Cardinal Path’s response to COVID-19 Cardinal Path is sharing all we know to help marketers during COVID-19.  Learn more.

Customization is key with marketing and Google AdWords has some incredible tools that allow advertisers to quickly tailor the messaging of ads to drive action. One of my favorites is the countdown function, which automatically updates ads to let customers know the time remaining for sales or special events.

Including the time remaining for a sale drives a sense of urgency for a customer and encourages them to act now. Take a look at the two ads below. Which messaging better highlights that the sale is ending soon?

Google Ad 1 Google Ad 2

Without using ad customizers, you would need to manually update your ads each day with the number of days remaining in the sale. With the countdown customizer though, you create one ad that automatically updates with the days, hours, and minutes remaining.

Let’s take a closer look at how the countdown function, well, functions.

{=COUNTDOWN(”yyyy/MM/dd HH:mm:ss”,”language”,daysBefore)}

The function uses three arguments that need to be formatted and ordered as shown above.

“yyyy/MM/dd HH:mm:ss”

This is the date and time you want your function to countdown to, the end date of a sale or the day of an event for example. Make sure to use the 24-hour time format. If no time is entered into the function, it will default to 00:00:00.


This is the language the date and time will be displayed in. Make sure you choose the language that fits with the language of our ad.


This argument tells AdWords when your ad should start running. Use a whole number to indicate how many days before the end date to start running your ad. Do not put this number in quotation marks.

To make sure advertisers format the countdown function correctly, AdWords has integrated a pop-up box that appears when you start writing the function in your text ad. This box guides you through the data you need to input.

Google Ad Countdown

Under advanced settings, you can also select if you want to use the AdWords account time zone or an ad viewer’s time zone. The option you choose will depend on if the end time varies by time zone. For example, let’s say your sale ends at midnight in each time zone. By using the ad viewer’s time zone option, someone in New York might see an ad that says, “Sale ends in 2 hours” while someone in California would see “Sale ends in 5 hours.”

When utilizing the countdown function for my clients, I typically see both higher click-through rates and conversion rates, especially as we get closer to the end date. If you aren’t using countdown already, I highly recommend trying it out. Any feature that can save advertisers time and create more customized ads is a win in my book.