04 May 2023

SA360 to sunset intraday bidding for Google Ads Conversion Tracking (GACT)

Sunset over mountains

In summary

  • Intraday bidding can no longer be used in conjunction with Google Ads conversion tracking goals
  • Auction-time bidding (ATB) is now the preferred setup to be used due to its improved results in comparison to intraday bidding
  • Users are encouraged to enable ATB on at least one bid strategy if they continue to use intraday bidding

What is auction-time bidding and intraday bidding?

Search Ads 360 (SA360) offers advertisers the possibility to optimise bids in real-time called auction-time bidding (ATB) or up to 4 times a day once keywords have captured enough volume for the algorithm to make an informed decision which is called intraday bidding.

ATB was introduced by SA360 back in 2019 for Google Ads accounts only, and is now the preferred setting for bid strategies as it allows the system to incorporate additional signals such as location, intent, interface language, search query history, and more.

Intraday Bidding Settings

Note that ATB is only available for Google Ads campaigns and is not available for non-Google engines (Microsoft, Yahoo, etc.)

Why is intraday bidding being deprecated?

In an effort to offer only the best-performing setup to advertisers, SA360 has deprecated the ability to use intraday bidding for bid strategies using Google Ads conversion tracking goals. Advertisers can now only use intraday bidding for bid strategies using Floodlight conversion Tracking (FLCT) or Google Analytics conversions.

What should advertisers do?

Google is offering two choices for advertisers to comply with this change in SA360:

  1. To be compliant with the change: Turn on Google Ads auction-time bidding in a SA360 bid strategies
  2. To keep using intraday bidding: change the optimisation metric and switch from GACT to FLCT or GA conversion.

It has been confirmed that if at least one of the above bid strategies has enabled ATB, then this configuration under the advertiser will not be affected.

What happens if I do nothing?

  • SA360 bid strategies that use intraday bidding with Google conversion goal will be marked as “REMOVED”.
  • Campaigns in these bid strategies will move to manual CPC bidding. In this case, SA360 will not make any bid adjustments for campaigns that use this bid strategy.

Louder recommends advertisers using SA360 bid strategies to check the setting and enable auction-time bidding with at least one bid strategy to avoid any significant drop in bid strategy performance.

Louder’s insights

By trimming down the intraday bidding support on Google Ads conversion goal, Google is forcing the use of ATB strategies on advertisers.

From an objective point of view, ATB had already become the preferred setup for SA360 bid strategies with improved results when compared to intraday bidding. However, some practitioners will find that intraday bidding had its perks, for example the ability to check the bid changes operated by the platform in the change history. Moving to ATB removes the ability to monitor the changes made by the system and may increase the complexity of troubleshooting bid strategies performance issues.

Google is constantly seeking ways to improve its advertising platform and solutions, and one of the key strategies in achieving this is to push for more machine learning and automated systems. By encouraging more advertisers to adopt auction-time bidding, Google is pushing more advanced solutions to advertisers but it comes at the cost of visibility on the decisions made by the algorithm. Google has maintained an option for intraday bidding by encouraging advertisers to enable ATB on a minimum of one SA360 bid strategy, thereby establishing a linkage between SA360 and Google Ads to enhance the availability of bidding signals on a broader scale.

With increased modelled conversions in the mix and the lack of visibility on the bidding decisions made by the algorithm, advertisers may want to strengthen their digital measurement capabilities to keep control of their advertising dollars.

Next steps

For more information on what a best-in-class setup looks like and what steps advertisers should take to face the digital measurement challenges, get in touch with the team at Louder.

If you’re interested in other GMP or industry news, head over to the Louder blog or sign up to our monthly newsletter to learn more.

About Arthur Hascoet

Arthur Hascoet specialises in performance media strategies and automation opportunities. In his spare time he enjoys the great outdoors and discovering the unsealed tracks of the backcountry.