AdWords Cross-Device Estimates. Good or Bad?

By , Senior Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing

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Google announced yesterday the release of the new Estimated Total Conversions for search ads in AdWords. This first part of the release, cross-device conversion tracking, will help provide advertisers with estimates on how AdWords search performance influences conversions for businesses across multiple devices and eventually phone and in-store conversions.

Google said this day was coming. When the first rumblings of Enhanced Campaigns started to flood the PPC industry in early 2013 and some people (eh hem, me) were kicking tires about losing the ability to segment from desktop and tablet, there was one saving grace in all that was Enhanced Campaigns and that was multi-device conversion tracking.

Although this is an exciting new feature, there does seem to be some lack of transparency about how the data is calculated that might increase skepticism.  But according to the Google blog post,“we [Google] only show data when we are very confident that our cross-device estimates are highly accurate. In some cases, we’ll show a ‘–‘ when you might have cross-device conversions, but there isn’t enough data for us to confidently make an estimate.” To help get a better understanding of this new feature below we will cover four areas: How Estimated Total Conversions Work, Requirements, How to Use This Information and What’s Still to Come.

How Estimated Conversions Work

Basically Google tracks when users are signed into Google accounts across devices and uses this aggregate data to create an estimate of cross-device conversions (orders, leads, sign ups, ect.) attributed to a the last paid click in the AdWords account. Here’s an example that Google provides:

“…say someone shops for ‘blue jeans’ on her mobile phone while waiting for the morning train.  She clicks on a mobile ad for ABC Blue Jeans.  When she gets to her office, she goes directly to the ABC website to make a purchase.  This is an example of a cross-device conversion.  We calculate cross-device conversions using a sample of data from users who signed into multiple devices” Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP, Ads and Commerce, AdWords

Once your account meets the requirements (we will discuss later in this post), you will be able to view Estimated Total Conversions next to actual online conversions directly in your AdWords account. This feature will start rolling out globally across AdWords accounts on October 1, 2013 and continue over the next few weeks.

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According to Google they have tested this feature across various verticals and have seen increases in conversions when using Estimated Total Conversions from 2% in Local advertising, to 12% increase in Entertainment.

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Requirements

  • Must be using AdWords conversion tracking
  • Must have at least 50 conversions in your account each day (*seems a bit high to me but Google mentions the high number of orders increases statistical significance)
  • If there is not enough cross-device conversion data to be statically significant AdWords will not provide an estimate
  • Only works on Google Search currently

How To Use This Information

This is the part that in my opinion is still lacking. All of this information is really cool but so what are advertisers supposed to do with it? AdWords does provide an example of a formula to help with mobile bid adjustments by looking at the ratio of Estimated Total Conversion coming from Mobile versus Desktop.

Mobile bid adjustment = 100*[(value per mobile ad click/value per desktop and tablet click)-1]

With all this cross-device information at marketers fingertips it will be up to us to decide how to pitch this to clients/bosses and what type of value to apply to it.

What’s Next To Come?

In the coming months Phone Calls and Store Visit data is expected to be included as part of Estimated Total Conversions so we should expect to see these numbers increase over the next coming months. Google claims that “people make more than 40M calls to businesses each month directly from Google ads and are often looking for physical store”.

Also still to come are cross-browser conversions. This will allow advertisers the ability to view Estimated Total Conversions when users are logged in various browsers (Chrome, IE, FireFox, ect.) or apps.

 

Closing Thoughts – Estimated Conversions Good or Bad?

I’m always a fan of more data – especially cross-device data –  but I’m still a bit on the fence about this one as it raises many question about application and value. For example, estimated total conversions are cool but will the estimates hold as much value as view thru conversions? Should you start to incorporate this information into your bidding strategy and how? Is the conversion bar set so high (50+ daily) that not as many people will be able to use it? Let us know your thoughts about the new Estimated Total Conversions and if you have seen this in your accounts yet.

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  • mnieri

    Pretty hard to use… I work in the hospitality field for small independent hotels and there are no hotels that get 50 conversions a day through Adwords: it’s quite hard they even get 1/2. Maybe this a very particular situation, but 50 conversions are definitely too many (and what’s the point then?)

    • Cass_Oumedian

      I agree, 50 conversions does seem REALLY high. Hopefully as this feature evolves over the next couple months the conversion limit comes down so more people can use it. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Rossella Cenini

    it’s hard to reach 50 conversions daily in medium-small accounts, but it is understandable that more conversions bring greater reliability. The problem is … if I get 50 conversions from 2 campaigns, one 48 and the other with 2 conversions, the estimate reliability remains the same?