Case study: We made search campaigns for Sportega 21% more efficient

For our first actual test of Search Ads 360’s capabilities, we searched for a long time for a meaningful and challenging assignment. We found it in our client Sportega and, after jumping the first hurdles, we got great results. We made our campaigns 21% more effective in Google search.

What is Search Ads 360?

Search Ads 360 (SA360) is a search engine campaign aggregator. It forms an extension of Google Ads, Bing Ads, and other systems and is part of the Google Marketing Platform, or PPC/RTB ecosystem for the advanced users.

Although we have successfully used other parts of the “360” platform (Campaign Manager 360 or Display&Video 360) with a number of clients, we took a more cautious approach to SA360.

This is because when you look at it in more detail, it is not so easy to describe the benefits. It is simply an aggregator; it requires fees and campaigns continue to be issued through individual ad systems anyway. So we had to wait for a clear motivator for switching to SA360.

Change thanks to SA360

Eventually, the right reason came along in the form of Sportega client, for whom we manage PPC campaigns, among other things, giving us access to more detailed data via PowerBI.

We had been thinking about using PowerBI data to optimize campaigns for some time. The opportunity to optimize for the “campaign margin” was particularly appealing. 

What is a campaign margin? In our interpretation, this is the margin cleared of other costs associated with order clearance. In other words, you can clear the value your campaigns bring in to adjust for logistics, packaging, or advertising costs.

We were interested in this type of optimization before, but the technical implementation was a problem. Transcribing into Google Analytics wasn’t fast and flexible enough for us to be able to use the data meaningfully in campaigns.

In contrast, SA360 allows us to seamlessly override conversion values thanks to Floodlight’s proprietary analytics solution. Custom bidding strategies can then be created directly for these adjusted values.

After witnessing the flexibility of the entire solution and the potential ease of syncing SA360 with an existing Google Ads account, we decided to make the switch with only a Czech Google Ads account for now.

What to watch out for

We already had access to SA360 through our Google Partner. Additionally, we had a Floodlight configuration set up for Sportega due to our previous use of DV360. So all we had to do was create a new client account and sync the existing Google Ads account. 

With this sync, all Google Ads functionality remains intact. 

SA360 is a superstructure system, where the entire account structure and all metrics are uploaded. It assigns conversion metrics to individual Floodlight entities and can push changes back to Google Ads from there.


Depending on the cookie collection (especially relevant with the new rules from earlier this year), only a portion of transactions can be paired. The rest of the conversion data in SA360 is taken care of by modeling.

Initially, we were concerned about how the conversion modeling would handle the back writing of conversion values, but the system worked very flexibly. 

After just a short period of time, we determined that the value of the modeled conversions was very close to the value of the campaign margin.

A good time to be careful 

We had to be very careful with the setup, because it led to two significant changes to the Google account — namely, moving to SA360 and also moving to the new optimization. 

The key question for us was how to choose a new PNO that had to take into account the drop in overall conversion value as well as the delay in data rewrites by up to 24 hours.

Deploying SA360 bidding strategies is a chapter in itself, as the transition needs to be carefully planned and the correct sequence of steps followed. Across SA360 and Google Ads, strategies can be activated at different levels and using different conversion sources (Google Ads conversions, Google Analytics goals, Floodlight conversions).

After the initial sync and setup of Floodlight, we needed to think about what bidding strategies to use and with what goal. Especially in terms of goals, SA360 strategies are very flexible. Here we set the selected metric as the conversion target.

If the strategy is to use Google auction-time bidding (which basically means using automated strategies as in Google Ads), we need to wait for the initial warmup. This takes place globally within the account and only for the first launch of a strategy with auction-time bidding.

However, even during this learning period, the strategy can still use manual bid adjustments just as a specialist would. Therefore, it is advisable not to add campaigns to these strategies yet, so that the system does not make any unexpected changes.

Waiting for results

When deploying SA360 strategies, it became clear that the initial PNO chosen was not ideal, so we had to change them frequently. The relatively long conversion window and backward data overwrites didn’t help either.

When the results stabilized, we were able to optimize the performance for each vertical. 

With the flexibility to create and organize SA360 strategies, we were able to quickly respond to individual changes in goals for specific brands and product types. 

The ability of SA360 strategies to combine Shopping and Search campaigns into one portfolio strategy has been very useful. This saves time in management and provides better performance insights for any given group.

Comparison is important

To get a feel for the overall performance, we compared the Czech account with other countries where SA360 has not been deployed. When comparing year-on-year, the Search campaigns were particularly interesting, where SA360 strategies were able to leverage the potential significantly better without losing performance in Shopping.

Comparing year-on-year, sales and clicks in Czech Search grew, while in the other countries — Slovakia, Germany, Switzerland — search declined significantly.



What we accomplished

Switching to SA360 offered us more flexibility and control over conversion data through the connection to BI and delivered results, especially in search campaigns.

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With detailed insights at the strategy level itself, SA360 gives us better insights into the performance of individual strategies. At the same time, we have more tools at our disposal to influence system behavior.

With detailed insights at the strategy level itself, SA360 gives us better insights into the performance of individual strategies. At the same time, we have more tools at our disposal to influence system behavior.

In a situation where Google Ads is moving more and more towards a black box system (Smart Display, Performance Max), SA360 represents an alternative that takes into account the individual goals of advertisers and gives specialists more extensive options in managing and reporting detailed results.

Michael Chamrath

At PROFICIO, I’m responsible for the more technology-intensive implementations within the Google Marketing Platform, reporting, and campaign automation. I enjoy solving challenges and coming up with innovative approaches to solve business problems. When I’m not working, I’m probably hiking around the mountains somewhere.

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