Google: AdWords

Making good things better is… good. Take campaign-level audiences — they’re good, but wouldn’t meta-campaign-level audiences be even better? Sure.

To reiterate, campaign level audiences are great. You don’t have quite as fine control as with ad group-level audiences (and it’s annoying you can’t have ad group and campaign audiences together!), but they’re much easier to keep track of, because there are a lot fewer of them.

(Plus, there’s a pesky limit of 5 million ad group targeting criteria in an account — which sounds like a lot but is easy to eat up when you’ve got lots of keywords, lots of negatives, a granular structure, duplication for different locations, and then want a handful of audiences in each group.)

But there’s still some slightly tedious work involved in making sure you’ve attached audiences to all campaigns. And not to be rude to humans, but this does leave room for some good old human error (e.g., forgetting to add to new campaigns, for whatever reason).

Obviously, the tech team at Brainlabs (my employer) couldn’t resist the opportunity for some script-based innovation. It’s a bit like the one I shared a few months ago to copy extensions and lists across your account, which was a classic. You set up the audiences (and bid adjustments) you want in one campaign, then the script uses that as a template and copies those audiences to all the other campaigns.

The script won’t remove existing audiences, but if a campaign was already targeting an audience, then the bid modifier may be overwritten. So, when audiences have been copied into a campaign, that campaign is labeled so the script ignores it on future runs — then you can exclude the audiences or change the modifiers however you like. You can rerun the script whenever you feel like it, to make sure any new campaigns have the audiences set up, and it won’t mess up the tweaks you’ve made in the old campaigns.

Sadly, you have to delete any ad group-level audiences before running the script. If there’s a campaign that has ad group audiences, even if they’re paused, then the script can copy campaign-level negative audiences, but not positive ones.

If you want to give it a go, copy the code below into a new AdWords Script in your account. Then change some of the options:

  • campaignNameContains is used to filter the campaigns the script looks at: if you only want the script to look at campaigns which have certain words or phrases in the names, put those words or phrases in the square brackets, in double quotes and separated with commas. For example, if campaignNameContains is ["Brand", "Generic"], then only campaigns with names containing “brand” or “generic” are included.
  • campaignNameDoesNotContain is the same, but for words or phrases in the names of campaigns you want the script to ignore. For example, if campaignNameDoesNotContain is ["Display", "Competitor"], then any campaigns with names containing “display” or “competitor” are ignored.
    • campaignNameContains and campaignNameDoesNotContain are not case-sensitive.
    • Leave them blank, [], to cover all campaigns.
    • If you need to put a double quote into either, put a backslash before it.
  • If ignorePausedCampaigns is true, then the script will only look at currently active campaigns. Set this to false if you want to apply audiences to currently paused campaigns.
  • If includeShoppingCampaigns is true, the audiences will be copied to Shopping campaigns, as well as Search campaigns.
  • campaignToCopy is the name of the template campaign whose audiences will be copied. This is case-sensitive.
    • The template campaign can be paused, but it can’t be removed.
  • labelName is the name of the label which will be applied to campaigns once they’ve had the audiences added. This means you can see which campaigns have been covered. Campaigns that already have the label will be ignored; if the script doesn’t cover them all in one run, it can go again until it covers them all.

Remember, you need to delete all ad group-level audiences before running the script! Otherwise you’ll get errors where the audiences couldn’t be added. If you have campaigns where you want to keep the ad group audiences, you may want to get the script to skip over them entirely: you can put their names in campaignNameDoesNotContain, or you could label them with the labelName used to show which campaigns already have audiences.


  • This doesn’t work on Universal App or Video campaigns.
  • Scripts can only run for 30 minutes, which may not be enough time if you’ve got lots of campaigns or lots of audiences. But if the script times out, you can just run it again — it will say in the logs when everything has been covered.

The post Here’s a script that copies audiences to all your campaigns appeared first on Search Engine Land.


In February, Google kicked out the “Ad” label with the green background in favor of a version with a thin green border on a white background. We’ve updated our look back at the way Google has treated ad labeling in its search results, first published July 25, 2016.

The debut of Google’s short-lived green “Ad” label on text ads in the search results had marked the first time the color of an ad demarcation was the same color as an element in both the ads and organic listings: the display URL. The green border and font used in the latest variation is also the same color as display URLs.

Below is a look at the major updates to the treatment of Google text ads.

In 2007, there was the shift from the long-standing blue to yellow. In 2008, Google briefly tested green before reverting back to yellow. Google tested variations including bright blue and a light pinkish-purple in 2010, and the pinkish-purple replaced the yellow, but that only lasted about a year before yellow reappeared in 2011. In 2013, Google tweaked the yellow to a paler shade. At the end of 2013, Google began testing a yellow ad label next to each text ad in the mainline and removed the background shading. The yellow “Ad” label rolled out globally in 2014 in a much smaller size than first appeared in the initial testing. That label size hasn’t changed from the solid green of 2016 and the outlined version of today.

Google labels its text ads nearly the same way across mobile and desktop, including mobile web and Google iOS and Android search apps. The one difference is that Google displays the “i” (more information) icon that explains why those ads are showing is included next to each text ad in mobile web and app results. It does not show at all with text ads on desktop. The 2017 ad in the graphic above is from mobile.

More above-the-fold monetization

Trying to see how the ad labeling helps distinguish ads from organic content isn’t as easy as it used to be. On desktop, there is typically a small amount of space visible above the fold below the four ads, but that real estate sometimes shows a map (as in the first example below) or image results. For results with ads on mobile, three of the four text ads, or one text ad and product listing ads, are typically all that’s visible above the fold. This is how the search results looked last year on desktop, mobile web and the Google app when the green background debuted.


Clockwise from top: Google search results on desktop, iOS app and mobile web

Here’s an example of what the results look like now. Expanded text ads have rolled out. In the mobile and app results, the top ad is enormous, displaying with sitelinks, rating annotations and three location extensions.


In this example with product listing ads, arguably the most prominent feature on both mobile results is the distance callout in the first ad, which is a local inventory ad.


Results with product listing ads. Clockwise from top: Google search results on desktop, iOS app, and mobile web

Not much has changed, though now the longer vertical format from mobile has been brought over to desktop. This desktop shows six PLAs, but Google sometimes shows blocks of nine.

In fall 2015, I surveyed how Google, Bing and Yahoo each treat ads from organic content in search results. That was a follow-up from a prior look in 2013. From the loss of background shading to the adoption of an ad label that is the same color as the display URL it appears next to, Google’s ad labeling has grown increasingly more subtle. That said, it remains head and shoulders above the other search engines in terms of disclosures. Bing labels ads with a very subtle gray “Ad” label. The exception is in the Bing app, where the “Ads” label above the product ads is in Bing’s teal, as shown in the 2016 examples below. Bing now uses all-caps “AD” in its labels, and the “ADS” label in the app is now less bold.


Clockwise from top: 2016 Bing search results on desktop, iOS app, and mobile web

Our 2013 look at search engine ad disclosures came shortly after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) noted a “decline in compliance” of search engines to clearly differentiate ads from organic listings and issued and called for clearer design treatment for ads suggesting:

(1) more prominent shading that works across monitor and device types, or

(2) a prominent border, or

(3) both.

Now, four years later, disclosures are as subtle, or even more subtle than they were then. In May 2016, Sundeep Jain, who oversees text ads at Google, told the audience at SMX Advanced that the green ad label was chosen to simplify the colorscape on mobile.

“We want to make it easier for users to digest information on the page, so we’re gradually trying to reduce the number of variations of colors and patterns on the page and bring a little bit more harmony to the page, which is why we reduced one of the color elements on the page,” Jain said.

Google also stressed that testing showed consumers were no more confused about what was an ad and what was unpaid when the label was green than when it was yellow. It did so again with this latest version.

The post UPDATED: A visual history of Google ad labeling in search results appeared first on Search Engine Land.



The testing and implementation of ad copy in AdWords has become increasingly important — and increasingly difficult. This is a result of the paradigm shifts in AdWords account structures. The ad copy advice that follows can help improve ad copy relevance easily, at scale.

Shift in AdWords account structures

Throughout 2016, we have seen a major debate regarding the concept of AdWords account structures. Regardless of your stance, one major shift that we’ve seen over the past two years is search engine marketers reducing the number of keywords per ad group within their Google and Bing accounts.

Whether that’s moving to Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) or to flexible account structures, there is no debate that account structures have been shifting toward an increase in the number of ad groups within each account. Reading summaries on these account structure shifts is definitely a valuable way to spend time if you’re not familiar with some of these changes. (Now is definitely a good time to re-evaluate your AdWords account structure.)

Increasing the number of ad groups creates new challenges

As implied in the name, using Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) will increase the number of ad groups within your AdWords account. As a result, extremely relevant ad copy becomes both achievable and necessary; however, the implementation and maintenance work involved can make this transition overwhelming.

Here is an ad copy hack to help you ensure that the Pathway 1 and Pathway 2 combinations in your ads are not only specific to your search term, but are readable, relevant and help improve your Quality Scores.

Why the pathway?

If you’re a practitioner of SKAGs, you probably know that a best practice for managing SKAGs is having your search term somewhere in your display URL pathway.

Pathways are arguably the most underrated portion of your ad copy in AdWords. The impact of a good URL + pathway combination is twofold:

  1. It increases the relevancy of your ad to the user’s perception.
  2. It improves Google’s perception of your ad and the experience someone may be looking for.

If your keyword for a particular ad group is “Buy Awesome Stuff,” then your ad with optimized pathway copy might look like this:


Okay, so what is the hack?

So, we know that we are going to have really specific ads for each ad group. Now what? We want SEMs to utilize the Keywords report for a campaign and create very specific combinations of Pathway 1 and Pathway 2 for each ad based on these unique keywords.

Doing this at scale can be incredibly challenging, but I will show you how to do it easily. Through this method, the information downloaded from your Keywords report is transformed into a feed that can be dynamically inserted into your ad copy using a few preferred technologies.

Let’s look at how we do this:

1. Download your Keywords report and match the keywords to Ad Group ID # automatically.

  • Go to your Keywords tab in AdWords.
  • Click the “Edit” drop-down.
  • Select the “Download Spreadsheet…” option.


2. Open your spreadsheet in Excel.

What you have now is a Keywords report with a ton of data in it. There are two key columns here, “Keyword” and “Ad group ID,” and these are matched up by row. So instead of using a Pivot table, you now just need to remove the stuff you don’t need.


3. Reduce the report into a spreadsheet that contains only our two necessary columns: Keyword and Ad Group ID.


4. Use “Find and replace” to eliminate the keyword modifiers.

“Find” the modifier and “replace with” nothing.


5. Optional: Convert your Keywords into proper text (first letter of all words being capital).

Do this if it makes the most sense for your Pathways. This step isn’t always necessary; it depends on your preference.


6. Remove spaces.

As we all know, we can’t have spaces in our display URLs. Use a “find and replace” to replace all of the spaces between your words with either nothing, “-” or “_” depending on what you prefer.

7. Transform your keywords into Pathways.

The next step is using your scrubbed keyword list to manually create Pathway 1s and Pathway 2s, which you will put in two separate columns. Remember, the character length is 15 for both Pathway 1 and Pathway 2, so you may be limited depending on the length of the keyword.

Scrubbing a list of keywords and manually transforming them into Pathway 1s and Pathway 2s is not as time-consuming as it may sound. Make decisions based on readability and which components within the search term are the most relevant to the searcher.

8. Separate your Pathway 1 and Pathway 2 lists into separate Excel files to create separate feeds.

Create two new individual Excel files, one for Pathway 1 and the other for Pathway 2. Each file should contain two columns: one for the Pathway (column A) and one for Ad Group ID (column B). These files will be used as feeds, which you can upload into AdWords.

A finished set of feeds will look like this…


Feed for Pathway 1

feed for pathway 2

Feed for Pathway 2

9. After you’ve completed your feeds, insert them into your ad copy.

Once your two feeds have been completed (individual feeds for both P1 and P2), you will need to upload them into AdWords. The idea here is to insert the pathways into your ads based on certain criteria — in this case, Ad Group ID #.

You can use AdWords ad customizers as one technology for this feed. Ad customizers are found under your “Shared Library” within AdWords, which will allow you to dynamically insert the pathways uniquely for each Ad Group ID.


For more detailed instructions on implementing ad customizers in AdWords, check out Google’s dcumentation here.

Measuring Quality Score over time

Implementing keyword-based pathways is a great way to boost Quality Scores relatively quickly. Take note of benchmark metrics prior to implementation, the ad groups/keywords that are included, and the overall Quality Score for this set of keywords. Once the ads have been implemented, allow one week to collect data, and then implement to another set of ad groups.

The goal here is to improve the Quality Scores of your account, one ad group set at a time, and allow Google’s perception of your ad relevance to improve as well.

The post Ad copy hack for your AdWords pathways appeared first on Search Engine Land.



AdGooroo has released its second look at the impact of Google eliminating text ads in the right rail on desktop search results. The two analyses — one on retail keywords, another on travel keywords — tell similar stories: a reduction in the number of advertisers competing in the auctions, slight increases in cost per click (CPC) on average, but big swings at the individual keyword level.

Across the set of top 20 travel keywords, AdGooroo monitors — comparing February 1–18 to February 19–March 28 — the number of advertisers bidding per keyword fell 15.4 percent, from an average of 38 advertisers bidding per keyword to an average of 32. The average CPC among the top 20 keywords increased by just three cents, on average (5.2 percent), from $2.65 to $2.68. That said, there was wide variation in performance at the individual keyword level. For contrast, note that “cancun all inclusive” CPC rose 35 percent, and “car rentals” rose 34 percent.

google right rail ads travel keywords adgooroo

On the whole, click-through rates increased 10 percent across the top 20 travel keywords. Just one keyword (“river cruises”) saw a slight decline of 3.3 percent in CTR.

In its earlier analysis of the top 20 retail keywords earlier this month — comparing February 1–18 to February 19–March 8 — AdGooroo found that competition was cut by 27 percent. The average CPC rose seven percent, with 14 out of 20 keywords seeing increases. However, again, several keywords saw significant decreases in CPC: “mobile phone” was off by 26 percent, “shoes” fell by 14 percent. Then there was the outlier, “samsung galaxy 26,” which rose by 108 percent.

Meanwhile, looking across 2,500 retail keywords, the average CPC increased just 1.8 percent, while the number of advertisers competing fell by 42 percent since the change went into effect.

google right rail impact on retail words

The post AdGooroo releases travel and retail keyword results after Google’s right rail ad change appeared first on Search Engine Land.



According to a survey by the National Retail Foundation (NRF), 55.8 percent of holiday shoppers will splurge on themselves and/or others for non-gift items. So one of the fun challenges toward the end of Q4 is that your demographics might start to blur a little bit.

If you’re a retailer, the people who are typically in your target market aren’t the only people you want to target — you also want to make sure you’re capitalizing on the people who want to buy them gifts.

Brand Searches

Branded searches become even more valuable during the holiday season. Consider this: You need to compete for the people who are buying gifts for your loyalists. Why? Because if competitors bid on your brand terms, a non-loyalist may not be able to distinguish your value from a competitor’s, especially if the other brand is recognizable or is perceived to be a better deal.

Conversely, a competitor bidding strategy can be valuable. If you sell similar products and boast a stronger value proposition, you may be able to nab some sales.

Gift Keywords

What better way to pick up those extra sales than to capture people who are so far behind that they don’t even know what they are buying yet.

Normally, these shoppers would be considered to be early in the buying cycle, but that ticking Christmas clock translates into low-hanging fruit for retailers.

Check out the 2015 Google Trends graph for gift-related searches. Look at all the potential!


Try to be as specific as possible with your gift keywords and ad copy. For example, the keyword “gift for teenage brother” gives you more information than “Christmas gifts.” Not only do you know who the gift is for, you also have some insight into who it is coming from, so that you can write your ad copy accordingly. Bonus points if you pair this with a useful on-site strategy that assists customers in the decision-making process.

Target’s on the right track with this strategy. The search “gift for teenage brother” serves a relevant ad, which routes to a gift selection page with categories. Clicking into the “Gifts for Him” section allows you to filter your selection.


Shareable Content & E-Gifting Made Easy

A great way to help increase sales throughout the holiday season is to ensure that your pages are conducive to sharing. Help your customers share their gift preferences and, in turn, build audiences based upon the consumers that come to the site as a result of receiving shared content. Some examples of useful features include:

  • Wishlist Creation & Sharing
  • Coupon & Promo Sharing
  • Product Sharing
  • Referrals

You can build audiences in Google Analytics based upon traffic sources (among many other criteria) so that you can add recipients of shared content to the appropriate lists for holiday RLSA and remarketing.

To take the ease of gifting one step further, e-gifting is a great way to take the hassle out of the holidays. Allowing customers to buy and email gift cards means that they don’t have to worry about shipping or wrapping.

Plus, they can easily get a gift to someone who doesn’t live nearby. Macy’s really kicked it up a notch this year, allowing customers to buy gifts online — but allowing the recipient to change the color or size before finalizing the order.

Remarketing Lists For Search

Your loyalists have to buy gifts, too, ya know! For starters, remarketing lists for search can be a pretty useful way to reduce the risk on the gift-related keywords because you know your audience is already familiar with your brand.

Moreover, remarketing lists can be valuable in capturing audiences that you’ve determined to be shopping for gifts. As mentioned above, you can build audiences based upon shared links, and you can also build audiences based upon people who have visited gift idea pages.

On the flip side, audiences can be used to create exclusions for people you may not want to pay for over and over based upon on-site actions. For instance, you might want to exclude people if they’ve made a recent purchase or if they immediately bounced within a few seconds of reaching your site. This can help you preserve budget for more lucrative searchers.


Appealing To Consumers

It’s the holiday season, and consumers are looking for a bargain — but whether or not you are running a sale might not be the most important deciding factor. The later in the season it gets, the more important convenience becomes. These research findings give you things to consider when writing your holiday ad copy:

  • According to the previously mentioned NRF survey, 46.5 percent of consumers intend to take advantage of retailers’ buy online, pick up in-store deals.
  • The same survey found that free shipping was the most anticipated promo, and a different study from Deloitte found that consumers prefer free shipping over faster shipping options.
  • Second to free shipping, consumers were looking for stores that offered flexible return policies.
  • The likelihood that consumers will search digitally for promos and deals varies by age and gender. Based upon an eMarketer study, females are more likely to seek out deals than males, and consumers ages 18–34 are more likely to seek out deals than consumers age 34 and up.

Make sure your messaging aligns with the people you are targeting, whether they’re your typical target market or the people who are shopping for them.

There’s Still Time To Bring People In-Store.

Next Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas, tends to bring in the most foot traffic of the holiday season for many stores. A Google study shows that, while electronic stores and cell phone stores top out on Black Friday, department stores, shopping malls, superstores and dollar stores tend to have higher in-store foot traffic on the last Saturday before Christmas.

As mentioned above, 46.5% of consumers intend to take advantage of ship-to-store features. Thirty-five percent say that they will shop for other items while in-store. For tips on bringing customers in-store, check out this article.

The post Grabbing Those Last-Minute Holiday Sales appeared first on Search Engine Land.



If you’re not already using AdWords conversion tracking or importing goals from Google Analytics into your AdWords account, the new Smart Goals might be the next best thing.

Smart Goals are powered by Google Analytics and designed to help businesses that don’t currently have a way to measure conversions and optimize their campaigns. There are thousands of advertisers in this position.

The key distinction is that Smart Goals don’t measure actions taken on an advertiser’s website, like conversion tracking and Analytics goals do. Instead, Smart Goals use the anonymized conversion data of other websites using Google Analytics to identify visits that are “most likely” to convert based on Google’s model. From the announcement:

To generate Smart Goals, we apply machine learning across thousands of websites that use Google Analytics and have opted in to share anonymized conversion data. From this information, we can distill dozens of key factors that correlate with likelihood to convert: things like session duration, pages per session, location, device and browser. We can then apply these key factors to any website. The easiest way to think about Smart Goals is that they reflect your website visits that our model indicates are most likely to lead to conversions.

To set up Smart Goals, you’ll need to link your Analytics and AdWords accounts. In Analytics, select Smart Goals under Goals in the Admin tab.

A nice feature is that Smart Goals don’t get activated automatically. You can see how well the Smart Goals model is working for your site before activating it by looking at a new “Smart Goals” page under Conversions in Analytics. Here you’ll be able to analyze the behavior of Smart Goals visits and compare it to those visits not deemed likely to convert. In the (somewhat extreme) example from Google below, the Smart Goals visits didn’t bounce, visited significantly more pages and stayed on-site longer than visits the model did not deem likely to convert.

smart goals adwords

If you’re satisfied with the results, you can then import Smart Goals into AdWords.

With Smart Goals imported, advertisers can set a target cost per acquisition (CPA) with the Smart Goal being the acquisition: “In this way, you’re able to optimize your AdWords spend based on the likelihood of conversion as determined by our model.”

Google says Smart Goals will be rolling out over the next few weeks. Also note that to be eligible, the Google Analytics view has to receive at least 1,000 clicks from AdWords over a 30-day period “to ensure the validity of your data.”


The post Google Launches Smart Goals For Advertisers That Don’t Have Conversion Tracking appeared first on Search Engine Land.


google-adwords-yellow2-1920Google has added three new reporting features for flexible bid strategies in AdWords.

New status annotations provide more information about each bidding strategy. For example, clicking on the “Learning” status annotation for a new or recently updated bidding strategy will show the number of days left for learning and the days since the last big change. This lets you know that AdWords is still optimizing bids and how long to wait before making other changes or analyzing baseline performance of the strategy.

status annotations bidding strategy adwordsAnother example of a status annotation is “Limited (bid limits)”. This annotation will show when there are minimum or maximum bid constraints in the strategy. Clicking on this annotation will show what percentage of impressions or spend is limited by the bidding constraints.

The full list of status annotations is available on this help page. You’ll need to enable “Bid strategy” and “Bid strategy type” columns to view bid strategy details.

In the Shared Library, two reports are now available to show bidding strategy performance over time at the bid strategy level.

Status over time reporting includes status annotations along the bottom of performance graphs to help shed light on what might be influencing bid strategy performance during a specific date range.

bid strategy reporting shared library google adwords

Target over time reporting will show the bidding strategy targets that were set during a time period on the performance chart so you can quickly see whether performance changes were likely tied to target changes.

The post Google Adds Reporting Features For AdWords Flexible Bid Strategies appeared first on Search Engine Land.


tracking conversions in adwords icon

To those of you who are still using Converted clicks as your primary success metric in AdWords: It’s time to change.

The era of the “Conversions” column is upon us. In the last few months, the “Conversions” column has gotten better and better. By following a handful of straightforward but oh-so-important steps, you can ensure that you’re using that column to the fullest of its abilities.

In case you haven’t given much thought to Converted clicks versus Conversions, here’s a good refresher. Basically, Converted clicks is very limited as a metric. It’s not customizable, you can’t segment or differentiate conversion types, and it doesn’t track some really cool stuff, like store visits or cross-device behavior. It only tracks whether or not a click led to a conversion (any type of conversion) later on.

The “Conversions” column, on the other hand, has a lot of great features to take advantage of. Let’s get into it.

A Recap Of Recent Changes

Back in September, Google introduced optimization settings for the “Conversions” column, along with the “All Conversions” column. Both changes are great, in my view, as you can now prioritize the stuff that’s most important to you for both reporting and bidding (in “Conversions”), while still keeping an eye on everything you’re tracking (in “All Conversions”). Search Engine Land Paid Media Reporter Ginny Marvin’s coverage of that announcement goes over the major takeaways.

In October, Google enabled reporting for cross-device conversions at the keyword level. This one was particularly exciting for me because it meant that it was now possible to include cross-device conversions in your “Conversions” column. Once you’ve checked the box to include cross-device conversions in that column, those conversions will be taken into account for your automated bidding. Here is Marvin’s take back when the announcement happened.

In short: The “Conversions” column is what you should be using (not the “Converted clicks” column), and you can take full advantage of the new features with a few simple steps.

1. Make The “Conversions” Column Your Single Source Of Truth

Why? Changing to a new column will be better for you long-term. It’s customizable and forward-looking.

If you’re still using Converted clicks in your reports, it’s time to move on. You and that column had a good run — great memories, wonderful months hitting performance goals, those glorious times visualizing Converted clicks in the Report Editor. Cherish the good times you had, but know that there’s an ice floe somewhere out there with your “Converted clicks” column’s name on it.

To make the shift to the new “Conversions” column, you’ll need to update your conversion bid metric settings.

updating the conversion bid metric in adwords

2. Decide Which Of The Actions You’re Tracking Should Count In Your “Conversions” Column

Why? The “Conversions” column dictates your bidding, so use it to count the actions that deliver value to you. Any micro-conversions you track will still be reported in the “All Conversions” column.

including conversions in the conversions column

I’m a big believer in tracking micro-conversions. I want to know every action people are taking on my site. But that doesn’t mean that each of those actions should dictate my bidding strategy.

By deciding what should and should not be counted in the “Include in ‘Conversions’” setting, you’ll have a great record of performance — one that’ll enable you to set the best bids possible. Then you can continue to keep an eye on All Conversions for supplementary insights.

(Quick note: If you can’t update “Include in ‘Conversions’” on your conversions tab, you should update your conversion bid metric first.)

3. Include Cross-Device Conversions In Your “Conversions” Column

Why? Users convert across devices. That’s simply how it is now. Plenty of journeys start as an ad click on one device and finish as a conversion on another. The better you are at observing that behavior, the better you can be at capitalizing on it with your AdWords strategy.

I think it’s so exciting that cross-device conversions can now be included in your “Conversions” column. Instead of doing your own calculations or piecing together some custom columns (which are great, by the way), you can tick one check box and include cross-device behavior in your standard performance reports. It’s a super-simple, yet incredibly valuable step, and it makes your “Conversions” column that much more useful, especially to use with automated bidding.

include advanced conversions in conversions column

4. Determine Whether To Count All Instances Of A Conversion Or Only Unique Conversions

Why? Bidding should be to the true value of your conversions, so know which interactions deliver value the second, third or fourth time around. If it only matters to you to have that first interaction, then only count that first interaction.

Many long-time AdWords users may still think of this as one-per-click vs. many-per-click conversions. You’re tracking someone’s behavior on your site. Does it matter if someone does that thing multiple times, or do you only care if they did that thing once?

Generally, this breaks down to sales versus lead generation, but there are plenty of other use cases. As you update your “Conversions” column, it’s a good idea to also re-evaluate how you’re tracking repeat converters.

Remember, when you’re editing your conversion settings, click on the blue, hyperlinked name of each conversion you’re tracking, then you’ll be able to edit its settings.

counting every vs. one conversion

5. Customize Your Conversion Windows And Values

Why? Time to purchase/conversion can vary, and so can the value of a conversion. Even for lead generation accounts, some leads might be more valuable than others. Longer conversion windows will give you more data to optimize with, and different conversion values will give you the chance to optimize more directly to revenue. Both of those things can be huge evolutionary leaps, depending on what’s most useful to your account.

Like one versus every instance of a conversion, conversion windows and values are most likely something that you’ve set up before. If you haven’t yet, now’s a great time to re-evaluate that. There are many things that are customizable for your conversion tracking, so it makes particular sense to customize time and money.

You can report on your conversion delay in AdWords to get a sense of how long it usually takes for conversions to occur. Look at your “from last click” numbers. If the last week or last few days of your conversion window are seeing a good number of conversions, it’s likely that you could be seeing even more conversions outside of the window you’re tracking. (Multi-Channel Funnels have this in Analytics, as well, if you want to view time lag across channels.)

updating conversion window length in adwords

updating conversion value in adwords

6. Re-Evaluate Keyword Performance And Your Bids Once You’ve Made Any Changes To Your “Conversions” Column

Why? Keywords may receive more or less credit with updated conversion settings, especially for things like cross-device behavior. Your bids should be updated to reflect the value that you’re now capturing in your “Conversions” column.

By now, you’ll ideally be in full control of the types of actions to capture in your “Conversions” column. Once that hugely important job is complete, your bids should be updated to reflect that new value. Whether using manual or automated bidding, you’ll want to double-check what you’re willing to pay for different keywords. Be sure your bids match the way that you’ve chosen to track value.


Conversion tracking in AdWords keeps getting better and better. With a few changes, you can set yourself up to track all of the valuable actions that users can take after a click on your ad. Make the “Conversions” column your single source of truth.

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four text ads in google search results

Example of Google showing four text ads on a search result page

We’ve received several reports of people seeing four text ads in Google search results on desktop over the past couple of months. For example, the screen shot above was sent by Frederick Hyland of S360 in Denmark last month. In all cases we’ve seen, four ads are served at the top, and no ads appear along the right rail; most reports have come from outside the US.

The company is, of course, always testing the way it displays ads. Google actually first began experimenting with four text ads in 2010, as we reported then. We’ve been told that four ads are only showing on a small number of queries now and that the test is not permanent.

More ads, in turn, can mean less above-the-fold real estate for organic listings, though more and more, there isn’t much real estate available to organic to begin with. On mobile, we’ve seen two ads often take up the full screen, just as three ads do, depending on the number of ad extensions Google opts to show. In this cheeky tweet by Moz’s Pete Meyers, a screenshot shows that four ads and a mortgage calculator push all of the organic links below the fold.

While we’re on the topic of “mortgage calculator,” here’s a preview from of what many Californians will be seeing with more frequency: a sponsored listing for Google Compare for Mortgages. That product launched in California last month and will follow in other states.


Here the sponsored Compare listing is displaying with two ads above it, though others have seen more top ads showing along with the Compare spot. On my laptop screen, just the title of the first organic listing is viewable above the fold.

From the sound of it, four ads won’t be rolling out more fully any time soon, yet how long this particular experiment will run is not clear. And if history is any gauge, it likely won’t be the last time we see this tested.

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Shopping campaigns, or Product Listing Ads (PLAs), have proved revolutionary for AdWords e-commerce. They combine a visually engaging experience on the search results page with the ability to instantly compare prices across retailers.

In fact, these ads have been such a success that Google has continued to invest in them, and as a result, we’ve seen them evolve into an absolutely vital tool for any online retailer.

In 2014, Google actually started putting Shopping results above text ads on the search engine results page (SERP), as you can see in the example below. This reflected what they’d started to see in their data and hear from advertisers: Shopping was often outperforming traditional search.

Shopping Results

Meanwhile, TrueView, the YouTube advertising platform, has been more of a slow burner. TrueView campaigns have only recently moved from their own interface to sit alongside other AdWords campaigns, meaning before now it was easy to overlook them as an option.

With four billion views on YouTube every day, there’s no denying the fantastic reach it provides. Its position in people’s lives provides a unique opportunity for advertisers to connect with users as they are living their lives online, rather than just when they’re going online looking for a product.

With the same fairly broad targeting options you’d see on the Google Display Network, I’ve personally never found it an appropriate tool for generating direct response; if you want reach, views and increased brand awareness, however, then TrueView could be the answer. (But if you’re not in a financial position to be running activity without a strong return, perhaps not.)

So what if we could combine the reach we see from TrueView with the selling power of Shopping? Well, Google has.

TrueView For Shopping

Released just a few weeks ago after being in beta for several months, TrueView for Shopping campaigns allow you to serve product listing ads alongside your TrueView in-stream video ads.

As you can see in the screenshot below, whilst users are watching your ad, they also have the option to click through to particular product pages on the right-hand side.

TrueView Ad Screenshot

Setting up these campaigns is very simple. Create a new video campaign within AdWords, and you’ll be provided with the option to make it a Shopping campaign. Then you just link it up to your Google Merchant Center feed, as you would any other Shopping campaign.

Campaign Set Up

The usual rules apply here. Your feed and campaign must be targeting the same country, and currencies within the feed must correspond with those on your site.

Although the option for a Product Filter appears in the settings, this isn’t currently functional, so unfortunately, there’s no way to select which products will appear alongside your ad.

However, there is the ability to use dynamic remarketing to serve your previous visitors the products that they’ve been browsing on your site. Simply apply audience lists in the Video Targeting tab as you would with any other YouTube remarketing campaign.


At Periscopix, a Merkle Company, we’ve trialled TrueView for Shopping campaigns for some of our large retail clients and seen some very promising results.

For one value clothing brand, we had previously been running in-stream TrueView ads to promote their Spring/Summer and Back-to-School collections. By using a combination of both interest targeting and remarketing, we were gaining a wide reach and achieving a strong return. But by adding this shoppable element, in the space of just a month, conversion rate increased by 40 percent, and cost of sale decreased by 58 percent.

We also saw that the view rate of the videos increased by 15 percent, despite the content of the videos themselves not changing at all. By using that combination of prospecting and remarketing alongside product listing ads, the campaigns managed to achieve more than 100 million views and £138,000 in revenue at a cost of sale of just 9 percent.

Another client, this time a luxury toiletries brand, ran TrueView for Shopping to promote a special “friends and family” event they were running over a weekend. Again, the team saw significantly higher view rates, conversion rates and returns than that of traditional TrueView activity run in the past. It became clear that by choosing TrueView for Shopping, they were making people more inclined to watch the whole video and also to click through to the site and purchase.


Although these early results seem to indicate TrueView for Shopping is a highly effective tool for improving the performance of your YouTube campaigns, there are a few things to consider.

Google has specified that product listing ads will not show up alongside your video every time a TrueView in-stream ad is served. But at present, they’re not offering any visibility over just how often that is occurring. Without this knowledge, it’s hard to judge precisely what kind of impact the shoppable element is having.

The results I’ve specified above could well be the result of the PLAs only appearing half the time, in which case these are slightly watered down. Of course, even so, it’s clear we’re seeing an impact — but for accurate reporting, it would be helpful to know exactly how shoppable that TrueView for Shopping campaign really is.

One would hope that as more advertisers start implementing these campaigns and seeing success from them, Google will opt to serve the PLAs alongside video content more often, and we’ll have even richer data to hand. Or at the very least, the addition of a “percentage served” metric or similar would be extremely helpful.

Another key thing to remember is that, unless you’re using dynamic remarketing, you’ve got no control over which products are appearing alongside your ad, as product filtering still isn’t working. For an advertiser who just sells one type of product, like clothes, showing all products might not be a problem.

But if you have a wide range of varied products, TrueView for Shopping might only be appropriate for fairly generic, brand-led video content, rather than anything product-specific. Your users are going to end up confused if they’re watching an advert about children’s toys and suddenly a set of PLAs for washing machines pops up.

Final Thoughts

This is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting developments for TrueView campaigns in years. The gap between a potential customer browsing video content and purchasing on your site just got a lot smaller, thanks to TrueView for Shopping.

If you’ve run campaigns on YouTube before and been disappointed with your return, it could be time to give it another go. And if you’re already seeing success promoting your video content, get your feed linked up and see if you can’t also boost conversion rates and return from those campaigns.

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