Search Ads 360 Tips ② State of the art bidding optimization using first-party data

Media & Platforms


The first chapter covered the automated bidding tools of Search Ads 360 and their features as well as their use cases.
The second issue will introduce Search Ads 360’s unique Floodlight conversion tag and the unique formula column feature enabled by the Floodlight tag. Using the formula column feature allows users to improve the efficiency of monitoring and reporting ad results. Furthermore, using first-party data and Search Ads 360’s machine learning allows users to manage ads in line with the business goals of clients.

1. What are Floodlight tags?

This article will introduce Floodlight tags, which are crucial for optimized bidding on Search Ads 360. 
We previously touched on the following two points when discussing automated bidding on Search Ads 360. These are also made possible by implementing Floodlight tags (and activities).

  • Feature 1: Bidding across Google ads and Yahoo! Ads
  • Feature 2: Eliminating duplicate conversions

    But Floodlight tags come equipped with more features.

  • Feature 3: Customizing count methods
    Floodlight tags can count conversions that occur on a website in two ways: Counter activity and sales activity. As Figure 1 shows, both methods can be defined in multiple ways. In addition, conversions can be counted using a method defined by the user.
(Figure 1: How Floodlight counts conversions)
  • Feature 4: Custom Floodlight tag variables
    In addition to customizing the counting method, Floodlight tags can also capture information other than basic information (visits and revenue) that can be collected with the standard parameters of a typical tag.

    In order to capture non-basic information with Floodlight tags, custom Floodlight tag variables must be configured. By setting custom variables in the tag, users can retrieve any value related to each conversion that the Floodlight tag records, for example, the genre of the product the customer purchased, or the customer value assigned.

    Obtaining data using custom Floodlight tag variables makes it possible to create bidding strategies that give higher weights to conversions with high customer value and lower weights to conversions with low customer value, thereby creating bidding strategies that focus on arbitrary conversions and deliver ads. The function used to create this bidding strategy is known as the formula column function.
(Figure 2: Comparison of ordinary tags and custom Floodlight tag variables)

2.  Search Ads 360’s unique formula column function

The formula column function is a unique feature of Search Ads 360 that generates customized items with data calculated using a specified formula. Using the Formula Columns feature eliminates the need for users to process data in separate files after downloading reports, even if they need to apply their own calculations when reporting. In addition, formula columns can be created directly from the Search Ads 360 administrator page, where values can be checked.

(Figure 3: Creating formula columns in the Search Ads 360 administrator page)

As mentioned in the previous section, creating bidding strategies that optimize according to a formula column is also possible. Search Ads 360’s unique formula column feature allows for advanced bidding strategies that are not possible with media bidding.

  • Smart bidding using machine learning
    A new type of ad delivery that uses the formula column functionality of Search Ads 360 to weight the intended conversions while tracking the number of conversions is called Smart Bidding. Using the custom bidding feature of Display & Video 360, which is also a Google Marketing Platform ad delivery platform, users can adjust the weighting of impressions tied to conversions in a pseudo-weighted manner so that more high-value conversions can be obtained even with display ads. Smart Bidding is a service that allows clients to bid on the most valuable conversions.

    Smart Bidding solves the problem of not being able to acquire conversions with high customer value in cases where a client company has multiple services or products, or in business models where the value of a single conversion differs depending on the length of usage. It also enables ad delivery more in line with the client company’s business goals.

    For example, if the client’s business model is to convert new and existing users to purchases, and the client’s business goal is to increase the number of new users, the value of each conversion will be the same because the general target CPA bidding treats new and existing conversions equally. It’s therefore difficult to increase the number of new conversions.

    In addition, with ordinary goal-oriented ROAS bidding, conversion values are weighted while maximizing advertising cost-effectiveness. This is an operational method that emphasizes advertising cost-effectiveness, not maximizing the number of conversions, so there is a possibility that the overall number of conversions will decrease, or that the bidder will focus on acquiring existing customers. Smart Bidding, on the other hand, aims to maximize the number of conversions while increasing the number of new users.
(Figure 4: Search Ads 360 formula column overview)

Next, we’ll introduce several patterns of how Floodlight tag variables are used beyond formula columns.

  • Weighting sub-goals (micro-conversions) using formula columns
    If the advertising budget is small, or if the product is expensive and is a once-in-a-lifetime purchase, or if the user needs time to gather information and consider the product and acts with caution, only a few conversions may be obtained per month.

    As a solution to this problem, micro-conversions can be set up. Intermediate points leading up to the final conversion can also be defined as conversion points to compensate for the amount of data. However, since media bidding treats final conversions and micro-conversions equally with the same value, many users may have experience with seeing increases in micro-conversions while seeing no improvement in final conversions.

    With Search Ads 360’s formula column feature, users can optimize their bids by focusing on the core final conversion and taking into account the number of micro conversions. For example, if a user clicks on an ad and the lead path transitions from (1) website visit, (2) cart addition, and (3) purchase completion (final conversion), it’s possible to use a formula column to assign a weight such as (1) website visit x 0.1 + (2) cart addition x 0.5 + (3) purchase completion x 1.0. Thus, it’s possible to increase the number of objects included in the bidding strategy and maximize the data used for machine learning, while still achieving ad delivery focused on (3) purchase completion.

3. Summary

This article introduced Search Ads 360’s unique Floodlight conversion tag and the formula column feature. If you’re interested in using Search Ads 360’s formula column feature, feel free to contact us.

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