8 Things We Learned from Implementing AdWords Conversion Optimizer

By Janelle Priscilla Vila on January 20, 2015
Janelle Priscilla Vila

We all definitely want to get more conversions and spend less time and money on inefficient keywords. As luck would have it, Google AdWords provides an automated tool called “Conversion Optimizer” that can all help us achieve the most possible conversions given your cost-per-acquisition goals for your budget, based on campaign’s history of conversions. Rather than focusing on clicks (CPC) or impressions (CPM), CO focuses on maximizing conversions (YES!).

We’ve had a very good success on using Conversion Optimizer to one of our clients. Since we started using CO for them, we re-structured the account to merge as many campaigns into 1 to improve efficiency. Performance improved by a factor of 2 in CiR (cost income ratio).

Google AdWords studies the conversion tracking data and figures out how often each type of auction leads to conversion. It analyzes the past performance and creates a model to find out which auction will be best for the future.

Do you have any doubts implementing this to your campaign and/or to your clients? If you have a little bit more time to study, you will find tons of reasons to consider using this feature.

Here are the 8 things we learned from implementing AdWords' Conversion Optimizer:

1. Before turning it on:

  • Have a minimum of 15 conversions in the last 30 days (the more conversions, the better).

  • Make sure that most of the search queries your ads are being triggered from are relevant (perhaps use exact match keywords and/or filter out irrelevant search terms).

  • Conversion Optimizer is best used after you’ve optimized everything you can (ads, bids, landing pages) by manual testing.

  • Optimize as much as you can manually. Start getting a good CR (conversion rate), for a statistically significant period of time.

2. Number of conversions combined

  • We understand that in order to activate CO at the campaign level, campaign must have a minimum of 15 conversions in the last 30 days. It is necessary that each ad group that you enable flexible CPA on will need 15 conversions. Flexible Target CPA will continue to use the data from the ENTIRE campaign and use data from the ENTIRE account too.

3. Types of CPA targeting

(Start with the recommended CPA bid, or either max. Raise your max or target CPA bid to increase traffic and conversions. Lower your max or target CPA bid if you want to lower your ave CPA. Traffic will likely decrease):

  • Max CPA - the most an advertiser is willing to pay for a conversion.

  • Target CPA - more flexible bidding option where CO targets both more and less expensive auctions and arrives at an ave CPA target

4. Data that Conversion Optimizer use:

  • AdWords needs enough history to properly do its predictive analysis: geo, time of day, browser, device and any other targeting options.

5. CPCs can inflate

  • One of the most interesting things about Conversion Optimizer is your Ave CPC goes up. As the algorithm adjusts your bids to get your ad in the optimal position for conversion, it is likely that the end result is a higher CPC. This isn’t necessarily a problem if getting a lower CPC is not your end goal. However, if you are running a tight budget, expect your threshold be reached early part of the day.

  • Also, when an ad gets many clicks but weren't translating into conversions, CO automatically decreases bids to free up budget for higher performing ads.

6. When your CO is switched on, and you get a decent CPA but daily budget is not being exhausted, increase your CPC bids.

This will help increase your Ad Rank which leads to greater visibility for your ad. With more visibility, you're likely to get more clicks that lead to conversions.

7. New keywords are fated to fail

  • When you insert a new keyword with ZERO conversion history into a campaign running Conversion Optimizer, generally, it fails. This is because specifically, it never receives enough impressions and clicks to succeed. This could force you to create new CPC only campaign to launch new keywords. OR shutting down Conversion Optimizer just to launch a set of long tail keywords you found in your search query report and turn back on once you get a decent number of conversions.

8. Do not make huge changes while running CO

  • Since CO uses historical information of your campaign, whenever you make changes, make sure to wait two weeks before turning CO back on to allow the system time to adjust. Do not change the CPA bid more than once every few weeks - just don't make huge changes to a campaign while running CO. Remember, you can always turn off CO when you need to make changes and your campaign will revert to the previous CPC bids you were using.

Another interesting thing to note when implementing Conversion Optimizer is that its algorithm doesn’t use assisted conversions as a base in an account’s historical data. It is sightless on attribution and only last touch conversion matters.

Conversion Optimizer definitely yields results and is worth testing (best used when you’re concerned about CPA, not any other metric). It can give you an increase in conversion within your budget which in terms maximize your ROI. Though, expect changes in ad performance as these are natural. Optimum performance doesn't happen overnight, it has to get some time to get an accurate understanding of its effects on your campaign's performance. Overall, CO can be a powerful asset in the management of your campaigns. Just make sure you compare your CPA and CR before and after using CO to gauge its impact on your campaign.

Do you have any key takeaways that you want to share? Please tell us about them in the comments!

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Topics: Paid Advertising

Janelle Priscilla Vila

About Janelle Priscilla Vila

Janelle, often called the miss goody two-shoes by her friends, is the Paid Advertising Manager of Spiralytics. She's been in the industry for 3 years now, striving to learn more, do more, and be more. A picture of her at home - spending time with her Red Copper and White Siberian Huskies, sleeping, dozing off, sleeping again until she gets a headache from too much sleep, and then sleeping off her second headache. She believes in the theory, if you obey all the rules, you will miss all the fun! She marches to her own beat. And oh, you will have to kill her to make her give up Coca-Cola.

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