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Welcome to the help center for DoubleClick Search, a platform for managing search marketing campaigns.  While the help center is available to the public, access to the DoubleClick Search product is available only to subscribing customers who are signed in. To subscribe or find out more, contact our sales team.

Gain insight into DS bid strategy performance

To understand the performance of a DS bid strategy, add analysis columns to the bid strategy reporting tables:

  1. Navigate to an advertiser.

    Steps for navigating to an advertiser
    1. Click the navigation bar to display navigation options.

    2. In the Agency list, click on the agency that contains the advertiser. You can search for an agency by name or scroll through the list.

    3. In the Advertiser list, click on the advertiser.

    4. Click Apply or press the Enter key.

    DoubleClick Search displays the advertiser page, which contains data for all of the advertiser’s engine accounts.

  2. In the left navigation panel, click Bid strategies.

  3. Select a date range that begins on or after the day that you applied the bid strategy to campaigns, ad groups, or biddable items.

  4. Add any of the columns described below.

  5. To focus on the performance of specific biddable items, click the name of a bid strategy in the Bid strategies column, then click the Keywords or Product groups tab.

Reporting columns for analyzing bid strategy performance

Bid strategy column Description

% at max bid

% at min bid

The percentage of spend within the selected date range when biddable items reached their effective maximum bid or minimum bid (either the maximum and minimum bid for the bid strategy or, for those biddable items that set their own max and min bids, the settings you have specified for individual biddable items).

For example, in a seven-day time period, 100 keywords out of 1000 reached their maximum bids totaling $100. The total spend for all 1000 keywords is $1000. The % at max bid for the seven days would be 10%.

You may want to take action if the percentage is high, as you might not achieve your goals within the specified bid range. For example, if biddable items reached the max bid a high percentage of days, you may want to raise the effective max bids.

Optimal cost

The ideal amount to spend on conversions, based on the settings for a Conversions, Revenue, or Advanced Targeting bid strategy.

For example:

  • For CPA strategies, optimal cost is:
    target CPA × number of conversions
    For example, a CPA target of $10 × 100 conversions = $1,000 optimal cost
  • For ERS strategies, optimal cost is:
    target ERS × amount of revenue
    For example, an ERS target of 15% × $10,000 revenue = $1,500 optimal cost
  • For Advanced Targeting bid strategies, DS calculates a separate optimal cost for each target. However, the Optimal cost column displays the aggregated optimal cost from all targets. For example, you're managing a set of keywords related to car rentals and you set up separate Floodlight activities and bid strategy targets for car rentals, hotel rooms, airfare, and cruise packages. DS calculates the optimal costs as follows:
    • 20 car rental conversions × $9 CPA goal = $180 optimal cost
    • 5 hotel room conversions × $20 CPA goal = $100 optimal cost
    • 5 airfare conversions × $30 CPA goal = $150 optimal cost
    • 1 cruise conversion × $700 CPA goal = $700 optimal cost
    • The total optimal cost is $1130, which is what appears in the Optimal cost column.

Optimal cost is calculated each day based on the day's metrics. For example, if you change your target today, DS doesn't update the optimal cost from last week. Optimal cost always reflects the status of your settings on a given day.

DoubleClick Search displays an optimal cost of 0 for bid strategies with Position goals because there is no associated CPA or ERS.

% of optimal cost

The proportion of actual cost to optimal cost in a Conversions, Revenue, or Advanced Targeting bid strategy, expressed as a percent. This is calculated as
(actual cost / optimal cost) * 100.

Bid strategy is on target

A value of 100% indicates that your actual cost was exactly on target with your bid strategy.

Bid strategy spend is less than optimal

A value less than 100% indicates that the bid strategy spent less than the optimal cost during the time range of the report.

There are many reasons that % of optimal cost could be less than 100%. For example:

  • Maximum bid settings prevent the bid strategy from spending an optimal amount. See the % cost err at max bid column for details.
  • The campaign's budget is limiting spend. If this is the case, consider increasing the campaign's budget.
  • Low volume in the bid strategy. For example, if a bid strategy has only an average of two conversions per day, over the short term, the % optimal cost will fluctuate more than a high-volume bid strategy. If you're seeing a low number of conversions, add more campaigns to bid strategy and/or add more conversion targets.

Bid strategy spend is more than optimal

A value greater than 100% indicates that the bid strategy spent more than the optimal cost during the time range of the report.

Bid strategies attempt to make the overall CPA, ERS, or ROAS meet your goal. It's possible that during a short period of time, the actual cost is higher than your goal. When this occurs, the bid strategy will automatically adjust bids down to bring overall cost closer to your goal.

% cost err at max bid

% cost err at min bid

The percentage of cost error in a Conversions, Revenue, or Advanced Targeting bid strategy that can be attributed to bid limits.

Cost error is the difference between optimal cost (the amount you should have spent) and actual cost (the amount that was spent). It is calculated as optimal cost - actual cost.

Many factors can prevent a bid strategy from spending the optimal amount, such as:

  • Your competitors' bids fluctuate unexpectedly.
  • You set bid limits that are too narrow. The % cost err at max bid and % cost err at min bid columns display the proportion of cost error caused by bid limits that are too narrow.

To lower these percentages, you may want to adjust your max bid or min bid. For example:

  • A value of 30 in the % cost err at max bid columns: 30% of errors are caused by DoubleClick Search wanting to raise a bid to help reach the cost goal, but being prevented from doing so because it already reached the max bid value. To lower this percentage of error, you may want to increase your max bid.
  • A value of 20 in the % pos error at min bid column: 20% of errors are caused by DoubleClick Search wanting to lower a bid to help reach the position goal, but being prevented from doing so because it already reached the min bid value. To lower this percentage of error, you may want to decrease your min bid.

Diff from target pos

The difference between the actual position in which your search ads appear and the bid strategy's target position.

  • Negative values indicate that ads appear higher up on the search page than the target. The minimum bid that you set for the bid strategy or for individual keywords may be preventing the bid strategy from bidding lower and therefore achieving a lower ad position.
  • Positive values indicate ads appear lower down on the search page than the target. The maximum bid that you set for the bid strategy or for individual keywords may be preventing the bid strategy from bidding higher and therefore achieving a higher keyword position.

To calculate the difference from target position, DS uses the bid strategy's target position to derive the average position error, and then weights the position error by impressions. 

​​​The information in the remainder of this section explains bid strategy target positions and position errors, and calculates the difference from target position in examples. 

Target position for keywords

In a bid strategy with a Position goal, the target position comes from the position specified in the bid strategy.

In other types of bid strategies in which you optionally specify a position constraint, the bid strategy attains the target position based on the bid strategy's minimum bid and maximum bid settings and keyword performance. If you explicitly set a position constraint, the ideal target may be beyond the bounds of the constraint; the bid strategy will always bid to keep the position within the constraint and ignore the ideal target.

Position error

The position error is calculated differently depending on whether a lowest position constraint is set. 

If a lowest position constraint is specified for a keyword, the position error is the difference between the actual average position and the position range (target position to lowest position, which is the ideal range of positions).

Note that if a keyword's position is within the position range, the position error is 0.

If a lowest position constraint isn't specified for a keyword, the position error is the difference between the actual average position and the bid strategy's position target.

Example with a lowest position constraint:

  1.  A bid strategy targets position 1.
  2. The bid strategy's lowest position is 4.
  3. A keyword's average position is 5.5.
  4. The position error is 1.5, which is the difference between the average position and the lowest position within the targeted range (5.5 - 4).

Example without a lowest position constraint:

  1. A bid strategy targets position 2.
  2. A keyword's average position is 5.5.
  3. The position error is 3.5, which is the difference between the actual average position and the target position.

Many factors can contribute to create a position error, such as:

  • Your competitors' bids fluctuate unexpectedly.
  • You set a position target that can't be achieved by the position bid strategy.
  •  You set a position constraint that is too narrow in an ROI or clicks bid strategy.

Difference from target position

To calculate the difference from target position, DS takes the average position error and weights it by impressions.

For example, consider a bid strategy with a target position range of 1.0 and a lowest position constraint of 4.0 for one keyword. The bid strategy runs for two days. If the keyword receives 1,000 impressions with an average position of 2.0 on the first day, and 500 impressions with an average position of 5.5 on the second day, the average position for the bid strategy is:

  • (2.0 x 1,000 + 5.5 x 500) / 1,500 = 3.83

3.83 is within the target position range, so you might think the error is 0. However, in reality one-third of the impressions were not in the position range.

The Diff from target pos column adds up keyword-level position error values, weighted by the keyword's impressions:

  • (0 x 1000 + 1.5 x 500) / 1,500 = 0.5

In the calculation above, the error value for the first day is 0 because the position of 2.0 is within the target range of 1.0 - 4.0. To calculate the error value for the second day, DS takes the difference from the second day position (5.5) to the lower end of the target range (4.0), and the result is 1.5. DS then weights the result by the number of impressions (500) and divides the whole term by all impressions (1,500).

% pos err at max bid

% pos err at min bid

The percentage of position error that can be attributed to biddable items being constrained by a position target that you set in a Position bid strategy or a position constraint you set in other types of bid strategies.

For example:

  • A value of 30 indicates that 30% of errors are caused by DoubleClick Search wanting to raise a keyword's bid to help reach the position goal, but is prevented from doing so because it already reached the maximum bid value.
  • A value of 30 indicates that 30% of errors are caused by DoubleClick Search wanting to lower a keyword's bid to help reach the position goal, but is prevented from doing so because it already reached the minimum bid value.

To lower these percentages:

  • In a Position bid strategy, change the bid strategy's target position or, if you've set a lowest position constraint, change the constraint. 
  • In ROI bid strategies, you may want adjust your top position and bottom position settings.
Within these percentages, there may occasionally be factors outside bid constraints that caused the errors.
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