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How does Adwords cope with cyclic sales?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi. 

I have been running Adwords for Mensa Australia, for a number of years.

Historically, I have been using conversion based tracking, firing on a number of pages which might indicate some interest in joining. Bids have been kept low, in a typical month we get maybe 100 conversions for 40c each. This is running just fine. 

There has been some discussion over how we can know if this activity sublimates as a user joining our organisation. We run our own IQ testing sessions; this is the most common path to membership. We don't know however, what proportion of people who browse pages that may indicate interest actually join. 

Thus, the idea of using conversion based bidding based on users actually paying to sit a test has been mooted. 

The problem we have is with how tests are arranged. Testing is done pseudo regularly in a dozen or so large cities, and sporadically in smaller ones. These are all arranged by volunteers, who also choose a venue, typically a school or similar. Usually, tests are done on the same weekend in each major city, every three months. Details of testing dates and venues are posted sporadically, once volunteers have confirmed details. Usually, this happens 4-6 weeks before a test is run. Our website is set up to take details and payments. Conversion tracking code has been set up to fire once a payment has been made. Once a user has paid, they can sit a test anywhere they like, whenever is convenient for them. 

So, if a user follows an ad to a page shortly after a round of tests, they will have very little information presented, usually no dates, times or venues. They will not even know if a test is being held in their area.  If they go there 5 weeks prior to a test, then there will be some testing dates and venues listed. If they go there a week before the test, all venue information will be there. Some users may see a date several weeks in the future, then decide to pay closer to the test date.   Thus, it can be reasonably expected that very few conversions will occur at the start of a test cycle, and the rate will steadily increase up until the testing date. I would expect a "surge" in the few days prior to a test.  After that it will plummet one more, creating a sawtooth pattern with a 3 month period. 

Does anyone have any sort of insight into how Google's algorithm will cope with that? Will it just keep assuming a conversion rate that keeps changing? Will it figure out the 3 month pattern and adapt?  Is there some way to give some hints to Google so it can better cope with cyclically varying conversion data? 

2 Expert replyverified_user

How does Adwords cope with cyclic sales?

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

Hi there;

Short answer:  yes: The CPA is a machine learning algorithm that keeps changing based on past users' behavior. So if you have a cyclic pattern the CPA is changed / modified accordingly.

That said, my recommendation, since this is a statistical model, have around 100 conversions during the last 30 days. (Triple the requirements of Google of 30/30)

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
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How does Adwords cope with cyclic sales?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

That is a bit problematic as well. 

Currently, we are spending around $40 per month, for 100 "interest based" conversions. Our GUESS is that about one in 10 of those will convert on the "sales based" approach. That will mean just 10 conversions per month, at $4 each.  Getting 100 would require a significantly higher bid, which would push monthly spend into the thousand dollar ballpark. 

We have only been running the sales based conversion tracker for a week now, might have to keep an eye on how it goes over a few months. 

How does Adwords cope with cyclic sales?

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor

In this case, with no significant "audience sampling" to support the statistics, I would not use CPA, but rather bid using the classic CPC.

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
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How does Adwords cope with cyclic sales?

Rising Star
# 5
Rising Star

Hi Mal,

 

As you have pointed out, the ideal would be for conversion data to be steady. Have to you considered getting ad visitors to fill in a simple form (first name, email, nearest capital city) to receive details of when your next test in their area will be?

 

That would benefit your visitors and your AdWords.