Welcome to the help center for Search Ads 360, a platform for managing search marketing campaigns.  While the help center is available to the public, access to the Search Ads 360 product is available only to subscribing customers who are signed in. To subscribe or find out more, contact our sales team.

Create formula columns

Use a formula column in a Search Ads 360 bid strategy

Use your own KPIs to optimize bids

If the standard bid strategy goals (Clicks, Conversion, Revenue, and so on) don't meet your needs, you can create a formula column that defines your own KPIs, and then create a bid strategy that optimizes to the formula column. You can include the same formula column in your reports to track progress towards your custom goal.

Here's an overview of the process:

  1. First, create a formula column that:

    • Adds the value of two or more conversion or revenue columns.

    • Optionally adjusts the values by multiplying a positive number.

    For example, (.5 * Column_1 + .1 * Column_2 + Column_3)

    Formula columns that subtract, divide, or multiply existing columns (Column_1 * Column_2) cannot be used in a bid strategy.

  2. After you create a formula column, follow these steps:

    1. Create a bid strategy and select Conversion or Revenue as the goal.
    2. In the Target section, select one of the targets described below and enter a target amount.
      If you specified this goal... Select...
      Conversions CPA
      Revenue A Revenue metric, such as ERS or ROAS
    3. In the Conversion source dropdown, select Formula columns.
    4. In the Formula column dropdown, select the formula column you created.
      The dropdown lists all formula columns that have been created for your advertiser and that are applicable to the bid strategy goal you selected.

      Once you save the bid strategy, you can't edit the formula column as long as it's used by the bid strategy.
    5. Apply constraints, optionally configure advanced options, and click Save Bid Strategy.

Search Ads 360 automatically adds the formula column to the following views in bid strategy reports. (You can select one of these views from the View menu, which is available in the toolbar above the performance summary graph.)

  • Performance view
  • Bid strategy performance view
  • Impact analysis view


Can't edit custom columns that are in use

When you add a custom column—such as a formula column or a Floodlight activity column—to a bid strategy or conversion goal, you can't edit or remove the column as long as it's being used. Here are some options if you want to make changes to a custom column:

Bid strategy

  • Create a new custom column that contains the edits you want. Then use the new column in your reports, or edit the bid strategy to use the new column instead of the old column.
  • If want to remove a custom column but the bid strategy is also removed, follow these steps:
    • Find the removed bid strategy and click on it. 
    • After you've opened the bid strategy, click the edit button to navigate to its settings.
    • Click on Target.
    • Now, either change the conversion source, or the referenced column.

Conversion goal 

Conversion goals can't be edited. If you want to use a different custom column in a conversion goal, create a new goal and select the custom column as the conversion source. Then you can use the conversion goal in campaigns and bid strategy opportunities. You can't select a different conversion goal in a budget plan.

More about formulas you can use in a Search Ads 360 bid strategy

Here’s the basic form of the equation to follow when creating your formula:
m_1 * Column_1 + m_2 * Column_2 + m_n * Column_n

In the formula above:

  • m is a positive number
  • Each column uses the same attribution model
  • Column is a positive number derived from either of the following:
    • An existing column that contains actions, transactions, or revenue from Floodlight activities.
    • A formula column that follows the formula described above. 

    When you create or edit a formula column, a message appears at the bottom of the editor that indicates whether the column can be used in a bid strategy.

    Before you create a formula column that contains data from a Floodlight column, make sure that all Floodlight activities match the Floodlight column's data type. You’ll only be able to use the formula column in a bid strategy if all Floodlight activities match the data type. Learn more in the following section on Floodlight columns.

If you have different types of data in your columns, you’ll need to use the to_money() or to_number() cast operators in the formula. For example, if you’re combining the number of a conversion with the associated revenue, you’ll either need to convert both values to money or to plain numbers.

You can use different forms of the basic formula, as long as they are variations of the basic formula. For example, you could use these formulas in a bid strategy:

  • Column_1 + Column_2
  • m_1 * (Column_1 + Column_2)

For example, you can use the following formulas in a bid strategy:

Example formula Description
Actions + Trans + GA_Goals Sums up the total number of conversions from all conversion sources.
0.8 * Revenue Applies a deduction to gross revenue.
to_money(5 * c:"FL_Newsletter sign-up"
+ c:"FL_Toaster Revenue")
Assigns a revenue value to the custom c:“FL_Newsletter sign-up” Floodlight column ($5 per action) and adds it to the revenue from toaster sales.
to_money(1.50 * c:"GA_10_minute_session"
+ c:"FL_ticket_revenue"
+ c:"FL_package_revenue")
Assigns a revenue value to the c:"GA_10_minute_session" Google Analytics activity column, a custom column that counts the number of users who have spent 10 minutes reading about vacation packages. Then adds that value to the revenue from ticket sales and package sales (both of which are recorded by separate custom Floodlight columns).

You would not be able to use the following formulas in a bid strategy:

Formula that can't be used in a bid strategy Description
Actions * Revenue Formulas that multiply column values can’t be used in a bid strategy.
IF (Actions > 10, Actions, Revenue) Formulas with functions can’t be used in a bid strategy.

Floodlight columns

You can use Floodlight columns to define custom KPIs, but make sure that all Floodlight activities in the column match the Floodlight column's data type.

For example, consider a Floodlight column with the following settings:

  • Metric type: Revenue
  • Floodlight activities:
    • "Thanks for purchase" of type Transaction
    • "Request a catalog" of type Action

This column’s data type is Revenue. It can’t be used in bid strategy because it contains an Action activity.

The following Floodlight column  can be used in a bid strategy because all of its activities match the column's data type:

  • Metric type: Revenue
  • Floodlight activities:
    • "Thanks for purchase" of type Transaction
    • "Offline - Merchant paperwork submitted" of type Transaction

Google Analytics activity columns

You can use Google Analytics activity columns that report conversions or revenue to define custom KPIs for a bid strategy.

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