There is natural budget variability with Google Search ads based on a number of factors. Your overall budget, like a monthly advertising budget, is controlled by the amount that you’re willing to pay each day to run your campaign. As such, if you are targeting an exact monthly or quarterly budget, you’re going to have a difficult time.
Google Search ads only work with daily budgets. Ok, cool – so to constrain the budget we take the total budget divided by the total number of days to get our average daily budget. For example, a monthly budget of $1,000 / 30.4 (avg. # of days in month) = $33. The catch here is that Google will spend up to twice the daily budget on busier days, but ultimately over the course of a month, the daily budget will be averaged to your target daily budget.
In the instance of flighted campaigns, typical for advertisers that also use traditional and mass media, a campaign may be paused midway through the month before the campaign budget has been “averaged”. These considerations can be built in to offset the variability to come in under the budgeted amount. If you come in under budget, no problem; $1 over budget: this often creates more of a problem with your manager, the finance team or your client. In an extreme instance, if Google decides to spend all of the budget at twice the set daily budget for the first 15 days and then nothing for the last 15 days of a month, but your campaign ends on the 15th, you’ve essentially doubled the forecasted monthly budget. This is a near impossible scenario, but it could occur if there is a lot of search activity for the first 15 days and no forecasted search traffic for the remaining 15 days of the month.
Google Ads scripts, an advanced feature, can be used to manage ongoing monthly budgets. We’ve used them. It’s a bit messy and really only works with ongoing monthly budgets. The spend is also still variable – it is almost impossible to set a budget for Google Search Ads and hit that budget exactly. The advantage of flighted Google Search Ads is that you can run them during peak campaign times to maximize reach, clicks and conversions, but the limitation will always be some budget variability. Campaigns that start and end at the beginning of the month are often the most accurate way, but at the sacrifice of not aligning with the other media channels.
At the end of the day, the reasons for daily budgets for Google Search ads makes sense. Google helps you spend more during busy times and with most campaign periods, spend averaging works. Understanding and communicating the benefits of daily budgets to your team, your boss, the leadership team, or your clients will help them align to a common interest: a higher return on ad spend, being discoverable by customers to forge long-lasting relationships, and more revenue for your organization.