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What are Google Ads Search Partners, and should you enable them on your PPC campaigns?

A client recently got in touch as they had noticed branded PPC Ads being displayed on YouTube. We explained that the reason for this was that we have opted into Google Search Partners on our brand campaigns. This has been a possibility since YouTube became part of the search network at the beginning of the year.

Our conversation got us thinking that it would be a good time to review search partners. Below, we’ve highlighted what’s included and the potential benefits of using it in your digital marketing campaigns.

What are Google Search Partners?

If a site is partnered with Google and is part of its Search Network, then your ads can appear on their site as well as Google’s search engine results page (SERP). Essentially, it is a way of enhancing the reach of your ads through multiple external sites, not limiting them strictly to Google. It’s not a new feature – but it can be easily forgotten if you’re not already aware of it.

YouTube becoming a Google Search Partner

Google announced that it is adding YouTube into their Search Partner Network at the start of this year. This means you can see your PPC ads on the video platform too. Here is an example of an Amazon ad on YouTube:

Amazon Ads on YouTube

Before coming into place in February 2019, YouTube was testing this option for several months. They found that, on average, text ads in YouTube mobile search results perform well on a cost-per-conversion basis. As with all PPC ads, if your ad appears at the right time, to the right user – then it will be an effective way of driving more conversions. Enabling Search Partner could be a way of providing more opportunities to reach out to potential customers. 

3 common misconceptions about Search Partners:

  1. Search Partners are only applicable to traditional search campaigns

The search partner network can allow you to expand reach for a variety of campaigns – which isn’t limited to traditional text ads. Search partners can also host the following:

  • Shopping ads – Shopping campaigns display and link to your products for sale. They can appear with an “Ads by Google” label on partner sites.
  • Image and video ads – Search partners can display image ads and video ads on Google and non-Google sites.

2. Search Partners are all smaller search engines

Being called ‘search partners’ suggests that the sites included in the network will be other search engines. However, search partners extend to hundreds of non-Google sites. A partner is essentially a company that works with Google to display ads – this doesn’t mean your ad is limited to a search engine. You can show your ad on a variety of pages that are relevant to a user’s search, for example:

  • Google search sites such as Google Shopping, Maps, Images, and Groups.
  • Site directory pages.
  • Internal search results on site.
  • Product pages
  • You can also run ads through Adsense via your Google Ads account. Adsense gives you control over the look of your ads and gives you access to Google’s high-quality search ads. Your ads can be shown on external sites when a user does a relevant search.

3. Search Partners didn’t work for your ads before, so there is no point in trying them again

It’s worth considering how features change and improve over time. Google is always announcing new tools and advertising opportunities – even when it comes to search partners. For example, smart bidding was added last year which changed results for many users. 

What happened when Google added Smart Bidding?

Google made the switch from Smart Pricing to Smart Bidding for partner sites that use conversion tracking. According to Google, Smart Bidding can offer better performance in comparison to Smart Pricing. Smart pricing looked at signals such as keyword lists, combined with the type of page. 

With Smart Bidding, the bids are automatically optimised on partner sites, using the same signals as smart pricing with additional user attributes. How does this work? So, let’s say a potential customer is part of an audience list that has a history of a lower conversion rate – then the bids may be automatically reduced. Smart bidding aims to maximise conversions for search partners. 

What are the potential risks of enabling Search Partners?

The advertising features or channels you choose is always a unique decision for your business. We’ve outlined some of the potential downfalls of enabling Search Partners:

  • Lack of control – You can’t exactly determine which sites your ads appear on. Once you enable search partners, Google can show your ad on any partner site. While this could produce positive results in a time-effective way – it could mean that your ad is displayed somewhere unlikely to reach out to the right audience. In the future, we think it would be more beneficial to have more control over bids.
  • Inability to optimise for search partners – Unfortunately, you don’t have the option to create a separate campaign for partners. It might be more beneficial for you to optimise and adjust your bid depending on the Search Partner you are targeting. For example, Bing Ads have this feature in their Syndicated Partners Network. 
  • Enabled by default – When you create a new search campaign, Google Ads will opt you in to search partners by default. You will be targeting search partners unless you switch this feature off. The good news is, it’s easy to opt-out. Simply disable the feature on your campaign settings page:

Is enabling Search Partners the right move for your business?

Search Partners has been around for a while; it’s a feature that is accessible and quite easy to use for agencies and advertisers. So, how would it potentially improve your digital marketing strategy and performance?

What are the potential benefits?

We’ve listed what we think are the main pros of enabling search partners within your PPC campaigns.

  • Increased reach – You’ll be increasing your reach on existing search campaigns.
  • Cost-effective – Partner sites tend to produce cheaper clicks, meaning if your ads are successful – you could be improving your return on investment (ROI).
  • Improved conversions – You could generate more site traffic if the right people see your ads – which might lead to more conversions.
  • Time-effective – If your ads are driving conversions through partner sites, then you could be gaining results without spending time in multiple campaigns.

Get in Touch

As with any feature within Google Ads, it is worth testing it out and seeing how well it performs in terms of your business objectives and KPI’s. Do you have any questions about how we use Google Search Partners or other features here at our London agency? Just get in touch.