One of the most important daily tasks for an SEM manager is account budget pacing. Pacing a client’s budget effectively can be quite a challenge when you start to add up all of the factors that have an impact on the pace that a PPC account will spend it’s budget.

Pacing a budget is influenced by both factors you can control, including; account size, daily campaign budgets, keyword CPC bids, day parting & ad scheduling settings, as well as external influences like seasonal and weekly changes in search volume, competition, and impacts like public holidays. Combined with a client’s individual KPI targets (sales, CPA, CPC, visitor volume, etc…) pacing a budget effectively can start to sound a little complicated.

Where to start – A daily budget pacing report

Here at Search Factory we use a daily budget pacing report to keep track of how each of our clients budgets are performing. The reports are reviewed first thing every morning, and dictate many of the optimisation tasks we perform throughout the day to keep our accounts on track in terms of both budget and performance.

Report Format & Data Sources

We use an Excel spreadsheet populated with data from our AdWords MCC’s Client Reporting feature, which allows us to import a daily snapshot of the performance of each account. You could consider using AdWords scripts and Google Docs spreadsheets for a fully automated report, or the AdWords API to integrate with other data sources.

What To Include

A budget pacing report needs to have enough information to be useful, but not too much to be complicated and confusing. So where should you draw the line?

Our daily budget pacing spreadsheet reports the following columns for each client:  Account name, CID, budget start date, budget end date, media budget, % of days through the month, % of budget spent so far, % budget spend is over/under pacing for the month, average daily spend so far for the month, daily spend needed to hit the end-of-month budget, and finally the spend each day for the last 5-7 days. (I’ll cover the specific formulas used for each in a later blog post).

We have determined this set of data to be the minimal amount of information needed to create and assign some top-line tasks for each account to manage budget pacing, allowing an SEM manager to look at both the top line spend rate, and also the daily trend over the last week (don’t forget to take weekends into account).

From here you can create some top line tasks to investigate performance and optimise accordingly (e.g. “Joan’s Flower Shop campaign is under spending, find out why and increase spend accordingly”). If you’re not reporting on account pacing at least a few times a week, you may as well be flying blind.