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Search Ads 360 Auction Time Bidding

7 min read

Jasmine McKeever, Paid Search Manager

by Jasmine McKeever, Paid Search Manager

Core Investment

In recent years, Google has been making huge strides in their efforts to streamline automation across the Google Ads platform. They have introduced new tools and formats to improve performance using AI and machine learning with a particular focus on Smart Bidding technology. With these latest advancements on the Google Ads platform, it had left the question, is it worth implementing our bid strategies across Search Ads 360 (SA 360, part of DoubleClick) with all the new advancements across Google Ads? Our answer has arrived with the announcement of SA 360 auction time bidding which finally bridges the gap between the two platforms.

Previously there had been quite a big difference between bidding strategies on SA 360 & Google Ads. Traditionally, here at Core we would have favoured SA 360 bidding strategies because this is our source of truth for digital and gives us a more holistic view of all our digital media. With SA 360, activity will be de-duplicated and sales/conversions will be attributed to the most appropriate channel, while Google Ads would have a singular view on your activity, so results won’t appear as accurately or match with DoubleClick/SA 360.

Where previously SA 360 bid strategies would change your bids up to four times per day, Auction Time Bidding will use the data from SA 360 with the real time bidding of the Google Ads Smart Bid strategies. I recently tested this new bid strategy on an insurance brand and have been really impressed with the results so far. For anyone who uses SA 360 as their source of truth, I would highly recommend testing this new feature to improve your conversion or revenue results.

What is Auction Time Bidding?

Auction time bidding is SA 360s latest product release which links your SA 360 and Google Ads account better than ever before. It is a bidding strategy that uses the accuracy of SA 360 but the real time nature of Google Ads. It connects the two platforms and makes your bidding strategies stronger than ever by working off far more signals than they would have before.

Previously, SA 360 bid strategies would review your bids every four to six hours. With auction time bidding your bids will now be reviewed at every auction. This will allow your bid strategies to review and update for each unique person.

The first step in setting up auction time bidding is to link you accounts together by allowing Google Ads to import your floodlight data from SA 360. This ensures both accounts are working with exact same data and that the system is optimising towards the best qualified leads for your brand.

To be eligible to use auction time bidding you will need a minimum of 20 conversions per week for the last 30 days but, as ever, the more data the better.

How Does Auction Time Bidding Perform?

SA 360 reports that you will see an average of between 15 to 30% increase in your conversions/revenue depending on your bid strategy. In my case, I’ve also seen a 10% increase in conversion rates when comparing to the previous period. Overall, results of the bid strategy look promising but be prepared, your CPC will increase as you’ll bid up to 20% more for valuable auctions. However, you shouldn’t let a more expensive CPC put you off testing this as you should perform better for your business goals.

How to Implement Auction Time Bidding

Auction time bidding is currently only available across CPA or revenue bid strategies and is still in beta for Google Shopping campaigns. To set up auction time bidding you will need to follow the same steps you would when setting up a SA 360 bid strategy but you will notice a new section called ‘engine features’ which contains a box you need to select to implement the bidding strategy. Once this is selected, continue to set up your bid strategy as you usually would.

Once SA 360 & Google Ads are linked you will notice a conversion set has been imported into you Google Ads account, you can see this under the conversion options in your tools and settings on Google Ads. This conversion set will act as your default conversion in Google Ads and will allow for Google Ads to optimise your results using the floodlight information.

The bid strategy will go through a learning period of seven days plus your conversion delay, which you will be able to see in the overview section of your bid strategy. Once the learning period and conversion delay period are completed, your bid strategy will be automatically created within Google Ads.

While it is still early days for auction time bidding, the results I’ve seen so far would encourage me to recommend testing this new bidding strategy to anyone looking to boost performance. My next step will be to test this bid strategy on Google Shopping formats to see how the performance compares. Based off the success I’ve experienced with this bid strategy I’m looking forward to seeing what other new features SA 360 will launch in the future.

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