Since early 2022, a new SA360 (Search Ads 360) has been available; Google has been gradually introducing new features into this latest version of the SEM management platform. We tested these changes with Hans, our senior SA360 platform specialist, who co-wrote this article to share his expert insights.

To avoid confusion, earlier versions of SA360 will be referred to as “legacy SA360” here. Let’s move on to the 4 new updates that we’ve been thoroughly testing:

1.0  Easier navigation, plus more Google Ads campaign types in SA

One thing that stands out is how similar the new SA360 interface is to the Google Ads platform, though do note the crucial distinction that SA360 can manage more than 1 search engine whereas Google Ads is only for Google search when it comes to SEM.  So if you’re new to SA360 but a veteran in Google Ads, it’ll be easier for you to pick up and navigate around SA360.

search result 1
Screenshot of New SA360 interface

Google Ads campaign types such as Performance Max (PMax) are now fully manageable in the new SA360. After migrating bids, you will be able to manage bids and apply bid strategies in the new SA360. When you run PMax campaigns from the new SA360, you’ll be able to access other inventory such as YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail, and Maps.

Other campaign types, such as Discovery Ads and Local campaigns, are also accessible and fully manageable through the new SA360.

 If you’re a GMP expert, do note that Floodlight will also supported for these campaign types (and other campaign types) in new SA360. As an example, if you’re managing a PMax campaign in new SA360, your PMax campaign automation and measurement will be able to use Floodlight, though you can still also use Google Ads Conversion Tracking and Google Ads-Account automation should you prefer.

conversion action screenshot 2
Screenshot of process of creating “conversion actions” in new SA, which includes Floodlight and GA

From an expert’s perspective, there’s another boon to consider: if you have Google Ads campaigns in new SA360 (e.g PMax type), you’ll be able to use the new SA360 features to improve your campaigns!.

2.0  New SA360 feature: Custom Variable Adjustments

In new SA360, you can set “custom variable adjustments” and adjust conversion actions based on your business strategy. In simple terms, if you have implemented onsite CFVs (i,e custom floodlight variable) in which one CFV  is of higher business value than another, you can create a setting under “custom variable adjustment” in which e.g “Conversion action A” (which is CFV A) can be adjusted to have increased “value of 2X”.

screenshot of cutom variable adjustment 3
Screenshot of custom variable adjustment setting

To better illustrate, let’s say the business scenario is: customer who inquired about a shoe brand Coolkicks on the site. Speedio is another shoe brand on the site.

In custom variable adjustment, you can set conversion action to be the following:

  • CFV condition is: product inquiry : shoe brand Coolkicks AND
  • CFV condition is: location: Singapore

According to your business strategy, the Coolkicks product is more valuable than another product, e.g Speedio shoe brand. Based on the above conditions, you can weight the conversion action to be 2X, which means you want your bid strategy to bid more when this action occurs.

custom variable adjustment setting 4
Screenshot of adjusting value in custom variable adjustment setting

This feature allows you to be more flexible in determining which conversion actions make sense for your business and should thus be bid on more. When compared to legacy SA360, we believe it allows users to be more specific in weighing and bidding on their preferred conversion actions.

3.0  Performance Center

Performance Center is one of the more powerful features included in the new SA360. It is intended to combine the Google Ads Performance Planner features with the legacy SA360 Budget Bid Management features.

The Performance Center’s forecast technology is possibly its strongest feature. The management of budget bid strategy was more important in the prior Budget Bid Management. In contrast, Performance Center demonstrates an investment in forecasting and planning technology. When you forecast a campaign group, it takes into account seasonality models, budget models, past engine stats, and other signals.

customer performance center forecast 5

If you choose to use a budget bid approach, you can still set up an automation. Which leads us to the time-saving advantage: you’ll be able to automatically budget and run cross-engine campaigns, which is supported by powerful forecasting technology – therefore requiring less manual planning, setting up, and activating of campaigns.

With pacing and performance forecasting, plus budget management automated combined bid strategy,  Performance Center would definitely make users’ life easier.

It’s more apparent when you’re managing a big scale account –  new SA360 can help you prevent the risk of adjustments, over/under pacing, while optimizing your campaigns at the same time

Hans Ho, Senior Platform Specialist, FiveStones

4.0  GA4 integrations

Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the replacement for Universal Analytics, can also be integrated with SA360. What’s different about this from previous GA/SA360 linkages is that SA360 data (e.g campaign performance) can now be reported in GA4.

As of October 2022, the capabilities that you can do once GA4/SA360 is integrated are still new; we’re still testing out the features and how they help with campaign performance and analysis.

One major advantage of the integration is that you can target GA4 audiences as they are in the new SA360, or combine them with other audiences. A reporting feature you can use is that GA4 dimensions can be reported in SA360 and vice versa, allowing you to focus your reporting on, say, GA4 if that is your preference.

GA metrics in SA 6
GA4/UA metrics available in new SA360 reporting
SA reporting in GA4 7
SA360 reporting in GA4

If web or in-app GA4 goals are important to your business, keep in mind that with the integration, you can use these as a “conversion” in SA360 and adjust your ads to bid on these goals. Google has stated some aspects of these settings are a roadmap feature, but no date has been specified for its release.

We’ll be releasing an article that goes in depth into what else you can do with a GA4 & SA360 integration, in the meantime though do follow these resources you can proceed to explore and self-test the capabilities:

Final Thoughts

With the redesigned UI, new tools, and platform integrations, users of the new SA360 will find it simpler to manage their campaigns.That said, continue to check in to the New SA360 help centre  to review when your bidding migration is happening and stay up to date with your account managers, or review the experience hub (located on the left of the platform interface). 

Want to learn more about SA360? Come and have a chat with us