Google is in the process of rolling out major changes to its conversion tracking. You’d best keep up lest you fall behind your competitors.
In this article, I’m going to run through the grocery list of Google Ads conversion updates and clarify what’s important and what’s not. And I’ll provide some examples of where updating can help you achieve better performance.
Default Attribution Model Changing to Data-Driven
Announced but not yet implemented, Google will soon be changing the default attribution model from last-click to data-driven. Data-driven attribution has been around for a couple of years but was always restricted. Previously, only advertisers with at least 200 conversions per month, and more recently 100 conversions per month could activate this model.
At this point, there’s almost no circumstance to run any model except for data-driven, time-decay, or position-based options. As a reminder, position-based is the best non-data-driven option for growth/scaling while time-decay is best for stable accounts.
But when given the option, you should always be choosing data-driven.
We applaud Google for finally making data-driven available to all advertisers and for making this the default. This will save agencies a lot of time (a) switching up new accounts and (b) educating clients on what attribution models are, how they work, and why the selection is important.
We highly recommend switching models as soon as this rolls out. Just bear in mind that you should expect to see a short-term decline in performance, especially when switching from last-click. You can mitigate concerns about performance by temporarily monitoring the conversions (by conv. time) KPI.
Enhanced Conversions Beta
Only available to some advertisers so far, enhanced conversions allows Google to anonymously capture personal user information for better tracking accuracy. In other words, you may see more conversions attributed to Google Ads if you implement this. The system works by collecting the following details from your lead generation forms and then hashing it:
- Email address (preferred)
- Name and home address (street address, city, state/region and postcode)
- Phone number (must be provided in addition to one of the other two pieces of information above)
Keep in mind that this only works for signed-in Google users. The enhancement works with Google Ads conversions and requires the global site tag implementation. If you are using Google Analytics tracking you cannot utilize this for now. You will also have to make some updates to your website tracking scripts.
If this sounds kind of familiar, that’s because this is the same method Facebook uses to collect additional user data on the server-side, i.e. CAPI (conversions API).
While more data is always beneficial I’d wait for this to move out of beta, especially if you don’t currently use the Google Ads tracking pixel. It’s likely that Google will offer a similar solution for Universal Analytics and/or GA4 shortly, and that may be a lot easier to implement and manage.
Conversion Value Rules for Smart Bidding
Before most of us adopted smart bidding, we used to set up a myriad of bid adjustments for audiences, locations, devices, ad schedules and more. Often the adjustments would be based on optimizing for common/average CPA/ROAS values, but not always. Having free rein to set whatever bid adjustments we wanted would also allow us to prioritize certain groups based on potential value.
For example, if you offered towing, you would be much more likely to land clients that came in through mobile devices. You could then set up bid adjustments and aim for a premium CPA, such as double what you were willing to pay for computer leads.
Anyway, with automatic tCPA bidding, you can still do this. Setting a device bid adjustment will actually change the tCPA for that device type. But you can’t do this for locations, audiences, or other segments. And that’s a problem for many advertisers. There are some ways around this using value-based bidding and uploading offline conversions or by changing the conversion value after the fact. But the implementation for this is complicated and unrealistic for many small advertisers.
This is where conversion value rules come in. Without having to implement any kind of backend lead scoring, you can set higher CPA or ROAS values for leads from certain devices, audiences, and locations.
Conversion value rules are set in the conversions section and apply to all conversion actions that pass conversion value. It’s very important, therefore, that you are thoughtful before setting these up if you have multiple conversions with values.
You may set up one or two conditions for adjusting value. For example, you might only apply a value rule if somebody visits on a mobile device and is within a certain target location. In terms of value adjustment, you can set a multiplier or a specific amount to add to each conversion.
Let’s take an example of a self-storage company. You may target a fairly large geographical area around your storage location(s). But a little data analysis shows that leads from within a 1-mile radius convert 3x more often. You also know that on average you convert 10% of leads overall at that the average lifetime value per client is $1,740. Therefore you set your baseline conversion value to 10% of $1,750 or $175. Next, you set a conversion value rule of 300% for that location target inside of 1-mile.
With this setup, your leads will show a default value of $175, but leads that come from inside of 1-mile will be valued at $525. This information now feeds back into your value-based bidding (maximize conversion value) model.
The unfortunate truth is that many advertisers don’t know what leads are worth to their business, let alone can segment them into different groups by value. But if you can, this seemingly small feature can have a huge impact on performance.
I strongly recommend having a chat with business stakeholders ASAP to see if you can implement conversion value rules.
One caveat for this new feature is that it’s not designed or appropriate for bulk adjustments. In other words, don’t plan on using this to set value rules for hundreds of different locations or audiences. Longer-term this may be integrated the same way bid adjustments are today, i.e. select a range or all locations/audiences and set a rule globally.
Customer Acquisition and Store Visit Goals
Smart Shopping now offers some conversion value enhancements for certain conversion types. These settings are adjustable in campaign level conversion goals.
First up is the new customer acquisition goal. To activate this check the box and add a value for new customers. This incremental value will be added to the revenue generated by sales to new customers. Much as I discussed above, you may place a higher value on new customers than returning customers. By feeding this information back into Google’s auto-bidding, Google will prioritize new customers automatically.
Just keep in mind, that if you’re adding incremental sales value, that you should also increase your tROAS to compensate for the extra value.
In order to determine who is new, Google will look at the past 540-days of visitors automatically (recommended). Alternatively, you can upload a customer list.
Second, are store visit goals. The setup works identically to the new customer acquisition goal but applies conversion value whenever somebody visits your physical store. This is a great way to start including average sales per physical store visit to your conversion tracking. And, since you’re already using Max Conversion Value or tROAS bidding, Google can then start to bid more appropriately for users that are likely to shop your store in person.
I highly recommend implementing these conversion adjustments for any store that is trying to scale.
The way we track conversions is rapidly changing. And while we are losing some abilities we are gaining others. Taking advantage of these new features is what’s going to separate you from your competitors.