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Create Urgency in Your Ads with the Countdown Function

I can’t count the number of times that I’ve seen a promotion I’m interested in, told myself that I’d purchase it later, only to then find the promotion has expired by the time I finally remember to go back to it (a few days later). On the other hand, I’ve come to realise that I will act on a promotion fairly quickly if there is some sort of countdown timer present, showing I only have a limited time before the offer expires. This sense of urgency can almost panic us into a purchase, as consumers naturally don’t like to miss out on a good deal.


It’s good news for us as advertisers, as AdWords has a feature to accommodate this very behaviour! Yes, the “COUNTDOWN function” allows a timer to be inserted into our ads, letting a potential customer know they’ve only got X amount of days or hours to act on a special offer before it ends. This doesn’t have to be limited to promotions, however, since you can be as creative as you want to be with the rest of the ad content; perhaps you want to highlight a countdown leading up to a product release, for example.


You’ll be glad to know that this feature is very easy to implement. Simply follow these steps:


  1. Navigate to the Ads tab within your AdWords account.
  2. Click on the red +Ad drop-down button and select Text ad.
  3. Then choose where you’d like to insert the countdown, type in { and you will be presented with a drop-down list of two options. Click on the one that reads Countdown.
  4. You then just need to complete the fields and finally hit Set.
  5. Don’t forget to complete the rest of the ad as you normally would and then click on the blue Save ad button.

30 Tips in 30 Days - Create Urgency in Your Ads with the Countdown Function.png


I would suggest at least giving this feature a try next time you run a time-sensitive promotion for your services or products. Compare the ad against a ‘normal’ text ad and see which results in the best statistics for you!


If you are interested in getting to grips with more advanced ad customisers then check out this article from the official AdWords Help Centre.

about Scott Dunroe

I have been managing AdWords accounts for over 8 years now at an international marketing agency level and also as a freelancer. I am very passionate about Google's PPC platform and pretty much anything else that is Google related. My theory in life is to learn something new every day and this community is definitely a good place to do so; I would recommend anyone reading this to stick around as it's an excellent source of information with great people contributing to it.

Julia_Muller Top Contributor
June 2016 - last edited June 2016

Indeed, this is one of the best converting features of AdWords, @ScottyD! 100% of our client accounts use the countdown feature. Conversion rates get much higher when the function is counting down 5 days or less.

Benoit Badged Google Partner
June 2016

Wow!!! That's awesome @ScottyD!! Thank you for sharing this piece of information!! 

Julia_Muller Top Contributor
June 2016 - last edited July 2016

Here is an example of 20% of conversions generated with countdown ads. Agency client's promotion happens to be ending by the end of the month, which is often the case with retailers. Other (non-countdown) ads have been serving since the beginning of the month. Countdown ads were enabled 7 days prior to now.


Notice that both desktop and mobile ads were converting throughout the month, but all converting countdown ads happen to be mobile. Additionally, notice that cost per conversion from {countdown} ads is lower than acc average.


A staple when it comes to AdWords. If you run promotions, your business will benefit from countdown ads. Similarly, if your agency isn't using countdown ads, it's time to get shopping for another one!


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Sara s
November 2016

Hi Scott, 


would you know to include in the parameter if we're making countdown ads in the adwords editor instead of the adwords interface?


Thank you

ScottyD Top Contributor
November 2016

Hi @Sara s


The parameter remains the same between the interface and AdWords editor, it's just that the latter doesn't provide any prompts as you begin typing the code. If you're looking for a standard countdown function then you can use the following - 


{=COUNTDOWN("YYYY/MM/DD 00:00:00")}

Sara s
November 2016

@ScottyD Thank you!