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Master Bid Strategies: Google Search Ads 360


Many advertisers are moving to Google Search Ads 360 (SA 360) to more effectively automate and manage their paid advertising. SA 360 has a slew of features that either aren’t available in standard Google Ads accounts or are more sophisticated. One of the features that make SA 360 so powerful is its bid strategies.

Similar to Google Ads, SA 360 bid strategies automate bids based on a specific goal. These goals include:

  • Conversions
  • Revenue
  • Clicks
  • Impression Share

SA 360 bid strategies optimize based on user signals, both transparent and invisible. For example, a bid strategy will change bids based on users’ locations (transparent) and what browser they are using (invisible). Just like any bidding strategy, the more data the algorithm has the better. SA 360 also makes use of auction-time bidding, a Smart Bidding feature that further analyzes contextual signals to set bids.

There are 2 main differences that make SA 360 bid strategies stand out.

  1. Bid strategies can be used across SA 360 supported search engine accounts.
  2. The bid strategies can utilize Floodlight conversion tracking.

Using the same bid strategies across multiple engines is paramount. For example, if your target return on ad spend (ROAS) for a category of products is 5X, you can include the relevant campaigns in your bid strategy portfolio across Google, Microsoft, and Baidu. Though these engines are separate entities, the goal remains the same across the platforms. 

Floodlight conversion tracking is a supersized version of standard conversion tracking. With floodlights, you can report at a more granular level by tracking additional information. For example, you may track users who reach the shopping cart with specific high-value products. You can then create bid strategies based on this event. Subsequently, you can create custom formulas based on these floodlights to guide the bid strategies.

SA 360 provides a variety of metrics to assess the performance of your bid strategies. There are over 50 metrics, or columns, that you can review. As with all KPIs, certain metrics hold more weight than others when determining if a bid strategy change is necessary. Here are the top metrics that you should consider.

Bid Strategy Total (ROAS, CPA, or ERS) 

This metric compares how your target metric (ROAS, CPA, or ERS) is performing against your current target. For example, if your SA 360 ROAS target is 800% and your bid strategy ROAS total is 600%, you are 25% under the target. Make sure that when you are reviewing this figure, the data is from the last target change. If you made a target change 3 weeks ago but are only looking at the last week’s worth of data, then the comparison will not provide an accurate indication of how effective the bid strategy is.

Keep in mind that the bid strategy total is Google’s view of how the bid strategy is performing against the target. You should also compare how the SA 360 target is working against your internal goal. Though your SA 360 ROAS target may be set at 800%, the actual goal could be different. If the actual goal is 900% and your ROAS is 600%, then you are 33.33% under the target. Your SA 360 target will often change. If your ROAS is too efficient, you may decide to lower the target. Or, if it is under efficient, increasing the target is a good idea. 

Bid Strategy Conversion Delay

Most bid strategies have conversion delays. Google defines the delay as after today, how many days need to pass before the system expects that 80% of the bid strategy conversions and/or revenue will arrive. A delay of 5 days means that at least 80% of conversions and/or revenue will come 5 days after today. Here’s an example of a delay and the expected revenue.

Google recommends that you wait for at least 2 conversion cycles to complete before making a target change. In the example above, you should wait at least 16 days before considering a target change. You can make a change sooner, but the data will be incomplete. As with any test, you want to ensure that it has enough time to run and provide accurate results. 

Bid Strategy Percentage of Optimal Cost

This metric calculates a bid strategy’s actual cost compared to its optimal cost. The optimal cost for revenue is calculated as:
The amount of revenue / target ROAS (ie: $10,000 / 200% = $5,000 optimal cost)

For conversions, the formula is:
The target CPA x the number of conversions (ie: $50 x 2,000 = $100,000 optimal cost)

Once you have this figure you are able to calculate the bid strategy percentage of the optimal cost. The formula is:
Actual cost / optimal cost

If your actual cost over a 2 week time period is $2,000 and your optimal cost is $1,500, the bid strategy percentage of optimal cost is 133%. The closer this figure is to 100% the better as it shows the actual cost to be on target with the bid strategy. As shown in our example, anything over 100% means that the bid strategy is under-performing. A figure below 100% tells us that the bid strategy is over-performing.

Bid Strategy Health

Similar to the “Recommendations” tab in Google Ads, the bid strategy health column gives you insight into optimizations that can be made to improve the bid strategy.

The recommendations boil down to the traffic being left on the table due to the limitations of the bid strategies. If you employ a max CPC bid, it may be too low that you are missing out on traffic. You might also have a minimum ROAS that is too high and cutting off potential sales. If you can, allow the bid strategies to work with none or very few restraints.

Final Thoughts

The bid strategies are the core value of Search Ads 360. Choosing the right keywords, structuring your campaigns effectively, writing converting ad copy, and ensuring the correct settings will always be paramount, but the bid strategies drive the bus. By far, your bid strategies will have the greatest impact on the volume and quality of traffic that you receive. Ensure that you are always reviewing your data to create and update these bid strategies for better performance.



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