Search Ads 360 Introduces Auction-Time Bidding to Bid Strategies

Abbie Dunne

Paid Search Director

Last week, Search Ads 360 (SA360) released auction-time bidding. Before the update, many had been opting for Google Ads Smart Bidding automated solutions rather than using the full Google stack, which allowed them to include Microsoft Ads and floodlight tags for data driven attribution (DDA) and therefore multi-channel attribution.

The release of auction-time bidding in SA360 is a far more reactive solution to setting bids than the retrospective bid update made by SA360 every six hours (and the ‘old’ data that accompanied it).

To recap, although the two have been used interchangeably when talking about automation, there has always been a difference between Google Ads Smart Bidding and SA360 bid strategies: Smart Bidding was only available in Google Ads and combines machine learning with auction by auction signals to optimise bids. SA360 bid strategies is the automated, machine learning solution if you’re running PPC across Google and Microsoft Ads. It would use historical performance data to optimise your bids up to four times a day.

What is auction-time bidding in SA360?

It’s very similar to that of Google Ads Smart Bidding as it uses the same signals, instead they’re now pulled into SA360 to help in the bid decision-making process. A bid strategy looks back at campaign performance every six hours to set bids and adjustments. When the Google Ads auction-time Smart Bidding capabilities are layered on, it can analyse different signals such as:

  • Device

  • Browser

  • Location

  • Time of day

  • Audiences

The best way to maximise your performance is to use these signals to determine whether to show an ad (and how aggressively), as it makes smart bidding decisions for every single auction.

So with that in mind, SA360 will now analyse auction-time bids to set each campaign's goal to achieve the bid strategy's key performance indicator (KPI) – whether that’s ROAS or CPA.

The race to truly understand who your customers are (and who they aren’t) has begun.

Several high street brands have collapsed over the past decade – from Blockbuster in 2010 to Toys R Us more recently. This could arguably be down to their inability to adapt systems and processes to work in an omni-channel world. The digital-first brands that have taken their place – Netflix and Amazon respectively, understand each customer on a finer level.

Why should you be using it?

Auction-time bidding was the missing layer in SA360 bid strategies that meant it wasn’t as reactive Google Ads Smart Bidding. With increasing competition across many verticals, a business needs a bid that reflects their ability (or inability) to win that auction, which is less convincing every six hours when constant changes in the landscape could mean that those bids are quickly invalid.

Ultimately, performance will only improve from here. Current machine learning uses past data to make predictions on how different bids will affect your KPI, but it’ll be able to use data happening now which even humans can’t be as pro-active on.

I’m sold, so what do I do now?

First, check that you’re eligible, as this is not yet available for all bid strategy types:

  1. If you're on MCC or account-level conversion tracking, using a CPA bid strategy on search (and DSA) only campaigns, you'll see the product appear in the next few weeks.

  2. If you're not on MCC conversion tracking, using a ROAS bid strategy on search, DSA and shopping, you'll also see the product appear in the next few weeks.

  3. This is not yet available for all bid strategies such as monthly spend and keyword position.

The good news is whitelisting is over, but the product rollout is still currently being released across accounts. It’s estimated to land across all advertisers over the next few weeks So keep an eye out by going into your bid strategy settings from time to time, checking the ‘Goal’ section for an additional tick box above bids and bid adjustments.

And, you’ll be pleased to hear that it supports DDA and last-click attribution models.

To understand more on how we can be a growth partner for your paid search campaigns through automation, contact results@icrossing.co.uk.

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