Automated Bidding and RLSA Audiences

Google continually churns out new features to help paid search marketers optimize their advertising campaigns in AdWords.  These powerful tools can certainly have a tremendous impact on both the efficiency and scale of your advertising efforts.  However, sometimes the interplay of these features is less known.  Here we’ll take a look at how to leverage automated bidding and audiences together to get the most out of your paid search investments.

For AdWords campaigns that have enough conversion volume, marketers have the ability to enable automated bidding.  This feature allows Google to increase or decrease bids based on campaign performance and your business objectives.  There are a few different options available, including automating your bidding to hit a target return on ad spend (ROAS).

Google Analytics and Google AdWords can also be used together to create remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA).  This feature allows you to create audiences based on actions users have previously taken on your website.  These audiences can then be targeted in paid search campaigns or have bids modified based on their potential value.  For example, with RLSA a marketer could increase bids for users that had added items to their shopping cart but have not yet converted.

Automated bidding and RLSA are powerful tools on their own and can be even more powerful when used together.  Imagine allowing bids to be automated to hit your business objectives, while also providing Google the flexibility to increase or decrease bids based on a user’s previous behavior and likelihood to convert.  This sounds great in theory, but to ensure Google will adjust bids for RLSA audiences, the structure of your audiences is absolutely critical.

The key is to make sure there is no overlap in RLSA audiences.  Put another way, audiences should be structured in a fashion that makes it impossible for a user to be part of more than one audience at a time.  This is because Google automated bidding will forego making audience bid adjustments if a user is part of multiple audiences (which defeats the purpose of RLSA).  To avoid this, approach setting up your audiences with both inclusions and exclusions.  For example, if your first audience includes “previous converters”, consider defining your next audience as including “cart additions” while excluding “previous converters.”  By continuing to layer inclusions and exclusions in this manner you can be certain that any potential audience overlap has been eliminated.

Consider defining your audiences in this fashion for your next paid search campaign.  Doing so will allow you to take full advantage of both automated bidding and RLSA audience bid adjustments.