There’s a new Search Ads 360 in town and it’s packed with some interesting features and changes that are important to stay on top of. If you’re just looking to find out what they are, you can click that first link and close out of this blog post. I won’t be offended. BUT! I’ve done some digging for you already and there are a few features that stand out to me. Better yet, I have some ideas about how to use them. So stick around if you want the perspective of a Senior Paid Media Account Manager. I promise this article will be shorter than that job title.
Let’s start with a quick bulleted list, in case you’re skimming and just need the highlights:
- Conversions reported based on time of click, not time of conversion
- New pre-defined reports (keywords, ads, campaigns, conversions)
- Better Microsoft account feature support
- Google Discovery Campaign support
- Formula Columns and Custom Conversions now under “Custom Columns”
- Budget Management is now the Performance Center (with more features)
Now that we’ve appeased the skimmers, we can dive into a little more info on each of these features, as well as why they’re important.
Conversion Time Based on Clicks:
One of the great features of Google Ads conversion tracking is that, for as long as I can remember, conversions have been attributed to the time of click rather than the time of conversion. Why does this matter? Well, many products and services, especially B2B and SaaS products with longer sales cycles, are purchased much later than the first time a searcher is made aware of them. A searcher may click an ad one day, return days later through another ad, then finally decide to make a purchase a month later. This is especially true when a searcher is awaiting a price reduction, promotion, holiday, or even just more time to read reviews and do research.
So why does this matter? Well, as an advertiser, your goal is to spend more money on tactics that work well and less on those that don’t. By focusing on when a click occurred rather than when a purchase was made, advertisers can determine when increases in budget or changes in strategy result in improved performance down the road.
Hopefully, this is making sense, but if not, here’s a quick example. Let’s say you increase your budget by 50% during a heavy promotional week. You want to determine how well that increase in spend resulted in more sales. The only challenge is that most of those incremental sales didn’t come for weeks later. Now if we were looking at the heavy spend week and measuring conversions based on when those conversions occurred, we would suspect that the increased spend didn’t help at all! We would see spend up 50% during a week with sales relatively flat. A few weeks later, we’d miraculously see a ton of sales occur, but would be in the dark as to what caused it. By tying conversions to when a click occurred rather than the sale, we are able to measure that the 50% increase in sales resulted in far more sales, even if those sales actually occurred much later.
Like I said, this has been standard practice for Google Ads conversion tracking, but SA360 floodlight conversions have historically measured conversions based on the time of conversion, not click. This has led to issues like the example described above as well as disconnects between what advertisers see between platforms. With about 80% of conversions occurring on the same day of the click, this isn’t a complete disaster, but in many fairly common scenarios like promotions and long sales cycles, it can make a big difference. With SA360’s shift to conversion attribution based on time of click, virtually all of these scenarios should be remedied which I, for one, am excited to explore. To nerd out even more about this update, you can find all the details here: Learn more about conversion reporting.
More Pre-Defined Reports:
I’m all for custom reports in Excel or Data Studio dashboards that provide a deep look into SEM performance from every conceivable angle. If you have the time and resources to pull that off, I highly recommend it because more data leads to more information which, in turn, leads to better business decisions. However, that isn’t always possible when time and resources are tight, making the new bevy of pre-defined reports a boon for the busy. If you need quick info on keywords, ads, campaigns, or conversions, the new SA360 has you covered in a pinch.
More Support of Microsoft Account Features:
Look, I’ll be honest: Microsoft Advertising isn’t my favorite advertising platform and I don’t think I’m alone in that. Credit where credit’s due, it has gotten considerably better over the years, but it always feels one step behind Google Ads. What’s worse, though, is anxiously awaiting a Google feature to reach Microsoft Ads or a Microsoft feature to be supported by third-party platforms. With Google’s acquisition of Doubleclick (now SA360), they have been able to time support of new features close to their release in Google with Microsoft racing to catch up. It’s looking more like these may be becoming gripes of the past, though, as the new SA360 works to support far more Microsoft features with this latest release. This could just mean we Millennial marketers are going to have to find a new platform to complain about for a change.
Discovery Campaign Report:
We can keep this one short and sweet. Discovery campaigns show ads to people browsing Google’s discovery feed, which is essentially a news feed that only focuses on things you actually care about. The result is a display ad format that’s far closer to native ads in a feed that I personally appreciate more than most others. Where else can I get hyper-specific content about niche interests based on my searches and browsing behavior? All of this to say that Discovery campaigns are on the rise, so support of them in SA360 is big for any up-to-date advertisers leading the charge with this format.
Formula Columns and Custom Conversions Now “Custom Columns”:
This one’s more “good to know” for anyone who regularly works within the SA360 platform. I’m constantly using the Formula Columns and Custom Conversions columns when reporting and analyzing accounts, so it’s important to note that both are now found under a new section: “Custom Columns”. Maybe you love the thrill of the chase and would have preferred to find this out yourself. If you’re like me, though, knowing this fact is going to save you some searching and hopefully from a headache or two.
Budget Management is Now the SA360 Performance Center:
This is another “nice-to-know” so you’re able to find Budget Management in the new SA360 platform. It also includes new features and benefits along with the rebrand aimed at allowing you to automatically control bids and budgets in one centralized location. I admit that I still use the “old school” approach of budget pacing with formulas in Google Sheets. This new arsenal of features may be the push I need to finally automate one more aspect of my SEM management.
That’s everything I have for now on the SA360 update, which I encourage you to check out if you enjoy intuitive features that make your life easier. I’ll try to provide an update after I’ve spent more time in the platform. In the meantime, feel free to check out some more of our blog content and whitepapers on our site and share this with anyone else who might appreciate this advertiser’s take on the new platform. As always, if you’d like to speak with someone at BFO to learn more about how we can help, don’t hesitate to contact us!