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How to prevent Google Ads Overspending

August 30, 2022

Have you ever started work on a Monday morning and, when checking accounts over, realised you’d overspent?

Have you ever wondered what the best solution to overspending on a Google Ads account could be?

Maybe you’ve considered setting rules in place to pause individual campaigns when they overspend or even decided to work over the weekend to make sure nothing goes wrong?

With this in mind, I have written a Google Ads overspend script, named the Hard Stop Script, which will allow you to stop worrying about a huge overspend over the weekend or bank holiday and have peace of mind that yours or your clients’ budgets aren’t being overshadowed by spend.

Firstly, let’s look at why and how Google Ads overspend:

Why does Google Ads overspend on a campaign?

Google Ads’ bidding algorithms and optimisations figure out which days of the month to adjust spend in order to gain more clicks and conversions, for example, when search volume spikes, or conversion rates are higher. This means that on some days you may spend above or below your daily campaign budget - as much as two times your average daily budget. Therefore, it is crucial to find ways to minimise the risk of potentially spending double your clients’ budget, and this is exactly what this Hard Stop Script is all about.

Introducing the Google Ads Hard Stop Script

Hard Stop will prevent any horror overspends, which can be critical to put in place generally, but more importantly over a time away from an account, such as during a bank holiday weekend, or at a time of higher spend such as Black Friday.

Some accounts will be able to take advantage of monthly spend limits within their settings, however, this is only available to accounts that aren’t using the invoice billing method.

The script works best when run on an hourly basis, in order to be as strict as possible on budgets. It will read the current spend of the account for the month and compare it to the budget you can enter at the top of the script. If it exceeds the amount, it will iterate through all currently live campaigns, add the label ‘PAUSED BY HS’ (it will create this if you don’t have the label in your account already), and then pause all live campaigns. The script will then email you with a note on what’s just happened, and you can enter the email address (or email addresses) that you’d like to be notified at the top of the script. At the beginning of the next month, the script will take all campaigns which were paused and labelled, set them back live and remove the label.

See below for the script, feel free to copy and paste and upload onto your accounts. You need to just adjust the budget and email addresses, and you’re good to go.

Access the full script on the Honcho website here.

A couple of crucial points to note though:

Due to the fact that Google’s API is not currently up to date, this will not work with Performance Max campaigns. The script will read the whole accounts spend, pause all other campaigns and send you an urgent email, but these will still run.

When using a script for the first time, you will need to authorise it twice.

When previewing the script, it will say it failed due to it not being able to find the label. This is standard, as the preview won't actually have created the label, meaning when it iterates through your account labels, it won't be there. But when it runs, it will create the label.

I will update this script to include Performance Max once Google Ads updates their API.

Hope you find this useful, and feel free to message me with any suggestions or improvements.

Aaron Digby, Paid Search Analyst

If you need support from Honcho’s Paid Media team, get in touch today.

Google Ads FAQs

How often should you check your Google Ads campaign spend?

It depends. Daily checks can be extremely useful to make sure nothing goes wrong, but can be time consuming. Taking a quick glance every couple of days is best to utilise your time, however, when first uploading a new campaign or adjusting budgets, you may want to do this on a more regular basis.

How often will Google overspend on a campaign?

Google's internal optimisation means that the daily budget that you assign to a campaign may be over or underspent each day, based on the days of the month when you’re most likely to get clicks and/or conversions. This means that your daily spend on a campaign can be up to two times your daily budget. This is crucial to note as many people assume that the daily budget is all that will be spent in a day.

How much should I spend on a Google Ads campaign?

It depends on the campaign. You can use keyword and performance planner within Google to predict the search volume and the average CPC to predict how much can be spent on a daily basis. Once your campaign has been running for a few days, you can use Impression Share lost to Budget, to figure out how many impressions you missed out on, due to lack of budget, and adjust your daily spend from there.


google ads
hard stop script
script copywriting