Is Google’s New Conversion Optimizer Worth the Effort?

Google’s Support Team gets a bad rap. While critics pan them for being tough to reach, I must admit that my interactions have been pleasant, professional, and, most importantly, effective. “See a problem, fix the problem” has been the outcome each time, with prompt replies to my issues.

Today I even received a followup from one of their team members that one of their specialists had taken the time to review some of the accounts I manage and offer some tips to help improve their performance. I have to give credit where it is due. I’m impressed.

One of the suggestions piqued my interest. “When I was looking through your accounts, I saw that you have Conversion Tracking set up and that you have accumulated enough conversion performance data to use Conversion Optimizer. Conversion Optimizer is an advanced feature that uses prior performance data to more intelligently bid in each ad auction in order to lead to more conversions.

To use Conversion Optimizer, you set a Maximum Cost per Acquisition or a Target Cost per Acquisition. A Maximum Cost per Acquisition, or Max CPA, specifies the most you are willing to pay for a conversion, while a Target Cost per Acquisition, or Target CPA, specifies the average you would like to pay per conversion. Conversion Optimizer will then adjust your auction bid accordingly in an effort to increase conversions.”

Hey, if the “Big G” wants to help me up conversions, well, color me curious!

After a quick visit to the Adwords Blog, made quicker still since it was the most recent post, I found a video explaining a bit more about the changes to this feature:

My initial impression? This sounds good…almost too good. The skeptic in me still has issues with the idea that Google will do what’s “best” for my campaigns. Although their motto, “Do No Evil”, is well known, they do have to make money.

Maybe I have trust issues?

So I took to Twitter to learn more about individual’s experiences with the Conversion Optimizer and received some useful feedback from SEM Pro and lead blogger at Searching Beyond the Paid, Melissa Mackey (@mel66). She tested the feature back in May 2009 and found that the feature can be beneficial for many Adwords campaigns. She concluded:

Further, Melissa tweeted that “Whether it’s worthwhile depends on your campaigns. I wrote about it a while back(…The post is two years old but the info still holds true: You need high conversions & low cost/conversion for it to work well.”

While far from a glowing review, this honest assessment of the feature shows a glimmer of promise. We will be exploring this feature in our Q1 Adwords campaigns and hope to report back on the impact Conversion Optimizer provides. Check back for more in January.

What are your thoughts on Google’s Conversion Optimizer? Are we giving up too much control over our campaigns? What are your experiences with the tool? I’d love to hear your feedback!