Google Search Partners: 5 Misconceptions & How It Really Works
To use Google search partners or not? this is the question.
Maybe not for Hamlet, but certainly for paid search professionals everywhere.
When you create a new search campaign, you are automatically opted in to the Display Network and search partners by default.
This allows your ads to appear on properties owned by Google (such as YouTube and Google Maps), companies it has partnered with (such as Amazon and Walmart), and other websites that sell ad placements.
Google does not publish a full list of search partners, but websites displaying these ads must opt-in, and in return you get a share of the advertising revenue.
By extending your advertising campaigns beyond search engine results pages (SERPs) and to additional websites that Google owns or partners with, the Google Search Partner Network can be a useful tool for gaining additional traffic and conversions.
It allows you to place ads on a larger scale and stand out from the crowd.
But it is not without its drawbacks, which is why the generally accepted best practice for most advertisers is to disable it.
The biggest drawback is the lack of transparency and control. There’s limited data about where your ads appear, and you can’t prevent ads from showing on placements with poor performance or controversial content.
Google’s search partner network also includes parked domains that can drain your budget without real users seeing your ads.
You also have limited control over ad auctions, as bid modifiers cannot be used.
So how do you get the search partner network to work with your campaigns?
Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can use Google’s search partner network to gain visibility and control while making sure it works as well as possible.
5 common misconceptions about Google search partners
Before we jump into the management tips, we must first cover what exactly search partner network is and some common misconceptions.
First misconception: all of the sites listed are smaller search engines
Despite being called “search partners,” not all of the sites included in Google’s search partners are search engines.
Actually, Google Identifies search partners Such as:
Sites in search network This partner with Google to display ads.
Search partners extend the reach of Google search ads to hundreds of non-Google websites, as well as YouTube and other Google sites.
On search partner sites, your ads can appear on search results pages, on site directory pages, or on other pages relevant to a person’s search.
Misconception number two: Search partners are only for traditional search campaigns
In fact, the search partner network is also a good way to extend the reach of your shopping campaigns as well.
Misconception 3: Just because Search Associates never worked before means they never will
In fact, a lot can change with Google Ads in such a short time, which makes it worth testing – and re-testing – different features.
In October 2018, Google launched Smart Bidding for search partner sites, with the goal of maximizing conversions at a CPC similar to Google Search.
That alone might make it worth another test if your campaigns had excluded search partners prior to this update.
Misconception 4: The most accurate insight you can get into search partners is segmentation by campaign-level search partner network
While it’s true that we can’t see search partner sites, there are other details we can dig into, to help us understand performance a little better.
Keep reading, we’ll revisit this one.
Fifth misconception: If CPA is higher in search partners, there is nothing to be done
While it is true that advertisers have much less control over search partners than Google’s own search network because it cannot be broken down on its own, there are ways to modify results.
We just have to get a little more creative about how we do that.
Low hanging fruit on search partners web
If you haven’t tested research partners before, or are wary of it for any reason, you may want to aim for low-hanging fruit first.
Find your goals with the highest intentions and test search partners out there first.
Your brand campaign
Many advertisers get the most out of their brand campaigns if they have the budget.
A network of search partners can be a great way to increase the volume of these searches.
Your RLSA campaigns
Since these people have already visited your site, they are more qualified than any searcher.
In this case, I like to think of masses as training wheels; It’s a good way to test without too much risk.
Get to the bottom of the performance delta
If you’re looking for conversion volume in search partners but not a cost-effective return, the first step is to try to identify the root cause of the underperformance so we can determine the best course of action.
Running a few quick reports can easily shed some light on problem areas.
Review keyword performance
Often if the search network is not working, it may be because some terms are too broad and do not perform as well as some long tail terms.
You can segment your keyword list by search network the same way you segment campaign performance.
Now, you can easily see which keywords are performing well on search partners and which are spending money without return – or converting but at a higher than acceptable cost.
Review match types
Another common reason search partners may not perform well is that performance may be skewed across match types.
By downloading the segmented keyword report, you can easily pivot the data to see how each match type performs across networks.
Often, but not always, search partners tend to not perform well on broad match keywords.
Review device usage
You may find that search partners don’t perform as well on mobile devices.
Segmenting your device data through search partners allows you to focus on that. You may find that one device works much better than the other.
Steps you can take to improve performance on Google search partners
Unfortunately, with Google search partners, you can’t see specific placements.
So you also can’t exclude specific placements, target specific placements, add bid modifiers to placements – or even the network in general.
This limits your options a bit but here’s what you can do:
Segment your campaigns by match type
If you find that search partners are performing well on one or two match types, segment your campaigns and then only choose match types that have previously proven to perform well in search partners.
I would add a caveat that there must be a sufficient volume of search partners to warrant preservation.
Only you decide what that threshold is for your account, but I’m not suggesting a large-scale refactoring for a small amount of volume.
Segment your campaigns by device
If you find that search partners are performing well on one device but not the other, you might consider splitting up the campaign and keeping only some devices in search partners.
Again, this isn’t really guaranteed unless there’s an installed size worth saving.
Segment your campaigns by match type
If some keywords perform really poorly on search partners, consider segmenting them – but only if they are not at risk of a large number of Google search conversions.
Fragmentation of the RLSA drive
If you find that certain audiences (first party or third party) are added because monitoring only performs better than searchers outside of said audiences, you might consider breaking up the RLSA campaign and selecting search partners while keeping them out. -RLSA campaign.
Duplicate campaign for search partners only
I know what you’re thinking: “Wait, what? We can’t just bid for search partners.”
you are right!
However, you can duplicate your campaign and set bids much lower than your current campaign so that the Google search network won’t catch it.
The good thing about this is that it does not crash keyword performance on the Google search network. You have to be careful.
If you pause things in a Google search campaign, that traffic may start redirecting to your second campaign.
Other things to consider
In February 2021, Google Ads implemented the architecture and badge standards updates to the Partner Program.
Partners are still required to maintain an improvement score of at least 70% to retain their badges, but they can now apply or reject recommendations based on their own assessment, without penalties.
Benefits have also been realigned to better meet partner needs in three key areas: education and insights, access and support, and recognition and rewards.
This change provides opportunities for advertising agencies and third parties that run Google ads on behalf of other brands to be recognized as specialized digital agencies.
So, after all that, should you be using the Google Search Partner Network? You really didn’t expect such a simple answer, did you?
Remember, restructuring is not without its risks.
Keywords in new campaigns always start over, without any account history. Only you decide if the potential risks are worth the amount of conversion you can save.
Just make sure you can undo things in case the performance doesn’t stick. That is, pause (don’t delete) the keywords in your original campaign, so you can always come back if you don’t succeed.
And know that when you turn on Google search partners, you can expect a drop in click-through rates in your aggregate reports.
This is not because search CTR is low; It is because the extra impressions you gain have a very low CTR.
Although the conversion rate will be much lower, the lower CPC means that the cost per conversion will be similar to the Google search network.
As such, it is probably worth testing search partners on your account.
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