The Google Learning Phase: Be Patient & Results Will Come

POV: You just launched a new Google Ads campaign. You have the proper keywords, killer ad copy, relevant audiences, and pinpoint location targeting. And yet, you are not seeing results. Don’t panic! This is a completely normal – and unavoidable – part of Google’s learning process. 

Look at it this way – you wouldn’t want someone who knows nothing about the law to defend you in court, right? You want someone who knows what they’re doing, someone who has learned everything there is to learn about law and has experience. Learning and experience is essential to good performance in almost every scenario, and Google is no exception.

Come along as we go over what the Google Ads Learning Phase is and how long it might take.

What Is the Google Ads Learning Phase?

In short, the Google Ads Learning Phase is the period of time that Google takes to test your ads and learn how to optimize them to achieve optimum results. Because of this learning phase, ad performance isn’t always stable as soon as you activate your campaigns. The Google algorithm is constantly collecting performance data and learning what works best for the parameters you have set for your ad campaigns. It takes some time to learn which ads will perform best at the lowest cost (and that’s what we want!).

It’s important to note that the Learning Phase does NOT apply to campaigns that are on a Manual CPC bid strategy. This learning phase is for automated bid strategies only – starting with eCPC, target Impression Share, maximize clicks, maximize conversions and conversion value, to more complicated strategies like target Return on Ad Spend (tROAS) and target Cost per Acquisition (tCPA). 

Well, How Long Is This Going To Take?

The official Learning Phase of a smart bidding campaign typically takes about seven days until the campaign comes out of “learning” status. (It can be faster if there is a lot of data coming into Google Ads.) Coming out of the smart bidding learning phase doesn’t mean that performance is going to be perfect as soon as that time is up. Although Google will start working on getting you the best results, it never really stops learning. The Google algorithm continues to learn based on performance data, and the hope is that performance continuously improves as time goes on. 

Here is a screenshot from Google explaining what might affect the duration of the Learning Phase:

Bullet number two is very important. If you offer a product or service that’s more expensive and requires more research or more deliberation, this cycle can be quite long. We’ve seen accounts where the average conversion cycle is 28 days or longer. Knowing how long it takes for someone to move from learning about your company to converting is important.

Some ad accounts might take six to eight weeks to really start giving you the results that you want. So, in a nutshell, be patient if performance doesn’t give immediate results. Google is learning and working to get you there; it just may take some time.

What Triggers the “Learning Phase?”

Creating a new ad campaign is not the only time that the “smart bidding learning phase” takes place. Whenever you make a big change in the advertising account, Google has to take those changes into account and re-learn the terrain. Examples of those changes are:

  • Switching up your bid strategy;
  • A large budget change of 20% or more;
  • A change in conversion tracking;
  • Significant campaign structure changes; and
  • Changing a tCPA or tROAS goal.

This is why it’s important to leave your advertising campaigns alone during the learning period. Going in and tweaking everything right away is only going to start the process all over again.

So, there you have it. The Google Ads Learning Phase is an essential and inevitable part of the Google Ads platform. Remember to have patience as data starts coming in, and keep in mind that Google is working to the best of its ability to get you the results you’re looking to achieve.

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