AdWords Automated Tools: Display Campaign Optimizer vs. Conversion Optimizer

When it comes to automated tools for Google Display campaigns there are a few options and they often get confused. We’ve got the Display Campaign Optimizer (DCO) and the Conversion Optimizer (CO), and now we’ve got some new flexible bidding strategies as well.

When it comes to DCO and CO, the most common question we get is, “What the heck is the difference and why would you use one over the other?” Whelp; let’s answer this question shall we?


Conversion Optimizer

Let’s start with the older of the two, Conversion Optimizer, this guy has been around for several years and is often a go to staple in our tool kit for taking some of the bid management workload off of account managers. I know, I know, I can hear some of you poo pooing the use of this tool already. I realize many PPC account managers have major control issues and letting an algorithm take control of their bids just seems illegal.

I love this tool. I’ve seen it take a fairly new account for a large eCommerce cosmetics company from a CPA of $160.00+ down to a CPA of just over $12.00 in the span of four months. This client had an average order value (AOV) of over $124.00, amazing ROI. It really does work if you’re patient and you don’t try and muscle it.

Anyway, so what does this tool actually do? Based on a predictive model of conversion likelihood built on conversion tracking history, it automatically raises your keyword level bids to increase visibility if the likelihood of conversions is high and lowers your bids to keep you out of the auction if likelihood of conversions is low. The tool is so powerful that it actually knows whether or not a user searching from a Safari browser in Phoenix, AZ is likely to convert and adjusts bids accordingly to position ads and get that user’s click. The tool does this in response to each query that triggers your ad to serve.

The tool works in both search campaigns for multi-dimensional bid management. When used in search campaigns factors such as match type, and search partner vs. visibility. When used in display campaigns placement topics, actual site content, and relevancy or match quality of your ad to the placement content are taken into account. On all networks the tool will account for user location, operating system, browser, and language settings.

Display Campaign Optimizer

Ok, so if Conversion Optimizer works to get me more conversions at a lower cost per click on both search and display…what the heck is Display Campaign Optimizer!?

DCO is similar to Conversion Optimizer, but it goes one step farther to help optimize display campaigns. Using similar predictive models built off of account conversion history, this tool intelligently finds placements/topics within the GDN that are relevant to the advertiser and that are likely to meet the conversion goals. In this exploration process, the system will constantly optimize the selection of placements and the bidding based on the performance of the campaign. No targeting necessary, its magic!

Well, kind of. Prior to serving ads on any placement, it automatically performs extensive statistical analysis and utilizes multi-variable prediction mechanisms and serves the ad only if the placement is expected to be high-performance. Of course, not all predictions are perfect, so it will try the placement and quickly discard it if it’s confident that the placement wasn’t that great after all. This analysis-prediction-trial-error iteration happens constantly for ongoing performance evolution within display campaigns.

The tool can be used as an overlay on top of additional display targeting options and I have had a lot of success using in this capacity.
The history requirements for both tools are the same, 15 conversions within the last 30-days. Once you’ve reaching this history requirement you should see an eligibility alert inside your account. Check to see if you’re eligible and do some testing!

We’d love to hear about your experience, good or bad, with these tools if you’d like to share in the comments!