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Google Ads is bringing deeper insights to Smart Bidding

Google Ads Smart Bidding
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Google Ads will now be giving advertisers deeper insight into which signals it is using to help drive better performance through it’s smart bidding solutions. In the bid strategy report, you can now view some of the top bidding signals Google is using to help make it’s decisions. 

What’s happened?

In the bid strategy report for campaigns using Target CPA and Maximise Conversions on Search, you should now start to see a new section for ‘Top Signals’. This isn’t an extensive list, but Google will now start to surface some of the most important signals that it is using to optimize your budget. This will include the signals that it is using to target those who are more or less likely to convert to your objective.

Google Ads Smart Bidding Signals

Credit: Google Ads Help, 2019

In the above, you can see the signals highlighted in Green are the one’s that Google has deemed “more likely” to convert. As for the signals in Red, Google has identified that these are less likely to convert and will therefore factor this into it’s smart bidding decisions.

What does this mean for you?

Google is starting to realise that it needs to be more transparent

This is part of a wider movement. As people become ever more empowered to take control over  their own data, and as large companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon come under greater scrutiny over how it controls this, it’s becoming clearer that the old “bully” tactics aren’t going to fly anymore.

People want greater control and transparency, and it’s no different for advertisers. This is finally being realised within Google as ‘transparency’ continues to be something that they want to be known for across their wider product portfolio.

Transparency increases trust in it’s products

It gives users actionable nuggets of insight that they can then use across their wider marketing strategies. From the insight, trust is gained. If trust is gained, then it means that advertisers may be more willing to test “smarter” options to activation such as “smart campaigns” and “smart bidding”. If advertisers are more trusting of Google, then it means that they will see increased adoptions across it’s wider product portfolio.

This is a changing tactic that has become evident in more than just it’s search products, as you can read here.

Google Ads Machine Learning

Credit: BBC News, Google 2019

Let’s face it, every decision Google makes is done to make gain for it’s users and itself

It’s obviously going to benefit them financially. Don’t be fooled by that. It’s healthy to be sceptical still.

Google is just giving you a flavour of some of the signals it uses

It’s important to remember that Google won’t be displaying the full exhaustive list of contextual and intent signals it is using. A wider list can be found here and it is most likely that Google will only include up to 6 signals based on screenshots we’ve seen so far. Don’t be fooled and make rash judgements across your whole marketing strategy based on 6 signals that have surfaced in a bidding strategy. You’ll still need to do your data deep dives, but this at least gives you a nibble.

What’s next?

Rolling this out to more smart bidding options

Google has said that support for Target ROAS and Maximise Conversion Value will be coming soon. I doubt this will happen in Q4, but will most likely be Q1/2 2020 now.

Hopefully this isn’t the end for it’s effort to be more transparent

I’m hopeful that if Google continues to be more transparent with advertisers, that this will create a much healthier relationship to which the sceptics amongst us might start to adopt more of the products to help benefit performance. Of course, the industry still needs to continue being vocal here and it’s important that we continue to push to get more transparency across Google’s smart products. Let’s not get too excited, this is a step in the right direction but there needs to be a lot more.

Smart Bidding FAQ

What is automated bidding?

Automated bidding (also known as Smart Bidding) is a bid strategy used in search marketing to help maximize results based on your defined campaign goals. With automated bidding, the search engine platform will automatically set bid amounts based on the likelihood that your ad will get a click or conversion.

What is auction time bidding?

Auction time bidding is when Google leverages the signals that it has access to to help set your bid in every single auction. These signals include location, time of day, search query history and more. By utilising smart bidding, Google uses these signals to better understand user context & intent and therefore their likelihood to click or convert to your objective.

What are bidding strategies?

Bidding Strategies is a term which refers to either Manual Bidding or Smart Bidding options in search engine marketing. Smart Bidding refers to a set of automated bid strategies that uses machine learning to optimize for conversions in each and every auction. Manual Bidding refers to bids set manually which does not leverage the power of smart bidding features such as auction time bidding.

Dan Roberts
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