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seo in dubai Matt Lawson – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Wed, 16 Oct 2019 17:33:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 11 tips for using Google Ads’ new audiences like a pro /11-tips-for-using-google-ads-new-audiences-like-a-pro-323570 Wed, 16 Oct 2019 17:26:55 +0000 /?p=323570 Learn how to reach your ideal customer with Google Ads' new audience types for Search ads.

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Google introduced audiences to Search ads over seven years ago with the creation of RLSA. A whole bunch of improvements have happened since then. If you want to be at the cutting edge of using audiences, you need to familiarize yourself with the latest additions to Google’s audience portfolio, which will be coming at the end of this month to all advertisers.

Get to know your new audiences

In case you missed the announcement, here’s a quick recap of Google’s new audience types:

Affinity audiences

You’ve probably at least dabbled with affinity audiences in a display campaign here or there. The news is that they’re now available for search campaigns. These audiences are based on consumer habits and real-life interests.

With these affinity audiences, you can connect someone’s search intent with their passions. If you already know somebody is passionate about what you have to offer, you can properly value their enthusiasm. It’s not only that they’re searching, it’s that they’re searching for something they’re excited about and already into.

Over 132 segments are available across 12 categories.

Seasonal events

Although technically part of the in-market audiences family, seasonal events are about those who are bought into specific buying seasons. Some people aren’t really into Black Friday shopping. Some people really, really are. Seasonal events give you a way to reach the people that care deeply about shopping for Mother’s Day or certain components of back-to-school shopping. And seeing that we’re firmly in pumpkin spice season, you know that audiences for Christmas shopping will be heating up soon. These audiences are also now available for YouTube.

Similar audiences for Customer Match

I’ve heard from plenty of marketers that they like re-engaging with customers via Customer Match. But what about campaigns intended to reach entirely new prospects? Google Ads audiences like the new ones above can work great in these situations, but there’s another new audience type worth mentioning: similar audiences. Similar audiences will now be created for Customer Match lists when possible. You can add these similar audiences to reach people who share similar characteristics to your Customer Match audiences (based on a number of factors, like search behavior).

(And a quick note: The recent announcement didn’t call out this new type of audience, but it’s new and cool enough that it’s worth talking about.)

Use your new audiences like a pro

When you start applying these new audiences to your search campaigns, Google’s guidance often mirrors how you’ve long been using your audiences. That said, there are some specific things to keep in mind as you use the new audience types:

All audiences (up to and including these new ones)

1. Start the planning process by taking a look at Google Ads Audience insights. You can find out all sorts of information about who you’re already reaching, or who you might be better at reaching. 

2. Apply audiences with the “Observation” setting as a start. Add the audiences you think you might care about, then let the metrics roll in. This is a quick step, but an important one.

3. Start with the most relevant audiences first. Certain segments are only impactful for audiences and campaigns with high volume for your brand. Start with two to three of the most impactful ones, and only expand once you’ve shown them to be effective.

4. Apply audiences at the campaign level. You can apply at the ad-group level if you have specific reasons, but for most people campaign level should give you the coverage you’re looking for.

5. [If using Smart Bidding, which I heartily recommend] Don’t worry about bid adjustments. Those types of signals are already incorporated into your auction-time bids.

6. [If not using Smart Bidding, which I do not heartily recommend] Adjust bids based on performance differences. Even if an audience seems more or less valuable, let performance dictate. And your bid modifiers might need to be more significant than you are accustomed to. Think +50%, not +5%. You want to make an actual impact.

Affinity audiences

7. Keep an open mind. Affinity audiences can be deployed by certain types of industries that may have written off audience targeting. Health care, financial and religiously-affiliated advertisers, and plenty of others, can use affinity audiences.

Seasonal events (and other in-market audiences)

8. Plan for shifts in audience size. It stands to reason that big Black Friday shoppers aren’t going to be super active in late spring. Audience insights (mentioned in #1) can help give you a sense of relative audience size throughout the year.

Similar audiences for Customer Match

9. Apply your original Customer Match list (we call that the seed list), even if only for reporting. You can get insights from that list alongside the scale of similar audiences.

10. Think long term. Customer Match includes longer term signals, and you surely think of your customers in the long term as well. These similar audiences are based on longer-term, potentially higher value signals, exactly like your best customers.

11. Refresh your seed list regularly. Your Customer Match audiences don’t have an expiration date by default, so it’s possible there might be members that you aren’t interested in reaching anymore. Refreshing your list helps you create similar audiences that are most like your recent, high-quality customers.


Audiences are a powerful way to improve search campaign performance. The two new audience types releasing over the next few weeks (and similar audiences for Customer Match) were designed to improve the reach and relevance of your ads. When you combine those audiences with a customer’s search intent, you have a very effective strategy indeed.

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When to switch to standard delivery in Google Ads (hint: you should have switched yesterday) /when-to-switch-to-standard-delivery-in-google-ads-hint-you-should-have-switched-yesterday-319332 Thu, 11 Jul 2019 14:31:34 +0000 /?p=319332 Long thought to be an easy, one-click optimization, accelerated delivery might be doing more harm than good (if it’s doing anything at all). Here's why that is and what you should do about it.

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In the world of Google Ads, there’s a choice for each and every campaign’s ad delivery method: standard or accelerated. Do you want to spend your budget evenly over time (standard), or do you want to spend your budget more quickly (accelerated)?

I understand the impulse to go accelerated. It sounds better in some ways. For years, that “sounding better” squishiness has led to all sorts of people recommending accelerated delivery as a no-brainer optimization. It’s time for those days to come to an end. It’s safe to say that you should only use standard delivery for your budgets in Google Ads.

The downsides of accelerated delivery

Accelerated delivery only comes into play when your campaigns are limited by budget. Since most campaigns aren’t limited by budget, accelerated delivery is usually superfluous. The sixth toe of Google Ads, if you will.

If your campaigns are limited by budget, though, you should update your ad delivery settings as soon as possible – right this very second, even. Standard delivery is better. You’ve all heard that patience is a virtue, and that applies to your daily budgets in a big way.

To start, there’s no guarantee that the first part of the day is the best time for you. In most cases, I’d imagine it’s actually a worse time of day for your business. If you’re spending an entire day’s budget by 8 a.m. on a given day, think about the geographic effects of that. If you’re in the US, your ads might only be seen by night owls on the West Coast and early risers on the East Coast. Maybe that’s what you want, but I’d argue there are far better ways to control for location and time of day than accelerating your budget. Also, if certain auctions have a number of advertisers on accelerated delivery, CPCs may even be higher in the morning. When you and your other accelerated peers all jump in en masse at midnight, competition is hotter than it otherwise would be.

And to finish that thought: by accelerating your budget you might be saving your competitors money. If you’re only present at the start of each day, CPCs are likely to be lower in the afternoon hours for them when your budget is exhausted and there are fewer competitors. I’m not one to say how you should feel about saving your competitors on CPC, but I can imagine how you might feel about that.

Performance dropping off to nothing at an arbitrary point in the middle of the day.

How to hit your daily spend targets (again, it won’t be with accelerated delivery)

If you want to ensure that you’re spending your average daily budget each day, the perceived goal of the accelerated setting, there are other more effective ways to go about it.

To start, think differently about your bid and budget settings. If you’re limited by budget, accelerated ad delivery won’t get you more clicks or conversions. In fact, standard delivery is more likely to get more clicks (and conversions) for you.

Some people use accelerated delivery in an attempt to spend more even if they aren’t limited by budget. If you do that, know that using accelerated delivery isn’t an impactful optimization. It’s a placebo at best and doesn’t help you increase your spend in any way. If you are constrained by budget on only on a few days each month, our budgets work in a way to maximize utilization. You’ll spend above your set average daily budget on busy days and below your average daily budget limit when volume is low, and by the end of each month things should even out.

If you aren’t limited by budget, the best way to get as many impressions, clicks and conversions as possible is to increase your bids, find new keywords to include in your account, or improve the quality of your creatives. This delivery setting by itself doesn’t do anything.

Our recommended approach to bidding, the best way to get ads to show at the right time, continues to be Smart Bidding. The right bidding strategy is the best way to focus on your goals. If you want to get more aggressive, reevaluate your performance targets for those bidding strategies.

If you’re budget limited and still going for manual bidding for whatever reason, start using Enhanced CPC to add some auction-time optimization to each bid, then take a look at your time of day bid adjustments. Instead of telling the system to be as aggressive as possible early in the day with accelerated delivery, you can tell the system to be as aggressive as warranted by performance across each hour of the day. (Reminder: Smart Bidding does this for you automatically.)

When it comes to the bids themselves when your budget is truly inflexible, you should consider reducing your bids so that you get more clicks or conversions for the same spend levels. You might even have seen this as a recommendation on your Recommendations page. But monitor those bids – you may take yourself out of quality auctions and spend below your target. Maximize conversions or Maximize clicks bid strategies are the recommended ways to drive performance within a strict budget. 

Alternatively, you could pause less-successful keywords and ad groups so that you can invest where it matters the most. If you’re limited by budget at all, you’re already limiting your top performers within each campaign by default. There are better ways to manage spend. 

If I’m limited by budget and I switch to standard delivery, what can I expect?

There are a ton of reasons to make this change. I’ve asked around and I really can’t think of a reason to keep using accelerated delivery. Make the change now.

You can change the delivery method for all of your campaigns on the settings page in a couple of clicks.

If you are limited by budget and use standard delivery, here are the likely benefits:

  • More clicks (and ideally conversions) from the same budget
  • Better return on investment
  • Reaching the entirety of your targeted regions (no more inadvertent geotargeting for regions in earlier time zones)
  • Logical spending patterns based on performance

This is a setting with extremely limited utility.


Budgeting in Google Ads is important. Average daily budget limits should be used sparingly. Your bidding and targeting settings are usually more productive ways to dictate what your campaigns spend each day. If your campaigns must be limited by budget, though, please update your settings to standard delivery. Your performance (and your newfound customers in later time zones) will thank you.

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My top 10 favorite things about the new Google Ads Editor /my-top-10-favorite-things-about-the-new-google-ads-editor-314697 Thu, 28 Mar 2019 15:00:33 +0000 /?p=314697 AdWords Editor has historically been one of Google’s most popular advertising products. Contributor and Googler Matt Lawson lists what makes him most excited about its relaunch as Google Ads Editor.

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Advertisers love AdWords Editor. At countless conferences I’ve attended over the years, where I’ve heard all sorts of critiques of all sorts of products, Editor always stands out as a fan favorite. It’s the Gritty of the Google Ads world – something approaching universal approval. The main bit of feedback I hear is a plea that Google (my employer) never takes it away. It’s not going anywhere. In fact, we recently announced its relaunch as the Google Ads Editor.

There’s a lot to unpack with this inaugural version.

Here’s a countdown of my 10 favorite things about the new Editor.

10. The new search functionality

It stands to reason that Google would offer the ability to search. In the new Editor, you’ll see new search functionality so you can quickly find the campaigns and settings you need.

9. Built-in custom rules apply to more campaigns

Custom rules can surface super helpful reminders dedicated to improving your extensions, fixing non-serving ads, and plenty of other issues. In previous versions of Editor, built-in custom rules were limited to only Enabled campaigns. Now enabled, paused, pending, and draft campaigns within Editor are eligible to receive a helping hand from those built-in custom rules.

8. Video campaigns are easier to manage

There are so many video improvements that I was tempted to do a mini countdown-within-a-countdown. You know what? Let’s do it.

  1. You can manage non-skippable video ads
  2. You can apply Target CPM bidding to both campaigns ad groups.
  3. You can create bumper ads and ad groups in standard Video campaigns.
  4. You can add call-to-action and headline fields onto your TrueView in-stream ads.
  5. You can now add those CTA and headline fields in any Video campaign – not just TrueView.

7. Call ads are easier to manage

Message extensions are now fully supported. You can also use additional lines of text in your call-only ads to help you provide more info before people call you. Finally, account-level call reporting came out a few months back, and you can take advantage of that in the new Editor. While you can’t enable that account-wide switch within Editor (you’ll have to do that in Google Ads itself), you can use the new “Use account settings” for Conversion Action fields.

6. Better ways to manage Smart Bidding

When you’re managing your Smart Bidding, either by changing to a new strategy or maintaining your current ad groups, Editor will show a recommended CPA target when one is available. Starting with the right target is a crucial part of doing automated bidding well. Consider that recommendation as you make those changes in the Editor.

You’ll also now have the ability to manage Maximize conversions bidding for App & Display campaigns and Video actions. For those newly-named App campaigns, you can manage Target ROAS bidding, too.

5. Full cross-account management

You can now work across all of your accounts from a single window. Editor will let you apply changes across multiple accounts, even if they live in different MCCs, in just a matter of clicks. This is a big deal. If you’ve got accounts by country, for example, you can add the same set of keywords to all of those accounts in one fell swoop. If you’re making a wide-scale update to your settings, like if you’ve seen the light about ad rotation, you can do that in a snap. If you’ve got a lot of accounts to manage, this one is going to save you a lot of time.

4. View recommended daily budgets

Average daily budgets are an important lever for so many accounts. (I’m a fan of managing your spend by bids instead of budget caps, but I recognize that it might take a while to get there for some of you.) Properly allocated budgets help ensure that you aren’t losing out on the impressions, the opportunities, really, that matter the most. You can add a “Recommended budget” column to your campaigns view. If there’s no recommendation, this column will be blank. If you have campaigns that are limited by budget, you should absolutely, positively add this column as quickly as possible. You can export it to a spreadsheet and do whatever analysis you need to with the recommendation.

This change won’t affect a ton of campaigns, but for those it does it can be a game changer.

3. Warnings about ads that could be better

If you’ve been reading my columns for the past few years, you know that I’m passionate about my ads. If you’re uploading a set of ads, the Editor will warn you about ads that aren’t taking advantage of the recently-announced third headline and second description. Those new fields are important and they can improve your performance. If you aren’t yet in the habit of adding them, the Editor can be your backup plan.

2. The new location of the Edit panel

When you’re actually making changes on your account, you’ll find that the panel is now on the right side of the screen. Like many of you, I’d gotten used to the bottom of the screen. But once you start using on the right side I hope you’ll see why we moved it over there. After a bunch of research we found that people would prefer to make their changes over on the right side. Before too long, you should find out exactly how much this small change can improve your life. It’s the type of change that takes a week or two to get used to, then you can benefit from the new and improved placement.

1. It’s so much more attractive (and it’s finally Google Ads, not AdWords)

I’m biased, but I’m confident when I say that the look of this new Editor is awesome. Reading and scanning should be easier and more intuitive, and if your intuition doesn’t match that of our well-researched designers, use that search function (#10 in my list) to find what you’re looking for. And, seeing that the Editor was the final place we were still saying “AdWords,” I can finally head off to my dermatologist to get that AdWords tattoo removed from my shoulder blade (I already have the replacement Google Ads design worked out with my favorite tattoo artist).


I’m confident that this new version of the Google Ads Editor will continue to be a well-loved tool within our industry. The team behind it works super hard on making it as useful as possible, and it will continue to be here making all our lives that much brighter. And if you’ve got feedback or ideas for improvement, head on over to our Advertiser Community.

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Think like a search marketer to drive growth with YouTube /think-like-a-search-marketer-to-drive-growth-with-youtube-312897 Mon, 25 Feb 2019 13:05:00 +0000 /?p=312897 Custom intent audiences help reach people who have recently searched for your keywords. Contributor and Googler Matt Lawson runs through how you can use your search skills to make the most on YouTube.

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Today’s consumers are constantly moving between channels and devices, and video is becoming an increasingly important part of their journey. In fact, in a study we conducted at Google, eighty percent of shoppers told us they have switched between search and video when they’re researching products to buy. Which begs the question, as a search marketer, how do you effectively add video to your strategy?

Custom intent audiences is the answer. They take a useful signal (what people are looking for) and let you engage them across different media. These audiences are designed to work with the search skill set that you already have with a few differences on the margins. (I’m focusing on video for today, but remember that you can also create these audiences on display and Gmail.)

What are custom intent audiences?

Custom intent audiences help you reach customers on YouTube based on the terms they use to search for products or services on You select a set of keywords, then your video ads will be shown to people whose past queries match your keywords when they’re watching YouTube. There are a lot of similarities and differences vs. traditional search campaigns when working with custom intent audiences. Let’s start with the similarities.

Think like a search marketer

In many ways managing video campaigns with custom intent audiences should be quite familiar:

  • Choose the right keywords. Generally, this is a great way to build upon already-successful keyword lists. Start with your top converting keywords. Then go to all converting keywords. Then go to all assisting keywords if you want more volume. As with search, you want to drive volume at an acceptable CPA or ROAS. Run keywords through Keyword Planner to see if you’re casting a wide enough net.
  • Segment brand and generic traffic. As with search, you can expect to see differences in performance for people who are searching for a specific brand compared to less-specific searches. You won’t need to get nearly as specific with your segmentation (you’re probably too specific on your search stuff if I’m honest). Generally, one ad group for a brand and another for generic can get the job done for you.
  • Track conversions. This is an obvious one, but it underscores that these audiences are designed to drive direct response. It’s important to track conversions so you can monitor when a user watches your video ad and coverts on your site.
  • Bid to performance. The reason that you should track conversions is so that you can set the right bids. Target CPA bidding works on video ads. Use your conversion columns to make decisions about how aggressive to get with your bidding.
  • Take it easy on frequency capping. Frequency capping isn’t even possible on search campaigns. You have that option with video, but I think it’s good practice to take a lighter approach. These lists are populated by people who have searched for your keywords within the last seven days, so the campaigns behave more conservatively than you might expect from a video campaign.

When to not think like a search marketer

While video campaigns with custom intent audiences by and large start out like a search campaign, there are some key differences that you should keep in mind.

  • Don’t worry about match types. There’s only one match type that powers your custom intent audiences: broad. Anybody who has recently searched for your keywords or anything semantically related to them will be eligible to be in your custom intent audiences.
  • Be OK with large ad groups (and I mean really large). You should even prefer them. Machine learning models within Google Ads learn at the ad group level, and more data means that learning happens faster. You can create segmented audiences if you’d like, but it’s a good idea to apply all of them into the same ad group. If your audiences are too narrow the system relies on generalized insights from the entire network. Those can be good, but more customized insights are almost always better. It’s OK to create what a search marketer might have considered a sloppy ad group. Fifty keywords in one audience is just fine. Three hundred keywords in one ad group is also fine. Don’t worry about conventional search guidelines here.
  • Decide which YouTube format works best for you (this will probably be TrueView for action). TrueView for action is optimized to drive online actions like website clicks, signups and purchases. That’s probably the format for you. Depending on your overall objectives, though, you might consider standard TrueView, bumper ads, or TrueView for reach.
  • Take advantage of searches even when people don’t click on your ads. Custom intent audiences are populated based on someone’s search – not whether they clicked your ad or not. It’s not even based on if they’ve seen your ad. It’s about that original search and the intent behind it. Think about the impressions you’ve lost due to rank or budget. Think about the impressions you get that don’t turn into clicks. You can still reach those people with your custom intent audiences. This potential is what I find most exciting. If you have a video ad, you have a second chance at reaching somebody that didn’t connect with your search ad on that first go-round.


I love search marketing. With custom intent audiences, you can apply a honed search skillset to video. And if you’re on the fence, consider this: On average, advertisers that run YouTube video ads in addition to Search ads see three percent higher search conversion rates and four percent lower search CPAs versus advertisers who run search ads alone. Video is now an integral part of a well-balanced performance campaign.

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4 new search metrics in Google Ads to give you what you really wanted out of average position /4-new-search-metrics-in-google-ads-to-give-you-what-you-really-wanted-out-of-average-position-308164 Thu, 15 Nov 2018 17:29:59 +0000 /?p=308164 Average position is an often-used, often-misunderstood metric. Contributor and Googler Matt Lawson talks through what Google’s new metrics do that average position can’t.

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google ads mobile app icon

Is my search ad at the top, or can I be doing even better? It’s one of the things I think about most often regarding Google Ads. For the searches that matter to me and my business, am I showing up and showing up prominently?

Average position has long been used by advertisers to try and approximate where their ads show up on the page. However, that position only reflects the order of the auction results, not their location. For example, an ad position of “1” means that your ad shows ahead of other ads, even if there are no ads above the search results. Your position 1, while exciting, might be showing beneath the organic search results.

Well, Google recently unveiled four new metrics that are more helpful than average position to understand where your ads actually sit on the page. In fact, I think once you get  comfortable with using these new prominence metrics you may well stop using average position.

Meet your new best friends

These new metrics address the limitations of average position. One key limitation comes with averaging data. For example, the average temperature in California in September is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This average is less helpful if you live in San Francisco (avg. 70) or Vacaville (avg. 91). When you’re going on a Star Wars tour of Muir Woods you only want to know if you should bring a jacket. The average temperature of California that month isn’t what you’re really looking for.

It’s important to understand the two “hot” places on the results page with higher CTR: absolute top, which is what people often mistook position one to be. And top, which is above the organic search results.

prominance metrics Google search screensnap

  • Impr. (Abs. Top) %

This is the percentage of your impressions appearing in the first position above the results divided by all of your impressions. It tells you how often your ad is the first result that a searcher sees above the organic search results.

  • Impr. (Top) %

It’s all of your impressions above the organic search results divided by the total number of your impressions. Along with Impressions (Abs. Top) %, this metric is a specific indicator of page location.

  • Search (Abs. Top) IS

By dividing your impressions on Absolute Top by all possible top impressions, you can see where there’s more opportunity to be the first result a searcher sees. Average position might tell you that you are in position 3 and that there is room to reach position 1, but it doesn’t tell you when the only attainable position 1 is at the bottom of the page and perhaps not as valuable for you. Absolute Top impression share considers if it’s even possible for someone to reach the top of the page.

  • Search (Top) IS

This is what you get when you divide your impressions on top of the search results by all possible impressions on top. Impression share for both top and absolute top tell you how you’re doing across all eligible auctions.

These metrics are available to view at the campaign, ad group and keyword level. Two of these metrics will even be available at the search term level and in Auction insights.

But I like average position!

Perhaps you like average position, and perhaps you don’t. All average position does is reflect the order of your ad vs other ads. That’s it. It’s not enough to know the actual location of your ad on the page. These new metrics are specific and reliable indicators of page location, which is much more valuable.

(And I should also point out that having prominent ads doesn’t mean your work is done. You also need to maximize what you do when your ads are in those prominent places. Great ads and ad extensions help you drive as many clicks as possible once you’re in the places that matter most.)

In case you don’t want to take my word for it on average position, Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist, explained average position all the way back in 2011. Here’s a quick review:

  • Average position relates to the auction, not placement on the results page.
  • As a result, if you’re trying to elevate the location of your ad, avoid bidding by average position. Sometimes average position may decrease as bids increase. Higher bids can actually allow you to enter additional, more competitive auctions in a worse position.

The new metrics give you what you really wanted out of average position. If you want to bid on page location, you can use Search (Abs. Top) IS and Search (Top) IS. If you’re focused on prominent placement, you can improve ads and bids until you’re breaking 80% Search (Top) IS.

What’s the point of bidding to be position 1 if everyone is at the bottom of the page anyway due to low ad relevance? You should instead fight to be at the top of the page whenever possible and profitable. That’s what these new metrics help you do.

Life after average position

Once you buy into the very real benefits of these new impression metrics, start using them. We don’t report on them for search partners, so you no longer have to segment your reports anymore. To start, swap average position out as a column in all of your reports for Impr. (Top) % and Impr. (Abs. Top) %.

If you’re bidding automatically to get your ads to a prominent location, be on the look out for the new Target Impression Share bid strategy. It’ll have an option to target the top or absolute top of the page. That’ll be rolling out in the weeks ahead. Alternatively, if you want to keep your existing automated rules, scripts and API, swap average position with Search (Abs. Top) IS or Search (Top) IS in any of your rules.

If you’re a performance-based marketer, nothing really changes that much. Target CPA and ROAS bidding are still the way to go.


Average position has long been a distant proxy for how prominent your ads really are. The four new metrics discussed above will help you meaningfully evaluate the location of your ads and its impact on performance.

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Google’s somewhat-new guide to totally excellent ads /googles-somewhat-new-guide-to-totally-excellent-ads-304864 Tue, 04 Sep 2018 13:55:00 +0000 /?p=304864 As responsive search ads make their way to an account near you, contributor and Googler Matt Lawson shares suggestions on how to implement all of the ad formats in one big happy account. Party time!

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It’s been a big year for text ads. Google (my employer) introduced responsive search ads in July, simplifying ad creation and testing for everyone. Last month, Google enabled ads that include a third headline and a longer description. Text ads are more expanded than they’ve ever been.

There’s more room than ever to get your message across to potential customers, which is a beautiful thing. Making sense of all of these changes can be a challenge, especially as responsive search ads make their way to an account near you. Because of these updates, I thought it would be a good idea to share Google’s suggestions on how you could implement all of these formats in one big happy account.

How to think about ads in 2018

A year and a half ago, I wrote about how to create excellent ads, and the overall guidance back then still applies: create a bunch of great ad components, then set those components free (with the magic pixie dust of machine learning). This advice still holds true. The main thing that’s changed is that there are more ways to create those great components.

Ultimately, you’ll want three to five ads per ad group, as many extensions as possible and an optimized ad rotation. The only difference is that “ads” can mean a few different things these days.

Responsive search ads: machine learning’s best friend

Responsive search ads, still in beta, are pretty cool. Search Engine Land’s Ginny Marvin has covered a lot of the basics, so check that out if you haven’t already. And if you’ve read my previous posts about ad optimization, you can imagine that I’m a big fan of this ad format.

Here are some pointers when it comes to responsive search ads:

  • Try as many ad components as possible. One responsive search ad can include 15 options for headlines and three options for description lines. Take advantage of all of those. Try adding as many headlines as you can. If a certain headline is dragging down performance, the system will stop serving it. I personally would say to try for nine or more. At a minimum, you should have at least five unique headlines.
  • Create distinct headline variations. Make your headlines distinct, too. Include a few headlines that feature your keywords and a few that don’t. Ads can then show up to three headlines and two descriptions.

You should also consider varying the length of your headlines. Don’t worry about maximizing your usage of characters. A shorter headline might perform well in certain places within your account. Check out your ad strength as you’re creating them to get a sense of what the Google Ads system likes. Think of it like a password strength indicator as you’re signing up for a new website.

For most people, one responsive search ad per ad group should be enough. A robust responsive ad with lots of options is obviously so much more than one static text ad. Up to three responsive search ads can be added per ad group, and that’s primarily intended for advertisers who choose to pin certain headlines or description lines (think companies with strict brand guidelines or regulatory requirements).

If you don’t have a reason to pin something, don’t. And if you have to do it, consider pinning a couple of different approved options in that slot so that the machine still has some choices within that position. It’ll be limited, but a limited set of options is better than no option at all.

Note that responsive search ads are still in beta, so they won’t be in all of your accounts quite yet. That’ll change over time.

More expanded text ads

As responsive search ads continue to expand to more languages, text ads now have an optional third headline and a second description line. It’s a good idea to add both of these to your ads. Use those 30-character headlines and 90-character description lines (increased from 80 characters) to get your message out.

A couple of quick notes about creating the best text ads possible:

  • Include any sensitive or mandatory info in headline 1, headline 2 or description 1. HL3 and DL2 might not show.
  • Your third headline won’t be truncated. If there isn’t enough space to include the full third headline, only headline 1 and headline 2 will show.
  • Ad extensions will co-trigger as before. One note is that the longer description line takes priority over callouts or structured snippets, which can still be pulled in line with your description text.
  • Most importantly, treat these new fields as a part of your ad. Don’t simply append the same HL3 and DL2 to all of your ads. Don’t sacrifice specificity and relevance for longer ads.

Ad suggestions are your friend

You might also find ad suggestions in some underperforming ad groups in your account. These suggestions surface variations of ads that are currently running in your account. They’re designed to help you out, and you can always make edits to the proposed creatives and control when they should be applied.

We’ve seen great results with them, particularly on non-brand campaigns. I say let them help you out if they’re on brand (and if they aren’t, please send Google that feedback). I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face: more ad options are a good thing.

Have a breadth of ads and ad types in your ad groups

While some ads look different from others, they all have their place. Try to implement at least three ads per ad group with an optimized ad rotation. If you have access to responsive search ads already, you should remember to have at least one additional text ad in each of your ad groups. Responsive search ads are still in beta, and some traffic won’t be included in that experiment. You need a text ad to capture those impressions.

Don’t take my word for it

As with any advice in the land of Google Ads, your mileage may vary. A couple of tidbits for testing these new ad formats:

  • Test in high-traffic, non-brand ad groups (we recommend 50 or more impressions per day). Low-volume tests take too long to run. By the time they’ve reached a satisfying conclusion, too many other variables might have changed.
  • Don’t pause any existing ads because you’re trying out responsive search ads. As I said above, you still want coverage on non-experimental traffic.
  • Monitor performance. Responsive search ads can be reported on at the ad and asset levels. There’s also a combination report so you can see how many impressions different combinations of ads are receiving. The metrics in these reports are a bit limited, especially during the beta period, but there’s plenty of information to use.

We recommend you use campaign drafts and experiments if you want to understand the impact of adding responsive search ads to your existing campaigns. You’ll be able to take a look at overall changes in clicks, cost per click (CPC) and conversions for your responsive ads.

And here’s a final reminder about testing: Don’t overly fixate on metrics like click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate. These new ad formats are about driving more impressions, clicks and conversions. There are all sorts of instances where you might end up serving impressions in a low CTR placement that you never would have qualified for before. A high CTR isn’t the end goal; it should be more sales for your business.


We’ve come a long way from simple text ads. Responsive search ads offer a glimpse of how flexible and powerful ads can be. Even if you don’t have access to the responsive search ads beta, you can still take advantage of longer text ads, which we’ve seen drive better and better performance for advertisers.

The post Google’s somewhat-new guide to totally excellent ads appeared first on Search Engine Land.

5 Google Optimize tests to take AdWords to the next level /5-google-optimize-tests-to-take-adwords-to-the-next-level-299402 Thu, 31 May 2018 14:15:00 +0000 /?p=299402 Recently, Google released new ways to connect landing page tests to AdWords using Google Optimize. Columnist and Googler Matt Lawson runs down the tests you should set up in your accounts.

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Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising often focuses too much on the click.

It sounds crazy. The industry is named after clicks, after all, but what happens after a user comes to your landing page is even more important.

That’s why the direct integration between AdWords and Google Optimize has me so excited. Landing page optimization is now way easier to do, which means that we can do so much more with all of those clicks that we’re paying for.

There’s a lot to get excited about when it comes to Google Optimize: It’s easy to set up experiments, and it’s even easier to create different versions of your site (no coding required). You can choose the winners of your tests with Google Analytics metrics and goals.

But as an AdWords guy at heart, I’m particularly excited about this integration: We can now directly tie our experiments to AdWords setups, from accounts all the way down to keywords.

Setting up Optimize and AdWords

Before we get into some of the ways to test AdWords with Optimize, I figure it makes sense to talk about how to set up an experiment.

To start, you’ll need to link your AdWords and Google Analytics accounts.

You’ll also have to enable auto-tagging in your ads. Once both of those are done, you have to check a box in the Linked Accounts section of your AdWords account to enable the link to Optimize.

It’s that simple.

Currently, you can run tests on search network traffic which includes search partners, shopping campaigns and Dynamic Search Ads. And within those campaigns, you can set up experiments for the following in Google Optimize:

  • Accounts.
  • Campaigns.
  • Ad groups.
  • Keywords.

AdWords components to test in Optimize

There really are a ton of things worth testing. Here is a list I came up with that may spark ideas for you.

1. How can you make a stronger connection with returning users?

You can get at this a couple of ways. The first is if you have already segmented out your remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) traffic into their own campaigns.

If that’s the case, simply run tests on those campaigns. If your audiences are only applied to your campaigns as Bid-only, you simply have to combine the AdWords traffic you’re curious about with a Google Analytics (GA) audience list.

If you’re offering returning users special deals in your ad text, try making that offer the centerpiece of your landing page for those users.

And if you want to get really fancy with your offers, Optimize can do a real-time segmentation of returning visitors who have not made a purchase (via either GA or first-party cookies) versus returning customers who have made a purchase (via time since last purchase) with different discount codes from the same uniform resource locator (URL). Learn more about first-party cookie targeting here.

It’s a chance to offer deeper insight into your business, and you can test what works best.

2. Should you streamline your landing pages to improve your conversion rate?

This experiment contrasts with what I proposed above. Instead of growing the basket of top converters, think about how to turn average-performing ad groups and campaigns into top converters.

With Optimize, it’s simple to experiment with removing elements from your landing pages. Pick a campaign that’s doing OK but not great, and see if reducing the amount of information on your landing page helps people convert more easily. This is particularly important for mobile users, where you need to make your page fast and easy to check out.

Find the right balance between minimalism and information. People like to browse, but people also get distracted. Less can be more; and in this case, that could mean more clicks and sales.

3. How well do you know your exact-matched searchers?

Because you can set up experiments around specific keywords, you can tailor landing pages for users who arrived via exact-match keywords. While mirroring someone’s query on your site isn’t important for quality ratings per se, you have a neat opportunity to tailor your pages to specific keywords and match types.

One thing I’m curious about is what a match type might say about our level of insight with that user. A user doesn’t know what match type keyword you’re using to reach them, but you probably have a good amount of insight about users who arrive via an exact-match keyword like “chair rentals.”

How can you use that in your landing page tests? Should you be more direct? Are there certain products/packages that people are more likely to buy if they know more about your industry? You can cut to the chase based on your inferred knowledge about that person.

(And here’s a quick aside: Exact match isn’t inherently any more valuable than broad match. I’m talking here about the insights that you generated that led you to create a keyword as exact match.)

4. How can you enable different types of conversions?

Phone calls, website call conversions, newsletter signups, lead generation forms — they’re all valuable actions. If you track multiple conversion types, you should segment your reports by conversion action.

If a certain campaign is particularly call-heavy, create a version of your landing page that makes calling even easier. If an ad group drives all sorts of newsletters, take that ad group to a version of your page that highlights the newsletter, even if it’s at the expense of your main conversion action.

And this same logic applies to ad groups or campaigns that might be earlier in the conversion path. Look at your attribution reports and see which campaigns introduce people to your brand. You can add experimental changes to those pages that give people more information in lieu of trying to force a conversion that they aren’t ready for yet.

Understand how people convert, then tweak your pages to accommodate that conversion type.

5. What geographies might benefit from more regionally specific messaging?

You’ve surely spotted regional trends in your Google Analytics or AdWords data (like pop vs. soda). While those regional differences might not be severe enough to warrant a full landing page for that location, with Optimize you can make those changes yourself in a snap.

People speak differently and even enjoy different images in different places.

Using geotargeting in Optimize, you can experiment with regionally specific language that can deepen your connection with your users.


Now that testing has become easier, it can be easy to overdo it. Brainstorm with your team about what tests you think would be effective, then develop a framework for prioritization.

And remember, with any testing there will be plenty of tests that don’t show positive results. What matters is that you learn from each one of your tests so you can improve over time.

The post 5 Google Optimize tests to take AdWords to the next level appeared first on Search Engine Land.

To make every conversion count, count every conversion /to-make-every-conversion-count-count-every-conversion-295217 Wed, 28 Mar 2018 16:30:00 +0000 /?p=295217 Measuring conversions is critically important in digital marketing. Columnist and Googler Matt Lawson explains why sitewide tagging is crucial to making every conversion count.

The post To make every conversion count, count every conversion appeared first on Search Engine Land.


Conversion measurement is complicated. More devices, channels and touch points mean that data is exploding, and yet cross-device behavior and the use of different identifiers, like cookies across browsers, can muddy measurement on the web.

With all of that imprecision comes a thought that might keep you up at night: You might not see all of the conversions driven by your marketing. They’re still happening, but you just might not capture them in your reporting.

As a performance marketer at heart, I’m frustrated any time my measurement is incomplete. Lost conversions are just about the saddest thing I can think of, but Google (my employer) has measurement tools designed to help you make the most of your conversion tracking.

Tracking every possible conversion in AdWords

Back in the desktop era, advertisers simply installed a conversion pixel on their checkout page, and the combination of redirects and third-party cookie reading at conversion-time accurately captured performance.

To keep up with changes in browser technology and user preferences, capturing ad clicks on landing pages, as opposed to via redirects, is now the most reliable way to measure conversions. This means to get the most accurate measurement in today’s digital world, you should have a tag on every page of your website to enable the cleanest link from click to conversion.

That may sound like a daunting task, but it doesn’t necessarily require retagging your site. If you are using Google Analytics today, hopefully, your webmaster has already tagged all of your website pages, including the conversion page.

If so, you can link your AdWords and Google Analytics accounts and voila! You’re done.

If you don’t use Google Analytics, AdWords and DoubleClick make it easy to tag every page on your site. You can simply add our gtag.js code to each of your pages or to your tag management tool. You can find detailed instructions on how to do this in the AdWords Help Center or in the DoubleClick Search Help Center.

What else you can do

There are a handful of other considerations as you manage your ads.

To start, make a habit out of comparing your conversion data with actual, hard sales. Your own numbers and figures are always the best source of truth for your business. If you know your campaigns are driving more business impact that isn’t fully captured in your conversion numbers, fine-tune your approach. You may want to consider adjusting your cost per acquisition (CPA) or return on advertising spend (ROAS) targets in AdWords to account for the difference.

Finally, understand how long it takes your customers to convert. There’s a wickedly useful segment that came out last year called “Days to Conversion.”

It’s important to understand how long it takes customers to complete a conversion. The longer the gap between a click and a conversion, the more opportunities emerge for that conversion to be undercounted (people clearing their cookies and so on). Understand delays so you can build in the appropriate padding in your key performance indicators (KPIs).


About the best thing I can think of is preserving the ability to observe as many conversions as possible from your digital marketing.

And, in cases where there are gaps, work to understand those gaps and have a strategy for addressing them. With the right approach, you’ll be able to measure impact more effectively and capture more conversions.

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What you learn from talking with Google’s largest advertisers all day, every day /learn-talking-googles-largest-advertisers-day-every-day-288230 Tue, 19 Dec 2017 16:17:26 +0000 /?p=288230 The world’s largest advertisers routinely visit the Google campus to talk strategy. Columnist Matt Lawson sits down with Google’s Chief Search Evangelist for some top insights from those meetings.

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There’s a position at Google called “Chief Search Evangelist.” It’s evolved in the years since Fred Vallaeys filled that role, now focusing on meeting with our advertisers in person when they come to visit Google on-site. I think my job is pretty cool, but I must admit that the idea of talking search ads day-in, day-out with people at the cutting edge of their craft makes me more than a bit jealous. Nicolas Darveau-Garneau, who currently fills the role of Chief Search Evangelist, is the man whose job turns me a light shade of green with professional envy.

I learn so much every time I talk with Nick, so I thought it would be fun to sit him down and pick his brain about all of those meetings he gets to have. Here’s an edited transcript of the wide-ranging conversation we had recently about automation, growth, keywords and more.

Nicolas Darveau-Garneau, Chief Search Evangelist at Google

Lawson: What are the biggest trends that you’ve noticed when talking with top AdWords marketers?

Nick Darveau-Garneau (NDG): The best in the business have really figured out how to use automation and machine learning. Managing a search campaign should be partially automated these days, and there’s so much value you can unlock when you’re strategic about using automation. I’ve seen the most success here when people have a clear strategy, focusing on user experience and personalized marketing. Then they leave a lot of the detailed stuff to automation.

I consider this setup to be “semi-automated marketing.” Set the right KPIs, then let the machines do most of the work. You don’t need to worry about the results of individual tactics or specific keywords anymore. In fact, I see automated tools like Dynamic Search Campaigns and Smart Bidding largely outperforming manual optimizations.

Lawson: Semi-automated marketing. I like that. What does that look like in practice?

NDG: A lot of it is straightforward work that I already imagine people are doing. Smart Bidding (Target CPA and Target ROAS, in particular), Data-Driven Attribution, Dynamic Search Ads. And they work well together, so use them all.

I’ve also seen plenty of companies have success by buying into automation with their ads. The faster people realize that ad testing is a thing of the past, the better off they’ll be. Optimize your ad rotation, enable as many extensions as you can, and add a bunch of ads to your ad groups. Using optimized rotation uses the most appealing ad at the time of each auction, for each individual customer. I know you wrote about this recently on Search Engine Land, so just add that link and tell people to read it.

Bottom line: Use the entire search machine learning stack together.

Lawson: One of the more controversial things I’ve heard you talk about before is keyword selection. What’s your preferred method?

NDG: I don’t think my opinion should even be considered controversial. Once you believe in machine learning like I do, I think it’s easy to believe in this. And it’s simple, really: Buy all the relevant keywords.

Lawson: All of them?

NDG: Yep. All of them. Look, there’s no need to carefully select our keywords anymore. The machine will automatically figure out which of those work for us. I mean, when you’re using Smart Bidding, you’re already setting bids on a query-by-query basis. If that query sees OK performance, the algorithm will set OK bids. If that query works great, you’ll set very competitive bids. And if one query doesn’t work that often, the bids will be set accordingly. That even includes cases where your bids are so low as to effectively pause that keyword. If things change, think [about] your conversion rates or even the competition on that keyword/query, then you’re eligible to try out that auction again.

Some advertisers are also being more aggressive and use a lot more broad match because Smart Bidding sets bids at the query level, not the ad group level.

Lawson: And Smart Bidding isn’t the only tool to use with your keywords. You’re a big believer in audience targeting, too, right?

NDG: Oh, absolutely. It works really well. You want to power all of that bidding with your most important audience signals. Smart Bidding considers your audience lists, so feed those lists into your campaigns. You can stop worrying about bid modifiers, as Smart Bidding looks at audience along with a ton of other stuff. Just like ad testing is outdated, audience bid adjustments are irrelevant if you’re using Smart Bidding.

Lawson: There’s that semi-automated marketing again. As people get used to handing some control over to the machine, what are the things they should pay special attention to?

NDG: I mentioned the strategic stuff like customer experience already, and that’s incredibly important. Really focus on improving the customer experience. The most successful advertisers have high conversion rates relative to their competitors. Stay ahead of the pack by using tools like AMP for AdWords, parallel tracking, one-click signup and one-click buy. The better your conversion rate, the higher your ceiling as a marketer.

Something else I think is important is KPIs. One of the key issues that differentiates top advertisers is the KPIs they select. It’s almost like an evolutionary scale. You might start with doing what you can on a fixed budget, then you graduate to a CPA target, then you evolve to a sales ROAS and eventually a profit-margin ROAS. And the ideal final state is cash flow based on lifetime value.

Once you’ve got the right KPIs in place, and once you’re measuring those KPIs effectively, there’s really no limit to what you can do.

Lawson: You mentioned measuring KPIs effectively. What does that look like?

NDG: It’s about data. The best way to improve your account is to understand its performance as fully as possible, so share data with your agencies and platforms as much as possible. Smart Bidding gets better as it understands the value and life cycle of your conversions as completely as possible.

Many advertisers start with simple conversion data, and from there they evolve to revenue-based conversions. And that’s true even if you’re selling something with a long sales cycle. The next level up involves sharing your margin-per-conversion. Revenue is great, but revenue doesn’t consider your bottom line. You want to be as profitable as possible, which is why I love when advertisers talk to us about margin. Finally, the cream of the measurement crop has started forecasting lifetime value of their customers. With those forecasts, they can optimize toward profitability farther out in the future than that one short-term sale.

Lawson: I know you’ve talked about profitability with customers a whole lot in the past. What’s the focus of those conversations?

NDG: It’s growth. Focus on growth. Don’t obsess over a low CPA or a high ROAS. Look at your business as a whole and see if you’re more profitable today than you were yesterday. Think of it this way: You can get 10 conversions at a $10 CPA, or you can get 15 conversions at a $20 CPA. You might be making more money at the higher CPA. Can we add a chart to this interview? Is that possible? (Note: here’s a re-creation of what NDG drew on the board.)

CPA Conversions Marketing Cost Margin (@$50/conv.) Profit
CPA goal $10 10 $100 $500 $400
Profit goal $20 15 $300 $750 $450


This is a super simple example, but for me, I take the second option every time. It’s only $50 more profit. But if you’re not willing to take that $50, you need to change your approach. Because once you get that extra $50, you’ll get into the mentality of how to get the next $50. And the next and the next.

Lawson: That makes sense, but not every conversion is worth the same.  How do you think about that?

NDG: That’s when forecasting LTV (lifetime value) comes into play.  Companies who can forecast the LTV of each customer they acquire at or near the time of acquisition significantly outperform their peers. Imagine being able to forecast the three-to-five-year cash flow of every new customer you acquire with good accuracy and setting your marketing KPI for customer acquisition as a percentage of that profitability. You’ll be investing something like $100 to acquire a customer worth $1,000 and $300 for a customer worth $3,000. By bidding higher for better customers, these advertisers get a much higher percentage of these top customers.

Lawson: I know you’ve got to take off to a summit. Any parting words for anybody who reads this?

NDG: Relax. Once you get comfortable navigating the world of semi-automation, you have to resist the temptation to micromanage. Hundreds or even thousands of small decisions were just removed from your plate, so you now have more time to think about the big, important items. Strategy, user experience, how to focus on being a marketer.

The post What you learn from talking with Google’s largest advertisers all day, every day appeared first on Search Engine Land.

The lowdown on driving app downloads with Universal App campaigns /lowdown-driving-app-downloads-universal-app-campaigns-286803 Thu, 07 Dec 2017 17:31:59 +0000 /?p=286803 Google’s Universal App campaigns use machine learning to automate app promotion. Columnist and Googler Matt Lawson goes under the hood to help you understand and master these campaigns.

The post The lowdown on driving app downloads with Universal App campaigns appeared first on Search Engine Land.


Universal App campaigns (UAC) help you find new app users across Google’s largest properties: Google Play, Search, YouTube and Gmail, as well as millions of websites and apps across the Google Display Network. Back in August, Google (my employer) announced that all app install campaigns in AdWords are becoming UACs.

Whether you’re starting UACs for the first time or are looking to get the most out of existing UACs, here are some best practices that I’ve discovered from talking with a bunch of other Googlers.

Getting up and running with UAC

The first key step is defining your goal. You’ll need to set a target based on one of these key performance indicators:

app marketing goals with universal app campaigns

If you care about different metrics in different situations, create separate campaigns for each desired outcome.

From there, you’ll need to set up a few more items:

  • A daily budget. When you’re driving installs, this should be your target CPI multiplied by the number of daily installs you want (shoot for at least 50 to get enough data). When you’re driving in-app actions, it should be your target CPA multiplied by desired daily actions, shooting for at least 10.
  • Your desired user action, which includes stuff like the first install or first open. This could also be your desired in-app action, like making a purchase or completing a game level.
  • Creative assets, which is where you have some real flexibility. If you’re on a smaller budget, AdWords creates those ad assets on your behalf. Bigger advertisers can add a bunch of images and advanced creative assets (we’ll talk about those a bit later).
  • And one final, crucial component: measurement. Do what you need to do to ensure that you’re measuring all of those actions.

How AdWords knows where to serve ads

So, how does AdWords know where to reach those potential new users without keywords, data feeds or any other targeting? Starting with the info about your app itself (its App Store or Play Store description), it examines signals like search queries on and Google Play, web crawl data and more. This data is mapped across all of the channels where we place ads and updated multiple times per day. That’s how AdWords can quickly pick up on new trending keywords like a sports event or an upcoming holiday and make sure it serves your app in the relevant context, across different properties.

Looking at users who’ve completed your selected action along with those who haven’t, AdWords evaluates a user’s auction signals. This is stuff like device type, the network they’re currently on, which apps they already have, and plenty of other insightful info. From there, patterns from converting users are identified. These patterns are then used to predict future auctions, where and how to bid, and what creatives to serve to other users who fit similar characteristics.

So it’s like DSA + Smart Bidding + similar audiences + a bunch of other stuff, all at the same time, across networks. Plus, it gets better the more it does it.

How you should manage UACs

Although UACs are more automated than other AdWords campaign types, you still have important levers at your disposal.

  • Update your bids

The target CPI/CPA/ROAS bids you set and modify have a strong influence on how your campaign performs. I definitely recommend staying on top of those targets. As you make any changes, it’s a good idea to adjust targets or budgets up or down 20 percent at most to avoid any drastic changes in performance. Once you’ve made a change, try to wait for at least 100 conversions before making another update. It takes time for automation to respond to new inputs, so be patient. If you’re curious about what impact a bid change might have for you, check out the bid simulator tool.

  • Provide great ad components

AdWords optimizes what content will show in your ads across channels. It’s best at doing that when it has a bunch of stuff to choose from in your Universal App campaigns.

When it comes to ad text, include a clear call to action. Write standalone sentences. AdWords automatically combines them to create the best text ad. And keep these short, sweet and focused on one unique selling point.

And when it comes to videos and images, don’t be shy. Add what you’ve got. You can (and should) upload 20 images and 20 videos to your campaigns. Plan to add multiple landscape images so AdWords can mix and match different backdrops across different types of users.

I mean what I said about videos, too. Adding videos gives you a lot more opportunity for your app to get noticed. Focus on different video assets in different ratios, like landscape, portrait and square, so AdWords can maximize reach across all properties, including rewarded, YouTube and native ads. After your creatives have time to run, check out the Creative Asset Report in your account to see how each of your creatives is performing.

Steer your automated campaign

Along with bidding and creative options, there are some considerations that might pop up as you get used to managing these campaigns.

  • Don’t worry about account structure

While countless articles on SEL have been written about how you should structure ad groups and keywords within your campaigns (including by yours truly), don’t worry about that for UAC. Query-level data is leveraged across campaigns and ad groups for search, and impression-level data is leveraged across GDN (Google Display Network) and YouTube.

  • Protect your brand

I love that Universal App campaigns are about driving conversions. And brand sensitivity is an important consideration as well, which I also love. By default, there are four brand safety filters enabled: not yet labeled (video and content), mature audience (video and content), tragedy and conflict (video) and sensitive social issues (video and content).

On top of those defaults, you can exclude mobile app categories, topics and autodirector videos. And, of course, you can use negative keywords. Negative keywords in UAC apply to all properties, from Google search to YouTube and everything in between. They’re a great way to protect your brand, but they could also blot out some of your traffic. Use negatives with care.

  • Don’t worry about cannibalization

While your standard search, GDN or YouTube campaigns and UAC will at times be eligible for the same auctions, only one campaign per account (or linked accounts) enters the auction. You aren’t going to bid yourself up with overlap (a common myth in search that I’ve been trying to quash for years).

AdWords chooses which ad to enter into a particular auction based on your active bids and past campaign performance. What’s in your best interest, auction-wise, should be chosen to show. One consideration: If you’re finding that your campaign isn’t getting the traffic you want it to, you might need to raise your bids to make it more competitive in those auctions.


It’s important to understand how to set up Universal App campaigns for success. It’s also important to know what you should be doing to ensure that these campaigns reach their full potential.

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