What’s New in SA360: A Conversion Column Overload

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As of December 13th, 2022, there are thirteen different types of conversion columns in the New Search Ads 360 (SA360) and that’s not counting all of the possible custom conversion or custom formula column combinations. All of these different conversion types can make conversion reporting in the New UI overwhelming, which is why we’re going to break down every currently available option in my latest installment of “What’s New in SA360.”

Methodology Changes

SA360 is an engine-agnostic platform. In addition to Google and Microsoft Ads accounts, “other engines” accounts give users the ability to track clicks from any advertising platform that can accept third-party tracking URLs. While “other engines” accounts rely on Floodlight Tags for attribution, Google Ads accounts have the flexibility to report on Google Analytics Events and Google Ads Conversion Actions as well. When Google brings all of these different conversion tracking methods into one platform in SA360, the result is a plethora of conversion counting options.

Before we dive into all of the various types of conversion columns in the New SA360, let’s take a moment to outline conversion counting methodology changes and current limitations. If you don’t already know, the New SA360 Experience has its own, separate help center. It’s still being built as New SA360 features continue to roll out, but there’s already a solid amount of beneficial information available. 

Default Attribution: Time of Click

In this article, Google explains some of the major changes to reporting in the New SA360 UI. Most importantly, unlike in the Legacy UI where conversions were attributed based on the time of conversion, the New UI attributes conversions based on the time of click. This brings the New SA360 UI into parity with the Google Ads conversion counting system. That counting methodology may not work for every advertiser, however, the New SA360 UI allows you to change this setting within a custom conversion column. You can also report by conversion time by selecting one of the default conversion columns that includes “by conv. time” in the title.

Default Attribution Time: Engine Timezone

Another major change is that regardless of the setting you select, conversions are attributed according to the timezone of the client (engine) account, instead of following the timezone of the associated Campaign Manager 360 (CM360) account. 

Cross-Device Conversions

Lastly, cross-device conversions are included in conversion columns by default. These can be reported separately, within the default conversion columns that include “cross-device” in the title, or filtered in/out with custom and/or formula conversion columns. 

Conversion Column Types

Now that we’ve discussed how conversions are counted, let’s break down all of the different conversion column types in the New SA360 UI.

All Conversion Columns

First, the most inclusive conversion column type is any conversion column that is prefixed with “All”. These columns include attributed conversion data from both Floodlight Activities and Google Ads Conversion Actions, regardless of their “Include in Conversions” setting in the New SA360. If you’re not familiar with this setting, it affects what’s reported in any columns in the Search Ads 360 Conversions dropdown. If you select “No” to this setting when configuring a conversion action in SA360, those conversions will only be reported in “All” conversions columns and any custom columns that include said action. 

If you’re familiar with Google Ads, you’re likely well versed in the “All” conversions columns. In that platform, rather than choosing Yes or No, you’re required to set a conversion action as Primary or Secondary. “No” in the New SA360 UI aligns with Secondary in the Google Ads UI. However, the two settings are independent of each other. Conversion columns that have Google Ads in the title in the New SA360 UI only report on Google Ads Conversion Actions that are set to “Primary”. In order to see these same conversions within default SA360 conversion columns that aren’t prefixed with “All”, they must be set to “Yes” in the New SA360. 

Call, Message, YouTube and Gmail Metrics

There are also some less customizable Google Ads conversion columns in the New SA360 UI. These live under the call details, message details, YouTube Earned actions and Gmail metrics dropdowns within the columns interface. The phone calls column reports on any clicks on a phone number displayed on an ad in a mobile device, as well as the number of times a Google forwarding number from an ad was manually dialed and called on any device. Chats include the number of times someone messaged your business using a Google forwarding number. These columns are only applicable to Google Ads campaigns and do not include phone calls or messages tracked without a Google forwarding number. YouTube Earned actions include YouTube video and channel behavior such as Earned likes and subscribers. Gmail metrics report on the number of times Gmail ads have been forwarded, saved, or clicked through. Both of these conversion types are also specific to Google Ads campaigns. 

Microsoft Ads Conversion Metrics

Unfortunately, Microsoft Ads conversion actions are not currently included in the New SA360 UI, but you can easily import GA4 events as long as SA360 is linked to a GA4 property. You can import them as conversion actions within the New SA360 UI and add them to a custom or formula conversion column for reporting. You can also configure them to “Include in Conversions” for default conversion column reporting. The New SA360 UI also contains a few default reporting columns for GA4, but there isn’t just a plain “Events” column. The closest available is Events Per Session.

While many advertisers are already taking full advantage of the New SA360 UI, it's becoming clear that it's still very much a work in progress. This blog was originally drafted in September of 2022, and since then, Google has already rolled out at least three new conversion column types. Most notably, Conversions with Cart Data have replaced Purchase Detail Reporting from the Legacy UI. These, along with Google Ads Conversions with Cart Data, report on Google Merchant Center (GMC) feed information at the time of conversion. As you may know, Microsoft Merchant Center feeds must be associated with GMC feeds in Search Ads 360, making it possible to attribute Microsoft Ads sales to GMC data for all products that are present in both feeds. 

Custom Conversion Columns

Custom conversion columns in the New SA360 UI are akin to custom conversions in the Legacy UI, except that they can include more than one conversion source. 

Currently, they can pull from Floodlight, Google Ads and Google Analytics. You can update the metric to focus on conversion value or view-through conversions within the settings of a custom conversion column. However, view-through conversions are only applicable to Google Ads. You can further customize these columns by segmenting them by custom variables and selecting a different attribution model if desired. 

Custom Formula Columns

Custom formula columns go one step further, allowing you to add any previously defined conversion columns to a formula for maximum reporting flexibility. It’s important to note, however, that you can’t always filter custom formula columns by custom variables. If you pull a default conversion column into a formula column, you'll be able to apply that filter type, but the same does not hold true if you pull an unfiltered custom conversion column into a custom formula column. For this reason, any custom variable filtering should be done at the custom conversion column level, which will carry over to any formula columns in which it’s included. 

Beyond the seven conversion column types discussed above, the New SA360 UI also includes YouTube Earned Actions and Gmail Metrics. The former reports on actions taken on a promoted YouTube Channel after YouTube ad exposure, while the latter reports on actions taken on Google Ads placements in the Gmail interface. 

Current Limitations

While there are a lot of benefits regarding the New SA360 UI conversion column types, it’s important to note that there are currently a few limitations that come with them. Important limitations include:

  • Many advertisers can't currently create conversion actions in the New SA360 UI (other than the importing of GA4 events)
  • Many advertisers don’t yet have access to bid strategies in the New SA360 UI, which means that these columns are for reporting purposes only
  • Not all advertisers can currently select all conversion sources within custom conversion columns or custom formula columns 
  • Many advertisers are limited to selecting a single conversion source within a conversion column, and some don’t have access to add GA4 conversions to a column at all

We’re patiently waiting for full functionality to roll out to everyone so advertisers can start taking advantage of all the different reporting options the New SA360 UI has to offer. 

Stay tuned for more information and please reach out with any questions.