I love how Google Adwords continues to change to provide additional tools and settings to help optimize my accounts. While there are times I get frustrated with the content change (still not happy about the disappearance of all of the reports on the reports tab), overall Google has a lot of helpful tools and features not offered by the other search engines.

One somewhat recent addition is the Google Conversion Optimizer setting, and if you haven’t yet explored it, I highly suggest you check it out. The goal of this setting is to use your historical data to increase conversions, decrease CPA (cost per action) and improve your overall ROI. You can test this setting at the campaign level, and we have put together tips for using the Google Conversion Optimizer to get the most out of it. As promised, this post isn’t going to cover the Google Conversion Optimizer basic setting but one of the new changes that has come along and how to use get started.

One of the advances in the Conversion Optimizer is a new beta called Display Conversion Optimizer (DCO). The basic premise is the same, where it uses your historical data and DCO then adjusts bids to hit a target CPA. Beyond this, it also goes a little bit further and intelligently changes placements to help you maximize your conversions.  While you can use the standard Conversion Optimizer setting for campaigns on the content network, I have seen the DCO setting prove to be even more successful. Before I go through how to set up a DCO campaign, note that this setting is in Beta, so the feature may not be available on all accounts. If this is something you would like to test, contact your Google rep to see if it can be added to your account.

In order to get started with a DCO campaign, you can either modify an existing campaign or start a new campaign with the DCO setting. In order to compare performance, I suggest taking an existing content network campaign that has historically performed well and copying that into a new, DCO campaign. This way you can do a side-by-side test to see if DCO generates more conversions and if they are the same qualify. This will also protect you in case DCO doesn’t work as well, this way you haven’t lost out on a month’s worth of leads from your traditional content network campaign. For simplicity, the steps below are if you are creating a new campaign whether that is duplicating an existing or starting fresh.

Step 1: Create a New Campaign

  1. Be sure to set the language, geography, ad delivery, position preference and delivery method as you typically do.
  2. Campaign must be opted into the content network
  3. On the settings tab, change the Devices to “Desktop and laptop computers” only, meaning you will need to uncheck the box for iPhones and other mobile devices
  4. For now, leave the bidding option to “Manual bidding for clicks” – you will change it once everything is set up.
  5. Add ad groups as you typically do (or copy the ad groups from an existing content campaign) along with ads
  6. You DO NOT need to add in keywords for DCO, but based on past experience I recommend adding in at least a few terms to make sure your placements are relevant to the copy in your ads. You can skip adding in placements as DCO will control this
  7. Set Max CPC bids to have something to start with, this will be replaced by DCO but you have to have something entered in order to the system to accept your new campaign.
  8. Save campaign and settings

Step 2: Update Settings

  1. Click on your new DCO campaign, then select the “Settings” tab
  2. Under the “Bidding and Budget” section, choose Focus on Conversions (Conversion Optimizer) and then choose “Advanced Options”
  3. Change the bid type from Max CPA to Target CPA
  4. Use either the recommended bid if it is in line with your goals, or set a custom bid. Note that if your overall account goal is $10.00, you may want to set your Target CPA just slightly higher at $12.00 to allow for a few more leads. Anytime I have used the conversion optimizer setting I have seen better success when I set the CPA slightly above my goal as the rest of my campaigns help average everything out
  5. Click Save

Step 3: Opt into Display Conversion Optimizer

  1. Select your DCO campaign again, and the click on the “Settings” tab
  2. At the bottom of the Settings page, there is a section called “Advanced Settings” if you have been approved for DCO, you will see something called “Automatic campaign optimization” and the option to activate it.
  3. Change the setting from Standard to “Auto-Optimized”

Now your campaign is ready to start running. If you see the option for Automatic Campaign Optimization but you aren’t able to change it to Auto Optimized, you will need to be sure your campaign has enough history and well as a higher number of consistent conversions in order to qualify. If it does but you still can’t select the option, you may want to contact your Google rep for them to manually activate. Because this setting is in Beta, it isn’t perfect yet.

As you watch your campaign, you can still exclude content placements that have a high spend without converting if you see something abnormal but be sure you give it enough time first to work its DCO magic. If a placement isn’t converting, the system should automatically adjust to compensate for it. Also keep in mind that you will likely see your CPA start off high but then it will adjust itself back down. The system needs a few weeks to figure out what is working well – so don’t panic! Just let it ride through for a few weeks and ultimately you should see positive results.