Timeline for lead-generating bid strategies

Month 1    

Pre-implementation
  1. Determine your goals. For example:

    • Spend all budget and increase leads

    • Drive acquisitions at fixed CPA

  2. Use bid strategy opportunities to find groups of campaigns that share the same goals and that have similar historical performance. (You can also manually identify  the campaigns.) Each group will be managed as a separate portfolio. For example:

    • Portfolio A: Campaigns that need to drive leads.
    • Portfolio B:  Campaigns that need to drive revenue.

    Try to limit the number of portfolios so that each portfolio contains a large number of keywords. Bid strategies with a large number of keywords and high traffic volume allow DS algorithms more flexibility to reach your goals most efficiently. If it isn’t possible currently to consolidate campaigns into just a few portfolios, work over time to consolidate them.

  3. A bid strategy opportunity will calculate a starting target for each portfolio (such as average CPA or monthly budget).

    If you perform the calculations yourself, be sure to use recent performance to make sure your starting targets are reasonable: 
    Determine a control period from the recent past (for example, 6 typical weeks during the past 90 days) and compare your starting targets with the control period performance. If performance during the control period is far off from your targets, either:

    • Adjust your targets to be more in line with recent performance.

    • Or, be aware that your targets might result in drastic bid changes made by the DS bid strategy. It may be difficult to assess the performance of the bid strategy if your starting targets are very different from the control period.

    If you're using a CPA target, try starting with a CPA that differs no more than 10% from the recent 6 week performance.

  4. Label all keywords within each portfolio to simplify your performance monitoring and reporting. For example, label all keywords in portfolio A with "Drive leads," and all keywords in portfolio B with "Drive revenue."

  5. Determine the source of the conversions you want to optimize:

    If the conversion volume from your primary conversion tag is low (for example under 20 per week), consider using an additional tag or consolidating portfolios. For example:

    1. A site records only a few conversions per day on its "thank you" page.
    2. Customers typically navigate through 4 pages before arriving at the "thank you" page.
    3. You can add a tag to record activity on pages 1 and 2, and then include those tags in your bid strategy.
      Increasing the volume of users who get to pages 1 or 2 may eventually increase the number of users reaching your "thank you" page.

 

Month 2    

Implementation
  1. You can create a Smart Bidding strategy using a bid strategy opportunity's recommendations  or create a Smart Bidding strategy for each portfolio you identified during pre-implementation.
    Be sure to set min bid and max bid limits that are wide enough to allow the bid strategy freedom to optimize.

    Bid strategies need at least 3 weeks of conversion data before they can optimize bids. Be sure that the majority of keywords or product groups in the portfolio you identify has been driving traffic to your conversions for at least 3 weeks.

    If there's a significant difference between the time a click occurs and the time a conversion that is attributed to the click occurs (referred to as conversion delay), a bid strategy requires more time (3 weeks plus the conversion delay) to effectively optimize bids.  For example, if the average conversion delay for the portfolio is 2 weeks, the bid strategy will require 5 weeks of historical data to optimize bids.

    In addition, you'll need more than 20 conversions per week for the bid strategy to be effective. If the conversions in your portfolio don't add up to at least 20 per week, try adding more campaigns or more conversions.

  2. Apply the bid strategy to your portfolio.

Post-implementation

View and understand performance

  • Allow 2 to 4 weeks before assessing performance or changing targets. 
    1. Week 1: Do nothing. Allow time for the bid strategy to calibrate performance.
    2. Week 2: Use the Bid strategy health column to see if any constraints you specified are slowing optimization.
    3. Week 3: Do nothing. Allow time for the calibrated settings to collect performance metrics.
    4. Week 4 onwards: When assessing bid strategy performance, don't include the calibration period in the analysis.
  • Generate and save reports with actionable metrics:
    1. Create Floodlight activity columns that contain the Floodlight activities in the bid strategy. Add the columns to a Keywords, Ad Groups, or Campaigns report.
    2. Also add these columns:
      • Bid strategy health: Question answered:
        If there’s one thing I should change about this bid strategy, what is it?
      • % of optimal cost - Question answered: 
        Does the bid strategy think it’s over- or under-spending?

      Learn more about other columns for understanding bid strategy performance.

    3. Compare the current two-week date range with the control period as a quick way to measure performance changes.
    4. In the Keyword report, change the performance summary graph to chart max CPC.
      Question answered:
      What exact changes has the bid strategy made to my keywords?
    5. Save the view so you can return to it periodically and assess performance over time.
  • Periodically view a more detailed change history.

Fine tune bid strategy settings

  • Use the bid strategy forecast to find the ideal trade-off between cost and conversion volume. If possible, adjust bid strategy targets to achieve the ideal.
  • Ignore invalid or inaccurate data. If some of the conversion data is inaccurate or missing (for example, caused by a web site outage), you can set up the bid strategy to ignore it.

Common mistakes to avoid

  • Changing targets and constraints too frequently or too drastically.
    Make changes no more than frequently than once a week, and no more than 10% each time.
    Best practice: assess every 3 weeks and make small changes if necessary.
  • Adding many new keywords or product groups without adjusting targets.
  • Making changes on the engine without syncing. You may have introduced constraints on the engine that block the bid strategy from optimizing effectively, but that aren't reported in DS.
    Best practice: schedule a nightly recurring sync.
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