Google Marketing Live: More Control Over Machine Learning

Without a doubt, Google made many exciting announcements this week at Google Marketing Live. Innovations in ad formats, further use of AI and increasing data transparency were the talk of the town at Moscone Center. But perhaps the announcements we were most excited by are those that give us more control over Google’s smart bidding algorithm.

Launched in 2016, Smart Bidding has grown up quite a bit especially over the last year. Smart bidding takes into consideration over 13 signals for search campaigns, including ad characteristics, time of day, audiences, browser, and operating system. The amount of levers the Smart Bidding algorithm has is much more than what is available to marketers when campaigns are on manual bidding. Using Smart Bidding, we’ve seen cost/conversion improve anywhere from 15-50% when campaigns are migrated over to tCPA or tROAS bid strategies.

But a few problems have prevented us from taking complete advantage of these strategies for some clients.

Multiple Conversion Goals

Sophisticated advertisers often have multiple conversion goals that need to be fulfilled by their campaigns. For example, many of our SaaS clients have campaigns geared to drive trials while other campaigns are focused on driving transactions. Prior to this weeks, announcement, Smart Bidding would optimize all Smart Bidding campaigns to the same goal. This led the advertiser to have to choose which goal is most important.

Thankfully, Google is rolling out Campaign Level Conversion Goals which will now enable you to set the conversion goal at the campaign level. We were able to test this out prior to GML and the results were a game changer for our clients. One client increased conversion rate by 30% just by being able to optimize to different goals at the campaign level.

Campaign Level

In addition, Google is enabling advertisers to create Conversion Action Sets. Conversion Action Sets allow you to combine multiple conversion goals for a set of campaigns. So if you’ve got multiple goals that you’d like to optimize a group of campaigns for, the conversion action set is the way to do that.

 

Conversion Value Rules

Conventional wisdom tells us that it costs roughly 5x as much to attract a new customer as it does to retain an existing client. For that reason, sophisticated advertisers have different cost/conversion goals for a new customer vs existing customers. Yet, historically Google values each customer the same. Soon Google will give advertisers the control to set up rules based on the audience. Let’s say a new customer is worth $400 but getting an existing customer to transact again is worth $50. We’ll now be able to set these rules in Google so that the algorithm will start to optimize to a higher value (new customers) without needing to split audiences into separate campaigns. Using ad customizers, you can then also tailor ads to speak to new customers differently than existing customers to ensure you’re matching your message with your audience perfectly.
Conversion Value Rules

Seasonality Control

Finally, Google is giving the advertiser more control over seasonality fluctuations. For businesses with strong seasonality, the sudden shift in performance would throw the Smart Bidding algorithm into a tailspin causing performance drops over time. The new controls over seasonality is a welcome addition to the Smart Bidding capabilities. Here’s how it works, let’s say you have a special promotion or sale during the week of July 4th. All you need to do is enter your sale dates and Google Ads will optimize more aggressively during that sale. After the sale completes, the algorithm will not include that week in its ongoing calculations for bids & optimization.

We’re excited to see all of these new controls roll out over the next few months. We’ll be sure to keep you posted of the performance improvements brought about by each control as we continually test.