Following a gradual rollout to existing Search Ads 360 (SA360) Agencies, the new SA360 is now open to anyone with an SA360 license. And just like the recent release of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), we encourage users to employ both interfaces in parallel while Google continues to update and add legacy features. You can use Google’s separate Data Studio connector for the new SA360, allowing you to maintain consistency in your reporting while exploring what the new SA360 connector has to offer.
While the new SA360 is still lacking much of the functionality of the previous version, Google is adding to it—and improving it—quickly. In less than one week, they introduced Floodlight support for Google Ads Performance Max campaigns and SA360 Bid Strategy migration began for select advertisers.
Although the new SA360 isn’t ready for users to abandon the legacy UI entirely, significant improvements in reporting flexibility present advertisers with brand new ways to view and analyze their data. In a recent webinar, I provided an overview of Saved Views, SA360 Reports and Linked Accounts. In this installment, we’ll be taking a deeper dive into dimension and metric compatibility in the new SA360 through three common reporting scenarios. I’ll compare functionality to the legacy UI, point out some temporary limitations in the new SA360 and highlight which features we’re eagerly awaiting. Let’s dive into some helpful scenarios!
Scenario I: View Impression Share at the Keyword Level, Segmented by Device, for All Engine Accounts
If you have high competition in your search engine marketing vertical, then you’re probably familiar with the concept of protecting your brand. You might even be running a competitor conquesting campaign yourself, hoping to show up on the search engine results page for a user’s competitor brand query. In either case, it’s imperative that advertisers are able to monitor impression share for branded keywords.
If you’re protecting your brand, you might be running a Target Impression Share bid strategy, hoping to take a spot in the SERP for 100% of the branded keywords you’re targeting. Perhaps you’re even running this strategy across both Google and Microsoft Ads so you don’t lose potential customers to competitors regardless of where they’re searching. If you’re falling short of your impression share goal, it’s also worthwhile to break down that impression share by a device segment to see if there are any outliers.
In the legacy SA360 UI, creating this reporting view isn’t possible. You can only view impression share at the keyword level while looking at a specific type of engine account. Search impression share isn’t a selectable metric when scoped further out. In addition to that limitation, segmenting impression share by device isn’t even supported. In the new SA360 UI, all of these limitations have been resolved because the reporting interface is truly engine-agnostic. At the Sub-Manager level in the new SA360, which aligns with the Advertiser level in the legacy UI, simply navigate to the keywords tab on the left-hand side of the screen. Unlike the legacy UI, the new SA360 gives you the option to select between the positive keyword, negative keyword and search query sections without scoping into a specific engine account type. After navigating into the positive keyword section, all that’s left to do is add the “search impr. share” metric as a column and apply a device segment. Once finished, you have the option to download this reporting table or save it as a Saved View.
While the new SA360 has unlocked this reporting capability, it also comes with a few minor limitations that are most likely here to stay. First, Saved Views in the new SA360 don’t capture the date range or applied segments. They’re only a set of columns and filters. Second, applying a device segment doesn’t create an individual row for each device. Rather, it breaks out three sub-rows for each keyword in the report. Third, much like Google Ads, the new SA360 has some fixed columns in reporting tables. The legacy UI had fixed columns as well, meaning that you couldn’t remove them from a table but you could drag them to any position within it. In the new SA360 UI, these columns are actually fixed to the front of your reporting table with no option for removal or rearrangement. This is obviously a pretty insignificant limitation, but between the device segment sub-rows and fixed columns, it may add some extra work for advertisers downloading these reporting tables into a spreadsheet.
Scenario II: View Impression Share by Targeted Audience for All Engine Accounts
Let’s now move on from protecting your brand and competitor conquesting to remarketing. Many advertisers will run Google Display Network and YouTube campaigns to boost brand awareness and drive traffic to their website. However, using these channels for lead generation is less common. That’s where audience remarketing via Search campaigns comes to the rescue, ensuring that those users who are now aware of the brand will be shown an ad on the SERP when they decide to do more research. In this scenario, it’s really important that advertisers understand how many users are looking for their brand in the SERP following ad exposure from a channel higher in the marketing funnel. It’s also important that advertisers can monitor how many of these searches they’re showing up for, as a percentage, with impression share metrics.
In the legacy SA360, there’s no centralized “audience” section. Rather, there’s a “Remarketing Tab” that shows audiences created by labels, but it doesn’t include performance metrics. All other audience types can be applied as segments to a reporting table, but it’s impossible to apply more than one audience segment at a time. On top of that, impression-based metrics aren’t supported by audience segments. This not only rules out search impression share, but anything with impressions in the calculation, which includes click-through rate. Thus, understanding audience exposure and performance is extremely difficult.
Now let’s jump into the new SA360, which completely redesigned the way audiences are reported. Instead of existing as segments, they now live in their own “Audiences” tab on the left-hand side of the UI, just like Google Ads. Google even added an “Exclusions” tab to the New UI for seeing which audiences are currently being blocked from targeting.
This new Audiences section includes all audience types and supports impression share metrics for all engine accounts that can report it, making it possible for advertisers to view their Google and Microsoft Ads remarketing audience performance all within one, savable view. You can even change the scope of the reporting table with the click of a button, choosing between the Account, Campaign and Ad Group levels.
Scenario III: Create a Report for Each of the Previous Scenarios and Schedule it to be Sent to a Stakeholder on the 2nd of Every Month
The previous two scenarios highlighted massive improvements in reporting capability, thanks to enhanced engine-agnosticism in the new SA360. The Reports section of the new SA360 is more limiting than the standard reporting tables in the same UI, although there will be a massive improvement over Executive Reports in the legacy UI once some legacy features finish migrating.
Looking specifically at the new SA360, one major difference between standard reporting tables and the Reports section is that Custom Columns are currently only supported as low as the campaign level in the latter, and are not compatible with any other performance metrics like cost, clicks and impressions. As long as you’re not utilizing a Custom Column within your report, however, scenarios I and II are achievable.
Once created, you have the option to download the report in one of many file formats or schedule the report to be sent on a one-time or recurring basis. The key difference between Executive Reports in the legacy UI and Reports in the new SA360 is that those on the receiving end must have access to the new SA360. Google created a new Access and Security section with four new user access levels. They aren’t too different from the legacy UI, except for a brand new role, “Email only without Billing.” Anyone who is currently receiving an Executive Report in the legacy UI and doesn’t have access to the platform will be automatically assigned this user role. Users must now have at least this level of access to receive Reports built in the new SA360 Reports interface.
We’ll continue to share more information about the new SA360 as Google adds new features and capabilities. In the meantime, please check out my recent webinar, “How to Use the new SA360 Reporting Features,” for more info and reach out with any questions.