Getting Started with Google's AdWords-Optimize Integration

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When it comes to SEM strategy, people in the industry love to say, “target your right audience at the right time.” It sounds easy, right? However, the reality is that this is often much easier said than done. Marketing teams spend countless hours—and dollars—having developers build new landing pages with specific tracking implementations, often in a rush to prepare for upcoming launches and promotions. With Google’s new AdWords/Optimize integration, however, you can easily create UI experiences specifically tailored to users who click on your ads. Need to setup a new landing page for a campaign? Or show a promotion based on specific keywords? Done! With this new integration, you can target experiments towards all AdWords traffic, users who used one specific keyword, and everyone else in between. In this post I’ll walk you through the linking process and provide use-cases for utilizing the AdWords/Optimize integration.

Linking AdWords to Optimize


Before we begin setting up this integration, here’s a checklist of things you’ll need: Google Optimize ( see this post on getting started with Optimize)
  • Access level: Edit permissions or higher
  • Linked to your GA Property
Google AdWords
  • Access level: Admin
  • Linked to your GA Property (same Property as you linked to Optimize. Click here for linking instructions)
  • Auto-tagging must be enabled
A couple things to keep in mind before diving in:
  • The integration applies to the following campaign types:
    • Search Only
    • Search with Display Select
    • Shopping
  • Redirect experiments: Per AdWords policy, all experiments using AdWords targeting must stay within the same domain as the targeted campaign/ad group/keyword.
  • This integration works for both the standard Optimize and Optimize 360.

Activate Account Link

The last step to complete the integration is to activate the Optimize link in AdWords. To do this, you need to use the previous AdWords UI , then, in the settings, navigate to Linked Accounts >> Google Analytics and turn on the account link:     Once this has been turned on, you’re ready to begin AdWords targeting in Optimize!

Using AdWords Targeting

Let’s say we’re on the Google Merchandising marketing team. We want to run an A/B experiment that targets users coming from our ad campaigns. The experiment variants have already been created, but we still need to target our AdWords traffic to this experiment. To begin, go to the targeting section of the experiment:     Select Google AdWords from the list of targeting options:     Now we can target our experiments based on the account, campaign, ad group or keyword level. For example, let’s include all users from a campaign that are focused on all apparel. We select campaign as the targeting level and select the appropriate campaign from our list of AdWords campaigns.     If we want to get more specific, we can target all the way down to the specific keyword. For example, we can target users who used keywords including the words google or shirt. To do this, select keyword as the targeting level, then select the appropriate keywords from your keywords list:     Notice how the integration even shows you if the keyword is active or paused. Once we’ve selected all applicable keywords we can save this targeting setup:     The result—an experiment that only activates when a user comes to the site from either of these keywords. This is a great example of how granular you can get with this targeting option!

Use Case - Personalization

With this AdWords integration, Optimize is now an excellent option for personalizing content for your paid traffic. Staying with the Google Merchandise example, let’s say our team wants to put more focus on their winter apparel, but only to users who are in the market specifically for winter clothes. We don’t need to run a standard A/B experiment; the goal is to personalize the content towards the users looking for winter apparel sales. Instead of building a whole new landing page and using custom code to target users, we can set this up in Optimize!

Create Personalized Variant

To begin, we set up an A/B test in Optimize. Looking at our current apparel landing page, we see there isn’t much focus on winter items:     To personalize this to our users, we create a variant that features more winter apparel at the top of the product list:    

Targeting for a Personalized Variant

After saving our changes, the next step is to pick the AdWords targeting setup geared towards our desired audience. If we have an ad group for this type of winter apparel, we can set our experiment to run at the ad group level:     To make this a true personalization experiment, we set the variant we created to receive 100% of the traffic that comes from the ad group.     Once this experiment is live it will push your personalized page to all users who come from the specific ad group(s) of your choice. Think about all of the personalization options you can now run with your AdWords campaigns! This is especially useful for running promotional campaigns, where you can ensure your traffic from AdWords will land on pages featuring promotions for specific products or services. Now that this feature is available to everyone, I encourage you to head over to your Optimize account and start setting up experiments for your AdWords traffic. Make sure to QA your variants before publishing the experiment, and don’t forget to measure your experiments in Google Analytics.