How To Keep Google’s Smart Bidding From Learning Based On Incorrect/Missing Conversion Data

March 29, 2022

We’ve all experienced a sudden drop or explosion in “conversion” volume at one time or another. Most often, these anomalies are caused by something other than actual changes in the actions people are taking after clicking on our ads – tracking tags being dropped from a site, accidental changes to conversion settings or what is being ‘included’ as a conversion, etc.

If you are using one of Google’s Smart Bidding strategies (in most cases, you should be!) when this happens, you’ll want to intervene so that the machine doesn’t confuse itself by learning from incorrect or missing conversion data and start to make ‘dumb’ bidding decisions. You don’t want Google thinking that all of a sudden all those high-quality clicks it has driven to your site are no longer converting and therefore changing how and who it makes bid adjustments towards even though those clicks, in reality, did actually complete a conversion.

Enter: data exclusions!

Found under ‘Tools & Settings’ > Shared Library > Bid Strategies > Advanced Controls, data exclusions prevent any unintended changes in conversion volume from affecting your Smart Bidding by ignoring all data from the date range you specify. Because these exclusions apply to clicks which occurred during your date range, you’ll want to exclude dates before the miscounted conversions would have happened based on the typical conversion delay between a click and a real, accurately counted conversion. Ask yourself “how long ago would most of the clicks have occurred which should have converted during the timeframe we were miscounting?” Conveniently, Google will provide a suggestion specific to your account based on your typical conversion delay: 

Another thing to keep in mind is that these exclusions will not affect your reporting or performance numbers, only the data that Smart Bidding uses to learn from. What has been under or over-counted will remain missing/reflected in your UI reports and affect all of your conversion metrics, ie: Conv. Rate, Cost/Conv., Conv. Value/Cost, etc. 

Lastly, if you are eventually able to successfully upload corrected conversions for the excluded time period, you have the ability to remove the exclusion at a later date.

You actually used to be required to make these requests manually through a Google rep as detailed by Four15 Digital’s founder in this blog post, but thankfully you now have the ability to handle a tracking mishap yourself with data exclusions.

Hopefully you won’t ever have the need for a data exclusion because your tracking tags and site consistently operate exactly how they are supposed to, but if you don’t live in La-La Land and something goes awry at some point, hopefully this blog will come in handy to help keep your Smart Bidding on point!