Search Ads 360 vs. Google Ads: When to make the switch?


The Decision Process:

SA360 is Google’s enterprise solution which allows you to centralise search marketing with unified insight and reporting. Through state-of-the-art machine learning capabilities, it elevates campaign optimization of complex SEM structures at scale.

In this post, we cover the following topics:

  1. Search Ads 360 is worth it, IF you operate within a mature, digitally evolved organization.
  2. The basic Google Ads automation features aren’t enough for you. You need to apply adaptive features to your data sets, make real-time predictions and talk to algorithms so they can better digest your data.
  3. You have a desire to bid against paid search according to the value it brings while taking into consideration multiple touch points throughout a user’s journey.

You are an evolved digital marketer

Search Ads 360 is part of the Google Marketing Platform suite along with other products such as Campaign Manager, Display & Video 360, Google Analytics 360, etc. If you have never considered any of those, the regular Google Ads will most probably suffice.

The good news is that you don’t need any of the other GMP products to run search through SA360 and further optimize your outcome. BUT, if you don’t have a vision that includes a potential onboarding of DV360 and GA360, you won’t be able to fully maximise the outcome of the platform, neither of your total media investments.

SA360 would then be an enhanced version of Google Ads where you can leverage next level reporting capabilities and use advanced algorithms to customize your bid strategies.

Automation is your priority

Every day, each market, has a maximum size of demand and offer. When you factor in seasonality and monthly budget variations, it can become tricky to get the most out of your buck on a daily basis.

Search Ads 360 offers extended monitoring and forecasting capabilities to further assist you with automation. It provides a bid strategy health dashboard so you can anticipate and understand how bid strategies react. Depending on how the market is evolving, you can also decide where you want to stand through an accurate forecast (as seen below).

When targets need to be adjusted, the platform will effectively calibrate and adjust bids across multiple dimensions as its bid strategies are designed to work as a portfolio.

On top of an enhanced version of the Google Ads smart bidding capabilities, SA360 allows you to guide the algorithm through two main functions:

1. Data Exclusion Events, let the machine know when data is faulty or misreporting (tracking issues, tests, Black Friday, etc.).
2. Business Data Events, indicate the occurrence of special offers that lead to performance variations during specific time frames.

Once you are up and running with your bid automation architecture, SA360 can stimulate your data sets through adaptive capabilities. As soon as a data set offers substantial volume, the tool can locate and isolate sub-segments within your geo-location, audience and product targeting layers. As a result, the granularity of your bidding structure will self-activate and evolve through time to further expand optimization possibilities.

Data driven optimization is your goal

The GMP media stack (CM, SA360 & DV360) uses its own tracking technology, so-called Floodlights, which allows you to de-duplicate conversion related data. This is huge as it enables to ignore falsely inflated platform conversions, one of the main pain points when managing media across platforms like Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.

When looking at digital media plans, the first thing we try to maximize is Branded Search and Remarketing. We then spread the remaining dollars within the mid-upper funnel to generate awareness without having a clear view on the expected uplift. Even worse, we won’t bid enough on mid-high funnel placements and miss out on later on direct response interactions.

If you traffic your paid social and display placements through SA360 and Campaign Manager, you will be able to connect the dots through machine learning capabilities and bid against each of your keywords while taking into consideration a wide spectrum of channels*. The lift is more or less significant depending on the complexity of the purchase process. The more interactions it takes to make a decision for a user, the easier it is for the machine to locate crucial placements that generate incremental performance further down the line.

*Paid search clicks, paid social clicks, clicks from GDN, display clicks and natural search clicks.

Final thoughts

Considering the large amounts of daily data that an enterprise level account can generate, on going precise decision-making is key. Switching from Google Ads standard machine learning to SA360 advanced algorithms will allow you to amplify your SEM’s ROI only if YOU are ready for it (right media budget + digitally evolved + right resources).

As explained above, mid-high funnel activities can easily be challenged from a management board. SA360 along with the rest of the GMP stack can enable you to rationalise upper funnel interactions but most importantly bid accordingly.