Google Ads’ Conversion Action Sets: The Newest Update You Need to Implement Today

Google Ads’ Conversion Action Sets: The Newest Update You Need to Implement Today

Last updated on by Ted Vrountas in Google Ads

At Instapage, we advocate for one conversion goal per campaign. But sometimes, it’s not that simple. Sometimes, conversions happen in a gray area.

For example, a person who clicks through your ad may abandon your sales landing page, but then navigate to your website and download an ebook. That’s not exactly what you want, but it’s better than nothing, and it can tell you a lot about your campaign and audience.

To handle those gray area conversions, Google has released a feature called “Campaign Action Sets.” It’s a powerful new way to optimize digital campaigns. But to understand how it works, we need more insight into the way Google has been tracking conversions.

The new update to Google Ads conversion tracking

If your visitor downloads an ebook, that’s a conversion. If they buy your product, that’s also a conversion. But are these conversions equal?

Of course not.

You know that. But until recently, Google’s conversion tracking algorithm did not.

With conversion data set at the account level, all campaign conversions were registered the same way. This opened the door for scenarios like the following:

Google Ads Conversion Sets PPC example

Imagine a user clicks on this ad, visits our landing page, but navigates back to the site and converts on a whitepaper. With the account-level conversion setting, we would register one conversion — just the same as if the user converted on a trial.

As you can imagine, this leads to some serious issues with data collection. Matthew Ubmro explains:

Say, for example, that one of your campaigns has 50 total conversions from three conversion actions — purchase (sales), contact-us submissions, and email signup. Though your campaign may have 50 total conversions, the actual breakout could be:

  • Five purchase (sales) conversions,
  • 25 contact-us form conversions;
  • 20 email-signup conversions.

If your primary conversion goal is sales, the campaign has fallen short — only five. Furthermore, if you are using Smart Bidding, such as Target CPA, Target ROAS, or Maximize Conversions, the algorithm is optimizing for all conversions. Google considers them equal. You may experience a higher total number of overall conversions, but the most important goal (sales, in this case) might remain stagnant.

So, not only are you getting misleading data, but you’re optimizing for all conversions if you’re using Smart Bidding. That means Google is trying to recreate the conditions that lead to your conversions. In the example above, most conversions are not purchases. So, Google would be optimizing mostly for the conditions that lead to email signups and form completions.

The only way to optimize for different conversions was to set up separate accounts, each with their own conversion goal.

This led to its own set of problems, making it understandably tedious to monitor and report on separate campaigns with different goals. The solution?

An update to settings at the campaign level. Now, with campaign level conversion settings, advertisers can separate all campaigns with different conversion goals within the same account. No more tedious monitoring. No more optimization for generic conversions. Google says:

For example, suppose you’re a hotel group with separate marketing budgets for different hotel chains, and different campaigns targeting online bookings for separate chains. Now you can simply choose the corresponding conversion action(s) for each chain and ensure their budgets are delivering the valuable actions they were intended to drive. This saves you time, makes it easier to manage your bids within one account, and gives you more flexibility to use Smart Bidding.

Campaign level conversion settings have made advertising with Google Ads much easier and more effective. But there’s still a problem.

What about secondary conversions?

If we return to the scenario above, in which the advertiser generates 50 conversions, we notice an issue with campaign-level targeting.

If we set the campaign goal to sales, Google will count only sales conversions. That’s 5. If you’re using automated optimization, Google will automatically optimize for this type of conversion.

But, what about the other 45 conversions? Now, we’re excluding email signups and contact us conversions, just because our goal is sales.

Surely we don’t want to ignore these conversions since they could very well end up as sales later in the funnel. Knowing this, Google created an additional feature, called campaign action sets.

How campaign action sets work

Normally, secondary conversions are something you would run a separate campaign for. But now, Google’s campaign action sets allow you to optimize your conversion goals based on priority. According to the company:

If you want to optimize a campaign for multiple conversion actions, you can place them in a “Conversion actions set” and share it across other campaigns intended to drive the same goals.

This allows advertisers to optimize for one goal conversion without excluding secondary conversions that are less (but still) valuable. Here’s how it works.

In the “Conversions” section of your account, there’s a “Conversion Action Sets” tab. If you navigate there and click “Create Conversion Action Set,” you’ll be able to list your conversion goals in order of priority:

If purchases are your main goal, select them in tier 1. For tier 2, you might input email subscriptions, tier 3, contact us submissions, and so on…

Once you finish, you can save the conversion action set and use it for other campaigns, too. When you do enable it, you’ll notice that Google will optimize based on this set if you’re using Smart Bidding.

The benefits of conversion action sets are clear. According to Google:

  • Specify the conversion actions to be reported in the “Conversions” column and to be optimized against using Smart Bidding models either for one campaign or a group of campaigns
  • Group conversions intended to drive the same actions across multiple campaigns
  • Improve performance by allowing bidding models to learn across a larger set of conversion actions since it’s always recommended to use the same set across campaigns or to use the account-level “Include in ‘Conversions’” setting when possible
  • Drive specific conversion actions in one campaign (or group of campaigns), without separating those campaigns into separate accounts

Of course, there are some things you should watch out for if you’re using these new features. As Stephanie Mialki notes, conversion rates may decrease because Google is no longer lumping all conversions together. This doesn’t mean your campaign is worse, just that it wasn’t as effective as you thought in the first place.

Secondly, you may see a rise in cost per action. Again, this isn’t a bad thing, considering the conversions you’re generating are now more valuable than they were previously. You get what you pay for: More value costs more budget.

Learn more about marketing optimization opportunities

Google’s new conversion settings updates are sure to make advertisers more organized, and their campaigns more effective. To learn more opportunities for optimization in the marketing funnel, claim the Instapage Marketing Optimization Opportunities Guide.

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Ted Vrountas

by Ted Vrountas

Ted Vrountas is a content writer at Instapage who hates most marketing content. As a human among marketers, his goal is to write words people actually want to read.

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