Everything You Should Know About Google’s NEW Campaign-Level Conversions

Just last month, Google announced its newest changes at Google Marketing Live. And now that the dust has settled, I’m here to talk about what I believe to be the unsung hero of the day—the newest bidding control, campaign-level conversion setting.

Google Marketing Live

In this guide, I’m going to go over everything you need to know about this new bid setting. But before getting into what’s new, let’s do a quick refresh of the pre-announcement conversion tracking era.

What is conversion tracking?

Conversion tracking is the method advertisers use to identify and record valuable actions to their business within their Google Ads account. By setting up conversion tracking, advertisers give the Google algorithm the information it needs to understand what drives success in an account.

How does the algorithm gather these signals?

Advertisers set their conversion tracking up within the measurement section in Google Ads:

conversion tracking in Google Ads

These conversion actions can either be imported from Google Analytics or tracked via the Google Ads pixel. And regardless of how you track your conversions, advertisers can add as many actions they find valuable. Once these conversion actions are defined in the platform, Google will record a conversion each time a user completes one of those actions.

What does the algorithm do with these signals?

As your account builds up conversion data, the algorithm starts to learn about these successful signals. And as these learnings are significant, the algorithm optimizes your ad delivery as you are eligible for placements in the ad auction. Without this conversion data, the algorithm is blind to the information most advertisers care most about—growing their business or client’s account by optimizing their delivery from Google Ads.

Now, there’s one thing that will never change: Conversion tracking is crucial to a successful Google Ads account. However, there has always been a missing piece to the puzzle with the account level conversion setting: the ability to tell Google which conversion action is most important to a given campaign.

Enter campaign-level conversion setting

New bidding controls to help meet your goals” was one of the 10 announcements at Google Marketing Live. This announcement encompasses a few innovations, but campaign-level conversion setting stood out to me immediately.

So why did Google introduce this change to bidding? Google states that over 70% of their advertisers are using automated bidding today. And to that stat, they say:

“And while many of you have told us that Smart Bidding has helped drive better performance, you’ve also asked for more flexibility to reach your business goals.”

What is campaign-level conversion setting?

Campaign-level conversion setting is a way for advertisers to select which of their conversion actions the algorithm should track and optimize towards for a campaign.

new campaign-level conversion setting

So what’s different?

As I touched on above, with the account-level conversion setting, each of the conversion actions in a given account add together to populate your conversion metrics. Now, with the campaign-level conversion setting, Google is giving advertisers the ability to specify which action(s) should populate your conversion data. Meaning that this new setting simply gives Google more information about which conversion actions are most relevant to track and optimize towards. This means you can tell Google what’s more important for your business and your business goals.

Let’s take a scenario from our account to compare the two settings. Here’s an example of one of our ads with the goal to drive & convert prospects into a free trial:

ad example

Imagine a user clicks on this ad, visits our landing page, but navigates back to the site and converts on a whitepaper. With the account-level conversion setting, we would register one conversion—just the same as if the user converted on a trial. On the other hand, if we were using the campaign-level conversion setting with our free trial action, we would not count this behavior as a conversion. With campaign-level conversion setting, we are only giving the algorithm successful signals if a user completes a free trial.

 

Now, let’s take a look at this with a real-life reference: I have the objective to exercise with a sub-objective to run marathons. And yes, every time I set this objective I get this reminder from our very own Mikayla Wyman:

tweet about marathoners

To achieve my main objective (exercise), I start to plan and track a variety of exercises as part of a training plan. These workouts include yoga, weight lifting, soccer, spin, kickboxing, and running. However, to make progress towards my sub-objective (marathon), I need to follow a specific calendar centered around my long-distance runs. While the variety of workouts will be beneficial during my training, completing my long-distance runs are the most crucial action influencing my ability to be prepared for the marathon.

Now, you might be asking … how does this relate to conversion tracking? Well, what I’m trying to get to is that while I am training for my marathon, it is most valuable to track my runs as progress. If I track every work out—yoga, soccer, spin, and running—as a conversion, I’m not getting an accurate depiction of how prepared I am for the marathon. Therefore, while working towards this sub-objective, I want to operate under the campaign-level conversion setting—exclusively tracking and improving upon my runs.

TL;DR: Overall, while you may lose the quantity in conversions by switching over to the campaign-level conversion setting,  you should see an improvement in the ability to deliver the conversion action that you find most relevant for the campaign.

Setting up campaign-level conversion tracking

To start leveraging this new setting, you can navigate to your campaign settings and click into the conversion drop down:

Google Ads manager

Once you select to “choose conversion action for this campaign,” you will see all of your conversion actions pop up with the ability to select the specific action(s):

conversion actions settings

How does this new bid optimization perform?

If you can’t already tell, I was excited about the potential of this new setting and how it could perform with our account. So, right away, we put together a few experiments and I have some data to share.

Disclaimer: I am not disclosing the campaign/conversion action details, but this data is pulled straight from the respective tests in our account.

Campaign #1

Experiment: Campaign-level conversion setting with conversion action ABC

Results:

Campaign:

Conversion action:

CPA

CNVR

Original

ALL

$ 28

6.35%

Original

Conversion action ABC

Segmented campaign by conversion action

$ 62

2.9%

Experiment

Conversion action ABC

$ 42

3.31%

Takeaway: The new setting is beating the original by delivering a $ 20 lower CPA for the conversion action we’re optimizing for—these results are significant!

Campaign #2

Experiment: Campaign-level conversion setting with conversion action XYZ

Results:

Campaign:

Conversion action:

CPA

CNVR

Original

ALL

$ 104

4.2%

Original

Conversion action XYZ

Segmented campaign by conversion action

$ 165

2.6%

Experiment

Conversion action XYZ

$ 178

2.3%

Takeaway: As you can see, with this campaign, the new setting is not beating the original campaign. However, we have yet to reach significance and we’ve seen the experiment improve overtime as we set it up. Therefore, we plan to continue watching our experiment until we reach a confident significance.

What can you expect with campaign-level conversions?

As you’ve read and seen in our performance, you can expect this setting to have the potential to improve your results. But, before jumping right into this new setting, you do need to consider the impact that the change will have on your account performance. The most noteworthy changes we’ve seen with the setting are:

  • Slow down in delivery: Because smart bidding requires significant data to deliver to your goals, the algorithm will enter a “learning period” for such a significant change. This means that the algorithm will need roughly 7 days to restart it’s data gathering and understand how this new signal impacts performance & it’s knowledge of success.
  • Change in CPA: as expected, with this new setting, you will only be recording conversions for your selected action(s). Meaning that you will record fewer conversions than you were before—which is likely to increase your CPA and decrease your conversion rate for your campaign. However, you should expect that as this campaign evolves it’s learning from the new setting, your conversion metrics should regulate.

Campaign-level conversions: What you need to know

Google’s new bidding control has the ability to improve the effectiveness of your campaigns using smart bidding.  While smart bidding is driving results for advertisers—you still need to review your account to identify opportunities to improve. Here’s what you need to keep in mind using campaign-level conversion setting:

  • Consider the volume of conversions for your selected action(s): Advertisers need to maintain a significant volume in conversions for the algorithm to effectively learn.
  • Adjust your bids: As noted above, it is likely that your CPA will increase with this new setting. You should consider increasing your bids to start and then lowering as you start to see performance regulate and improve.
  • Test it out in an experiment first: Without understanding how this change will impact your campaign performance, you can test the change in an experiment to minimize the impact on delivery. That’s what we’ve down in our in-house campaign, which has allowed us to maintain delivery while understanding if this setting is right for us.
  • You can’t leave it all to the algorithm: Even though you are using smart bidding with this setting, it doesn’t mean you can leave your campaign untouched. You still need to manage your campaign effectively and make optimizations to improve results.


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