Test accounts

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Production manager and client accounts establish structure and organization, but what about testing experimental changes, or testing API calls while you're developing — without affecting your production environment? That's the purpose of test accounts.

Test accounts allow you to try out new API implementations or account configurations, prior to implementing the changes in your production environment.

While production accounts serve ads that require billing and are rendered to users, test accounts appear in the Google Ads UI as cancelled accounts since there is no active billing and they do not render ads to users.

Because test and production accounts cannot interact in any way, you cannot use a test account under your existing production manager account. To use test accounts, you'll need a new account hierarchy, with a test manager account as the root.

Why use test accounts?

Test accounts won't affect your live ads or charge your account, hence they're a useful way to experiment with the API. Test accounts provide extra benefits during active development. Particularly, test accounts:

  • Can be set up in a hierarchy and organized just like production accounts.
  • Can be viewed and manipulated in the Google Ads UI, just like production accounts.
  • Don't require an approved developer token, so you can start experimenting with the API immediately, even before your application is reviewed or approved.
  • Can't serve ads or interact with your production accounts in any way. This gives you a safe environment to test code or configuration changes without impacting your serving accounts.
  • Have the same restrictions (including rate limits) as production accounts.

Since test accounts don't have budgets, you may see an error when creating a test sub-account in a manager account. You can ignore this error; the test account will still be created.

Create test accounts and campaigns

Follow the instructions below to create a test manager account, a test client account, and a few campaigns to populate the test client account. Note that "client" here refers to a Google Ads client account, not your client app.

  1. Press the button below to create a test manager account. If prompted, sign in with a Google Account that isn't linked to your production Google Ads manager account. There is also a link to create a new Google Account if you need to do so.

    Create a test manager account

  2. While signed in to your test manager account, create a test client account. Any client accounts you create from your test manager account are automatically test accounts.

  3. Create a few test campaigns under the test client account in the Google Ads

    UI.

  4. Take note of the client customer ID for the new test client account, and save it. You'll need this to make API calls later.

View test accounts

To view test accounts in the UI, you can unhide the accounts by choosing to view cancelled accounts.

Test accounts appear with a red label:

If you don't see the red Test account label on your Google Ads account page, then the account is a production account.

Limitations

Test accounts are a great option for testing changes before deploying them to production, or developing your application while your developer token has test account access. However, there are some limitations to keep in mind.

  • Because test accounts can't serve ads or interact with your production accounts in any way, serving metrics -- like impressions, conversions, or cost data -- are empty.
  • Some features cannot be tested with test accounts. This includes bid simulations, conversion uploads, and billing. Other features, including recommendations, have limited functionality within test accounts because test accounts do not generate serving data.

Take a look at the Testing Best Practices page for guidance on working around these limitations.