Google Ads Pacing Dashboard endpoint

9 months ago on August 07, 2023

As paid search managers, we sometimes don't have all the tools we need to do our jobs. Even simple tasks like setting the Google Ads tempo can be much more complicated than they should be.

This is because you can't enter budgets or conversion goals directly in the platform.

Without this basic context - goals and evidence - it becomes difficult to know what actions to take.

Most third-party software and DIY spreadsheets that try to solve this problem are simply useless for paid search managers.

They are either too simple to give an insight or too intense to understand at a glance.

In this tutorial, we'll look at what qualities a great dashboard should have to help you in your career, and how to use Google Data Studio and Google Sheets to create your own automated dashboards for free.

Requirements for the tempo control panel

The pace dashboard should provide easy access to the data that drives strategic decisions and actions.

Here's my own list of five items I'd like to see in a pace dashboard:

  1. KPI Snapshots and Relationships. I need to understand the relationship between what should happen (monthly goals and objectives) and what happens (actual data).
  2. Show daily progress. I want to see the daily pace of work required to achieve monthly KPIs, and how consistently the account is meeting those goals. What course correction has occurred, if any? What changes still need to be made?
  3. Provide context. I want to see how this month's metrics relate to recent and long-term trends.
  4. Automated. Unless the budget or revenue goals change mid-month, I don't have to touch or update anything.
  5. Accessibility and shareability. Provide access and sharing with employees or customers without logging in, downloading or attachments.

Data on which to base better decisions

I don't like the phrase "let the data decide" because the data doesn't make the decisions. We do.

The beauty of this dashboard is that it provides instant access to the data you need to make strategic and informed decisions.

The script can automatically pause campaigns when costs are high, but it cannot advise the client on how to respond to market changes.

Since most of us manage accounts to meet conversion goals rather than just "spend X budget every month," knowing exactly how expenses and income relate to goals can enhance your management skills.

Here's how you can take action based on dashboard data to position yourself as a strategic partner to your customers.

Hot/Hot: Opportunity.

If the numbers are higher than expected, talk to the client about increasing the budget to meet demand so you don't leave sales and leads for later.

Hot costs/cold returns: Optimization.

If you're overspending and can't brag about the results, it's time to optimize for efficiency. Reduce rates and budgets, suspend or delete ineffective projects.

Cold Spending/Hot Returns: An Investigation.

When expenses are low and returns are higher than planned, it's tempting to celebrate. But before you do, think about how you can use the available budget to improve funnel efficiency and increase returns.

Cold/Cold: Adjustment of expectations.

If the demand is simply not there, it may be better to adjust the budget by reallocating the allocated funds to the period that needs them.

Anatomy of the perfect dashboard

Back to the dashboard.

By translating the five main items on my wish list into an actual pace dashboard, I've created these sections that give me exactly what I need.

Section "Interrelation of KPIs

The dashboard displays KPIs for spend and return. I know exactly what the target is for the month, what the real-time metrics are and what our pace is.

Comparing progress toward MTD goals to the end of the month lets me know if it's time to observe or time to act.

Seeing KPIs in different formats (raw numbers, ratios, percentages) helps me understand the pace of work and the relationship of data without having to divide big numbers in my head by 30.4.

The charts and scorecards used:

  • Progress for the month: Today's date, percentage completed and remaining work for the month.
  • KPI tables: Revenue (or conversion) goal and monthly budget.
  • KPI Pacing Widget: A single cell table that returns a report based on pace.
  • MTD target tables: MTD target, percentage of MTD target met, and overall monthly target.
  • A metric with a range: KPIs to date with visualization of progress.
  • MTD scorecard: the value difference between actual performance and targets.

Rate of return

There is also a section comparing costs and profitability. The target is automatically populated based on the goals and does not require separate customization.

You'll see different sections depending on whether you're using the revenue or conversion dashboard.

Revenue panel for eCommerce displays ROAS (return on ad spend). Conversion panel for lead generation and overall conversion tracking displays CPL (cost per lead).

Daily progress and course correction

I like to see how we've been performing (daily averages) and how we've been performing (recent daily averages).

In the account used in this screenshot, the daily returns will always be below target. This is due to conversion lag and I will note it but not worry about it.

The charts and scorecards used:

  • Daily pace target: Target divided by the number of days in a month.
  • Performance Measurement Systems: Today, Yesterday and Average.
  • Time series plot: Cumulative performance versus target rate.

I've found that superfluous details like daily variance tables take my attention away from the big picture (are we meeting our goals?), so I don't include them in the dashboard.

If you're one of those people who want to see specific metrics from the previous day every time you check the pace, you can certainly add them to the report.

Historical Indicators Section

I don't have a photographic memory of how seasonality affects each account, so I like to have a link to that in my dashboard.

These historical charts give me trend data and context to work with in real time.

Graphs used:

  • Time Series Graph: Last 30 days for KPIs.
  • Time series plot: Last 13 months for KPIs.

How to build a dashboard using Google Data Studio template

Now that we have the dashboard blueprints, it's time to make the dream a reality.

To fully automate the pace dashboard, we need two different data sources and a way to combine and visualize them:

  1. Account performance data (Google Ads): A direct connection to a Google Ads account will allow us to get real-time data on spend and conversions, as well as historical trends.
  2. Internal Goals and Objectives (Google Sheets): By writing down KPI goals in a Google Sheet, we can generate month-ahead and day-ahead goals.
  3. Blended Data (Google Data Studio): Data Studio allows us to combine our data into a single source of blended data that can calculate metrics for both ads and listings.

Tempo assignment

Google Data Studio is constantly being improved, but it currently doesn't do a very good job with date-based calculations.

To that end, we will assign Google Sheets the dual function of "metronome": additional fields for date and daily goals will match the actual performance of the engine.

We aim for this to be a snapshot of how we are coping with consistent progress.

If we are looking at November, the budget can be withheld at the beginning of the month to spend during BFCM. The dashboard will show the backlog, which will draw attention to how much needs to be replenished at the end of the month.

How to access and prepare templates

To save time in customizing the panel, you can use this template.

Following the instructions on the page, update the default example data in Sheets to your account data and KPIs. The mixed data uses the "join key" of your Google Ads account name, so enter it accurately in Google Sheets to avoid errors.

Then open the Data Studio template, select the data sources, and click the "Copy Report" button.

Meanwhile, the Google Ads pace dashboard is KPI-driven, shows daily progress and historical data, and is automated.

The last step to getting "wishlist status" is to make it easily distributable, which is easy for Data Studio.

Customizing and updating the dashboard

These changes and customizations will give you complete control over the dashboard to suit your needs and preferences.

Update of pace targets at the chart level

To bring the chart ranges in line with your goals, you need to do a little customization.

Calibration chart axis

Manually enter the axes of the gauge plots by following the steps below:

  • Select the gauge graphic on the dashboard.
  • Select the " Style " panel.
  • Change the Axis Max value to match the monthly goal shown above the chart.

Time series tempo metric

Create a consistent daily pace with these steps:

  • Select the daily ramp rate time series graph from the dashboard.
  • In the data panel, select the calculated ramp metric.
  • Update the number in the formula to match the target ramp rate above the graph.

Modification of KPI Pacing widget

Next to each KPI is a color-coded button indicating the tempo status. You can customize the colors, text, and intervals.

Edit the calculated measurement field to change the wording or interval. By default, the budget ramp rate field will look like this:

   CASE WHEN (Cost/MTD Spend Target) < .9 THEN "Underpacing" WHEN (Cost/MTD Spend Target) >= .91 and (Cost/MTD Spend Target) < 1.1 THEN "On Track" WHEN (Cost/MTD Spend Target) > 1.1 THEN "Overpacing" END

You can change the values if, for example, you want "on track" to be 5% of the goal rather than 10%. You can also create additional options or change the return formula.

To change the background and text color, just edit the conditional formatting in the Style panel.

General troubleshooting

If something isn't working in your dashboard, start by checking those areas:

  • "Join key" of mixed data should be exactly the same in both Sheets and Google Ads data sources.
  • The source of the data must be the account you want to view.
  • The date range should be set to a custom value (month to date, etc.), not "auto".
  • The chart and tempo axis fields must be correctly coded with the target values.

Since the template is 100% customizable, you can make any changes to it, from changing the currency to setting different goals for weekends/weekends or even daily rates. You can also set up a single Google Sheet as the data source for all reports.


Having instant access to targets and actual data makes you realize that you can become a more strategic paid search marketer.

With this Google Ads pace dashboard, you can finally meet the demands of your own pace list and make better management decisions for your clients.

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