AdWords is preparing to turn 16 later this year, and like all teenagers, it’s been going through a lot of unexpected changes recently. AdWords text ads recently went through a growth spurt as expanded text ads became available to all advertisers, display ads got their first make-over in years with the introduction of new responsive display ads, and the platform is becoming smarter with new bidding strategies for different demographics and devices.
Between handling all these changes and their day-to-day account management, advertisers have every right to be a little stressed. But Google recently announced one more major change – AdWords has outgrown the “converted click” metric it’s been using for the past 15 years and advertisers will not be able to measure converted clicks after September. Advertisers will have to use the more sophisticated, albeit sometimes more confusing “conversions” metric moving forward.
Google justified this change in the important optimization metric by explaining that when converted clicks were introduced in 2001, it was the most rudimentary way to measure if a user had taken any meaningful action after clicking on an ad. As advertisers and Google became more mature and sophisticated with their conversion tracking, the converted clicks metric became increasingly irrelevant and its limitations more noticeable.
So, Google introduced the “conversions” metric to remedy these problems. For instance, if an advertiser was tracking multiple goals, converted clicks couldn’t track which goal a user completed, whereas conversions could. Additionally, the converted clicks metric couldn’t be used to track cross-device and cross-browser conversions or be used in more sophisticated attribution funnels.
The Timeline: What’s changing and when?
As of Tuesday, September 6, Google will begin to automatically include cross-device conversions in the “conversions” metric. Clients will likely notice an uptick in the number of reported conversions following this change, particularly clients who have a strong mobile PPC strategy.
Later, on Wednesday, September 21, Google will officially retire the “converted clicks” metric in all accounts. Clients who are currently using the “converted clicks” metric for bidding and reporting purposes will automatically be migrated to the new conversion metric. These accounts may see a significant increase in measured conversions as a result.
In the meantime, Google is encouraging clients who currently use the converted click metric to manually migrate in advance, and they’ve provided an easy tool to migrate to conversions in the tools tab. From the tool bar in AdWords, advertisers can migrate early by doing the following:
- Select Conversions
- Click on the “Converted Clicks is going away” notification (highlighted here in green)
Google will provide an estimate of the difference between how it measures converted clicks and conversions in your account. Review this to understand the impact this will have in your account.
You have the option to either approve these changes and migrate immediately or be walked through how to minimize the difference between the two conversion metrics.
Who is most affected by this change?
Any clients who were previously using converted clicks or not including cross-device conversions in their conversion metric will notice an uptick in their reported conversions at the end of September.
Also, accounts that rely on automated bidding strategies or automatic rules and scripts around CPA should expect to see some turbulence in their campaigns as Google will report more conversions and consequently a lower CPA. These lower reported CPAs may make automatic bidding strategies increase their CPC bid, and these advertisers should prepare for the CPCs to rise and to spend more money on these campaigns. Review your campaign settings to see if your campaigns use either enhanced CPC (eCPC) or a CPA based bidding strategy and adjust your targets in advance!
How to minimize the reported difference between conversions and converted clicks
Although Google reports that most advertisers already rely on conversions rather than converted clicks, some people out there have strong feels about losing their converted clicks metric.
For most SEMs upset about losing their beloved converted clicks, their chief concern is that they may begin over-counting their conversions after the migration occurs.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to minimize the counted difference between these conversion metrics and still satisfy your needs for accurate reporting.
1. Remove duplicate goals – Review the conversion goals that are currently tracking from the “Conversions” button under the tools bar. Be particularly wary if you’re tracking the same goal in Google Analytics and also using an AdWords conversion pixel. If a client was tracking multiple of the same goal using different pixels or importing them from GA, the conversion metric could potentially count as multiple conversions.
2. Set conversion goals to track “One” count rather than “Every” – This setting will prevent users completing the same action multiple times from being counted multiple times. The setting can be adjusted by editing an existing conversion goal.
3. Track cross-device conversions – Although cross-device conversions will automatically be included in the conversions metric as of Sept. 6, you will still be able to view your cross-device conversions for reporting purposes. The cross-device conversions metric can be added as a metric within the AdWords UI.
Your reported conversion metric minus these cross-device conversions will give you your old “conversion” metric. This can even be done by creating a custom column variable in the UI.
Although not all advertisers welcome these changes, the migration next month will be mandatory, so it’s important to review how you measure your AdWords conversions today and understand the impact on how you measure the performance of your account. One thing’s for certain though, over the next couple months AdWords will begin attributing more conversions to many accounts and many will be surprised to see increased conversions from sophisticated attribution models and cross-device conversions.
About the author:
Mark is a Senior Data Scientist at WordStream with a background in SEM, SEO, and Statistical Modeling. He was named the 14th Most Influential PPC Expert of 2016 by PPC Hero. You can follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google +.