Google Adwords cost exceeded the daily budget? You might not be billed for it.

One day I created a Google Adwords display campaign and the day after I was unpleasantly surprised to see that the cost was 10 times more than the daily budget. OMG, I thought, but how could the Google Adwords cost exceed the budget? And my next thought was – why the hell should I pay it now?

I will spare you the details of trying to reach Google support and speaking with a real person. But eventually, I learned something that I’d like to share.

I figured out that the “cost” you see in the campaign details is not necessarily the real cost you will be billed. The reason is that the budget you define is actually not an exact budget, but an average daily budget. So, Google wants to be able to spend a bit more or a bit less on a specified date. But during a monthly period you can’t be billed more that your average daily budget times 30.

So, how can you know the real Google Adwords cost you will be billed for?

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account.
  2. Click the reporting icon in the upper right corner of your account.
  3. Select Predefined, then Basic from the drop-down menu.
  4. Click Billed Cost

By default, the data is displayed daily and sorted by served cost. If you wish to see data for a certain date range, remove the “Day” filter and and set the date range in the upper left hand side of the table.

Google Adwords cost report
Google Adwords cost report

In the report you will see “served cost” and “billed cost”. In my case the served cost was “500” and freaked me out. But the billed cost was “99”. Which is still more than the original budget (50), but far from the scary 500.

It’s not completely clear why Google can’t keep the cost within the budget- I believe it refers to some real time auction limitation. I Hope that this article will prevent somebody’s heart attack 🙂

Btw, if you are not GDPR prepared yet, check out my GDPR checklist.