google Ads tools, Excel would have to be on my list. I recommend all PPC specialists become experts in Excel and then take their skill sets to the next level to learn macros to automate some tasks. The ability to pull performance data and manipulate it in Excel is essential for digital marketing managers to do everything from reporting and analysis to bid optimisation. Also, don’t forget to install some of the extra add-ins to Excel that give you direct access to additional tools and resources to help automate and speed up your process. I always recommend Bing Ads Intelligence to get in-depth reporting and SEM insights directly into XLS, or if you use Adobe Analytics, its ReportBuilder to automate reporting across channels. 
  2. Adalysis: The next Google Ads tool that I would use for optimisation is Adalysis, from Brad Geddes, because it makes ad copy testing simple, easy and scalable. I love that it’s an easy-to-use tool that gives you quick and actionable insight for ad copy performance and makes A/B/n testing and statistical significance a breeze. It helps with account setup and management.
  3. Productsup: The final Google Ads tool if I could only use three would be determined by whether I were running a large variety of shopping campaigns or not! If I were managing a significant number of shopping campaigns, I would want access to a third-party technology like Productsup or ProductStream by CommerceHub that allows for feed optimisation to keep my shopping campaigns humming along with customised and optimised feeds. Otherwise, I would want to leverage a competitive intelligence technology to be able to monitor what’s happening across the marketplace. I prefer SpyFu to some of the other platforms, because it is very easy to use and I like the way that the data is presented, and it can easily be transitioned out of the platform and into Excel for further manipulation.

Andrew Lolk – White Shark media

  1. Google Ads Editor
  2. Adalysis
  3. Call Tracking (if lead-gen business) or DataFeedWatch (if ecommerce business)

Perry Marshall – PerryMarshall.com

  1. Grade Level Tool
  2. Google Ads Scorecard
  3. Swiss Army Knife

Jamie Smith – Strategy Analyzer

  1. Google Tools: Google Ads Editor/Google Ads scripts/Google Analytics
  2. iSpionage Competitive Intelligence and Campaign Watch 
  3. Enterprise Bid Management: Acquisio or Kenshoo.

Pauline Jakober – Group Twenty Seven

  1. Google Analytics: Although we can see lots of analytics data in Google Ads, using Google Analytics allows us to view the big picture. We can see how our clients’ PPC campaigns perform against other channels, like organic, social, email and even other PPC campaigns that are running via affiliates or other retargeting platforms. Another great thing about GA is that you can visualise and digest the data differently – you can set up dashboards based on the important metrics you want to see at a glance.
  2. Google Ads Dimensions Tab: I love this Google Ads tool and this is something my team has unanimously named as a daily tool they use and find extremely valuable. I outline some of the highlights on SEL. They are: time analysis, geographic analysis and search terms. 
  3. Keyword Search Query Reports: Viewing exactly how the budget is being spent and what the actual queries are that are driving revenue and/or leads is, of course, imperative. Both Analytics and Google Ads provide this data so you can negate irrelevant terms and also capitalize on the terms that are working well.

Andrew Goodman – Page Zero

  1. Google Ads Filters: Used as a bid management methodology. If you check the available parameters, you’ll see just how powerful this is. Want to isolate a certain match type and a certain Quality Score of keyword at a certain volume and performance level, and then bid all of those up or down? This takes merely seconds. Some of the bid rules I use here will impact 50,000 keywords in an account, and the bid changes take about a minute.
  2. Ad Testing Rotation Function in Google Ads: If that isn’t tool-ish enough for you, I’d certainly cite Brad’s Adalysis, or the similar functionality offered in Fred’s Optmyzr, to provide alerts to ad test winners and losers across a large account. To hammer home the mathematical principles behind ad testing, I frequently recommend that people run an ad test or two manually through a statistical significance calculator, like the one online offered by House of Kaizen. Oftentimes, you’ll be intuitively convinced an ad ‘won’ and it’s only winning to 80% confidence. Overall, people must be cognisant that much of the data in accounts is random rather than causal, and managing random data is little better than chasing shadows.
  3. Optimizely: It feels like we need to get a conversion improvement, landing page testing tool into the mix here. Optimizely gets the nod, though the greatest ROI we’ve seen has been with Monetate — but you’ll pay accordingly for the latter.

Andreas Reiffen – Crealytics

  1. Segmentation: With segmentation, Google gives you the possibility to optimise accounts according to the performance of different segments. This way, you can easily translate your analysis into actions. RLSA audiences, demographics (age and gender), device (mobile versus desktop), day parting and geo targeting are the most important segments every PPC pro should use.
    We use different bid adjustments for each of these segments and layer them with regard to the individual performance in order to get the best performance out of the traffic we buy.
  2. Google Ads Scripts: Google Ads scripts are really great because they enable us to quickly build new, custom functionality on top of Google Ads. It feels that there is an infinite number of requirements that are specific to individual businesses. This means that none of the PPC technologies on the market will ever be able to cover all of these. Building a Google Ads script takes just a fraction of the time and effort compared to developing new software features and integrating into existing software tools.
    These are scripts we are using heavily at Crealytics: quality checks (i.e. number of products in feeds), health checks (comparing data of yesterday with a specific set of data), adjusting Shared Library for a couple of accounts (for the use of negatives), a script that automatically pauses and activates campaigns (i.e. for planned site outages), automatic labelling of ads/ad groups (condition to use dynamic ad params), and identifying promising new keywords in Shopping.
  3. Dynamic Ad Parameters: CTR is key to success and therefore we all have to make sure that our ads stand out from the competition. Dynamic ad parameters can do a great job. In the same way as we use keyword insertion, we can now also dynamically insert prices or stock levels into ad copies. We also use dynamic ad parameters to write more compelling promotional ads (e.g. “Autumn Sale: Only X More Days!”).

Andy Taylor – RKG

Bid optimisation is key to paid search success, and thus the Google Ads tools I find the most useful all give advertisers the ability to optimise for the expected value of traffic.

  1. Mobile Bid Modifiers: The value of mobile clicks is much different from that of desktop, and advertisers have to take advantage of these modifiers in order to pay the appropriate amount per click for phone traffic. Hopefully, the future will hold the release of modifiers specifically for tablet devices as well.
  2. Geographic Bid Modifiers: Whether using standard location types, such as city or post code, or location-based demographics, such as Google’s average household income targets, advertisers should be taking advantage of geographic bid adjustments in order to vary bids based on the expected value of different regions within the areas targeted by their ads. For advertisers with brick-and-mortar stores, targeting areas around store locations with more aggressive bids and/or different ad messaging can help to drive more offline orders.
  3. Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA): Understanding and adjusting bids and ad copy for users who have interacted with sites in different ways can help advertisers achieve efficiency goals as well as pursue other initiatives, such as customer retention. However, measuring how many orders from past site visitors are incrementally driven by a paid search click is vitally important to properly adjusting paid search bids for past visitors.

Tom Demers – Measured SEM

In terms of tools for Google Ads, if I were limited to three without knowing the specific accounts I’d be working on, I think I’d go with:

  1. Excel
  2. Google Ads Editor
  3. Google’s Keyword Tool

The reason is just because those are three free to low cost, versatile tools that you can use to scale up or scale down, depending on the type of campaign you’re managing. I use a lot of other tools to dive deeper on specific tasks (such as keyword research, bid management, reporting, etc.), and if you were managing a number of small to mid-sized accounts, you might leverage something like WordStream, or if you knew you had an enterprise focus and/or a big roster of clients, you might opt to use Google Ads tools tailored to those clients (such as Acqusio or Marin), but those may not be well suited to every kind of campaign you’d be running.

Thomas Stern – ZOG Digital

Like others you’ve spoken with and probably what you’ve experienced yourself, there are a lot of Google Ads tools that are used for search marketing. When whittling it down, these three are probably used most regularly by our team:

  1. Search Query Report: Solves our need to know which keyword queries shouldn’t be matching to our targets, as well as new keyword ideas that may not currently be targets but are performing well.
  2. Keyword Planner: An indispensable resource for starting any new campaign or ad group. We use the tool and API to get keyword ideas, identify related keyword targets and derivatives, and build out account hierarchy bids structures.
  3. Ad Preview Tool: We need to know which campaigns are winning the auction for keyword targets throughout the day and for different locations. This is essential to identify any overlap in coverage, budget shortfalls or if geo-targeting may not be adequately arranged.

Dave Davis – RedFly Marketing

The three Google Ads tools that we use for Google Ads optimisation are, in order of preference/priority:

  1. Google Analytics: Probably not as sexy as some other digital marketing or search marketing tools but there has been much tighter integration between Google Ads and Google Analytics recently. Treemaps, video campaign insight, conversion and engagement import, attribution and the ability to now segment remarketing lists all mean that GA is a vital tool in our arsenal. We are currently in the beta testing program for a while with a bunch of new features that will increase this tight integration much more than most people could have ever imagined. The next six months are going to be very interesting for those who fully utilise GA and Google Ads together.
  2. Google Ads Scripts (and AWQL) and the Google Ads API: The next two Google Ads tools that we use have, fortunately, replaced the need for us to use DoubleClick and other PPC management and optimisation tools. We have tried every optimisation tool on the planet. We were once happy to pay 10% of spend for the 10-15% improvements in ROAS we could get from these tools. However, with Google Ads scripts and the API, we can pick the bidding strategies that worked from those tools and code them up very easily into a .Net desktop optimisation recipe or save them in a shared library (inside Google Ads itself), to test and implement on live accounts. We have scripts for optimising budgets, position, conversion cost based on buying cycle stage, bid gap ‘surfing’, A/B and multivariate ad copy and image testing. Many of these can even be implemented with either flexible bidding strategies or automated bidding rules within the Google Ads UI itself. No longer do we have to rely on some company’s secret sauce to manage bids and optimise. We’ve come to the point where it’s more cost-effective and efficient to pick and choose the particular optimisation that suits your business goal and then simply choose the script or API recipe that can achieve this. There’s a thriving community of advertisers, business owners and even Googlers sharing these optimisation scripts and recipes. Google Ads Editor: This contains some really powerful layered search and filtering options that allow granular keyword optimisation and change management.

Susan Waldes – Five Mill

  1. Excel: I always keep it open – I usually have 10-plus Excel documents going at any given time.
  2. Google Ads Editor: I’ve been in it long enough to remember what life was like without bulk Google Ads tools and it enables doing things much faster, better and at a more meaningful scale. If you want to know what Google Ads was like before Google Ads Editor, launch some LinkedIn campaigns.
  3. Google Analytics: SEM is becoming more and more about reaching the user rather than the keyword, and Google Analytics offers a free accessible data source that gives you valuable information about who comes to a target site, who converts, who doesn’t and why. Whether looking to improve a conversion funnel, or trying to develop a target persona, Google Analytics gives a depth of actionable data that I use on a daily basis. Also, newer functionality for remarketing, RLSA and conversion tracking extend the toolset available within Google Ads and allows execution on more sophisticated strategies than can be achieved in Google Ads alone.

Melissa Mackey – Beyond the Paid

  1. Adalysis
  2. Excel
  3. Acquisio: Bid and budget manager.

Larry Kim – WordStream

  1. Remarketing
  2. Call Only Campaigns
  3. Google Ads Scripts

James Svoboda – WebRanking

  1. Google Ads Editor
  2. Excel
  3. Keyword Tool

Jeff Allen – PPC Hero

  1. Excel
  2. Call Tracking: DialogTech, Navis or Invoca.
  3. Landing Page Optimisation Tool: Optimizely, Unbounce or VWO.

Ian Laurie – Portent

  1. Excel
  2. Google Ads Scripts.

Wesley Parker – DemandMore

  1. Google Ads Editor: This is essential for any PPC manager who is working with larger accounts. It allows you to build and optimise Google Ads accounts at scale, even when you’re not connected to the internet.
  2. Excel: Another hugely useful Google Ads tool. It allows you to easily analyse and aggregate data so you can analyse the performance of your accounts. The pivot table function is especially useful for determining metrics such as your most profitable position and many others. Combined with Google Ads Editor, Excel also gives you the ability to build huge campaigns at scale from a spreadsheet, which is a massive time-saver.
  3. Google Ads Scripts: These scripts are invaluable for automating Google Ads tasks and are useful for a range of things. For example, you can use scripts that work out the probability that one ad has won, so that you always have enough data to make the right call; you can even have the script email you and label the ads once the test is complete. Scripts can be used to monitor and calculate your Quality Score at account and ad group level, which you can’t see within the Google Ads interface. They can be used to aggregate data from different elements of your adverts, so that you can see the highest performing headlines, calls to action and other elements, enabling you to draw deep insight. One of the best things about scripts is the ability to look at third-party data sources. You can build scripts to bid based on the weather and other factors, such as the number of products in a category on your website at any one point to ensure that your budget is being well spent. Scripts are generally underused by advertisers due to the fact that coding is required, however there are several premade scripts that can be copied and pasted into your account, so you can get the full benefit without any coding experience.

Michael Madew – Mostly Media

  1. A Landing Page Optimiser: Unbounce or Optimizely.
  2. Google Keyword Planner
  3. My Brain

Sam Owen – Head of PPC at Netflix

  1. Excel/Google Sheets
  2. Google Ads Editor
  3. Scripts

Luke Alley – Avalaunch Media

  1. CallRail: Critical to help measure effectiveness of campaigns given the value of calls. Many cool features but currently loving the ease of Analytics integration in order to import calls as goals, and then goals as conversions within Google Ads. Powerful insights there.
  2. Unbounce: While we can and do build landing pages outside of Unbounce, this Google Ads tool makes the creation more simple and editing even simpler. The A/B testing is quick and easy to use and understand. Well worth the money.
  3. Adalysis: For larger accounts, this is a luxury to have in order to test ads at scale. Interface is intuitive. Pricing is reasonable. Insights gained pay for this Google Ads tool and more.

Martin Roettgerding – PPC Epiphany

  1. Excel
  2. Google Ads Editor
  3. Google Ads Scripts

Samantha Noble – Koozai

  1. SEMRush
  2. Google Ads Editor
  3. Google Ads Interface

Mike Rhodes – WebSavvy

  1. Optmyzr
  2. Excel
  3. Google Ads Scripts

Kate Watts – RocketMill

  1. Excel
  2. Google Ads Scripts
  3. The Human Brain

Matt Hopson – Screaming Frog

  1. Google Ads Editor
  2. Excel
  3. Google Ads Scripts

Richard Fergie – Eanalytica

  1. Excel
  2. Google Ads Editor
  3. Google Ads scripts

Dean Marsden – Koozai

  • Google Ads Editor: This is a must for fast campaign creation and management of multiple PPC accounts.
  • Ubersuggest Keyword Research Tool: A tool that gives additional keyword ideas to the ones you would get from Google’s own Keyword Planner. Keywords from Ubersuggest are gathered from actual popular search queries on Google, so more likely to get traffic and conversions.
  • Unbounce: This landing page creation tool is great for maximising your PPC traffic’s conversion rate. It works particularly well for lead generation, often achieving double the conversion rate that we would normally get from a standard webpage.

Mark Tillison – Tillison Consulting

  1. Your Brian: The primary and most important tool of all is your brain. I find that many Google Ads users miss great opportunities and waste a heap of money not thinking their way around user experience, and buying behaviour and patterns. It’s often easier to adjust bids according to days of the week or for particular devices, which can address the symptoms of poor performance, but not the cause.
  2. Google Ads Editor: The offline Google Ads Editor is irreplaceable for managing Google Ads accounts. Many of the functions and optimisation processes would take hours using the online Google Ads Editor – tasks that can be completed in the offline version in minutes. I’m not yet a fan of the newer version over the old one, but Google is promising some updates, which should make it more efficient to use.
  3. Analytics: Analysing user behaviour in Google Analytics for campaigns, ad groups, specific keywords or for different locations and demographics is essential to achieve the greatest ROI from Google Ads campaigns. It’s an essential tool in the PPC manager’s arsenal.

Jeff Sauer – Data Driven

  1. Search Terms Report: To refine my keyword list and generate negative keywords.
  2. Ad Extensions: To stand out from the crowd and qualify users.
  3. Conversion Optimizer: To tap into Google’s machine-learning capabilities.

About Wes

Wes is the Managing Director of DemandMore. He is columnist for several leading marketing publications including Campaign Magazine, Econsultancy and Search Engine Land where he shares his expertise in search marketing.